It was 2015, and I was on the internet with several of my friends. Our eyes were glued to the Sony E3 presentation, waiting to see all the hot new games coming out. I didn't own a Playstation 4 yet, but thanks to Bloodborne, I knew that I wanted one, and this show would have helped me decide on new games to check out. Batman Arkham Knight ended up being decent, if not lacking compared to Arkham Asylum, and would later be completely outclassed by Insomniac's Spider-Man. Call of Duty is Call of Duty: lame ass campaign trying to recapture the magic of CoD4, and fun multiplayer that has an almost zen-like quality to it. And I'm still waiting for that remake of Final Fantasy VII, my all-time favorite game.

And there was one more game that slipped under a lot of radars. I watched the trailer. A lone starship drifting through space, exploring new, randomly generated planets. Then I heard more about this game, No Man's Sky. I came away with the belief that this was going to be that spiritual successor to Noctis that I never thought would come. The ability to explore the stars, and share my discoveries with my friends through an internet connection, rather than the cumbersome GUIDE set up for Noctis sounded incredible. Plus, it sounded like elements of Minecraft and even Elite would be included. I needed a PS4.

I eventually got one, obviously, and a discounted copy of No Man's Sky. By this point, the game had been destroyed in reviews, and lambasted on social media. It was boring and dull and not worth your time, they said. I simply chalked it up to people not understanding what the game was supposed to be about. After all, they had said the same thing about Hakuna Matata, a PS3 game about photographing African wildlife, and that game was awesome. I knew that No Man's Sky would be great. Then I played the game, and...



It kind of sucked, actually.

Sure, there was the galactic exploration, and the beauty of drifting through the void. But in order to do that, you had to rebuild your ship with parts that could be twenty minutes (real time) away while you're stranded on a toxic/frozen/overheated planet slowly killing you while some gross looking crab monster scurries up to you at the speed of light every three steps and hits you so hard your view and perspective are knocked completely out of whack. Not an exaggeration to say that first attempt at No Man's Sky's tutorial took me over two hours before I could even leave the ground.

And once I did make it to space, there was no guarantee that I wouldn't immediately be attacked by space pirates, leading to terrible combat where my ship slowly, slowly turned around just to get blasted by enemies significantly faster than me.

What I'm getting at here is that the original No Man's Sky was not very good.

But then, there was a big update. No Man's Sky NEXT. I joked about it at the time, but it's not too out there to say that the patch notes may as well have said "the game is actually good now." While there's still some issues in regards to some of the missions and crafting being little more than busy work, and the crab aliens being replaced by overly aggressive space robots that shoot you for mining too many rocks, it is significantly better.

With less bullshit in the way, I can now do what I wanted to do all along: go into outer space and find new worlds to explore. An issue I have had with Noctis as of late is that pretty much planet I've found tends to be the same dark, empty, landscape. NMS does vary stuff up, with different weather, different atmospheres, different gravity. No two planets in a system are the same. It rewards your sense of exploration.

In these moments, where I'm not worried about resource management or completing an objective or fighting for my own survival, I can sit back and go back into that old fantasy: adventuring on the Lonely Frontier. To build a home on a remote star to retire to, away from everyone else and their conflicts. Then, when wanderlust sets in, climb into my single-seat starship and see where things take me.