So it seems I’m a little late to the No Man’s Sky party, I hear it was announced two years ago at E3 and is now on for release August 9th 2016, but I never heard of it before all this controversy with delay.
If, like me, you aren’t familiar with it, No Man’s Sky is an indie game developed by Hello Games that is, frankly, astonishing in its scope. With a clear lean towards exploration the game is a singleplayer-ish story of Sci-Fi adventure.
You start the game with you, your ship, and a multi tool/gun on a planet. Somewhere, and in this game somewhere means something. You could be anywhere in the universe of the game that has literally Billions of planets to explore.
“Yeah but not really Billions though James” you’ll say. “You mean figuratively not literally” and then you’ll smile at my gaffe. No this game actually has 18 Quintillion planets, and thats a much bigger number than it sounds when saying it. I could write it as 18×1018 Or my favourite, long hand. Thats 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 people. All of them planets, all of them viable, all of them playable. It’s a simply staggering amount.
This extreme feat of world building is accomplished by building the worlds procedurally. Your world is built as you play using complex Mathematic equations. This also has the side benefit of no loading times at all as you move across the planets surface or blast into space or even hyperdrive across the Galaxy. The Equations also help generate the vast array of animal and plant life available on each of the planets which help add to the continued success of this concept.
So back to you on your one planet. The planet is big, like planet big. If you set off at a walking pace in game it will take you as long as it would take to walk around our planet to circumnavigate it. So in theory you could spend your whole game experience in No Man’s Sky exploring your one world and never leave. Happily, Hello Games give you a jetpack to speed that journey up as well as a basic jump ship to get you into space.
Remember though, at it’s core No Man’s Sky is a survival game. This means to get anywhere you have to scavenge, scrounge and build your resources. By mining the games in house Periodic Table of elements as well as ancient blueprints for weapons and ships you can try to accomplish what the developers call the end game, the journey to the centre of the Universe. The whole game feels very zen in it’s pursuits to guide you in a quest of discovery, or so I thought.
There are always people who feel combat is more fun than exploration and those people are accounted for too. The planets life can obviously be attacked and killed but there are whole civilisations of NPC’s out there just waiting for you to team up to take on freighters or space pirates! The Universe is literally yours for the taking!
The space combat looks as smooth as any other part of the game and Hello Games tell us that if you choose to, you can spend your entire time flying a ship from space station to space station and never land on a planet at all. Of course they may be a little sad if you do, after all they made 18 Quintillion of them for you to play with, but if being a space pirate is your thing then go for it!
The developer of No Man’s Sky, Hello Games, have impressed me with their continued pitching of this game as well. In none of the interviews I have read or watched have they even mentioned the graphics, which are fair but not mind blowing. Their only concern is to make gameplay that immersive you don’t care the the graphics don’t wow you. Minecraft did a lot for gaming but the most important lesson was that Graphics do not, a good game make.
No man’s sky takes that concept to the Nth degree by using the power of Next Gen consoles to make a truly expansive world that looks good instead of tiny world that looks graphically stunning. I am all for this approach and look forward to seeing how the balance works in game.
The real beauty of this game is in its longevity and update path. Hello Games as made a Universe that can truly be the game we were promised so many years ago. Each new console we have been promised “Expansive Worlds” and “Unlimited Choice” just to have it all snatched away when game time rolled around. Destiny, one of my favourite games to play is like that. We were promised an expansive MMO style FPS that fell short of that promise. No Man’s Sky has a chance to remedy this however with timely updates without the need for a whole new game. By adding DLC to the already massive core game it can be structured into any game the player likes.
For example imagine a $15 DLC that focused on building. allowing you to build structures and even cities with enough time, as well as a combat DLC that allowed you to create your own AI controlled space armada to ravage the skies. Not everyone would buy the combat DLC and not everyone would buy the building DLC but the effects would still be felt by everyone! Thats the beauty of a perpetual and procedural world, if another player happens to stumble upon your world the buildings would be there wether they had the DLC or not, If another player flies through the system your AI controls that player will see the consequences of your battles. The life of this game is beyond this poor writers imagination but I can see far enough to be very excited for the first by the prospect of DLC.
Thats about it from me currently. I have been devouring all I can of this video game and due to the exclusivity there’s a good chance I will abandon my 10 year Xbox love affair to pick up a Playstation 4. “oh come on James you think this games is worth the $250 for a PS4 and the $60 for the game?”
Yes, yes I do.
Check out this awesome video from IGN showing 18 minutes of mind blowing footage.