Is the relentless predictabilty of freighter life getting you down in No Man’s Sky? Well gloom no more because things are about to get a whole lot rowdier thanks to the exploratory space sim’s latest free update, Echoes, which introduces epic freighter-to-freighter battles and Star Wars-style trench runs, alongside a new robot race and more today, 24th August.
Starting with those freighter battles, Echoes – which got the tiniest of teases to celebrate No Man’s Sky’s seventh birthday at the end of last week – expands on the game’s previous system, which made it possible for small ships (whether they be piloted by players or NPC pirates) to attack friendly freighters and fleets. Come Echoes’ arrival, however, players can encounter situations where merchant fleets are instead under attack from aggressive pirates freighters officially known as Dreadnoughts – which they’ll have the option to defend against and defeat.
In time-honoured video game fashion, that involves attacking their weak spots, which is where the Star-Wars-style trench runs come in, requiring pilots to zip along narrow corridors in their opponents’ hull to shoot their red blinky things (a combat HUD overhaul now handily displays the hull integrity of large vessels) until they’re completely atomised.
Away from freighters, Echoes also introduces the Autophage, No Man’s Sky’s first new race since launch in 2016. This “never-before-seen, long-hidden race of robots” – which will take its place alongside the existing Korvax, Gek, and Vy’keen – comes with new story content and associated mechanics, with players able to take on assignments and rituals in order to earn a “huge array” of mechanical parts used to fashion their own robotic avatar.
Elsewhere, Echoes brings a selection of new weapons and tools, starting with the ceremonial Voltaic Staff, a new class of two-handed Multi-Tool used for mining and combat that players will first need to search out and assemble. It comes with a unique set of associated technologies, all of which can be levelled up, and arrives alongside the powerful new Atlantid class of Multi-Tool. Additionally, still with the pew-pew, starship combat has been further tweaked, giving pilots the option to maximise their vessel’s capabilities by diverting power to engines, shields, or weapons.
And that’s still not quite everything; Echoes also introduces a range of new jetpack trails, the ability to search out, trade, and scrap weapons, plus a new Holographic Museum feature tied to the Wonders Catalogue introduced earlier this year. Essentially, this lets players display their favourite discoveries in their base for others to visit and admire with (ideally) a vague sense of awe, which will hopefully include creatures so I can finally have the space zoo of my dreams.
All that arrives alongside various rendering quality, stability, and performance improvements. PSVR 2, for instance, gets foveated rendering, which promises to bring “a large quality improvement throughout the game”, while Switch gets miscellaneous performance improvements and a new anti-aliasing solution for crisper visuals.
And finally, a new limited-time Expedition, titled Voyagers, will launch “soon”. This one puts an emphasis on exploration as players step out to catalogue the marvels of the universe, and, as ever, comes with a variety of exclusive rewards.
No Man’s Sky’s free Echoes update launches today, 24th August, on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC, and full patch notes – which include a whole bunch of smaller additions far too numerous to adequately detail here – can be found on Hello Games’ website.