Video Games

The New Biomes in No Man’s Sky Are Out of This World

No Man's Sky Sporal Planet

On Thanksgiving Day (November 22) of 2018, No Man’s Sky released its Visions update to the surprise of just about everyone.

Well, that’s not entirely true. See, the official No Man’s Sky: Visions trailer had leaked just two days earlier, and the news was made official shortly thereafter, giving players just a few dozen hours to prepare themselves for the contents of this incredible update.

One of the biggest new features was that this update would return No Man’s Sky to its original color palate. With the overwhelmingly massive Next update in July of 2018, players noticed that the color palate had been substantially reduced. With a few exceptions, grass was usually green, red, or orange, and skies and water were almost always blue. Before that, it was not uncommon to discover purple grass, cotton-candy skies, and wine-red oceans. Visions brought back the diversity of color that players found sorely missing after Next.

In fact, there was a portion of the No Man’s Sky community who intentionally reverted their games to Version 1.2, Path Finder (an option for Steam users willing to monkey around a bit) or even 1.0 (for PS4 users who reinstall the game in an internet-free environment to prevent the updates from installing). This was done in an effort to reclaim that old, science-fiction-novel-cover aesthetic that drew so many people to the game in the first place.

No Man's Sky Red Ocean

So Visions addressed this, to the delight of many. The above image is just one example of the game’s revised look. That blood-red water is far more interesting than the typical blue stuff you’d find on pretty much every water planet before the update.

But there’s another feature in this update that I’m now very excited about: Visions adds five new planetary biomes to the world of No Man’s Sky. When I initially read about that, I didn’t expect to care much — there are several biomes in the game that I just don’t find that interesting — but having actually discovered some of them in my interplanetary travels, I must admit that this is an incredible addition to the game.

See, I was flying around, checking out the new aesthetics, when I stumbled upon what looked like just another dead world. I named it Unbuttoned for reasons I can’t really explain.

No Man's Sky Sporal Planet

It was a sphere of grayish rock, apparently devoid of oceans and animal life. Had it not been for patches of white mist fluffing around the thing, I wouldn’t have even expected this planet to have an atmosphere. Yet when I scanned it, the term “Sporal Planet” came up. What is this?

I decided to check it out, expecting to find a dull, lifeless world of endless rocky valleys. I figured I’d quickly touch down, give the planet a goofy name (which I clearly did), and fling myself back into the cosmos to see what other strange alien worlds were ripe for exploration. Yet to my surprise, Unbuttoned is actually a world of rust-colored grass, mushrooms made of iron, and hovering stones that vaguely resemble mechanical olives.

No Man's Sky Sporal Planet

Obviously, I had to spend some time on this odd ball of rock. So I ejected my little Gek body from my ship and began wandering around Unbuttoned, curious about the strange things I might find there.

The color palate is a bit muted, unlike some of the almost overwhelmingly fluorescent look of many other planets in this game, but I kind of like it. There’s a sort of autumn-like look, with rusted browns and muted reddish-orange tones. The grass really helps, as it livens up the bare, spongy rock surface. Even weirder, some of the plantlife (if you can even call it that) produces soft synthesizer tones that you can hear when you get really close.

There are also some souvenirs to collect here. Some of those olive-looking things have glowy mushrooms protruding from the top of them, and they’re able to be picked up — they can be used to decorate a base later on. Apparently, these are called Calcishrooms, and they show up on what the flavor text refers to as “malfunctioning planets.” Interesting.

No Man's Sky Calcishroom

If I decide to sell these, they go for 1,000 Units per plant. I think I’ll hang onto mine, though, as they’ll make great decorations for the interior of my freighter.

As I moseyed about on the surface of Unbuttoned, I eventually came into contact with one of No Man’s Sky‘s newest lifeforms. I don’t even know how to explain these things. I guess they’re clusters of light that hover around, sort of like swarms of blue fireflies.

No Man's Sky Sporal Planet

This is the only thing resembling animal life on the entire planet, and it’s nothing like anything I’ve seen in this game thus far. Definitely a fun discovery.

Unbuttoned is pretty unintimidating. There are no storms here, and the temperature is comfortable both day and night. I don’t have to worry about finding shelter or feeding elements into my Exosuit to stay alive here; I can just roam around for hours at a time.

Plus, since the metallic vegetation is so sparse, clusters of Di-hydrogen and condensed carbon crystals are very easy to find. In fact, Unbuttoned would make a pretty good home for a Gek like me.

So I set up a base and planted the seeds of what was to eventually become New Mush City.

No Man's Sky Sporal Planet

I am astonished at how cool the “Sporal Planet” biome is, and I hope Hello Games continues adding more biomes to the game. Part of what makes No Man’s Sky exciting, even after hundreds of hours, is the fact that you can continually discover things that surprise you. And new biomes are among the Vision update’s greatest surprises.

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.