Wednesday, 17 August 2016 00:00

No Man's Sky Review

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In the dictionary, the term “scope” is defined as “the extent of the area or subject matter that something deals with or to which it is relevant.”

Hello Games, the creators of No Man’s Sky, once had a dictionary, but they threw it out. They didn’t need it. If you search the meaning of "scope", a link to No Man's Sky's website will be the first to pop up.

Initially claiming you can explore, mine and discover on a single planet just to launch up into the sky above and land on another planet just to do more of the same all without loading, No Man’s Sky took that promise and upped the ante exponentially. How? By promising to take over lives and suck people into an incomprehensibly large universe filled with planets to explore; over 18 quintillion planets, to be exact.

“But what am I possibly going to do with all those planets and only one life as a human.”

Valid question. There’s plenty to do in No Man’s Sky. There are creatures, plants, planets, galaxies, monoliths, technologies, spaceships, and a whole slew of other goodies to discover and name. There’s no shortage of activities to explore, but is there enough to do?

Well, Yes and no. But it’s tough to explain. Let’s back up first.

If you want to read a bit about my first experiences with the game, please check out this link here: The No No Man’s Sky Guy.

But that’s my story. Everyone will have vastly different experiences, with many of the same outcomes.

Everyone starts on a different planet on the edge of the universe. You start with a busted spaceship and it’s your first task to find a way to fix it so you can be back on your way as an explorer of space. At first, things can be confusing. “Sure, I have carbon...but why?” Eventually, everything comes second nature, and you know what material you need.

Luckily, there’s also a scanning feature which allows you to scan the area for anything that’s near you. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stuff to “investigate”. Early on you learn that mining every little thing you see is certainly not feasible since there’s only so much you can carry, so those blips on the screen become useless. Along with the materials, there are monoliths (which offer bits of language that help out interpreting alien races you may come across), crashed equipment (provides new blueprints), outposts, and treasures.

As mentioned above, there’s also a ton of things to discover. Planets are bustling with different flora and fauna that live their lives undiscovered. You start to analyze them and get information on them, as well as the ability to rename and upload your findings as the first person to discover these plants and creatures.

Each planet offers a new, unseen species that are always unique. I’ve already seen some incredible creatures that shouldn’t (and arguably still don’t) exist and the ability to name them something just as incredible is part of the fun. While the creatures are always unique (and very Spore-like), the flora isn’t as intriguing.

Don’t get me wrong, the flora certainly gives the planet a look and feel and each are slightly unique. One world I named Orsonwelleous because all the plants looked like something straight out of War of the Worlds and now part of me wanted Orson Welles to narrate my experience in No Man’s Sky. But there seems to be a lot more repetition with those compared to the creatures. I have found many rocks that look identical to others on other planets, but I'm still able to analyze them and name them. I started naming the most generic of rocks after Rock bands, but thankfully there’s an option to upload the rocks by their geological name, so I just end up doing that most of the time.

Naming the creatures has been great.

Like the large-bodied, small armed, bug-like creature I called “Praying Mandisproportionate”. All magnificent creatures.

While naming is purely out of fun, uploading has its rewards as well. Each upload gets you a few hundred credits that you can use to purchase items at vendors. Upload every creature species on a planet and earn a big credit bonus.

Once you decide your time on that planet has overstayed its welcome, you’re able to jump into your ship and launch off onto another ship in a process that never seems to get tiring.

No Man’s Sky does a good job of leading you through the game in a carrot-on-a-stick fashion allowing you to explore, while also trying to get little tasks done. But I can certainly sense a bit of fatigue until they roll out more features (base building was discussed by the developers as being implemented in the future). But that doesn’t make the exploration any less fun or intriguing as there’s ALWAYS something new to find.

One disappointing aspect that I wish they expand on is the upgrading.

Each time I find a blueprint, at least as of right now, it’s always something that I feel is only incrementally cooler and nothing that is super fancy. Maybe once I start getting closer to the center of the universe will that stuff start getting better, but as of right now, it just all feels insignificant.

The visuals in No Man’s Sky help sell the universe as a whole. It’s a very pretty game that is simple, but also unique and intriguing in its own right and has an almost organic approach. And again, no matter how many times I do it, going into the warp drive is the best feeling in the world with the stars blurring on either side of your ship and then boom, you’re right where you need to be.

As with a lot of games these days, a controller seems to be the best input for No Man’s Sky. It might have something to do with the fact that they’re actively pushing this on PS4, but some weird exclusions on the keyboard and mouse make it a little harder to maneuver than with a controller. One main issue is the ability to look freely around the cockpit of your starship as you sit inside of it, which makes flying around a tad bit more difficult with just a mouse. After I plugged in my Xbox One controller, it seemed to feel much more intuitive to fly around. But I guess the same can be said for most flight games. I might just leave my controller on the desk, primed and ready for when I need to take off for flight.

Growing pains are expected with anything in the world.

When you take a step back and look at how massive this game is, you start to A) question your sanity and B) understand that pretty much everything they’ve promised is here and ready for our consumption. I am exhausted at seeing posts and tweets about how Sean Murray and the rest of Hello Games “lied” to us all. It’s just a game, and from my point of view, this is exactly the game I knew I’d become obsessed with.

There have been reports that the game “isn’t multiplayer” despite Hello Game’s claims to being able to run into other players. Any of those reports are due to server issues, but that made me think of some amazing things. If they continue to make this game into a living, breathing world, while introducing more mechanics, then they can also put in mechanics that allow you to connect or reconnect with other players, and I can most definitely see this universe evolving into something much more EVE-like, and that excites me.


The Verdict

No Man’s Sky is a survival game with a few bugs and issues and no end in sight.If you’re looking for something to have amazing quests and an interesting, engaging storyline, then you might want to look elsewhere. But if you want to experience the feeling of exploring the vast limitlessness of space, then you absolutely must check this game. The endless possibilities are thrilling. Finally, an opportunity to be the baddest space adventure in the entire universe.

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James McKeever

When not playing video games, James is usually found playing video games. When he simply does not have time for video games, he goes to a thing called "Job" where he makes money to feed himself and his wife and to buy more video games. Since he was too scared to use the controller himself at the young age of 3, James started his gaming career as a "navigator" of sorts instructing his father when to jump in Super Mario Brothers. Since then, the fear of controllers has subsided and James can now jump freely, circumventing the middleman.