No Man’s Sky is definitely flavour of the month right now. Whether you love it, hate it or just feel indifferent you can’t seem to get away from someone talking about it. Because of that, I was kind of reluctant to write about it. But here I am, feeling disappointed by the release of one of my most anticipated games in a long time…
What is it about games that just keep on disappointing at the moment?
First it was Star Wars: Battlefront, a game I originally got to play a EGX, it looked awesome, sounded even better and what little I got to play had me wanting more. But when it finally arrived I realised that game was a shallow, monotonous and an all round dull affair.
Then it was The Division, again I played it at EGX and the Beta. The Dark Zone was a tantilising prospect! But mere weeks after it’s release I discovered that the Dark Zone was an experiment that just didn’t work. The rest of the game was just making my way from one bullet sponge to the next… I shuffled back to Destiny – where I felt at home, it embraced me, it wasn’t mad, it was just glad I was back.
Then there was No Man’s Sky! 18 quintillion planets, all of which can be fully explored, with untold secrets to discover. Every thing procedural, almost anything possible. But, it’s been 8 hours and I’m a bit bored. I’m bored of hearing “Life support system at 50%” I’m bored of mining the same resources just to keep my mining tool working, it’s a vicious cycle and one that I don’t want to do any more.
A shallow sea?
To be honest, the whole 18 quintillion planets wasn’t the draw for me, that number it just too high to even quantify. You try and think about it and it just blows your mind to a point where I just say “whatever”.
It was the prospect of discovering strange and fascinating worlds with all kinds of creatures on them. It was the thought of visiting star systems that no one else had and quite possibly never would and what I found there would be unique to my play through. It was about getting a sweet ride to fly across space with, one that I could pimp out to suit my needs – would I be an explorer, a trader, or would I just do what ever the hell I want! It was that very, very, very slim chance that I might see someone else or find their planets.
I wanted to warp in to a star system and see a war breaking out, I wanted to take sides, I wanted to be involved!
I wanted to discover aliens and interact with them in meaningful ways, I wanted to learn new languages and for it to matter, for it to have some impact, some meaning, anything! Not just the option to ask for a few extra materials.
But it fell short. After a couple of planets nothing really feels that exciting and I hate to say it, but it feels kind of familiar.
Beware the hype train
I’ve been following No Man’s Sky since it was first announced. I’d been lapping up every detail like a puppy discovering treats for the first time. Needless to say I was excited. That’s not to say I let the hype get the better of me. I felt like my views on the game and what it would offer were very grounded and in line with what had been talked about. I was very aware of what was and wasn’t expected, so I had a clear vision in my mind of what I’d be doing whilst playing.
To a point I can still do most of what I thought I would be able to do. The problem is, is none of it feels like it matters, every decision I make feels a bit empty and non-consequential. I can interact with aliens, but only in a very basic way. I can get new ships, but they still all feel the same and have no specialisms. I can still stumble across strange creatures, but they feel clunky and basic – they don’t do anything apart from wonder around in circles. I can fight spaceships, but I’ve seen no battles or faction wars.
There isn’t much about the game that feels truly finished to me. That’s not to say that the whole game is broken or terrible. There have been some enjoyable moments – my first moments leaving a planet was pretty immense and I’ve had some other moments on planets that have been great. I’ve landed on some planets and have been blown away by the vistas.
But, after a while it just feels a bit repetitive. Visiting outposts that all look the same and operate in the same way gets dull. Space stations have no variations inside and basically act just like outposts on planets. It all feels a bit lifeless.
And the grind… Something needs to be done about the grind. I’m fine with a bit of grinding and resource gathering, I do it in Rust all the time. But the problem with it in NMS is that the grind is too much and really unrewarding. The fact that if I want to explore a planet in my ship uses up so many resources just taking off really puts me off wanting to actually explore. It needs adjusting and to be honest it shouldn’t be that big of deal to make those changes.
I just feel a bit sad about it all.
Is there still hope?
Part of me wants to give up, but part of me wants to remain hopeful that the game will turn it around. Firstly I’m going to explore some of the mods that have been coming out for the game to see if they can make the experience more enjoyable.
But there is also Hello Games, the guys behind all of this, they can still update the game, add more content, add new features and generally just improve things across the board and I’d like to think that this will happen. But until then I think I will keep my No Man’s Sky play time moderated.
Just prior to release they talked about future content and features for the game and I really hope to see some of them make it to the game fairly soon. But as of right now, nothing… We’ve heard nothing from them apart from a few details on small patches which basically tried to fix the frame rates and crashes. It would be nice to hear something from them.
I’m also hoping that a lot of the things that seem to be missing from the game were just down to a timing issue and not completely removed, and that we will one day get to see wars breaking out.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this game can become as great as it could’ve been. But for a lot of people the damage is already done. I can’t help but feel that the game would’ve been better received if it had come out as an Early Access game.