When No Man’s Sky was initially announced, there was an enormous amount of hype building up for the game with seemingly unlimited worlds. The procedurally generated galaxy seemed to have limitless potential, and in a numbers sense, was pushing the boundaries of how big a game could be. I myself, admittedly, bought into the hype and I was excited to see what I could do in this massive universe. However, my excitement after hours of exploring space turned into disappointment. I was exploring the endless world we all heard about, but I felt as if I had completed the game two hours in. What I experienced wasn’t truly a game, but the foundation of a great game that could have been.
As I went through space flying from planet to planet, and collecting the same resources time and again, I couldn’t help but to begin questioning what exactly it was that I was doing. Sure, the art style was decent and I couldn’t help but marvel at some of the sights I would find in deep space. Even the soundtrack in the game was great, adding to the overall atmosphere of No Man’s Sky. Beautiful sights with the music to match doesn’t make a great game though, especially at $60.
There is of course a main objective to the game, if there had to be one, and that is to reach the center of the galaxy. To get there, you must get the necessary upgrades for your suit and your ship by exploring planets or going to space stations located in every star system. Building these upgrades also requires that you go to any planets and gather resources. Initially this whole system of collecting and upgrading to reach my destination was enjoyable. Plus, the early hours of exploration on multiple planets was thrilling, but that all quickly came to an end when I found a snowy planet that looked almost exactly the same as the 6 or 7 that I found before it. The repetitive nature of No Man’s Sky became apparent as I went on. I began to realize that regardless of what planet I was on, the cave systems all looked extremely similar. Almost all the same resources are on each planet as well, except for a few of the rare materials.
The Geological aspect of the planets isn’t the only very repetitive trait of each planet. There are many buildings or points of interest you can find on each planet. These points of interest can be anything from an alien monolith to an outpost. The problem is, these points of interest are in abundance on every single planet that I traveled to. They look the same everywhere, they give you the same basic upgrades, and it rapidly becomes a monotonous task instead of a willful excursion. The only true difference on each planet I went to was the wildlife, if there was any to be found. A vast majority of the wildlife on each planet is unique, at least on the planets I explored. Most wildlife I found would be friendly, but there were a few species that found favor in attacking me. This brings me to yet another part of No Man’s Sky that could have been better. That part is the combat.
There are 2 types of combat, which are space combat and planetary fighting. The space combat could not have been any simpler. Not only is it impossible to crash on any planets with your ship, but you also take barely any damage from hitting asteroids. This makes it very easy to fight against the only enemy you will ever fight in space, that being space pirates. Usually, if you have some decent resources, 2 or 3 ships will attack, and you either defeat them with your beam and gun or die. If you die, there is no real penalty, you must simply retrieve your items from where you died. The same goes for the planetary combat, which is just as plain and simple. If you go to a planet with hostile sentinels, the small flying robots on every planet, they will attack you if you try taking resources. The solution is to once again simply fire your beam or your gun until they are dead. The only real addition you can make to combat is adding a grenade launcher. There is plenty of upgrades you can make to your multi-tool weapon, but no real additions to combat can be made.
Eventually, I was flat out bored of going to a planet, naming it after its discovery, and farming the same resources. I was done filling my inventory and repeatedly selling everything I have at space stations, just for what felt like pointless currency. It was at this stage that I decided to jet for the center of the galaxy. To get to the center, you must warp from star system to star system, which requires warp cells. You can also jump multiple star systems based on how good your warp drive is. After I stocked up on resources to make warp cells, I began to start my warping session to the center. Each time you warp, you are basically shown a hidden loading screen of you traveling extremely fast. Every warp takes about 1 to 2 minutes on PS4 and the game would crash constantly during warps, not to mention the multiple other bugs plaguing the game. For example, not being able to shoot, or randomly jumping into space from whatever planet I was on at the time. After my tenth warp, so about 15 minutes of continuous warping, I wanted to know how close I was to the center. I opened up my map of the galaxy, and it told me I was 172,000 light years away. Considering I could only jump about 300 light years at a time, that is a massive number of jumps I would have to make. I did the math, and I would have had to jump about 580 times to get to the center of the galaxy. The amount of time I would have had to look at the warp screen is over 12 hours, and that doesn’t even include gathering the same resources, off of the same planets, to constantly refuel my ship.
After realizing how long I would have to stare at a loading screen just to do what is considered to be a spiritual ending to the game, I began questioning the real point of No Man’s Sky. Sadly enough, I couldn’t find any reason to keep playing, and unfortunately, all I saw was the assets to make a great game, but no solid content to call a game. There are no characters, no quests, nothing to build, and extremely simplified combat. The best comparison for what I am trying to convey is playing survival Minecraft without being able to build. After I came to this realization, I decided to put No Man’s Sky down. Unfortunately, after about 30 hours of playing, I simply couldn’t take anymore of what feels like the template or demo of an upcoming game.
Starting off in No Man’s Sky was exciting, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but the game gets boring and pointless very fast. If you are extremely into space exploration games, then there is a chance you could give this a try. Otherwise, No Man’s Sky really is a mile wide and only an inch deep, and perhaps your time and money would be better spent on another game.