In a nutshell: Hello Games dropped another free content update overnight. The next expansion pretty much rebuilt the combat system. Sentinels have more units at their disposal, and players can no longer unfairly enter a cave or base to get them off their back. However, players will have more battle options, including the ability to convert their Exomech suit into an autonomous Hardframe Battle Mech.

Last week we pointed out the current two-month gap that Hello Games had between No Man's Sky updates. Historically, lengthy patch breaks like that meant a major iteration is eminent. However, in that case, it appeared it was because the developers were busy on a Nintendo Switch port. That is true, but a big content dump was, indeed, also on the way.

Update 3.8, titled Sentinel, focuses heavily on combat (summary trailer above).

First of all, HG completely overhauled the Sentinels. Not only is there a wider variety of units to attack and harass you, including the powerful Hardframe Battle Mech, but their AI is also far better than before. If you enjoyed plinking drones from the nearby safety of a hastily constructed shack that they cannot enter, forget about that tactic. Sentinels can now come indoors and in caves as well. There is no safe haven once you tick them off. These mechanical beasts are going to be far trickier to beat now.

So as not to unbalance the fight, Hello Games is upping the player arsenal. First on deck is a new Neutron Cannon. This addition to the multitool can fire off quick but weak bursts of neutrons to peck away at the enemy. However, its real power is in the charged blast, which really packs a punch. Another weapon will probably not be enough against the new Hardframe Sentinels. So HG has reworked the player's Minotaur exomech suit in a couple of ways.

First, there is a new technology blueprint called the Minotaur AI Pilot. With this module installed, the suit will act as an autonomous companion. It will follow you and engage in battle with enemies. If you decide you need the extra protection the exomech provides, you can jump in and take control---similar to the Titans in Titanfall.

That may not be enough in a heavy battle, so players can now craft Hardframe attachments to their Minotaurs. These heavy armor blueprints are stolen from the Sentinels and provide increased mobility, advanced weapon systems, hardened armor, and the AI Pilot mentioned above. But that's not all. Players can also craft a drone companion to follow them, providing aid.

All this extra firepower will be needed considering that in addition to the Hardframe Battle Mechs, the Sentinels also have new holographic shields, repair drones, and summoner drones. So battles can heat up considerably once you go on the offensive.

If it gets too hot, you can try to sneak out of your predicament using stealth camo. The new blueprint for your environmental suit, Active Camouflage Technology, temporarily makes you invisible. The effect is similar to the Chinese stealth armor or the Stealth Boys in the Fallout series. After sneaking off, you can find the new Planetary Sentinel Pillar (below), which will allow you to shut down all Sentinel activity (temporarily).

Hello Game strived to improve the combat experience in this update while keeping it balanced and fair on both sides. However, if intense combat is not your bag, No Man's Sky has not lost that "do what you want" attitude. Just avoid making the sentinels mad if you don't want a fight. As long as you are not trying to complete a quest that requires combat, just exercise caution when mining resources or killing the fauna.

While combat was the main focus, the developers also included several welcome quality-of-life changes. They doubled the number of multitools and tripled the number of animal companions players can possess. Teleporting within the same system is faster, weapon firing visuals have been overhauled, and a new Royal multitool and Royal jetpack are available (below).

Patch 3.8 includes touchscreen support and optimizations for the Steam Deck, and Hello Games has added AMD FSR and Nvidia DLAA support as well.

The Sentinel update went live at midnight, so it should be ready to go if you have auto-updating set. We don't have the time to delve into many other quality-of-life improvements and bug fixes, but you can also persue the patch notes for all the dirt on the No Man's Sky website.