'No Man's Sky' recruits new players with Nintendo Switch expansion, 'relaxed' mode

A classic role-playing game in space exploration has a fresh face.

No Man's Sky, which debuted in 2016, is coming to Nintendo Switch Friday (Oct. 7) with capabilities to reel in new players and to get older ones once again exploring the universe.

"People are arriving, new players, and we sort of want to tidy up our house," Hello Games co-founder Sean Murray told PC Gamer (opens in new tab), a sister publication to Space.com.

The space survival game is known for offering 18 quintillion planets with unique sets of creatures upon each. Now it has ambitious aims to increase its player base with a new "relaxed" mode allowing a death-free experience of space exploration. 

For those adventurers with too many things in their backpacks, the latest release will feature a "massive" inventory increase, which may bring old players back to the fold, Murray said.

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No Man's Sky (opens in new tab)

No Man's Sky for Nintendo Switch $59.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Explore quintillions of planets at your own pace with this "galactic sandbox" that lets you flow between exploring strange new worlds, meeting amazing creatures or going to combat over valuable space resources. 

The Switch version is available starting Oct. 7; if you want to dive in a bit sooner, No Man's Sky is also available for Playstation 5 (opens in new tab) at the same price or for Xbox One (opens in new tab) at half the price ($28).

Returning players will get an easy flow back into the game with a summary of where the plot has taken people so far, Murray said, which was a direct response to online feedback. "Something I see online occasionally, people will say, 'I like the game, but it feels overwhelming to come back,' " he said.

There will still be a flurry of updates to catch up on, however, including living ships (opens in new tab), ridable sandworms (opens in new tab) and cosmic whales (opens in new tab), according to PC Gamer. New "journey" milestones are on the map (the equivalent of "levelling up" in the No Man's Sky universe) and players looking for a greater challenge can "actually crank the survival element way higher" in Version 4.0 of the game, Murray said.

No Man's Sky had mediocre early reviews (opens in new tab) from places like PC Gamer due to numerous technical issues, but Hello Games says it has done its best to address player concerns and to make the game sustainable for some years yet.

The company, however, is in a marketplace increasingly crowded with space RPG (role-playing game) content, with the likes of Halo Infinite, Starfield and Earth from Another Sun eagerly crowding in. Hello Game's decision to stand aside from microtransactions also makes it stand apart from games like Fortnite, which has some space skins and key partnerships (like Star Wars) and uses that revenue stream for growth.

If you're looking for more space game awesomeness, check out our picks for the best space horror games and best space mobile games. And if you're looking to save on the cosmic game experience, we've got 6 ways to save money on video games for space fans.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before joining full-time, freelancing since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace