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No Man's Sky Next: Should You Start Over?

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No Man’s Sky is back and bursting with new opportunities following the release of the Next update. For the first time you can embark on missions or traipse around the stars with friends in tow. You can all kick back and plan missions from the deck of your capital ship and command a fleet of AI fighter craft should a gang of space pirates attempt to plunder your coffers. New planet types and overhauled visuals add a layer of freshness to it all. If you thought NMS was marvelous before, prepare to be wowed all over again.

If you’re like me, there’s no question about whether or not you should jump back in, but rather if you should continue playing your existing save or start over from scratch. There isn’t one correct answer, and my reasoning may seem frivolous depending on how you play the game and what your ultimate goals are, but judging by my experiences so far this week, taking a step back isn’t as detrimental as you might think.

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Regardless of what you hope to accomplish, odds are that if you haven’t played No Man’s Sky in a while you will be confused by the revamped resources and their associated survival systems. Upon booting up my PS4 save, with dozens of hours behind it and millions of units waiting to be spent, I immediately struggled to wrap my head around everything that’s been added to the game over the last two years. I had a ship I loved. I had great gear and ample cash flow with which to establish a new life among the stars. But I lacked the most important thing of all: a clue.

It was at this stage I considered putting the past behind me. Starting over would afford me the chance to ease into the game’s new rules and systems. It is, after all, about the journey rather than the destination. I thought of transferring my riches to a friend and recouping them after starting a new game to lessen the blow, but that felt like cheating myself out of the full experience. I gave myself one concession: I would pick up an existing save on PC that was set just after acquiring the warp drive, one of the game’s earliest milestones. That would save me an hour of tutorialized quests and put me at the start of the game’s two main quest lines, which both provide structure and advanced instruction.

Booting up my immature PC save was a bit demoralizing at first, but that momentary doubt quickly gave way once a couple of friends loaded in. In that instant, No Man’s Sky was less about my journey and more about reveling in the splendor of it all with a couple of goofy partners. No Man’s Sky is not a humorous game, but it can be with the right friends in tow. Light-hearted banter goes a long way to make less-inspiring activities, such as harvesting resources, far more enjoyable.

After a few minutes of questions and answers with my comrades it didn’t take long until I felt confident in my ability to understand No Man’s Sky’s revamped systems. I knew where to get the materials I wanted and how to convert them into fuel for my ship and energy for my survival gear–the most basic and critical skills to master.

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That’s when it hit me: I really wish I had all of my old stuff again. Here I was, feeling confident about my ability to operate under a new set of instructions but with nothing to show for my otherwise extensive experience. I could jump back to my PS4 save and leave my friends behind, but committing to that would be cutting myself off from one of the things that has made my time back in No Man’s Sky so enjoyable in the first place. I honestly can’t choose between my kickass starship on PS4 and a couple of knuckleheads on PC because they both bring different things to the table. But one thing is for sure: starting over afforded me the knowledge to make my old save worth playing again.

No Man’s Sky is a platform that can be used for a lot of different things, and that’s more true than ever before with the addition of multiplayer. The question of whether or not you should start a new save is pretty personal, and in my case, I simply found a temporary trip back to square one to be worth the effort. If you already own No Man’s Sky and are wondering if you should start over,, consider that you’ll be far better off equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge to succeed in the long run than to assume you picking up the game where you left off years ago is actually giving No Man’s Sky Next a fair shot.

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