With No Man’s Sky being such a diverse game, we’re not quite ready to review it just yet. In saying that, it’s a game that people are going to have VERY different experiences with, so we’re bringing you some of the team’s experiences and early opinions. [divider] [/divider]
Sci-fi is my jam. No Man’s Sky embodies every young sci-fi fan’s dream of exploring the stars. Sure, it’s not everything we hoped it would be, but I’m not sure it needed to be the infinitely explorable MMO that I initially envisioned.
It’s artistic, it’s visually and technically impressive and it’s engrossing. In my first couple of hours with the game, I felt truly immersed, like I had been transported from the comfort of my bedroom to the beautiful, but equally as dangerous, expanse of the final frontier.
No Man’s Sky forces you to pay attention to the world around you, not simply through flagging areas of interest or creating varied landscape but through a desperate need for self-preservation. Within a few hundred metres of my crashed ship (your starting spawn location) I was already being attacked by aliens, in desperate need of shelter from the cold and for resources to refuel my constantly depleting life support systems.
Obviously I’ve never explored alien planets before, but having consumed decades of sci-fi content like I have, I can only imagine this is what space exploration is truly like. There’s something magical to No Man’s Sky for people such as myself. It may only be a magic that lasts a dozen hours, but the tranquility, the wonder and the momentary bursts of adrenaline experienced through hostile alien encounters have ensured that No Man’s Sky has caught me in its tractor beam.[divider] [/divider]
Time is a commodity that over the years seems to be getting more and more scarce. And one thing this game requires is time. Patience is a virtue, and a keen eye is a must.
No Man’s Sky didn’t start how I expected it would, but then again I doubt it started the same for anyone else either. Crash-landed on a planet, I began harvesting resources to fix my downed ship, and already I was under fire by Sentinel drones and strange land-jellyfish-crabs that thought it’d be funny to run around and hit me upside the head. Granted my experiences haven’t been as harsh as others, I was forced to find resources, to go beyond the bounds of comfortability, and adapt to survive.
So far it has been an interesting experience to say the least – there isn’t a sense of urgency, which is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve already been attacked in space, which was hectic, and a fair bit of time has been spent cruising planets for upgrades or resources to craft new items. These are all good things, but thoughts of longevity come into play here – how long do I have to spend mining resources before something happens? How many other spacefaring races are out there to meet? Will I ever actually meet another real-life player?
With an underlying mystifying story, No Man’s Sky borrows from so many sci-fi games before it – hints of Destiny and Mass Effect are there, but it feels incomplete – perhaps in future updates the game will evolve and take shape into something more. Maybe we will get the opportunity to travel with other players that drop in and out, _Journey_ style. Maybe missions will appear. Maybe it could turn into Stargate or Star Trek and we have warring alien factions.
Like the vast emptiness of the space we explore, the future is infinite for this game, but for now the game is a great way to unwind and kill time with some brilliant incidental music and some stunning visuals.[divider] [/divider]
When No Man’s Sky was first announced I was pretty unsure as to what kind of experience it would offer. I’ve never dabbled too much in the PC scene where a lot of games similar to this exist, but the idea of No Man’s Sky appealed to me. Keen to see nothing, I swiftly entered a media blackout after the announcement trailer to keep everything fresh.
I’ve now played No Man’s Sky for roughly six or so hours. During that time my emotions have been very up and down on the experience. From the get go it was fairly obvious to me that a lot of car had gone into the art direction and the soundtrack. That is, the presentation was really on point. But as I played more and more this all began to fall apart. While I acknowledge you should really scour the surface of the planet first, I immediately wanted to jump from planet to planet to see how the procedural generation works.
It works well, and the technology powering it is clearly something special. But I’m not totally convinced that No Man’s Sky is an example of good design. But rather, I’d rather call it interesting design. While the galaxy is huge and impressively generated, speaking with other players it’s rather disappointing to find that the extents of the procedurally generated content – the creatures themselves, the artificial intelligence and even the terrain – are not anywhere near as varied as the marketing has you believe.
My ultimate disappointment comes from the fact that, at the end of the day, No Man’s Sky is yet another crafting /survival game but with a larger marketing budget and some flashy mechanics responsible for the procedurally generated world. I love the fact that there’s apparently millions (billions? Trillions? Quillions?) of planets but what the hell is the point if the experience is largely the same on all of them?
No Man’s Sky is a compelling game at first and one that I want to sink more time into in the future but for now it definitely hasn’t grabbed me. But it does raise some interesting discussions and arguments with regards to the value of procedurally generated content and whether it’s able to step in for quality, curated content. For now, I’d say it definitely isn’t.[divider] [/divider]
The idea behind No Man’s Sky is amazing and one that will define a new path for gaming in the future. It has definitely nailed the scope for how big they wanted this game to feel, from the endless openness you encounter when pulse jumping through a star system, to the overwhelming size and scale of a planet’s terrain. It’s absolutely mental – I mean, I found a crashed ship site on a planet this morning, which was going to take me 20mins to fly to! What?! Hello Games should be proud with how they have executed the immersion of the player and the endless possibilities to explore they have provided. However, after 48hrs of play I do have some concerns.
The biggest of concerns is how this game will stack against my own perseverance to continue exploring the vast corners of the universe. By which I mean, this game is definitely one that I can jump into for 20 mins or 2 hours and feel satisfied by what I accomplish, but does it have enough diversity in gameplay and mechanics for this to last? I can confidently say that this is the first game that makes me excited to explore every distance of terrain, or kill some time farming resources to trade and craft. I’ve really taken to discovering as many lifeforms and ruins as I can, to become fluent in the alien language of my star system. But I’m concerned that all this excitement and intrigue will not last. Yes, the scale of this game is impressive and the mechanics that are present work well for its style, but I think (for future Jake’s experience), that No Man’s Sky is missing elements that would turn it into a true masterpiece. For an exploration game, why not some explorer based aspects like a camera? Or the ability to plot a map of a planet (cartography is a huge part of exploring new worlds)? I understand the mindset for a single player only game, but it would thrive even more with multiplayer gameplay like exploring a planet with a friend – which could lead to epic rescues from the weather, mass farming or world domination. Even just a “leaderboard” of sorts to define which players are ranked the highest in terms of the four pillars of the game – Trade (Richest Player?), Explore (Discovered the most?), Fight (Badass of Space?), Survive (Resource collection?)…these are just ideas, but would add so much more to the replay-ability!
There’s so many different elements I could write up about, that would describe what makes this game be the pinnacle of this current gen, but I don’t have the word count. My hopes are that Hello Games listen to the players’ experiences and think about creating DLC and updates that will make them even prouder of what they have achieved.[divider] [/divider]
I’m not going to lie. No Man’s Sky is a game that only became on my radar quite recently. There are people that have been anticipating this game since it was first announced by the small team at Hello Games, but I am definitely not one of those. It has been the hallmark title for the PS4 for quite a number of major showings now, which definitely peaked my interest. My main concern with the game was always that the trailers were intriguing and the game oozed atmosphere, but I never really understood what you’d be doing in the game.
As it became more evident that this was a game that you really had to put significant time and energy into, to get something out of it, I became more and more worried that the game wouldn’t be for me. Fast forward to the middle of August, when we’re in a massive gaming drought, and my interest for No Man’s Sky is huge, just purely on the fact that there really isn’t a whole lot happening in the gaming world at the moment besides Pokemon GO. I’m not somebody that likes huge, open experience, escpecially when there doesn’t appear to be a huge objective. Ultimately, within 2-3 hours, I realised that I was enjoying myself but knew that the enjoyment wouldn’t last. I was enjoying finding new planets, and coming across weird bird-shaped dinosaurs, but ultimately, I wasn’t in it for the long-haul and the grindy gameplay just wasn’t for me.
I completely appreciate Sean Murray in his team and absolutely hold him in the highest regard for what he has created, but I definitely think that numbers and marketing mumbo jumbo took over the experience in the lead-up to launch. I’m not sure that the fact that there were 18 quintillion planets should have been the main selling point of the game, and it definitely was.
I have no doubt that many people will enjoy No Man’s Sky, as its soundtrack and overall atmosphere building gameplay are ace, and there’s obviously some incredibly tech to pull off the procedurally generated world, but it just isn’t for me, and I’m ok with that. I’ll definitely sink some more time into it, but I won’t be taking it as seriously as some other people will.