No Man’s Sky, one of the most hyped games in recent memory. A sandbox type, open world sci-fi game. You start with little to nothing and work to improve your side arm/mining tool, environmental suit, space ship and most importantly – increase your number of inventory slots. You can explore new worlds, meet aliens, battle space pirates, discover and catalog new species. With millions and millions of planets (I think the actual official number is 18.4 quintillion unique worlds), you could quite literally play this game for a lifetime and never see them all.
I think therein lies the problem for a lot of people. The game is just too darn massive. The most common complaints I’ve seen online is that it’s almost impossible to meet other players, there’s no strong central story line/quest to keep players vested, and there are a lot of repetitive tasks.
Full disclosure, I love this game. But starting from the last complaint first – yes, admittedly the repetition can get old depending on your player style. I’ve made it off my starter planet, traveled through space, visited my local space station, made a hyperspace jump, landed on a couple other planets in the nearest system and promptly got attacked by giant crabs, trampled by a large antelope type creature, got fried by the toxic environment and when I left for space again, space pirates ate my lunch. Twice.
So I jumped back to my comparatively safe starter planet, intent on doing some serious grinding, with the plan of returning to space once I had improved my equipment. And that’s what I have been doing ever since, exploring the massive planet I started on. Finding ruins, abandoned space stations, trading posts, drop pods, crashed ships, alien colonies and mining opportunities. I search for technologies, find goods and minerals for resale and dream of the day when I’ll be ready to return to space and kick some *ss.
That means a lot of repetitive tasks. If you keep exploring the same planet for long enough, the locations you come across start to fall into categories, alien reactions become predictable, and technology available for scavenging maxes out. For instance I no longer land at abandoned or unmanned outposts, because I know it’s no longer worth my while. I also know that transmission stations will eventually lead me to crashed, salvageable space ships. So every transmission beacon I see, I ply it with bypass chips until it eventually coughs up a transmission tower location.
Sure, you can negotiate with alien captains you meet to buy bigger and better ships, but expect to pay at least six million credits for a decent one. That’s a lot of mining and scavenging. So I’ve been jumping from crash site salvage action to crash site salvage action, finding ships, fixing them up and increasing my ship inventory slots one space at a time. More inventory slots means more room for minerals and salvage, and of course more slots available for equipping your ship with new tech. Thus far I’ve owned ten separate salvaged space ships, increasing my ship inventory slots from an original 15 up to 25. Apparently the largest ship has 44. I have a ways to go. Is that kind of contradictory to the spirit of the game? Maybe. I’m still on my initial planet, and am already experiencing game fatigue. So maybe it’s time to just take what I’ve got and at least move to a different planet. But that’s entirely due to my player style, and not really a fair reflection on the game.
Next point – lack of a story line. I get it, people love a good quest. The sense that you’ve accomplished something. A feeling that you’re moving the narrative forward. This isn’t that kind of game. There is a kind of a optional story line, the Atlas sends you occasional messages, leading you to different locations, and I’ve heard online, it eventually tries to convince you to head for the center of the universe. I’m not interested. Sure, I need blueprints for higher version Atlas Passes so I can open those blasted secure doors/containers and get access to the imagined higher level tech inside. So apparently I’ll have to follow at least a couple of the Atlas directions, but I’ve only just started exploring this small part of the universe. Why would I want to fly off for the center of the universe, especially when I can’t hold my own against space pirates yet?
There’s also some kind of story revealing itself bit by bit at alien ruins, about the d*mn robot sentinels who are everywhere, ready to come after you if you over-mine resources, that I’m finding intriguing, but at the end of the day it’s an open world/sandbox game – what part of that concept are people not getting? I love the freedom of going anywhere in space and still seeing millions of untouched planets on the horizon.
Finally – the multiplayer complaint, i.e. lack thereof: you do impact the No Man’s Sky universe that you’re sharing with all other players, but this game does not fit the definition of a MMORPG. Every time you upload your discoveries to the Galactic Library (for in-game monetary gain), you have cataloged the planet for everyone else. If you rename that planet as is your prerogative as discoverer, that’s the name that others will see. Thing is, the universe is so darn large, while someone might see what you’ve uploaded, it’s unlikely they’ll every be close enough to pop over and pay you a visit. I think. I mean, I have only been playing what is essentially a brand new game for a couple of weeks. All this is subject to change as I receive new information. Anyway, as the developers have stated more than once – the purpose of this game is exploration. And it doesn’t get much more sandbox/open world than this. So hop in your ship, save your need for linear story lines for some other game and in the words of John Masefield:
“. . . all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn breaking.”
Because you know what they say – they can’t take the sky from me . . . no seriously, did the developers intentionally choose the name No Man’s Sky to invoke Firefly? They must have, it’s obvious, right?
Okay, all that aside, check out this video. It’s a 15 minute video capture of me playing the game, recorded by my PS4. In it I salvage a ship, visit an alien ruin, visit an eerie abandoned station, and park my space ship very, very poorly . . .