It’s been a swift fall from grace for No Man’s Sky. From being one of the most hotly tipped games of the decade, to an intentionally panned black hole of damnation in the space of weeks. Things looked pretty bleak for its future as early as release day, when several of the key features of the game were omitted, to much internet outcry.
The lack of a multiplayer mode was one of the key annoyances of deflated customers, making the near infinite universe seem an even darker and lonelier place. While the repetition of planetary content made the vastness of space feel… a bit samey. And don’t get me started on the minuscule inventory system; if I have to hear that monotonous, robot voice say “inventory full” one more time I would put my head through my telly.
However, despite all of these fall backs, I kind of liked it.
While mining and survival based games aren’t particularly my forte, I felt that No Man’s Sky did depict what the reality of being a lone explorer in space would feel like. Think of it like this; if you were given a space craft and told to go and seek new life and civilisations what would your priorities be? Well, you’d need to search and access minerals to survive, find fuel for your ship and catalogue all of your new discoveries. Pretty much everything that No Man’s Sky delivers on. And while that makes it sound like a boring chore, doing it in real life would suck much harder! Space is big, like really big. The odds of you finding an amoeba let alone flourishing fora, new lifeforms or ancient civilisations are minuscule! It would be dull, dull, dull. But, you’d be exploring space, so does the awesomeness of that outweigh the reality?
There are also many things to love about the game. It’s one of the most relaxing gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time – minus the inventory notifications. It’s a perfect platform to lose yourself in after a stressful day or week at work. I still find it awesome when you boost out of a planet’s atmosphere, viewing the sun-kissed curvature of the giant planet you’ve just spent the last 3 hours exploring. I love the concept of learning alien languages so you can understand your newly found friends better. And discovering more about them and their history through ancient ruins.
While these features aren’t perfect they lay a solid foundation for Hello Games to build upon. For such a small team to build something of this scale is still, in my mind, extremely impressive. However, being such a small team, with the hype train rapidly approaching the station, they were never going to be able to create all of the assets to make their universe as rich and diverse as everyone hoped and dreamed. Their technology in the hands of a huge triple A developer might have pulled it off, but the thinness of the content does sometimes fill me with buyers remorse (especially for a £50 game!).
While my own game playtime has dropped over time, I do hope Hello Games keep improving and updating the game. It has so much potential and I hope that over time they can convert the haters. But with Elite: Dangerous out and Star Citizen around the corner space is going to become a bit more crowded.