No Man’s Sky has wet the appetites of many gamers since its announcement in 2013. It’s a game shrouded in mystery, yet has managed to hold the gaming community on the edge of its seat throughout the 3-year period since its announcement. As we’ve gotten more and more information about this game and its immense scope, it’s safe to say that excitement has not petered out. With the imminent release of this anticipated title, August 9th on Playstation and August 12th on PC, it’s time to dive in and take a look at what to expect from No Man’s Sky.
Hello Games’ (No Man Sky’s developer) CEO, Sean Murray, has touted the games unfathomable breadth, boasting over 18 quintillion (yes that’s 18 with 18 zeroes after it) planets to discover. These planets are promised to be filled with animal species to encounter (and even name), elements to collect and underground cave networks to explore. And the best part? Everybody is exploring the same universe. This does not mean, however, that you’ll be able to play with your friends. Due to the size of the universe, it’s highly unlikely that one will run into another player, much less be able to meet up with friends.
The game has 4 pillars: survival, combat, exploration and trading. With the ability to tailor character development to fit each of these play styles, or take the jack of all trades route and combine them all into one. The player will start off at the edge of the universe. The only clear goal of the game is a path leading to the centre of the universe. The game is a true sandbox in the sense that you are not guided in any way besides this, rather simple (and close to unattainable) goal. Sean Murray claims that it will take hundreds of hours to reach this point. Leaving us wondering what could be there to make the journey worth it or if the worth is found in the journey itself.
No Man’s Sky won’t handle you with kid gloves. The many planets are extremely hazardous. You will have to brave harsh weather conditions and toxic, radioactive surfaces on your journey to the elusive centre of the universe. You will be kitted with a thermal protective shield that will deplete as you explore whichever planet you’re on. Meaning you will have to keep track of where your ship is, or improvise and find shelter. Don’t fret, your thermal protective shield can be upgraded, along with your weapons, ship and suit. These are the three places you will be able to store what you have collected and the main ways in which you will be able to choose your play style. There exists the ability to customise one’s ship to the specifications required for your journey in the universe. Some ships will be fast and nimble but severely exposed to damage, some will be laborious but will have the firepower to take down anything in their way. Your suit can be tailored to exploration or, you can stuff all your resources elsewhere, if you prefer the safety of trade over the daunting dangers of the in-game planets. Your weapons can be fitted to ensure that no man, alien or animal is able to take you down or it can be finely-tuned for optimal mineral-extraction abilities. These upgrades and various gadgets can be attained using the crafting system.
The crafting system uses elements, some fictional, some real, as its basis. As you explore each planet, you will come across these elements that are required for upgrading and crafting. They appear on the surfaces of planets, underground and in many other places and are represented in your inventory as tiles, as they do on the periodic table. Some rarer than others, they give you the ability to craft useful tools, such as override chips to allow your ship to land at bases on unfamiliar planets or useful weapon attachments, making your character more pernicious. This provides motivation to take on the Herculean task of exploration and survival, as you are rewarded with elements to ensure the development of your character. Whether you choose to use these elements to ensure that your ship has the necessary armaments to take on the universe and its dangers, your gun is able to harvest necessary minerals, or your suit is able to withstand the less-than-inviting planets, you, your resources and your gadgets don’t exist in the universe alone.
With a such a huge universe, one has to wonder what exists on these planets besides mindless flora and fauna and what exists between the many planets that are present. The answer is civilised life forms. It is said that you are far from alone in this universe, besides the other players whom share the universe with you. There exists many intelligent species that you are able to interact with. These interactions are (in the nature of the game) totally up to you. Each species has a unique language and you will have to find huge stone statues, monoliths, which are scattered throughout the universe, in order to piece together the languages of the many species that exist. These species will have their own cultures and customs, some devoted to science, some to exploration and some to war. With the ability to trade, steal from, or do harm to these beings, the tantalising prospect of intergalactic interaction awaits.
Since you are not alone, you are not free to wreak havoc on the universe as you please. There exists an intergalactic law enforcement. With sentinels on planets that ensure you do not break into the bases set up on planets, mutilate the wildlife or pillage the resources of every planet you come across. The law is enforced by robotic drones that escalate in size based on the GTA-style wanted level and eventually come to full-scale futuristic SWAT-like forces ready to rain on your ill-advised crime parades.
It’s hard not to get excited when hearing the apparent scope and ingenuity of this game. Taking a step back, one has to wonder if the game will be able to deliver on the promise of billions upon billions of unique planets, stars and solar systems, of many intelligent life forms, of interesting flora and fauna, of true, unhindered, exploration in a sandbox universe. Could it not possibly become the widest ocean, but the shallowest at the same time. A lot has been said of this game. We will not have to wait long to see if the game lives up to the many promises made and delivers a truly unique experience. If it is able to, No Man’s Sky will surely be one of the best games of this generation.