The team at Hello Games has done the impossible, effectively raising No Man’s Sky from the dead. The spacefaring game now has much more depth in almost every regard, and appears just as good at generating stories as it is at generating planets. Up until last night, there was one addition to the game that had so far eluded public knowledge. With everyone hunting feverishly across billions of worlds, those who found it managed to keep the secret for a few days. That is, until one small group of players had the ultimate first encounter.
As Carl Sagan would say, they should have sent a poet. Instead, they sent a narrative designer.
Warning: What follows contains spoilers for No Man’s Sky Next.
By now, many players — including several members of the Polygon staff — have encountered the game’s new alien lifeforms. There was nothing secret about them, since they were featured on Hello Games’ own website before the update even rolled out. But their reveal — a single sentence, a single still photograph — was decidedly low-key.
The experience of Xalavier Nelson Jr., a narrative designer and columnist at PC Gamer, was anything but low-key.
Our tale begins, and ends, on Twitter.
NO MAN'S SKY GENERATED THE COOLEST SCI-FI STORY FOR US AND I'M GOING TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT— Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) July 25, 2018
It was a lifeless planet. That's literally what No Man's Sky categorized it as. A 'lifeless planet.'— Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) July 25, 2018
We thought we were alone, here - that's when I found the notification for the Humming Egg. pic.twitter.com/YAtHctJRTM
Nelson and his science team tracked the eggs across the surface of the planet. Once they had isolated a sample, they tried to open them. Inside, they found mysterious pearls worth 9,000 credits each. So they harvested what they could, and moved back toward their starships to gather the other resources they would need to continue their journey.
That’s when things got a lot more weird.
It was called the Whispering Egg, and unlike the other Humming Eggs, it stood alone on the dead plain.— Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) July 25, 2018
It also, unlike the Humming Eggs, had a treasure symbol next to its name. pic.twitter.com/Ggth6nOwsq
Unable to use the interact button to open the Whispering Egg, Nelson and his team decided to shoot at it.
The object quivered ... and then burst open.
We shot the fragile shell until it burst into meaty chunks.— Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) July 25, 2018
For a moment, there was stillness.
Then, we saw the three little words no starfaring traveler wants to see BURST onto their screen.
Again, not to overstate this, but:— Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) July 25, 2018
HORNED BEINGS WITH UNREADABLE VITALS THAT MOVED FAR FASTER THAN THEIR LEGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CARRY THEM
LIFELESS PLANET *MY ASS* pic.twitter.com/Y9BhB7jUIC
You can find out how the story ends at Nelson’s outstanding Twitter thread, which given his proclivities as a writer is one of the more memorable ones on gaming to be penned this year.
My name is Xalavier Nelson Jr. - I'm a freelance narrative designer, game writer, underground folk dancing ring-infiltrator, and creator of Jeff Goldblum LARPs inexplicably played in the forests of Northern England.— Xalavier Nelson Jr. (@WritNelson) July 25, 2018
Leave the Whispering Egg alone.
Thank you for reading. pic.twitter.com/GpvhSunFpQ
No Man’s Sky Next is a free update, available for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One, that adds many new features to the game. Expect more here on Polygon throughout the week.