I've been toying with how to write this review for some time now, partly because I had so much hope that this game would succeed, I didn't know where to start talking about my sheer disappointment with it. I'm not one of those people who expected the world of the game, just loved the look of what the game was, and exploration game set in the biggest world ever known to a console gamer. I wasn't expecting features that were never shown or talked about, I wasn't expecting the hand crafted brilliance of a Naughty Dog game, nor the open world adventures that can be found in Bethesda's games. I just went in excited for the game, exactly as it had been shown before. Even then I couldn't have anticipated the level of disappointment that would slowly creep up on me during my 20 or so hours with the game.
I will admit that I did have one expectation going into the game, that I would be playing this for tens(dare I hope hundreds?) of hours to come, I never occurred to me that after merely 20 hours I would feel that I'd seen everything this game has to offer, and then some. Maybe I was just slow of the mark in seeing the game for what it is, tiny. You may feel like with over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets that the game couldn't possibly be tiny, but I assure you it is. Within maybe a dozen hours I had found and bought my way to a maximum slot inventory and Multi-Tool, at the time I thought that would be the true start of my adventure! It turns out that it was as close to the end as I am ever like to get. I have earned and crafted all of the Multi-Tool and Inventory technologies that I want, my mining laser is so fast that even the largest of Crystals can be harvested with the smallest of taps of R2. So after as little as 12 hours every Multi-Tool station I saw was 100% redundant because it was a fact that I'd learned all the technologies. If you want to fly over the surface of a planet then you will see a wide variety of small bases set up by aliens(almost too many considering how largely empty these planets are of NPSs) but these rarely house more than a Multi-Tool upgrade, maybe it's an observatory you land at, well you're in luck as this will allow you to discover a Ruin which when located will teach you a new word for the aliens that inhabit that System. This is a problem in itself, the languages in this game have been designed in such a way that once you learn enough words(again something I have done in the time with the game) you don't really need to learn any more, at least to achieve what the languages set out to give you. I think they set out to allow you to gain new and desirable rewards from foreign alien races. In reality it doesn't take long for you to learn enough words to know exactly what the alien is seeking, then selecting the option feels empty, almost like I didn't really earn the right to speak with these unfathomable aliens.
At the end of the day I was hoping that No Man's Sky would be a game to look back on for years to come as the defining moment in procedural generation, the spotlight was undeniably squarely on the small UK development team forming Hello Games. This was going to be a game discussed for years to come, about the aliens you met, planets discovered, and space explored. Instead people will, for the large part, simply remember that game that had so much promise yet behind the curtain of development seemingly fell at every hurdle without letting on. I think this game will still cause debates, but not the ones everyone was expecting, there will be few discussions about the beauty and majesty of the game. In this place will be discussions of how everyone felt they had been mislead by a developer to the point that their game was arguably the most anticipated game so far of the generation.
It is a saddening, not enlightening, experience to fly from planet to planet, with little to no anticipation of what you will find on the next one after an all too short period of time. I know this review is both shorter and very different when compared to my other reviews, this is largely because I always like to focus on what I like, but also what I don't like whilst suggesting ways that these issues could be improved. However I find myself with this game in the very rare position of believing that this can't can't be tweaked to anywhere near perfection. It can maybe get a little less repetitive, but at its core this is just quite frankly not a good game. I feel there is a real debate to be had over the price point, and whether many people(myself included) would consider if such a failure if we had only paid £15-20 for it. This is a debate that I passionately want to have with you all so do check back soon for my thoughts on that. At the end of the day however, I am here to review the product in front of me, No Man's Sky is clearly a game that thinks its self a AAA game, but fall so far short in both quality and quantity that it is staggering. While I have been thinking about how to write this review, I have obviously also been considering what I will score it. So it is time to finish my review of No Man's Sky, not as an excited space explorer, but as a crestfallen gamer. I give No Man's Sky
Thank you very much for reading, I will be back soon with my thoughts on Battlefield 1!
It is finally here, No Man's Sky is one week away from release. To celebrate this fact I wanted to spend some time talking about the game, interspersed with some of the amazing trailers and screenshots we have seen!
So while we don't exactly know how the game opens, we do know that we all start with a basic ship, exo suit(don't worry it isn't like Call of Duty) and a starter weapon. These three aspects of the game will form the core of your upgrading with better ships offering a better hyper drive, letting you warp to planets of a greater distance away. You will be upgrading your suit, to allow you to brave harsh planets, such as those with radioactive rain, or perhaps extreme temperate both high and low. There are also toxic planets, which should be taken no less seriously than some of the hostile creatures that inhabit them. These fearsome foes will be part of the reason you will want to upgrade you weapon, and also to gather more materials. These materials will in turn feed back into the upgrading process, so from what we know, it might be a good idea to upgrade your weapon first, so you can collect more natural resources from the planets you visit, which will then make upgrading your ship and suit easier; in theory.
So the main selling point of No Man's Sky is that it is procedurally generated, this means that every time you get close to a planet, it will randomly make that planet based on a series of factors. However you may not know that this procedural generation applies to nearly everything in the game. The developers at Hello Games have made a series of different types of animals, such as birds, lizards, sea animals and more, they have then fed this information into their game engine, which generates a near infinite different number of animal variants. The same theory has been applies to the weapons and ships in the game, so while upgrading your ship will get you so far, you will probably also need to buy a new one at some point, so you are almost guaranteed never to see the same ship twice!
Next I want to talk about the trading in No Man's Sky, this won't operate anywhere near to what you are used to from other games. There are different races in the Universe of No Man's Sky, and each one of these races has a unique language, by learning languages of specific races you will be held in higher favour. As a result of this increased favour, you are more likely to get better deals on buying and selling, as well as a greater number of items for sale. You can learn these new languages one word at a time by scanning Monoliths(pictured below) and over time you will be able to get the best possible prices from the different races. I don't know if it will be possible to focus on one of these languages at a time, or whether each Monolith you come too could have a new word for different languages. That isn't to say that learning a language via these Monoliths is the only way to increase favour with specific factions and races, though this hasn't been touched on much by Sean Murray(Lead Programmer), he has hinted that actions such as intervening when a faction is being attacked in space will increase your favour. Only time will tell the lengths we will be going to in order to gain a closer bond with the different races in the Universe!
To trade resources, you will need to be able to craft them, and for this you will require gather and craft them. From what we have seen I believe that your weapon will have two firing modes, one which is for the combat against hostile creatures etc. and also a laser beam firing mode which allows the gathering of planetary materials. In some of the early gameplay shown simply shooting an ore would make it disappear and the materials appear in your inventory, but as the game development has progressed the ores now shatter into little pieces and those pieces are pulled towards your weapon, and thus your inventory. Now these ores are not simply the ones you might find on our planet, no there is a whole new periodic table that has been designed specifically by the Hello Games team for No Man's Sky. So while we have seen more recognisable elements such as Iron or Plutonium, there are also elements specific to the game such as Heridium or a twist on a known element, Oxycen. I am assuming different elements will have different densities, so that will be something we can upgrade our weapon to be able to destroy stronger elements, so if I'm right there will be a progressive order in which some of the elements can be gathered. This is pure supposition so, it is possible that mining upgrades only effect speed and other factors like that. In one of the recent trailer we are shown a weapon upgrade that will allow you to mine two ores at once if they are close enough together.
So there you go guys, the cores bases of the game covered, No Man's Sky is a game I have been excited about for years since it was announced. So to be writing this only a week away from release in incredibly exciting! Be sure to check back soon for more coverage of No Man's Sky once I have my hands on the game, exciting times ahead!
Thanks for reading
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!