June 22 delayed
June 24 delayed
August 9 delayed
August 12 dela…. Oh... we are doing it this time? Cool. Let me just download and start it up… huh maybe a bad download. Just delete it and download it again… hmm something's wrong. Let me try me wife's computer… no. Lets see whats going online.. Oh. Well time to break out old parts and mix and match until it works.
No Man's Sky, has finally released! Though maybe it should have delayed another month. My first hours consisted of me removing parts and putting them back in until I got it to work. Finally a 5960X with a GTX 980 did the trick. Now not everyone had this problem but there were more than a few that had issue starting this game. Now the developers Hello Games are saying that they are working to fix these issues, but only time will tell.
This game had a huge amount of hype, and I could write a 20 page essay about what I think. Totalbiscuit went off for 30+ minutes about it. Reddit went through every interview and trailer and found every single thing promised and not provided. I have a slightly different theory. I honestly believe that Sony saw Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen and said that they needed a slice of that pie. They saw No Man’s Sky as that piece. Sony can make some great hype from good or bad events. They spent time finding rumors and not promising them but hinting at them and showing trailers making you think that the game had these things. Marketing is very smart about this. By the time the game came out I heard it called Mini-Star Citizen or Mini-Elite Dangerous. In all honestly it is not those games, and at this point it will never be those games.
First let's take a look at the options menu. Its pretty barren and the minimum needed to be honest. These are all the settings set to the max, which is needed because it auto sets you to low graphics and locked 30 FPS. 21:9 resolutions are supported which is nice. If you go in here to change things often you will hate this menu. It is not a simple click and done, no you have to sit there and hold the button and watch a circle draw itself, that is a single click. It is painfully slow for something you don’t want to spend much time in. Get in the options, change what is needed, back to the game.
On with the review. Once I was able to start the game, I was presented with regular intro's and a white screen that simply said “Initialise” with a E, holding down the E key will slowly circle the the E and you are immediately thrown in the game. No tutorial, no cinematic, nothing. This is the start of the game, simple as that.
This was the first view that is controllable. A wrecked ship, with debris strewn around and a weird looking planet. In your upper left you have your shield with your hit points. The top right is your weapon/mining beam information. Bottom left is your basic planet stats and a pulse thing I never figured out. It is 39.0C, 1.5 Radiation and 19.4 Toxic. So a hot slightly toxic planet. This means that there are life forms but not as much as other temperate and not toxic planets. This gives an interesting idea to the planets. But later on the solar system makes little sense. Somehow a frozen planet can be closer to a star and a molten planet farther from a star. Procedurally generated does not mean it is always accurate.
Salvaging the wreckage I found this item/lifeform/thing called Atlas. Now I first thought Atlas would be a guide for the tutorial or at least make sure I did things correctly. It doesn’t. Now remember when I said back in Doom that games that throw you into the action and with a minimum story was good. I have been proven wrong, you can only do that with simplistic and known games. No Man’s Sky needs a tutorial! You can learn it but it will take time. You are given some simple task to repair your ship and need components to do so.
You have three items that you must maintain and remember to keep recharging them with energy isotopes you find and repairing them. These are your ship, your exosuit, and your multi-tool. Your ships weapons, hyperdrive, and pulse drive must be recharged, it is also a place where you can store items by simple holding X and transferring them between your ship and exosuit or vise versa. Your exosuits has life support and hazard protection, one is recharged with energy minerals, while the other repaired with metals. Your exosuit is also your main storage. Finally you have your multi-tool that is both your mining tool and weapon. These three items can be upgraded and improved through out your gameplay experience. Your multi-tool can be designed more toward a mining drill or an assault weapon. Your suit can have more inventory slots or more environmental defense/offense upgrades.
You first task is to repair your spaceship. I pre-ordered the game which came with another starter ship. This was disappointing as the “special ship” since it is exactly the same as the starter ship but with a few more inventory slots. It handles the same, goes just as fast, uses the same parts, uses the same amount of energy. Get used to mining though as you will quickly find that you are simply mining to keep alive and less about improving your equipment, though that will happen slowly. It is an endless grind, and it only gets worst when you finally find a nice tunnel to explore and you hear your suit beeping that your life support is now critical. You will scurry from mining item to mining item trying to refuel quickly.
I explored more than a few planets during my gameplay, in all the trailers I've seen, it showed walker “sentinels”, I never once found a different enemy than these sentinel drones and fighting is rather straightforward. You point your weapon and shoot them, they shoot you, they explode, you pick up the loot they drop. Dodging is non existent as their laser just simply guide to you. You can use cover but the AI doesn’t try to outsmart you and just simply follows you, making trapping them easy. Combat is very lackluster, and to be honest not much to talk about.
The one thing that the game does right are the planets, the fauna, vegetation and planet surface was really well done. Sometimes you get to see some weird animals that don't make sense but this is a fault of procedural generation, it’s not perfect. My starting planet had floating islands, strange 2 leaf planets that were thick and rigid and looked like they belonged on a toxic planet. Then these weird aggressive bugs with their weird crooked smiles. These smiles are what cause nightmares in children. You can analyze all of these things and you get credits/unites (from where I don’t know) as you find all the items on a planet. This actually felt rather complete, though my planet was not as dense with life as the trailers would lead me to believe. It did fit the toxic hot planet description in my HUD. Now what is missing are biomes. I searched for hours on my planet, North, South, East, West and it never changed it’s a single biome per planet. This was disappointing as there should be multiple different biomes on a single planets.
Another huge aspect was the aliens and factions, as it should be since it is a major focus of any sci-fi/futuristic show that has them. Star Wars and Star Trek have tons of aliens, some made simply just be background sights and never discussed. No Man’s Sky does only a few things right. First the aliens is definitely alien-like, it looks like a gecko evolved instead of a primate. Second is that you are forced to find beacons to learn their language or learn it from trading. Either way the fact you have to learn a language is very immersive. Things that I found wrong. This was supposed to be a settlement. It does have a large building, but only a single alien was here. My initial conversation was me vaguely getting an idea that it wanted some resources and giving it to him, that was it. I talked to it again and it gives me 3 options depending how much it liked me. There was no faction, or in-depth association with these aliens to start off with. It, again, is very shallow and lackluster.
Once you repair your spaceship you can fly around the surface of the planet, but it is controlled on how low you can go. This is a very big annoyance to me, you cannot fly low enough to actually see what is going on on the ground or even scan to see if you missed a creature or settlement. So it is a hit and miss with landings. You can see landmarks you have made while you were on the ground, and you had scanned out, though. It just feels like it’s holding you back. Pulling up from the planet, you will escape the atmosphere and go into space. I was meet with what I thought was a large ship but turned out to just be some sort of container or space trucker. Nothing was notable, again the flying was unremarkable and simple. You can see points of interest to jump to and there was no large fleet or other space ships, it was rather empty.
I jumped to a space station and had to fly around to find a entrance. There was no traffic controller to greet you and you simply flew in. I wish I had taken a screenshot inside but I forgot. Inside was the same alien creature as the one on the planet in a single room who did the same thing but with different resources. I again did the trade, he was excited and gave me three options. Again so simplified it was disappointing. There were 2 locked door but I needed an “Atlas key” which I didn’t know how to get at this point so early in the game. For a space station that large it was extremely disappointing to have the limited access inside.
I decided to hyper jump to the next planet. My screen blazed in a holy golden yellow with a halo. Then stopped at my next planet, Hoshobam Koshy, an undiscovered planet. I would land, scan, mine, analyze all over again.
I continued to pour about 30 hours into the game, one of the reasons why this review is so late. I always had this knack I was missing something. It would eat at me that I was missing a big subject. I realized that it wasn’t me but the game. The game covers a vast amount of area, but never goes in depth with any of them. Its also shallow and nondescript and never feels complete. There is a story line portion but it is never heavily enforced. To be honest it is not a game for everyone, in fact it is a game for very few people. If you are thinking about buying it, I suggest watching a YouTube video or a stream and then deciding. The developers could have done better and to be honest with all the delays it should have been better. It is a game I might play if I am in the mood, but it will collect dust for a vast majority of the time. If you like the game, great! I glad you enjoy it, and I hope the game is fulfilling to you.