No Man’s Sky Review
11 Aug, 2016
There they are again! Sleepless nights!
First No Man’s Sky (NMS) gave me sleepless nights over thinking about what it’s like to move in procedural generated planets and space. Now that it is out, I actually can (almost) feel how it’s is like to move in such a vast (meaning huge) world. It takes time, even if you are not going straight for the kill. Meaning you don’t want to just enjoy the game and finish it in record time. That makes sense if you forgot to switch of your Iron at home, not so much if you want to cherish this great game.
By great game, I mean huge, like – walking a long time and getting (virtual) blisters on your feet (or thumbs) huge.
If you want to play this game you better quit your job (if you can afford it) and stock up on Doritos and Twinkies etc for the next months.
I really love the game for the open world and discover-a-bility style.
I think if I need to summarize it (or you insist) I would say it is a mixture of Minecraft, Spore (do you remember that?) and somehow Destiny. Obviously it also reminds me of Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen, even they’re different in their approach.
And it has a hint of Pokemon GO in there too, except you don’t have to walk for real… yet.
After I started playing NMS I immediately had this deja vu moment. Somehow the menu looks and feels a bit like Destiny. This is not a bad thing, just something I need to get used to. Yes you have to press and hold the X button to confirm an action for 1-2 seconds. This is something I am more used to with Google Cardboard games as it makes sense, if you have no button on your Cardboard to confirm an action. Personally on consoles I am more a friend of ‘I push a button and somethings happens’ which works if you switch sub menus. Sorry, I had to get this of my chest.
Sometimes I thing it is ‘prepared’ for Virtual Reality, but we will see about that. It is really a title where it would make a huge difference playing this in VR on the PlayStation 4. That would be so awesome!
Possible Spoiler Alert
From here on out you get a few Spoilers about the game. I will try to keep it vague, but it is really hard. So just be warned.
If you want to save the hassle of reading this, then just buy the game. I think it is worth it if you can make some time for it.
Back to No Man’s Sky in the meantime. It has a lot to offer. You need to find and collect (well harvest) a lot of resources around you, and find clues for what to do next. Also you find more blueprints, which give you the ingredients of how to make new things and parts (that include parts for the space ship and weapons).
I found myself stranded on a planet with a damaged space ship. Well that was bad news, as I intended to fly into space asap.
First you have to find all kind of resources needed to craft parts to fix the ship.
After fixing my ship I spent a while wondering around and went into space. From there (or in between) I was always looking back to see how the planet structures are getting smaller, and vanishing on the horizon. I finally got a sense of how big this planet really is. Kind of mind blowing really.
Well the goals become clearer, as there is a space map with a path to the center of the galaxy. And no Hyperdrive to jump and get there, yet. There are other ships bigger and smaller flying around and a lot of Asteroids. You can shoot them and harvest resources from them as well. Those can be used later (or sold) on the Intergalactic Market. Yes you can buy and sell stuff too. Well, if you can find the few Terminals around in some building, which you might find on planets and space stations.
It took me a while to get to a Space Station, but I managed it after 6 or so minutes. Time really flies. I wish there was an autopilot or something, as I had to fly around (or shoot) popping procedurally generated Asteroids. Well, now I understand what Han Solo mentioned about the computer making calculations before the Hyperjump, very educational and painful for your ships shield and hull!
Flying back to another planet and entering its atmosphere with fire around your ship made me feel like a real Astronaut.
Also you see more and more details popping up, and then you finally land somewhere and see the structures of buildings and landmarks grow etc. It is really cool. I really like the level of details, seeing some pixels being generated out of thin air sometimes to cover up structures. Well I guess here you can see the procedural generation in action.
Same with the language of that alien civilization . You don’t understand sentences you will find – or Aliens talking to you – in the beginning… and no, Klingon will get you nowhere here. You need to find those words by activating Monoliths lying around all over the planets. It is a new way of treasure/scavenger hunting, but makes sense and keeps you occupied for a while.
Taking about hunting. You are getting hunted by drones or sentinels if you destroy too many (virtual) trees or rocks to extract resources from.
I really felt a bit guilty for doing this and got paranoid when doing so. Always watching out for those flying drones…
Especially in the beginning where I was not aware of them, and they killed me in my (killing) spree. ‘But I need this resource officer, really!’ Well they don’t care about listening to my (valid) excuses it seems…
- A lot to discover and explore (including vocabularies to an Alien language). No Klingon, sorry!
- Scanning, Mining/harvesting resources is fun
- Crafting resource like in Minecraft is fun too, if you have the ingredients!
- Exploring the huge planets (without Pokemon GO!, but if feels the same 😉 )
- Upgrading your Space Suite, Ship and Weapon
- Displays estimated arrival time for destination you aim for
- Jump pack gets you out of caves or over hills
- Sometimes minor pixels being generated out of thin air or popping up
- Buildings have the same, repetitive layout after a few hours game play
- Walking and flying around and to distant destination can take sometimes many minutes
- Feeling guilty of destroying (virtual) trees to extract resources (and getting shot at by drones or sentinels)
- No multiplayer, yet.
Well I was not sure what exactly No Man’s Sky would feel like playing after all the hype around it and the delay thanks to Sky.
But I have to say I really enjoyed playing it so far and the guys put a lot of effort into into the game. I can feel it. My biggest suspicion was the big buzz word ‘procedural generation’. It sounds good, but if you think about the fact that all this planets can’t be all tested by the developers themselves, made me initially nervous. So far I have experiences where I felt trapped or could not get out of a cave for example. Using the build in jump pack helps to fly out of them, or over steep hills or into valleys.
Because of the vastness of the terrain and space it all take a bit longer to walk or fly to. And remember, you have to get all the way back to your ship eventually. So double the journey time (which you get rewarded for was well). Luckily I never ran out of oxygen as there seems enough resources lying around on the planets I visited so far.
For explorers (with patience) and with some time at hand I highly recommend this game. In a way it is a high fidelity Minecraft with more benefits.
If you just want strictly the action, then you better stick to Destiny or Elite Dangerous. If you get bored of those, come back to No Man’s Sky.
You get No Man’s Sky on Sony PlayStation 4 now and on Steam on August, 12th. Pre-purchase price is 59,99€.