As I open my eyes and look around, I can see the husk of my ship throwing sparks into the sky painted in shades of green. Around me there is more wreckage from my ship, as well as the ground flowering with plant life that I never could have imagined. After just a few moments I realize that I'll need to do some tinkering to fix my ship if I ever want to get off of this planet. Considering there doesn't seem to be anyone else around, I can rely only on myself.
After fixing my scanner, I'm able to locate the elements that I'll need to fix everything, but there is plenty to see on the way. From a gentle bipedal beast that could be a small scale dinosaur, to small little lizards that attack as soon as I get close. As I travel I'm also able to find ruins of a civilization that is long gone, monoliths that teach me language, and abandoned colonies.
This is No Man's Sky.
Colors you never expected
The hype with the graphics of No Man's Sky is real. Each frame of this game is absolutely packed with a myriad of things for you to see, explore, and interact with and each one is gorgeously designed. From fully irradiated planets that glow green, to giant lumbering beasts painted in a rainbow of color that catch your eye.
No Man's Sky is situated withing a procedurally generated world. Each time you start over, it's on a new world that presumably no one else has ever seen. Each world supports itits own environment, flora, and fauna. While you'll recognize specific elements like Zinc or Plutonium, from planet to planet the actual ecosystem changes drastically. These differences are clearly marked by vivid colors that paint the landscape.
Each world looks a bit different and its in layers. The terrain, plants, animals, and even the general atmosphere change drastically from planet to planet. The only real unifying factor here is how different they may look from top to bottom. Equally, out in space you'll be able to see plenty of planets, galaxies, and asteroids moving through the universe.
Detail has been put on each pixel of the game, delivering a beautiful experience. The problem however, is that currently on PC the frame rate is constantly dropping. This means that the details that the developers intended aren't being seen, and it isn't delivering the stellar experience that console gamers have been enjoying for days. While No Man's Sky certainly still has the capacity to patch and fix the issues that are plaguing PC players when it comes to visuals, it's definitely not something we wanted to be dealing with on launch day.
It's all about exploration
One of the big questions surrounding No Man's Sky is what the story is about. Unfortunately, we can't tell you much even after hours of gameplay. You aren't given any kind of backstory when you start up, and the game doesn't get much clearer as you begin to progress. From what you're given this is a game purely about exploring the galaxy.
While you will find alien races, initially it's quite hard to communicate with them. Likewise, you can find Monoliths on the surface of many planets which will deliver tidbits of information. It seems as though they might fit together, or start to uncover tidbits from the past. The Monoliths are attached to certain alien civilizations, and it's random as to which alien civilization you'll find first.
You will receive missions as you play. So we're hopeful that after you get further into the game, a larger story will be uncovered. Although to be fair, the game is so massive that a story isn't really necessary. We racked up more than 10 hours of gameplay before even making it out of the first system, because there was just so much to do that could occupy your time. In fact, we didn't touch a tenth of it before seeing the wider galaxy...and that galaxy is huge beyond comparison.
It does seem like some sort of story is hidden within the missions you'll complete, but after hours of gameplay we still hadn't managed to figure out what was going on. Or even what the story might be. To uncover it, you'll need to keep exploring the wider galaxy.
There's almost too much to do
When it comes to gameplay, there are roughly a trillion different things that you can do. Your first priority is getting your ship up and running, and it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour to complete. That's because you may need to scrounge for elements to keep from dying from radiation poisoning, or get distracted by the various places that you can check out.
No Man's Sky is a game about exploration, and you start to realize this as soon as you start to play. There is no map, and initially nothing on your radar. As you putz around the area where your spaceship has broken down, you'll get as much of a tutorial as the game is willing to give. It shows you how to collect elements from the atmosphere and how to craft items. For the most part, though, you're on your own.
As you start to scrounge for supplies to fix your ship, nearby waypoints will start to pop up on your radar at the top of the screen. These waypoints take the form of different structures you can find. Monoliths and knowledge stones will teach you about alien civilizations and help you to learn alien languages. You'll need to learn those languages in order to understand the aliens you come in contact with. There are also lost colonies, wayposts, and fuel depots, among other things. Most of them will let you check in, and save your game to the location and these check ins will come in handy when you need credits. You can also find upgrades, and blueprints at various locations on each planet.
The elements in the atmosphere are collected by using your mining beam, and you'll need a lot of them. Some of them are used to repair your ships thrusters or your suit's life support, others will be necessary in order to craft items. However, you start the game with a seriously limited number of inventory slots. So you'll need to be careful of which elements you harvest, and which upgrades or technologies you choose to install on your suit, ship and multi-tool.
Once you've fixed your your Analysis Visor, you'll also be able to scan and document the local fauna. Once you've documented them, they'll be added to the planet info that you can access, along with all of the waypoints on the map. While you won't find plants that you can interact with often, occasionally there will be plant life that you can inspect to receive boosts to your health or shields.
From within your options you can view your discoveries. This page shows you the star systems, and planets that you have discovered. Each planet will show the waypoints you checked in at, as well as the documented life forms that you uploaded. This is where you're able to rename planets, systems, and animals to whatever you like. You can also upload your discoveries to share them, and earn a modest amount of credits in return.
This is also where the second huge problem on PC crops up. No Man's Sky is basically a PlayStation 4 port over to PC, and it shows. As of now, the game is nearly unplayable at times. It's not running well at all, and this is most noticeable when you try to move from one planet to the next. Hello Games has done a huge disservice to players with the poor quality of the No Man's Sky porting.
The big thing to remember with No Man's Sky is how ridiculously enormous this sandbox universe is. On each planet there are at least dozens of things to do. Every time you go a bit further out in space, you'll find even more to grab your attention. The game is rife with crafting, buying and selling, fighting with space pirates, and being an astronaut botanist. There really is something here for just about anyone to enjoy, provided you can actually get the game to run the way it's supposed to.
No Man's Sky is a beautiful adventure through space, that doesn't follow through with it's promises when it comes to playing on PC.
- Detailed graphics
- An nearly endless universe to explore
- Tons to do
- Framerate drops and other launch day issues make the game almost unplayabale
- Lack of explanation for many facets of gameplay
- It's easy to get overwhelmed
No Man's Sky has been coming for a long time, which means there are a lot of very high expectations. While it followed through beautifully on PS4, the experience on PC is seriously lacking. You loose out on the gorgeous graphics, serious issues make interplanetary travel extremely difficult, and until a few patches hit the game is basically unplayable for PC players. For players who love a good sandbox though, this may just be the game you've been waiting for. The one that you can explore to your heart's content, even if you do decide on play on PS4 instead of PC.
Hello Games has already released a patch hoping to help with the issues on the PC version, but for now it doesn't seem to be helping much. We can only cross our fingers and hope that future patches will help out with these issues and save a game that would be brilliant if it just ran well.
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