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Gaming Life

No Man’s Sky: Online play is a mess

I bought into No Man’s Sky quite early on and have slowly watched it be vastly improved since that early release. As a result, every time I go back to it I find myself restarting it from the beginning as it’s so vastly changed from before.

One thing it does now have is multiplayer, giving you the ability to play online, cross-platform, with friends.

So, last weekend I decided to give it a try, roping in my good friend Barry Collins. He on Xbox and I on PS4 set off to explore strange new worlds…

The first thing to say is that the multiplayer features here are pretty basic.

There is a list of sessions which, by default, allows you to start one – this allows you to choose one of your saves and go into that game. As friends can join later, I’m not sure who’s in this by default. I’d read that it should be other, random online people but as it may need to make way for other friends, I’m not sure,

You can also view your friend code and add a friend. The former shows the friend code on screen… then what? I snapped it with my phone camera and send it to Barry, who did the same in return. You can then add each other’s friend code in – it thanks you for the code, not giving you any information about them and… that’s it. You can’t view or edit friend codes that you’ve entered, so you really need to try and remember who you’ve added.

Here’s a screenshot showing the default session numbers and displaying my friend code…

Once a friend comes online and starts a session, you’ll see an option appear under “Start a new session” to join them. You can then choose a game save too, allowing each player to choose their own variation in this newly shared universe. Anything you do in this online game is retained except for your location – restart your game in the usual way and you’ll be sent back to where you was when you left it, rather than where you was in this shared multiplayer game.

I joined on Barry and I was in orbit around his home planet – I visited and poked around a bit. Actions were shown on screen for both of us to see. Soon Barry wanted to go off on a mission, which I wasn’t able to see, so I just blindly followed his ship (both his ship and home base were marked for me to see).

There is no in-game VOIP so we were text messaging each other. I think comms is pretty essential, so I’m going to have explore a cross-gaming option like Discord for future.

Conclusion

When playing in game, everything appears to work smoothly. However, the joining mechanism is… shall we say… poor. It’s not obvious what’s happening and with no ability to view and edit friend codes, it’s incredibly easy to not have any idea of what’s going on.

Ideally, there should be a screen listing all your added friends and their current status – those that are online in multiplayer will then have an option for you to join them. And that’s all it needs. Without it, it’s a bit of a confusing mess.

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