Long time no see Hivemind, I have returned to discuss a game that I've been looking forward to for quite some time.
Let's jump right in, shall we? (Possibly some spoilers ahead, beware)
No Man's Sky is one of the most ambitious IPs to come out in recent memory - this much is true. The scope of the title itself is mind boggling. There are so many different planets (quintillions with a q of them) that a player could never conceivably visit them all within the length of a human lifespan. That's a pretty impressive statement; I don't think (maybe I just don't know enough about games) there has ever been another title claiming, "Yeah, you'd die before experiencing a fraction of my content."
Naturally, this drew me in before I knew much more about No Man's Sky. Every journey would be a unique experience, everyone's course through the stars would be drastically different allowing for a truly singular experience for the player. What better way to introduce a space exploration game?
Now, for what No Man's Sky actually "is." You fill the shoes of Random Space Explorer01, wake up on an alien planet and find yourself prowling the wilderness for different components to repair your spacecraft and get back to space. I'm not excited about the next sentence, but I can't avoid it for much longer. The first time I played the opening (I had to do it twice due to a bug that caused my game to crash as I was finishing) was the most fun I've had in No Man's Sky so far. The alien ships that would skim the atmosphere filled me with grim wonder. Were they coming for me or just passing through? Would this cave be full of predatory creatures or valuable crystalline plutonium?
Scrambling around the planet madly searching for elements and other materials to keep my suit's life support going while also digging up what I needed for my ship was thrilling. As I was cracking apart a monolith composed of a valuable element I needed a foreign red drone drifted over and scanned me. I froze, adrenaline pounded through my veins - but it lost interest and floated off into the sky. Phew.
I repaired my ship and with held breath took off into the vast...no I didn't the game crashed, and I had to do it all over again.
Alright, ok - I'll do it again. I was anxious to get into space, the idea of charting my course through the stars was enough to drive me through the prologue again. This time, there was no fumbling sense of exploratory bewilderment - only an objective. Collect specific items, get back to the ship, move on. What I didn't know then, is that I had discovered the entire experience of the game.
To explain, I'll have to dive a bit deeper into the game. There is a crafting system in place which you spend quite a bit of time in; this is where you upgrade/recharge your equipment and ship. Eventually, you are guided to the blueprint for a hyperdrive which allows you to travel great distances and discover a new cluster of planets and stars. To power your hyperdrive you have to craft (what quickly becomes) an annoying set of products.
Before long it became clear that all I would be doing was hunting down the same things on every planet, I visited. But what about the quintillions of planets? What about the procedurally generated endless dimension held within your PS4 begging for your exploration? Well, I'll tell you.
Sure, every planet is different - but you know what isn't? Pretty much everything else. Sure, the few animals you may stumble across look different, but before long you'll see repeated limbs and other body parts re-used and the magic fades. Aside from that, besides a color swap in the atmosphere/ground/some environmental hazard lazily draining your life support...there isn't much of a difference between planets. You'll find small shelters and other buildings (with similar construction for all), and you'll find the same elements in the exact same forms wherever you visit.
It got to the point where I would land, explore one building, find an upgrade, and then gather the usual components for a warp core and leave the solar system without even blinking at the other planets. I couldn't even really see a reason to upgrade much of anything, the upgrades themselves take up valuable inventory space (something you'll be fighting more than any spacecraft or alien beast). The only time I died was when I tried to fight 17 enemy fighters, on the surface of planets, I felt completely safe. If the little floaty red sentinels got mad, I would just chew them up with my blaster and walk away.
It just all feels so, sterile. After a few hours it was painful to continue playing, to be honest it felt like a chore. I've given No Man's Sky a few attempts to recapture my interest, but even run ins with the plot left me underwhelmed and bored. I can't recommend this title in its current state, hopefully the developers see what could have been an amazing title and make some changes that bring me back. In its current state I can't see myself ever playing it again.
I didn't even mention the visuals. All I'll say is, keep your eyes moving when you are planetside or you will QUICKLY be forced to look at some pretty gnarly visual glitches.