This is my review of No Man’s Sky.
For those few cave-dwellers who don’t know, No Man’s Sky is a procedurally generated sci-fi survival and exploration game by Hello Games. Their idea was to take classic sci-fi book covers, and let players walk about in then. Being a tiny team, there was no way they could manually manufacture each landscape they wanted to make. Instead, they used maths to get the computers to do the work for them. As a result they were able to make ‘planet-sized planets’ full of plants, animals, buildings, geography, geology, weather and hazards. Then make it so that there are in excess of 18 Quintilian planets to explore. Furthermore, as this universe is generated, the size on disc is relatively small and there are no loading times (some argue that the warp screens are clearly loading times, but they’re there to generate the feeling of distance). As an intrepid space-going thing, the player is armed with a multi-tool for combat and resource acquisition and a ship for interplanetary, interstellar and intergalactic travel. Everything from the exosuit to the ship to the multi-tool can be upgraded and made to fit the player’s particular needs. Finally, there are a number of goals a player can choose to aim for: Finding out about the mysterious Atlas; Finding out what sits in the centre of the galaxy/universe; Finding out what else there is to find out.
At this point I am just shy of 100 hours of playing this game. I’ve gone for the exploration path via the Atlas path and have loved it every step of the way. My current ship is nice and big with 31 slots, still a way to go. My multi-tool choosing has been harder, I’m much fussier about the make, it’s currently a 21-slot.
I’ve completed the Atlas path, am fluent in Korvax and have 80+ achievements including the 3 race achievements.
By this time, I admit, I’m beginning to run out of new things to do/discover. I have a theory about the portals, but need to find one to try it out…
Another aspect I’ve grown to love about this game is the sharing of photos on twitter. From discovering a particularly nice shot, to thinking up a suitable caption for it while posting to getting positive feedback (if any) is a real blast.
Now, I’ve not been so disconnected from reality to have not heard that this game has not been so well received by others and will now address the most common grievances I’ve encountered on the internet.
|Sean Murray is a liar!||Actually, I came across this Is Sean Murray a Liar? from DM21 Gaming who pretty much says what I was saying before I came across it. In short, the answer is no, he isn’t|
|There’s no multiplayer and you can’t even see other players!||The third (and 4th) system I visited had already been partially explored by another player named Sparky. Whether or not we ever meet, Sparky’s existence has cost me vital funds from discoveries they’ve already discovered and got paid for. There’s also that niggling feeling that you’re not alone on a planet. A feeling which you wouldn’t get in a true single-player game. It’s a little unfortunate that I appear to be following in his footsteps while on the Atlas path.
Just because those two players who met on day one couldn’t see each other, doesn’t mean that will be the same for everyone. Even Hello Games weren’t clear as to why that happened, though I suspect it had something to do with being on different servers or some desync issue. At no point did Sean Murray ever claim that this was a multiplayer game in the traditional sense, just hints that you just might bump into someone else.
|All the planets/plants/animals/rocks look the same just with different colour pallets||Your point being? There’s only so many ways appendages can be attached to a body, branches can spread from a trunk and structures can be built. Life and geography on planet Earth gets samey after a while. I still enjoy searching out all the species on each planet and am still getting surprised by the things I find.
Keeping the resources the same for each planet was actually done to help players find the particular resource they want. That way, when you land on a planet for the first time, you know that the red spiky crystals are made of plutonium, those floating eggs are made of copper and those tall black monoliths are made of heridium. If they changed that each planet (and thus changing the physical properties of these materials) this game would become much harder as players would never know what their resources look like.
|It’s not scientifically accurate and there’s life on every planet.||It was never meant to be scientifically accurate. Sci-fi book covers were rarely scientifically accurate (or comprehensible). Sean Murray even addresses the concept of gravity and orbits saying that landing on a planet isn’t an easy thing to do, and so made it so players didn’t have to be actual rocket scientists to play the game.
I’ve come across a few planets now with no life on at all. Just a few rocks, and they’re no less impressive.
|The inventory is too small||If you’re used to playing games like Minecraft that give you massive pockets, then I can see why a little adjustment needs to be made. Having said that, I personally think it’s great that you have to decide between a little extra room for stuff or use that slot towards a boost for something. You can always get bigger ships with more room by purchasing them or fixing up crashed ships. There’s also those pods which increase your suit inventory size for a cost. I’ve now maxed out my inventory size, and it’s pretty big. Still not big enough, but then I was always struggling for space in Minecraft.|
|The game is repetitive||Most games are repetitive, from having to relearn and rebuild tech in strategy games like StarCraft to repeatedly running about and shooting things in most FPS games. Yet these games are not only played, they’re replayed over and over again.
In No Man’s Sky, this planet requires protection from the cold, has loads of storms and has vast oceans, that planet is clement but has frenzied sentinels guarding graviton balls, that moon is barren save for the basic resources, this moon has everything designed to kill you. You never know what the next planet will give you. They promised us 18 quintillion planets…which part of 18 quintillion planets did you not think would be repetitive?
|This game is too expensive||Many games have a total play time of 20-60 hours. I cannot see an end to me playing this game. There’s always something new over the next hill, on the next planet, in the next system, in the next galaxy. We’re looking at potentially 100’s of hours of game time. Even when most has been achieved, there’s always a new theory to try out or a surprising critter that jumps out at you.
With the possibility of free DLC (and paid too, I accept that Sean was a little naive when he made the statement about all DLC being free) coming once Hello Games have fixed the problems, this game would become ever bigger and more complex. It’s also just out, wait a while and they’re be a sale and by then a lot of the fixes should be in place.
|Its graphics are a bit basic.||Minecraft isn’t exactly abundant with state of the art graphics, didn’t do it any harm. Sci-Fi book covers were the premise. I’ve read a lot of the sci-fi from which this game is inspired by. I’ve even read a good number of the book titles Hello Games used as their achievements, so I know exactly which book covers they’re talking about. Almost every single screenshot I’ve taken of this game has been either beautiful or breathtakingly beautiful.|
Okay fanboy, was there anything you didn’t like about the game?
Aside from the bugs that are hopefully getting fixed very soon (after about an hour of playing, the frame rate drops to not much at all – a simple matter of closing the game down and relaunching fixes it, oh and I once did fall through the planet), no, not really. I find the space combat a little tricky, but then I’m using a thumb-tracker ball as a mouse and that normally causes aggro with macro movements in most games I play.
I also find the astro-navigation map difficult to navigate if I want to return to a system I’ve been to previously. For those lucky few who had the privilege of playing Nomad by Intense! Interactive and Papyrus Group, that had an excellent astrogation chart which listed all the places you’d been to and you could just select your destination from the list and away you go. It would be nice if something like that was added to the navigation screen – it’s already there in the discoveries screen. Now that I’ve passed through a black hole, this is less of an issue, perhaps, but it would be nice to create a navigable path to a previous planet that was particularly memorable.
Frankly I don’t get why Hello Games and Sean Murray are getting the hate they’re getting (not that I understand this online behaviour either). They have provided a beautiful and endless (or as near as makes no difference) universe in which I can immerse myself doing things I love to do. I paid close attention to all the news and articles stating what they were trying to achieve and I believe they have accomplished what they have set out to do. I’m not saying it’s perfect and Hello Games appear to be working like crazy to remedy the usual bugs and issues that even top branded companies suffer from with their releases (I’m sure most of you can think of a few games at this price with significant glitches). It’s best to remember that Hello Games are a tiny indi group who were never in this position before. The press coverage was both a blessing (I would never have heard of this game if it hadn’t been banded about like it had) and a curse (there was no way anyone could have anticipated the enormous number of players that were playing this game right off the bat). Their modicum of success with Joe Danger (no, I’ve never heard of it either – which is kind of my point here) in no way could have prepared them for what they’re going through right now.
Basically it comes to this: You’ll like this game, or you won’t. You would have understood completely what Hello Games would be able to produce (despite their naivety – there was a lot of that), or you got caught out by the hype train and were expecting a different game to what they promised (again with the naivety). This is a groundbreaking game that was going to have teething problems. It would have been weird if it didn’t.
You have a choice:
Get in early and immerse yourself in an ever-improving universe
Wait (it’s only been out a couple of weeks – give them time to fix the bugs and for a money-saving sale)
Play something else (and stop with the hating – it doesn’t become you)
I would rate this game as: Full marks!
I got in early, I’m glad I did and will stay here for as long as I can.