It’s here! The latest update to one of the most maligned games in the past five years! This update brings in a whole lot of low-level quality of life improvements to the game, none of which are particularly ground-breaking on their own, but the sum of which amounts to taking a load off of player’s shoulders when it comes to many pain points of the original game. I played a good amount Sunday morning and afternoon, TCB and just general mucking around.
I had played a fair amount when Next launched, but eventually the grind got to me. I had been playing multiplayer with friends, which meant that everyone got to enjoy the largess of those who were further ahead, and ultimately I think that cut into one of the prime motivators of the game: discovery. The game is designed around needing to grind, and when that need is alleviated, there’s not a heck of a lot to do, although it does free us to play the story without having to worry about frustrating side-trips to fuel our ships or build our bases. Still, the game wore on quickly because playing the grind and playing the story make for breaks from one another, so not having to do one doesn’t leave a lot of meat on the bones of the the other.
The grind is still present in Beyond but like I said, a lot of those little QOL improvements go a long way towards making the game relaxing when you want it to be relaxing, and tense when you want it to be tense. It’s an expansive game that keeps expanding into the shape it defined for itself on that first day we all saw it on Sony’s stage at E3. It’s finally getting to — or is at, depending on your threshold for drama — where we all thought it would be at launch, so I hope that those who slammed it for being a shadow of a promise back then will cut Hello some slack. They’ve been working hard and, unlike other studios, never cut and run.
I do have to talk about the VR addition, though, since I am a VR supporter. It’s OK. I mean, from an immersion perspective (!) it’s as awesome as you might expect. Everything is now to scale, which when talking about a game that’s literally as big as a universe, that’s pretty much all you can ask for in a VR experience. But once again, because my headset is from Microsoft, it’s not officially supported. That caused issues on launch day as WMR owners were reporting rampant crashes and general instability. Once a few hotfix patches were issued, the crashing went away, but the controls were just garbage. Players were posting their own “Vive-like” remaps just to make the game playable, but none were completely satisfactory. The result is that the immersion is totally there, but the control scheme for third-class WMR users just sucks. I will be playing primarily in Normal-R mode because I doubt Hello will do anything to support my headset directly. Also, the PSVR version operates better, but looks worse, so that’s not even on the table at this point.