It’s always important to look back on a game’s past when reviewing it and with No Man’s Sky that’s no exception. Here’s Tom’s review.
No Man’s Sky originally came out 2 years ago on August 10th 2016 and was that year’s most anticipated title. The scene was set by creator Sean Murray, a procedurally generated universe with 18 quintillion planets to explore (Or to be more specific, there’s 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 of them. No, I’m not making that up.), each with its own unique forms of flora and fauna. This meant you could be the first to explore and name your own part of the universe, including any awesome animals you’ve found along the way. This also meant if your were lucky enough, you could find someone else’s section of the universe and perhaps even bump into another astro-explorer. “Can you run into other people, other players in the game?” Sean was asked in an interview. “Yes, but the chances of that are incredibly rare…”. It would be like finding an alien in our own universe.
I could not wait to play this game and neither could the half a million players who jumped on the game on launch. The game plays like any other survival game, you start with nothing but a broken ship on a semi hostile planet, your life support is draining and you’ll soon be dead due to the extreme heat/cold or radiation. Unless of course, you gather some resources to build some things that together can build even bigger and better things. You’ll soon be able fly away in your ship and head to another planet. But after a couple of hours of landing on a planet, scavenging for resources and then blasting off to another system to only repeat the process everything starts to look the same. As one journalist said after the launch of the game, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you can’t procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.” Well at least we had some multiplayer to look forward to after we eventually meet up with our friends… or did we?
Not too long after release, one player noticed they were finding planets that had already been explored and named. They reached out to their fellow explorer and coincidentally, they weren’t too far away from each other. They both live streamed their journey and headed to the agreed planet and locations. Once they both arrived at the determined location, one thing was apparently clear: They could not see each other. Thus confirming that ‘true’ multiplayer wasn’t in the game as Sean had stated previously. This didn’t rub well with the community as a large number of other features that had been promised were nowhere to be found. Large scale space battles, ship classes, a diverse range of planets and fauna (I wanted the giant sandworms you see in the trailer!!) and many others.
It also didn’t help that the development team, Hello Games, and Sean Murray seemed to go radio silent after the game’s launch. It wasn’t until nearly 3 months later that Sean and team announced a free update was coming which would add some new features and some quality of life adjustments. But at this point it was really too late. If anyone can learn anything from this it’s to “underpromise and overdeliver”.
Fast forward to July 2018 and 3 updates later, No Man’s Sky is finally coming to Xbox and will be launching alongside the game’s biggest update to date, “Next”. The “Next” update is considered to make No Man’s Sky be more representative of the game they wanted to release in 2016. The update will include a full multiplayer experience, allowing up to four players to create and customize their in-game avatar and to join as allies to explore planets and star systems as well as build bases together, or as opponents to fight against each other.
Since I last played the game in 2016, Hello Games has also overhauled the opening tutorial. This is to teach you everything you’re ever going to need to know about the game right out the gates. From gathering fuel for your ship, to base building, to interacting with other aliens and setting up a story for you to explore if you so wish. My only gripe with this is that after 2 hours of playing I’m still stuck within the same system I started on and I feel I’ve still got a bit more of a grind to go before I’ll be allowed to leave. To me this still feels like the same No Man’s Sky I left behind in 2016. Nothing seems to have changed. Having said that, I do have a number of diehard fans of this game as friends and the late game content of this game does look like fun. They each have their own fleet of ships they command, one of them even owns a giant freighter. They’ve all met up with each other and now have a home planet that they can all build their own bases on. Seems like a lot of fun. To bad it seems like it’s going to take me awhile to get there.
Overall No Man’s Sky has come a long way since it’s rocky 2016 launch, but to me the game still feels just ‘okay’. If you do enjoy your space exploration games with a nice learning curve and some good end game content, I do recommend this game, but do be prepared to put in a bit of a grind to get there.