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The second coming of No Man’s Sky

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The tide has turned on the controversial game

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Sean Murray is retweeting his favorite fan images from the game’s photo mode
Hello Games via Twitter

No Man’s Sky is back in the number one position on Steam after yesterday’s successful launch of No Man’s Sky latest update, called “Next,” and a 50 percent off sale on the PC version of the game. It has also launched, for the very first time, on Xbox One. Amazon has it listed as the number one best-seller on the Xbox platform as of this morning.

It feels like a corner has been turned in the game’s story, both in terms of the game itself and the drama surrounding it.

“This update marks the two year anniversary of No Man’s Sky, and a lot has changed,” the developer wrote in the patch notes for the update. “This is an important next step on our journey.”

The update is free, it will bring weekly challenges to players and offer expanded multiplayer and base-building options. In many ways it feels like the version of No Man’s Sky that has always been promised to players.

And the players are responding positively, at least so far. No Man’s Sky suffered a vicious backlash when the finished version of the game didn’t deliver what fans felt they were promised during the game’s hype cycle, and No Man’s Sky developer Hello Games went silent in the wake of the controversy.

But they continued to work on the game and release updates, partly as a way to deal with the anger of the community.

“People ask what we did, and I don’t think we did anything particularly good or clever,” Sean Murray said in a recent interview with Eurogamer. “I’m not sure anyone can — an angry mob is crowdsourcing ways to make your life difficult, and they know how to do that. So I did what I did when I was a kid when I was getting shit at school or when I’ve had shitty bosses. I threw myself into work and made games.”

There have been multiple updates and content packs since the game originally launched, but this moment feels like something new. Murray is back in the press, at least in a limited way, talking about the game and the painful lessons the team learned along the way. The game has been launched on the Xbox One for the first time, and this by far the most striking expansion to date.

The shift can be seen in dramatic fashion when you look at the overall user reviews of the game on Steam. Here’s an image of No Man’s Sky Steam store page right now:

Steam

The overall reviews are “mostly negative” after more than 83,000 players have weighed in. But the recent reviews are listed as “very positive” after 1,981 players have shared thoughts about the newer version of the game. While there are still some people who aren’t happy — welcome to life — the general sentiment has shifted in an overwhelmingly positive direction.

The current version of the game is so visually striking that some of the positive community posts — some from players who say they initially refunded No Man’s Sky at launch — are just in-game images with a headline. There is something about how these alien planets are presented to players that often causes an intense emotional reaction in fans.

The future is still unknown and No Man’s Sky’s past is darker than that of many games, but for now? For now things are looking pretty good, both commercially and creatively. Everyone seems to be happy and celebrating, which isn’t how these stories usually end.

But more important than the positive reviews and the sales momentum? The cupcakes.