- + Procedurally generated environments result in genuine discovery
- + Mining rich resources is addictive and rewarding
- + Interacting with other species
- - Item management can become cumbersome
- - Planet exploration on foot is slow
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “So Much Journey”
Whilst most video games offer a pre-constructed path, No Man’s Sky does away with boundaries and presents a procedurally generated galaxy; over an estimated 18 quintillion planets are available to explore – which no singular person ever will. It’s a space adventure with an epic scope, filled with endless variety and bursting at the seams with content.
So, what is ‘No Man’s Sky’? Primarily it’s a game about exploration, data collection and trading. There isn’t a campaign or fixed storyline, you get to carve your own path. Each player starts on an entirely unique planet and is left the task of repairing their crashed spaceship. In order to do this you must first mine the required resources to fix any broken equipment. Everything in your environment is constructed using one element of the periodic table; carbon, copper, aluminium etc. Over time you will be required to either craft or buy more complicated items, before eventually learning the recipes to produce even more valuable resources.
At the heart of resource gathering, however, lies the all important basis of space exploration. Once your ship has been fixed and you’ve propelled away into the dark ether of space, the big question remains as to where you’re going to go next. With the potential to land and exit any planet without a loading screen, and jump between entirely different galaxies each with their own star systems (using your precious Hyperdrive), the only limit is your lust for discovery.
Since everything is randomly generated, no two planets will look alike and each one also has the potential to either be rich in rare resources or barren of any life, rendering its land useless. Every planet also has a chance of containing severe weather conditions; such acid rain and extreme spikes in temperature. In order to combat these extreme conditions your character is given certain level of shielding against outside forces. Keeping an eye on your vitals and replenishing your life support and suit’s power via fuel, is incredibly important.
During your expedition to wherever it is you want to explore – the centre of the universe is considered the end goal – you will encounter other life forms looking for help. It’s mind boggling to realise, but each of the different species you encounter have their own specific language, and in order to fully understand any conversation you must first learn individual words. Your number one hotspot for cracking a species’ dialect is through ancient runes, which are scattered across the universe.
Your suit, ship, and multitool all require important add-ons to remain formidable against harsher climates; not to mention aggressive wildlife and space pirates aiming to nab your precious cargo. I spent most of my time mining rare resources such as gold, whilst attaining upgrades along the way. Storage in your Exo-suit can be upgraded by tracking down drop pods, these pods will contain one space upgrade; the first is free, but each one thereafter goes up by an increment of 10,000 units.
A new multitool can be purchased, but you’ll need to find a new one being sold by an alien life form. You can buy a new ship to bump up its feature set, but distress beacons can also navigate you to ships needing salvage. Though this may be a genius way to gain a free ship without spending lots of money, they often need all of their parts fixing due to critical damage.
It’s hard to give you a taste of my No Man’s Sky experience, as if you pick up the game you’ll more than likely have a very different objective. Its gameplay is wholly dependant on what you consider a priority: would you rather attain a huge amount of money via mining, or explore the galaxy and scan each planet’s life forms to quench your thirst for discovery. The game will only get better with more updates, because there is still a lot of work to be done.
Overall my time has been very addictive and hard to put down, but the odd system crash or minor bug – including being shot into a planet’s atmosphere without my permission – resulted in a few moments of frustration. Smaller details such as a refined inventory system, and the already announced possibility of land vehicles for exploration, would make things a lot easier. Plus, an official multiplayer mode that includes meeting up with your friends would also keep exploring the galaxy from being such a lonely place.