The next update for No Man’s Sky is taking a few cues from the classic sci-fi universe of Dune, with desert planets, dark cults, and rideable sandworms coming to the spacefaring exploration game.
As developer Hello Games details in a blog post (thanks, Eurogamer), the upcoming Expedition Four: Emergence will also be the first event to feature a specific narrative, with players finding themselves marooned on the desert world of Wasan and forced to cleanse the planet of “cursed dust” as they try to escape.
Setting the scene, Hello Games details that “across the universe, planets have been blighted by the activity of Titan Worms. These colossal sandworms plough through the desert sands, blacking out the sun as they arc overhead, and defiling the very terrain with their cursed dust.”
The plotline will also see players “reveal the history of a dark cult, and ultimately confront the Atlas with evidence of this indelible stain upon the universe.”
While sandworms already existed in the game – encountered on certain worlds where they rumble under the ground or leap through the sky, oblivious to and unfettered by player activity – the Titan Worms represent a new threat and challenge.
Emergence will also introduce rideable sandworms. The developer says that “players can now tame and grow a tremendous sandworm companion to feed, pet, ride and explore the universe with. These are both terrifying and awesome creatures when fully grown, and incredible to fly.”
As part of the update, No Man’s Sky will see “a bunch of improvements” coming to the game, including “richer particle effects”, and “more varied biologies and types” for the existing sandworms. There will also be some disturbingly organic skins added, including a “Ghastly Trail” jetpack exhaust that ejects “gooey fluids and tiny worms during flight”, and “Flesh Launcher” fireworks that “explode in a splatter of slime, plasma and wormlets.”
The timing and themes of the update fit nicely with the imminent release of Denis Villeneuve’s cinematic Dune – while the sandworms are the obvious visual connection, the mysterious cult sounds like a possible nod to the Bene Gesserit sect central to the Dune universe.
Emergence is a seasonal event, which Hello Games says will “run over the course of Halloween”, meaning players who want to pilot their own pet sandworm will want to jump into No Man’s Sky soon.