Frontiers, the next major update for No Man’s Sky, adds another layer of content to the game as it populates its procedural universe with bustling towns brimming with NPCs for players to interact with, explore, and even run – not to mention nebulas, expanded base building, improved combat, and more.
Hello Games has announced a range of details surrounding its free Frontiers expansion in a press release. The company says that since its launch, it has always wanted players to let players “step into the cover of a science fiction book” and that the release of the game’s new expansion brings another aspect of that into reality. Amongst other notable additions, Frontiers will allow players to find ‘living, breathing Mos Eisley type settlements’ on once-barren alien planets.
Following the update, new life will spring into the game’s procedurally generated landscape through NPC-populated settlements. Players embarking across galaxies will be able to interact with settlements and grant assistance to their residents many of whom will be harbored with their own problems.
In addition to providing citizen assistance, the Frontiers expansion will allow budding adventurers across the game to become the Overseer of a settlement. In addition to the new swanky title, becoming a Settlement Overseer will allow players a range of new in-game options.
First and foremost, settlement leaders will be able to grow their towns by constructing new buildings and accepting new inhabitants. According to Hello Games, newly formed settlements will start off as little more than a sparsely populated cluster of buildings inhabited by a small collection of NPCs. It will be the job of the town’s newly found Overseer to govern and manage the resources necessary to allow the population of the settlement to grow and become a flourishing town.
In line with the rest of the game, each settlement will be procedurally generated. This means that each community that players should happen across should be unique not only in terms of its inhabitants but also its buildings, neighborhood layout, color schemes, and both interior and exterior decorations. With the sheer size of the universe in No Man’s Sky, we’re willing to bet there will be some choice color combinations out there. Yellow and green anyone?
In addition to adding buildings to their new-found settlements, Overseers will also be able to make important policy decisions for their townsfolk going forward. Starting out as newly appointed galactic politicians, players will be able to grapple with a range of issues ranging from treasury management to town planning and conflict resolution. In the case of the latter, Hello Games says that when called upon to help resolve disagreements between settlers, “fair and compassionate judgments will result in happier citizens”. Whilst it isn’t yet clear exactly how happiness will be measured or what ramifications could result from unhappy citizens, it would certainly be an interesting twist to see a group of intergalactic NPCs surmount a revolution.
In addition to the new settlement mechanics that will feature in the Frontiers update, No Man’s Sky will feature a number of other noteworthy additions in the expansion. According to Hello Games, the studio will be making a number of improvements to base building. On top of adding new structural sets of timber, stone, and alloy pieces that will allow for a greater range of building shapes, Frontiers will also add more than a hundred new decorative parts for prospective builders. The expansion will also introduce a new HUD for placing building parts and incorporate a new free place mode which will allow players to pick up, duplicate and move parts that they’ve already placed onto the environment.
If, instead of building bases and settling down as an intergalactic Overseer, you’d rather be flying through the vast expanse of deep space causing trouble and fighting your way through anything that stands before you, Frontiers has you covered for content there too. Interstellar clouds gathering in deep space will add vivid nebulas to No Man’s Sky whilst Hello Games also notes that almost all of the game’s visual effects have been improved. In terms of combat, Frontiers should make weapons and explosions feel more powerful and add “a new visceral element to combat”.
Frontiers also brings the game’s third Expedition, called Cartographers. “The event starts all players in the same place and, as the name suggests, focuses on planetary mapping and exploration,” reads the press release. “With unique new challenges and rewards, players will need to thoroughly explore their starting world to escape the toxic atmosphere of planet Gisto Major.” One of the previous expeditions added Mass Effect’s Normandy ship into the game – here’s hoping for similar surprises here too.
Finally, the studio has also announced that it will be running another Twitch campaign for the game soon. This means that No Man’s Sky rewards will be available for players to earn by watching streamers play the game online. Despite the announcement, Hello Games hasn’t shared further specifics about its upcoming Twitch campaign at the time of writing. You an read the full Frontiers patch notes right now.
If you’d like to find out more about No Man’s Sky then why not check out our dedicated page for the game where you can read about the game’s previous expansions and more.
Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.