No Man’s Sky, the game that promised so much and whether it delivered on those promises is a tricky question to answer but in this article I’m going to have a try.
For so long before its release No Man’s Sky was a big deal, the game promised to be huge in scope yet with such a simplistic idea. We’ve made some maths, it makes you millions of random ship combination, creature and plant creations and a ludicrous number of unique solar systems full off planets, now go explore.
The space to planet (and vice versa) traversal being a particular selling point, similar games such as Elite Dangerous have only recently offered that and in a more limited way than No Man’s Sky.
Yet when actually given these things, many have found out how truly large and empty the Universe really is. Players in No Man’s Sky are encouraged to fill this massive expanse by creating their own stories across the stars. Become a trader, a pirate, an explorer but doing those things somehow feels unfulfilling.
The Universe that has been created is overwhelmingly large, if you don’t believe me just try flying through the map on free view because I gave up after 5 minutes. The chances of your standard player making it to either of No Man’s Sky’s two end game scenarios is miniscule. This in many ways is the point, Hello Games created a giant sandbox to play in and not get bogged down in ‘objectives’ or ‘completion’ and while this is a refreshing development strategy it could be argued that it has not paid off.
In my game I started out wanting to make money by making discoveries, this was one of the biggest draws of the game for me, however it got old very quickly. Many of the creature do end up looking the same and naming them becomes monotonous and labour some not to mention the chances of someone else finding that already named creature are so small that you wonder what the point of it is. I ended up deciding to focus on upgrading my ship, and each time I got enough money for a ship I decided to hold out, save a bit more for something a little bigger.
Through luck I discovered a planet that was rich in gold and the nearby space station had a mark-up on gold price, I spent the best part of 3 – 4 hours filling my small ship with gold and made several trips back and forth. Eventually I was able to buy a large ship with enough room for upgrades and cargo space I thought I needed. The problem was now I had achieved my own small personal goal I needed a new one and I never found it.
What do I do now? I have my ship so now I really have no need to trade for money. With the time I can devote to the game I have no real hope of getting to either of the ‘end game’ situations on offer. I can only think that I should explore more, try to uncover more about the alien races in the game but I run into the same problems. The languages are so vast and the methods of discovering words long and spread out, the chances of me finding enough words to understand the aliens is again very small.
This is one of No Man’s Sky’s biggest issues is that all the marketing billed the game as one of PlayStation’s AAA game exclusives, a platform seller. If you didn’t know better you would have guessed it was built by a large developer like Ubisoft, Naughty Dog or Rockstar but not the small time developer ‘Hello Games’ who previously have only the two ‘Joe Danger’ games.
The game was advertised and publicised to a level that the development team could not live up to. This is not a fault of the development team but of Sony for overhyping an ‘Indie’ game.
If you look at what ‘No Man’s Sky’ really is; a massive undertaking of a game, created by a small development team on a limited budget then the final product is certainly phenomenal, however by letting the game be talked up so much and promising features that are still not in place, they have provided ammunition for those that would call the game a failure.
I do not think the game is a failure, I actually really like it but despite that I have no impetus to return. In returning I feel it’s like trying to break an iceberg with a tooth pick, there’s really not much you can do to make a difference overall.
My final thoughts on this game revolve around the ‘shared’ universe that is not really shared by players. No Man’s Sky is a single player game; it says so on the box. Players just share ‘space’ in order to see others discoveries and while this can mean an element of fun (I have as of yet not found anything of anyone else’s yet) I also feel as if there is a large missed opportunity.
I feel that yes keep the universe as it is so exploring is a lonely thing, in this way it mimics what it must truly be like if you were to set off from one planet and try to explore the universe. But why not make the space stations a social space? This would allow you to show off your ship, even open a chat with other plays to maybe exchange products either for other products or for information such as the location of a black hole that you have not yet discovered, or a new schematic they have but you do not, or even for a choice of language words they have discovered and you have not.
Allow players to share in the joy of discovery and exploration, the thrill of meeting another lonely wanderer would really enhance the game. If possible why not have a designated ‘social zone’ around the space station? Once you are within a certain distance it becomes public and other people can appear. Some could be ‘safe zones’ in which you cannot be attacked and others could be ‘frontier’ zones with no rules. It would be important that you kept your gear if destroyed but perhaps some of them could be duplicated to the attacking ship?
It’s just a thought of something to add that would increase the experience of No Man’s Sky in terms of its community discovery and togetherness.
Overall I think No Man’s Sky is a tremendous achievement of a video game, however it has been hampered by the publicity it received and was then not tempered by those in the know. Yes, no-one wants to limit sales by saying ‘well don’t get your hopes up that much’ but is it not better to be praised through word of mouth by those that do make the purchase and then encourage others, rather than criticized by masses of people who do not follow video game development or news but saw only the game as it was advertised and now feel they have been let down.
These are just my thoughts on the matter, this is by no means a review or a hate or love piece but simply a few musings that I wanted to share with you all.
What did you think of No Man’s Sky? Did you purchase it? Are you still playing it? If so what goals are keeping you going? Do let me know in the comments below!!!!!!!!!!!!