After a year of holding a Mostly Negative rating on Steam, No Man's Sky has transitioned to Mostly Positive in recent reviews. This marks the first time the title has averaged with positive reception on the platform, with over 77,000 reviews published.
The bump in popularity has arrived alongside the release of the game's third major update, titled Atlas Rises. Atlas Rises has brought with it new story elements that add much-needed context to the universe, procedurally generated guild missions, as well as improvements to fundamental elements of the title ranging from trading to travel and equipment additions.
As with prior updates, Atlas Rises' inclusions take player feedback into consideration. So much so that word of mouth has gotten around, and more than 100,000 copies are estimated to have been sold during the past week on PC alone, propelling the game to the top seller spot on Steam where it has outperformed a well-rated Observer, and a heavily discounted The Witness.
When No Man's Sky released in August of last year it quickly become the most controversial game release of 2016. After an extremely successful marketing campaign that promoted the game with promises that wouldn't be kept for release, it debuted to underwhelming reception, and a wealth of complaints. It became popular to belittle the title, and its only hope of respite came with the arrival of AAA releases a few weeks later.
Yet, among those who were most unhappy with it, there was an understanding that it demonstrated promise. Its implementation of procedural generation remains among the best the industry has ever seen, capable of creating a wide variety of worlds that beg to be explored. It also had sharp gameplay and audio design, in addition to being relatively intuitive to play, a rare quality among space sims.
The issue came down to content, something that would have required several more months of development to address. There simply wasn't a whole lot to do in its vast world, leading to boredom and a wealth of refunds after an hour or two.
Well, it's been a while since the days that No Man's Sky was the primary topic of discussion, and although developer Hello Games has been sporadic about communication, it has clearly invested many hours into trying to realize the original ambition of the title. Both prior updates made significant leaps in content additions, inviting thousands of players to return.
Hello Games has taken a hit to its reputation that won't be salvageable in the short-term, but the battle is not over. It's earning valuable mind share with previously upset customers with its support of the title, and judging by the way it's communicated recently, there may be several more major updates in the pipeline.