No Man’s Sky is one of the most anticipated games of 2016. It has also been for quite some time now, one of the most anticipated games coming out for this current generation of gaming. It’s a game that literally allows you to land on a planet, explore it for as long as you would like and then it allows you to look up into the sky and fly anywhere you want to. See a planet in the distance? You could go there. See a space station? You could also go there. See a.. well you get the point. But is No Man’s Sky worth getting though?
It’s a hard question to answer as to whether or not someone should go out and buy this game. On one hand the games world is a marvel to look at, the worlds are beautiful, the colours are amazing and it’s all just wonderful to explore. The game perfectly captures the wonder and the fun of procedural generation and it allows the player to step into its universe and explore all they like, with full freedom. On the other hand though, gameplay is repetitive, what you can actually do in the worlds or out in space is limited and some may find a lot of planets and worlds to be quite similar after a certain point.
When first starting up No Man’s Sky on my PS4 after it released, I was blown away by how detailed and wonderful the world I started with was. All players once they start in the game will be at some location, with their ship crashed and in need of repair. You’ll have to mine quite a bit of resources around the planet in order to repair your broken ship and fly out into space.
It was this first initial experience that was wonderful, things felt big, way bigger than my character could handle. I didn’t know what was out there in the world I was in and I feared walking too far away from my ship because I worried about becoming lost.
On the world I was on at first, there was a small base there where ships were landing on one of the landing pads and then taking off back into space. I was able to use the shop there, trade some materials in the shop (as my inventory was filled quite quickly) and then buy the ones I needed to fix my ship.
Once I was ready, with my ship repaired, I was too excited to spend any time more exploring that place. I took off and flew into the sky. Then guess what happened!! My game crashed… I thought what?! How could it happen in that moment? That’s awful, just when I’m going to space for the first time it crashes? I kind of laughed it off as probably a one off for me. I quickly restarted the game on the PS4 and took off without a problem. Little did I know at the time that the game crashing was not a one off, but more of a common occurrence that I would experience multiple times throughout my time with it.
The game also has another frustrating point to it and it’s to do with the inventory system. You just can’t hold enough stuff! I want to go out and explore, mine things, trade them and get rich. But it seems you’re only able to carry a few things before it gets full, unless you increase the number of inventory slots which is a difficult thing to do early on in the game. While this is not only just frustrating when it comes to resource collection, it also interferes with what I see as one of the best things No Man’s Sky has going for it and that’s RELAXATION.
The game at certain points can be quite relaxing to play. There’s some nice soothing music to listen to and if you’re on a nice planet with some nice looking scenery with interesting things to explore, it can be relaxing in a way to walk around, mine some things here and there and wander about in the virtual world of No Man’s Sky. During my early hours with the game I felt that I did become quite relaxed playing it and was having a lovely time. That is until, I hear my suit complaining about radiation, my suit complaining the inventory is full, my weapon complaining it’s drained, my ship complaining it’s run out of fuel. It wouldn’t be a problem to fix it all, there’s resources literally everywhere for me to use, except I’m unable to use them. I can only carry a handful of things with me, this is FRUSTRATING and goes against the relaxing mood I was in and it happens time and time again in No Man’s Sky.
The plot of No Man’s Sky is fairly simplistic. The goal you have is to reach the centre of the universe. This can be done by jumping numerous times with your ship which you can do once you’ve gathered a significant amount of resources in order to do it. The first few times this is fun, it’s a mystery what lies in the next solar system and a joy to initially explore the new planets. There’s also star bases and possible enemy ships which will attack you from time to time to keep you busy as well. While it is great in the beginning, it’s also repetitive. All the star bases look the same, all the aliens are always doing the same thing (standing there waiting to see if you’d like to trade with them), many of the planets are filled with the same resources as the ones you’ve just visited, many of the bases on the planets are occupied with similar looking bases that you would have found on other planets in other systems. While it’s nice to explore, it is slightly demoralising to constantly encounter all the same things over and over again and then again and again after you jump to a new system.
The other thing that you can do in the game is upgrade your stuff. Either your ship, your weapons or your suit. While exploring you’ll find blueprints which reveal the resources you need to build different technologies which will help you to do all the things you’ve been doing so far, only better, faster and more efficiently. Again collecting resources for things is a pain, you’ll have to gather what you’ll need for the items you want to build and you’ll have to be careful not to fill your inventory up too much or accidentally discard the items you need once you do. But once you get some things improved, you’ll be better off so maybe it’s not too bad. But also building things takes up an inventory slot, something that’s very limited already. When it comes to your next technology you’ll have a lot less to work with.
You can also purchase other people’s ships in the game. While I did enjoy my little red ship in the beginning I got the feeling it was just no good for the type of things I needed it for. I had a small inventory and also always got destroyed in battle. So once I gathered enough money, I purchased an all new ship (well it’s actually a used ship since I got it from an Alien). It had more inventory slots and it looked better than what I had. It was okay, but I was quickly blown out of the sky and later on had filled the ship inventory in no time.
What I really would have loved to have done, is build my own ship. Something massive, like a big warship, with strong armour, big guns and faster speeds. Then if I want to go down to a planet, I just the tiny one to do it. But that’s not the only thing I would have liked, I want better ship battles, more interesting planet encounters. Or maybe even the ability to settle down on a planet and build things. I want to build a massive base there, something cool. But I can’t, I can only explore, fly and shoot. Maybe I’ve played too much Minecraft.
Overall No Man’s Sky is a game that I would recommend to buy only to the curious gamer out there. If you want to see and explore a beautiful, mysterious and massive procedurally generated universe, then go ahead and get the game. Actually if you just love exploring and nothing else, then this is a game for you to get. But for gamers looking for gameplay experience beyond the early 4 hours of the game. You may find that there isn’t really much more to do than what you did in the first 4 hours, actually you’ll be doing what you did in the beginning over and over and over again until you reach the centre of the universe and finish the game. If that’s not what you like doing then I have to say to avoid this game and get something else instead because this game is super repetitive.
It’s a tough game to score. On one hand I find it beautiful and impressive on the other it’s repetitive and frustrating. It would have been a great relaxation game, but that somehow becomes lost during the experience. No Man’s Sky is super nice to look at though and there’s so many cool things to find in its universe, that’s where I think most of the points come for No Man’s Sky and I think that’s what the point of the game was and why it was made. I just wish it wasn’t so repetitive and frustrating for the player. While the universe in the game is massive and almost infinite, a gamers patience just isn’t.