It’s been a week since the release of No Man’s Sky, but codes and discs weren’t sent to reviewers until the day of release therefore we’re a little late with this review. However, for the many of you who are still renting digital shares, or just haven’t made the plunge yet – this is for you.
I’ve spent about 20 hours playing No Man’s Sky since I received it last Wednesday. What do I have to say about it? Lots.
This latest venture from Hello Games garnered much attention worldwide since it was initially announced at E3 2014, and there was a ton of press on the title leading up to its release. From what you’ve already read or watched for reviews you’ll see that it’s a game that has gotten lots of mixed views.
First off, I didn’t really set any expectations for my personal experience in No Man’s Sky. I only watched a small amount of the footage that was shown in the past two years, and I didn’t really fall into the hype until about 3-4 days prior to launch. Having said that, the game is nothing like what I was expecting, but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s all about exploration and survival – so if you’re looking for action-adventure – move along.
If you somehow missed this, everything in No Man’s Sky is procedurally-generated planets will change, landscapes form as you travel over the surface, and all resources are infinite in terms of supply. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to obtain everything though. You’ll need to survive extreme conditions and the occasionally hostile lifeform. You’ll also need to search multiple parts of a planet including some massive caverns and even dive to the bottom of lakes and oceans. Early on in the game you’ll be very limited to how much you can carry due to a very limited number of slots in your Exo-suit and on your ship. This is remedied by searching through waypoints on the planet to find a Dropship where you’ll be able to get new slots for your suit – the first is free, but be prepared to pay up as you obtain more down the road. My last slot cost me 90,000 units. Don’t worry too much about obtaining the currency in the game. Units are easy to come by through the sale of resources and random items that you find everywhere as you explore. Units can be used to purchase other resources or rare items, or you can use them for your upgrades when you find them. At a trading post, you can walk up to another ship and make an offer to the owner for a trade. My latest ship set me back 342,000 units roughly, and I saw another that was going for 2.4 million units. Needless to say, there’s a lots of cool stuff to obtain but it’s going to take you some time and effort. Although [at this time] you can’t seem to see or interact with other players in the universe, you will meet many alien lifeforms from a couple different races on the planets. These guys are helpful for obtaining new items, getting repairs and blueprints, and they’ll even teach you their own language.
Crafting is also a pretty big part of the game and is used heavily for the upgrade system. You’ll find blueprints throughout the galaxy as I just mentioned previously, some of them for helpful upgrades to your suit, ship, or multi-tool. Some resources for crafting are quite common, whereas others – I still haven’t encountered them after 20 hours of play time. I’m sure I could if I set out to find it, but I tend to go wherever I want and just explore. You’ll need a free slot to craft an item in the menu, so once again this is going to depend of you having some of the available upgrades on your equipment.
Remember reading about how large this game really is? It’s true, but that’s not to say you can’t blow through it relatively quick. The guy who paid $1200 to get an early copy ended up reaching the center of the universe in under 30 hours he said. What lies at the center? I have no idea. When you get to the point that you can switch star systems, the game allows you to follow a path to the center, or explore freely (to an extent, depending on your upgrades). I chose to be free and explore where I want because I’m in no rush. In that sense, the game will never truly end. You can go from system to system, planet to planet, and explore as much as you want. Scan EVERYTHING using your analysis visor and you’ll get credits for uploading your discoveries to the public database. Fully scan a planet and you’ll get a massive bonus of credits, 250,000 to be exact.
Want a little more action at some points? Hang out around a trading post in your ship and open fire on incoming ships and you’ll be put into a ship vs ship battle, sometimes against multiple opponents. Destroying other ships can sometimes reward you with some really rare items, but other times will give you nothing, or something really common. Hostile ships may even engage you on their own terms and if you can’t beat them, you’re going to want to try your best to get away, or else you’ll be back after death to search for your grave and reclaim your items lost.
On the surface, No Man’s Sky is a really stunning looking game. Outer space is really quite beautiful, and so is the process or travelling to another planet. Each planet I’ve been too has always had somewhat of a different look, but you get used to seeing the same resources everything you do, and similar waypoints, if not identical. Granted I’m still seeing some wicked variety in most of the planets, whether it’s the flora or the general terrain of the planet. You will eventually start seeing stuff that’s all too familiar, but if you’re more focused on finding the upgrades and whatnot, I don’t see this being a big issue. The weather, or the toxicity of the planet will also make a difference and keep things feeling new. Storms, extreme weather, and gasses will push you to find caves and caverns to explore while being shielded from the extreme environments, just don’t stray too far from your ship just in case.
If you’re looking for an exciting experience that keeps you on the edge of your seat, this game probably isn’t going to do it for you. No Man’s Sky is a desolate game and I’ve even referred to it as boring when talking to friends, but I can’t stop playing it. I love a great single player experience, and I feel that what this game offers. I have no problem spending two or three hour just exploring a single planet and searching for upgrades. I don’t care that I can battle against other players or even see them walking about for that matter.
All in all, I’m extremely pleased with all the effort put forth by Hello Games. I don’t remember the last game I spent 20 hours on, and still wanted to play more. This is a beautiful game with a lot of variety and hours upon hours of gameplay to obtain all your upgrades. No Man’s Sky is a masterpiece for those who want a lonely, single player experience.
I do wish there was a little explanation of how to start out, but you figure it out eventually. Lots of areas to explore, lots to scan and loot. Ship battles are fun... but we wish we could at least take out other players in ships.
Stunning environments and dynamic weather effects always impress. Planets do start to get styles re-used though, and most waypoints are all designed the same way. Unavoidable flaw I imagine.
Lonely, slow-paced except for during a ship or sentinel battle - the soundtrack does the job.