On Wednesday 10th August, one of the most known about and ambitious games in a long time finally launched (In the UK for PlayStation 4).
No Man’s Sky, the game that was shown to the world in 2013, and has been talking point for this generation since. Push backs and delays, but eventually it finally saw release.
Now I’m going to add the disclaimer here. Other than the trailers that are shown at conferences such as E3 or which ever other shows it appeared at, I’ve kept myself away from reading info or watching more of this game. In my head this game was about exploring the universe and creating a database of weird and wonderful creatures and planets. The space exploration was genuinely what I expected and was hyped for given the scale of this game it excited me how much I could find and document.
So like everyone else that’s started and played the game. I find myself on a planet, my ship is broken and needs items to repair it. Okay, sure.
Excited I leave the crater that my ship is in and run off in a direction, scanning everything I see. Random weird flower, random weird mushroom type thing, weird rock formation… oh an actual animal, wow I can feed him one of these carbon plant things, yay he’s my friend now. Then I proceed a little further and get warnings that my suit is going to break soon (not in that wording, but I forget word for word the warning).
I’m not entirely sure what to do here, so I bumble about a little bit with the stuff that I’ve collected from mining. I repair my suit. Apparently. So I now kind of understand that my stuff breaks when using it. Makes sense. My mining gun is starting to break from collecting iron to fix the ship. So this is kind of getting annoying now. Rather than being the care free exploration game I had assumed this game was, I’m needing to harvest items to keep my suit functioning, my tools functioning and all this before I’ve even got enough stuff to repair my ship.
Perhaps this is shame on me for running off like a child in a park wanting to explore the planet rather than playing sensibly and mining from the start. But the thing is, due to my complete blackout of news, I genuinely had no idea that this was essentially a survival game from the start. For the record I actually enjoy survival games as you might have read in our weekly Geekly Review where I’ve been hooked to 7 Days to Die. But I was a bit disappointed that this was shaping up to be that kind of game. That’s not what I’d been excited for about this game.
So with this now sinking in, I rush around the planet trying to find the essentials to get off the planet and try and explore space. Little did I know that this would also cause frustration. The planet I started on seems to have a vast supply of different resource types. Again not exactly knowing what I was doing initially I collected large amounts of each. Apparently the stuff I’d been collecting in mass wasn’t needed for the ship repairs, or at least not the part I was on now. So I walk the 5 minutes to the origin of this particular material I need. Once again my suit is on the brink of failure, my mining tool needs fixing. Ugh give me a break. I start mining this particular material but I’ve no room in my inventory. Brilliant.
The inventory slots in this game at the start are minimal, and the methods to make items and transferring items is pretty terrible in all honesty. I’ve read that you can increase your inventory space later on in the game, but for now I’m perhaps playing too cautiously now after the initial suit scares and have horded too much stuff. As mentioned creating items requires you have an empty slot too. It’s just a bit fiddly to get used to and not really that efficient.
So fast forward a bit now. I’ve got my ship repaired. I can explore deep space now YAY. Well, not yet, before I can leave this solar system I need a warp drive. To get this I need to visit the closest undiscovered planet. Okay that’s not too bad, It’s still a new planet to discover so that’s cool.
Well, this planet was a different colour. So that’s a start. It wasn’t the heat that was smashing my suit up, but the coldness. This planet was a frozen planet. But the landscape and features of this new planet were still really similar to what I’d explored on the first planet. Not to be fussy, but really really similar. A beacon in a cave, that is way too familiar to where one was based on planet 1.
Procedural generated planets is cool and all, and I guess I’m being nitpicky as this is only planet 2 but they were both pretty similar. This planet was inhabited by various different creatures to document though and one highlight was when feeding one of these animals he spent about 10 minutes showing me different resources like gold and such. A little bonus but when you’re inventory is fully stocked, it’s a bit of a pain collecting more resources. But I appreciate the gesture from my new friend.
The game is impressive in it’s feats for travelling from planet to planet via hyperspace without any loading. It’s a long trek from solar system to solar system but pretty fun and the traveling isn’t hampered by loading screens or menus at all. It’s all seamless.
Space stations are scattered around the universe and are normally found floating around a group of planets in that solar system. I docked into one for the first time. Again please remember I’ve not read anything before playing the game. When I docked, and opened the doors to the right, I was expecting to be greeted to a large, lively, area of aliens chatting away to each other. I was expecting to be able to approach NPC’s and offer trades. I was expecting to see a canteena like from Star Wars with space bandits in there and seeing dodgey space poker being played in the corner. What I got was an office with one moody alien in it that I had to bribe with carbon to talk to me. And the trading was done via a portal. Not quite what I was expecting.
On the docking station my ship sat there alone for a while. Another ship comes into dock and parks up behind me. Perhaps here’s my first look at an alien. Nope. Nothing comes out of the ship. It sat there a few minutes then flew off. More and more arrived and left with none of the drivers leaving their ships. I’ve just found out you can interact with the ships apparently on the docking station, but they will not leave their ships to explore the space station.
It all feels really small and alone in a game so large that you’d expect to encounter at least a few other aliens around on a planet or space station that are walking around doing their thing and willing to trade or try to shoot at you.
To summarize the above a little bit easier. I flew into this game completely blind expecting the ultimate space exploration game with the main focus being documenting all the whacky things you find. What It appears to be so far from my first few hours play is a survival game which unfortunately gets in the way of space exploration.
You don’t have that complete freedom to enjoy exploring planets on foot or flying from planet to planet as you’ve got to consider your suit and ship’s lifespan. You’ve got to juggle your limited inventory to ensure you’ve got the essentials to keep your suit and ship running. It’s a bit stressful when all I was expecting was a carefree space exploration game.
I’m not giving up on the game though. It’s still early days and now I know what the game mechanics actually are I can change the way I play. Perhaps my fault from not getting the knowledge of the game prior to playing it. It’s not a bad game, It’s still going to provide me my space exploration lust albeit not as easily as I initially thought. It’s just genuinely not what I had expected at all so far.
*Limited pictures for article as yet to upload my PS4 screens, they will be added at later point.