One of the problems that face a game that tries to do everything is that it often falls short in a few aspects, which bring the overall gameplay value down.
No Man’s Sky is unique in this aspect; it has systematically and spectacularly failed at every single aspect that it promised to deliver. Where to begin?
“it’s all procedurally generated from a handful of different skeletons”
As an avid Eve player, the prospect of limitless space to explore in a multiplayer environment felt somewhat close to home; Eve‘s vast Star Map can seem like an ocean and it is not rare to come across completely empty systems that stay that way for hours.
So, you can understand my excitement at the promise of an even bigger map that provides a unique experience with each new planet; new creatures to behold, new biomes to explore.
Except the part when you realise that it’s all procedurally generated from a handful of different skeletons.
“So yes, the universe is huge… But it’s all a bit ‘samey’ “
When you shuffle a pack of cards, the result is an order that has most likely never been seen before in the entirety of the history of cards (see this Vsauce video), due to the fact that 52! (52 factorial, ie 52 x51 x50… x1) is a very big number.
And so, you could say (and quite correctly), that shuffling a pack of cards gives you an almost infinite variation and a unique experience every time… Except when you remember you’re looking at a pack of cards and their order doesn’t really interest you that much.
So yes, the universe is huge, but it’s all a bit ‘samey’. That is not to mention the fact that you cannot travel to any of the stars printed on the skybox, or the fact that they are not solar systems because they are not orbiting a star.
“Your initial wonder and excitement are quickly turned to boredom and frustration as you grind away doing the same thing for hours”
You start the game on a random planet, and you are tasked with surviving (it’s also a survival game guys!) and rebuilding your ship (it’s a crafting game too!).
Surviving may seem like a great task at first until you walk about 3 steps and find everything you need (and in enough quantities) to keep you sustained for a while.
Your initial wonder and excitement are quickly turned to boredom and frustration as you grind away doing the same thing for hours.
Now some games that offer an enormous grind (think Runescape) can actually be quite rewarding: anything that has a money system seems to make you want to grind the money so you can spend it on whatever your heart desires. And you get rewarded for your dedication, too!
What does No Man’s Sky give you for your grinding efforts?
The chance to upgrade to a new ship.
What can you expect from your new ship? Is it faster, better at fighting, greater agility?
No. It has more inventory space.
And that’s it. The whole aim of the survivalist and crafting aspect of the game is to improve your ship. And once it’s maxed out, there’s really no reason to use any of the other ships. Or do anything else.
“Put your ship into warp speed and it’ll seem like your computer is churning the game through a cog and gear before it gets to you”
Lets not even get started on the graphics, shall we. Some would think that bringing a PS4 game to PC would allow for better framerates, less tearing and smoother controls (mouse vs gamepad) but oh my. In some cases, it’s even worse.
The tearing is bearable when you are walking around, but put your ship into warp speed and it’ll seem like your computer is churning the game through a cog and gear before it gets to you.
“I can’t even begin to explain how unresponsive the controls feel”
Some games, like with Battlefield 2 or Arma 2, I would love flying because the controls were responsive and you actually felt like you had full control over the vehicles.
I know that expecting No Man’s Sky to live up to this was ambitious, but I can’t even begin to explain how unresponsive the controls feel. To say they aren’t optimised for mouse and keyboard is an understatement.
But alas, some games are saved of their poor gameplay, terrible controls and unimaginative scenery with the ability to play with friends, and create your own adventure.
I am a huge fan of the games that let the players make their own adventures; Eve, Minecraft, GTA online (without the hackers), DayZ are all personal favourites of mine due to the experiences that I’ve shared with others. So at least No Man’s Sky could provide this, right?
Wrong. It’s dubious as to whether it’s even multiplayer. Pre-release, Hello Games announced that it would be very unlikely to run across another player given the size of the map. But then two players found each other and guess what? Nothing.
“…it probably wasn’t worth the Hard Drive space.”
I’ll stop the review here, I think you see where my opinions of this game lie. I’d only recommend this game if you pick it up on a steam sale for 90% off, and even then I’d say it probably wasn’t worth the Hard Drive space.
No Man’s Sky? Bye-de-bye!
Anthony ‘Conscience’ Osmaston