Let's make one thing clear: At the end of the day, this is still No Man's Sky. This may sound silly, but the excitement surrounding the huge Beyond update may have hoped people would have an unrecognizable, completely transformative new experience. Beyond has many things to do with the game, but basically this is the same space exploration game that caused a sensation in 2016. If you hate the lack of materials and the need to make parts and replenish your health bar you probably will still hate it now.
Besides, Beyond adds so much to the title that it's absurd. The headline of the new feature is the full support of PlayStation VR, and the good news is that, despite a graphic downgrade, it has been beautifully implemented. When you start the game with the headset turned on, you can finally gauge the size of your ship, the alien creatures, and the planets. Scaling is something that was essential to the No Man's Sky experience from the beginning, but in virtual reality, the breadth of the procedurally generated universe is fresh and impressive.
DualShock 4- and Move controllers are supported in VR. The former retains control largely as you are accustomed to, though you use the gyro sensor to aim your weapon while the latter introduces a completely different way of playing. With a wand in each hand, exploring alien worlds becomes a more tactile adventure and translates quite well. Gripping over your shoulder to grab your weapon is a nice touch, as is assembling menus and inventories on your wrist. Footswitches are getting used to. This is a game with many systems and many inputs, and although the developer has done admirable work to get it all done in two moves, it's still a bit tricky.
When flying your ship, the motion controllers feel most natural, as you use one hand for the throttle and the other for the joystick. It's been said of this game from the beginning that it's a natural fit for PSVR, and while it's not perfect, the fact that the entire game can be played this way is excellent.
You can even play with others, regardless of whether they are in VR or not. The advanced multiplayer mode is the other major innovation, and the Nexus makes it easy to find other explorers. Basically, you can summon this social space station anywhere in the cosmos, and when you go inside, you're taken to a server with a handful of other players. From there you can meet, go on a mission together, present your ships and bases and much more. In our experience, the frame rate in this area had problems and the ships of other players were considerably behind when entering and exiting. Facing these performance issues, the Nexus is a smart way to encourage people to play together.
It is striking that creatures and environments have apparently been revised. We've always liked the visual style of the game, but it's more diverse now than ever, and seeing NPC aliens running around and being generally more expressive is a small but welcome change.
We have not even touched upon the new building features that can essentially make you even crazier bases or enhance interaction with other wildlife. No Man's Sky now packs a lot of things to do. That's pretty good, remembering that at first nobody had any idea what to do. But when we go to our original point, there are so many layers that everything can be quite confusing. Even if you are an expired player who has invested many hours, we strongly recommend that you start a new save. Beyond does a lot for the game, but it's still a dense, sometimes dull experience, so there's nothing wrong with going through the basics again.
What do you think of No Man's Sky Beyond and its new features? Did you play in PSVR? Did you finally convince this update? Upload your shields in the comments below.