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No Man's Sky Review: an unending broken universe to explore

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

Space in No Man's Sky

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.

The terrain, plants, animals, and even the general atmosphere change drastically from planet to planet.

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

Discover the galaxy

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.

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.

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.

Monoliths and knowledge stones will teach you about alien civilizations and help you to learn alien languages.

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.

Each planet will show the waypoints you checked in at, as well as the documented life forms that you uploaded.

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.

The developers have done a huge disservice to players with the poor quality of the No Man's Sky porting from PS4 to Windows.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Pros:

  • Detailed graphics
  • An nearly endless universe to explore
  • Tons to do

Cons:

  • 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.

See on the Steam Store

Jen is a contributing writer for WindowsCentral. She's an avid gamer, especially when she gets to kill zombies, craft things, or use a bow. She can often be heard yelling about her chainsaw while playing Gears of War 4. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

38 Comments
  • It's a great concept flawed with linear infinity.....strange
  • Rip No man buys, and by that look at the sticker that said online. I smell the GTX 970 all over again.
  • What do you mean about the GTX 970?  
  • I assume he means false advertising. NVIDIA got sued for advertising VRAM incorrectly. http://www.polygon.com/2016/7/28/12315238/nvidia-gtx-970-lawsuit-settlement
  • Windows Central app for W10 does not work with 14901. App always crashes on startup. I even tried to reset app and reinstall it. Neither worked. After reinstalling/resetting, the app works for about few seconds then crash.
  • There is a forum for that, comments are to talk about the article. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Why are you reporting it here and not at the dedicated website that was made speficily for this kind of problem?
  • Cause inteligent people goes to the right spots on the websites, everything has an order, not only in real life but on the web...
  • Yes me 2 taking long time to open
  • Blabla
  • Didnt reserve so much hype, just because you see a character exploring on the jungle of another planet, isnt mean its going to be a hit.
  • Way to rip the game a new a-hole. The review you wrote seems fair but to sum it all up into one word, "mediocre" is bs. It shows me how butt hurt you are because the game isn't perfect on Your pc. This game, in no way, can fairly be describe as mediocre. I equate your review to someone giving a product one star on Amazon because of an issue with shipping. It has nothing to do with the product itself. It's just retaliation because your feeling are hurt. This game IS amazing. The problems with NMS running on some peoples' PCs will be addressed in time. The game will change, your review will not. It's already out there. In my opinion your review does more harm than good in the long run.
  • What good is a game if you can't play it? Numerous people have reported this issue. So he's not the only one
  • What we have here? A fanboy I guess...well what you read was a kind review..go check on internet you can find that most of reviews are talking about a mediocre game..at least..and yes they where playing the ps4 edition..so don't get butt hurt ..play the game if you like it on your smooth pc..or ps4 and relax it's a fair review
  • I've put alot of time in already. The game is a long way from amazing. I'm bored already. My view is below.
  • I've put alot of time in already. The game is a long way from amazing. I'm bored already. My view is below.
  • That's the problem with review scores, or one word descriptions, they don't account for gameplay preference. Some applaud complex gameplay, some applaud minimal gameplay with a story that guides you through the game. No Man's Sky seems to be (I'm unable to play it on my platform, so this is just conjecture) designed for a very specific target audience in mind, and for others the game might very well range from "bad" to "mediocre", even if it hits a "perfect" for the target audience. Then there are the technical issues and they should be addressed in a review, and while the developer may promise to fix those, reviews are done on what the game is, not what it will possibly someday be.
  • If I had bought the game on PC and couldn't play it, I would be upset too. They have every reason to be upset. I personally don't think it is actually a online game. I think you are just uploading your discoveries so others can see them. I have not seen one person at any of the trading posts.
  • I haven't seen a single video about it, but from what it seems, it reminds me Captain Blood, from my youngness beside an Amiga computer. Am I wrong? ;)
  • I already emailed GOG for a refund for this ****. It was such a bad port job. First, it's hard locked to 720p with me. Then there are the micro-stutters all over the place. You have to restart the game to apply new graphics setting, in 2016. Controller support is abysmal. It works, but you have a stupid mouse cursor to select things instead of the usual highlighting each option as you go along. Wanted to like it, but it's basically unplayable in this state. Posted via my BlackBerry PRIV
  • I bought into the hype of this game. Issues of platform aside. I'm sorry, this game has loads of problems. The first is although colourful the game just feels empty. Just empty. At first I wanted to explore. Wow I can go here, investigate that. It quickly becomes extremely boring. The animal life is pretty boring and to be honest I have no interest in continuing this game on PC. Or any console. Apparently it's going to make its way to Xbox One. But I wouldn't bother Xbox owners. Hopefully Sea Of Thieves has much more life and detail in the worlds you explore instead. Very Disappointing. There is just no incentive to waste hours on end in a Universe of nothingness.
  • Title sums up this game perfectly. I don't get why people keep defending this saying "the devs claim patches are coming with features", $60 for a game means people expect AAA quality
  • They could've given the game no stars for all I care. But I think when you write this and a Hit piece on a game, then turn around and write a Positive piece on another game(Quantum Break), even though they've had 6 months to fix the issues...that spells BIAS. That I recall, they never wrote hit pieces on neither Gears nor QB, so why do it for this game? Pretty unfair if you ask me.
  • It is a review. He is venting his points and he didn't like it. Im sure there are some positive reviews out there if you look hard enough.
  • Issues aside, Quantum Break was a better and more fun game. Even on PS4 NMS has less than 70 on Metacritic. The game is just not that fun. The first hour of the game is rinse and repeat. You ate made to believe that there is the amazing galaxy to explore. When you do exactly the same thing through the whole game. Investigate, learn a random word. Find new planet. Do it again. The universe is no Star Trek type exploration. The dev would have been better to have less planets and fill the ones it had with meaningful things to do. It's all so meaningless. I have a friend who already finished the game. He could do it again for the alternate story. But has no desire to bother at all. Quantum Breaks issues are also nowhere near NMS terrible release.
  • What no one is taking into account is that it's not a triple A studio that made it; yes, the game demands a Triple A price and it's earned that right for the sheer ambition and time invested in making it. Doesn't change the fact that they swung for Triple A with a fraction of the resources. If frame rate issues are the worst of its technical woes, then they did a damn fine job all things considered. And if you find it boring, then the game wasn't designed for you in the first place. It was always billed as an endless grind. Every game that focuses on Exploration is always an endless grind. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • This years biggest disappointment.
  • oh come on, 2.5?? Really?? 3.5 is adequate not the best, not the worst.. and it will be updated and cheaper. Lets give them 1y. from now on and visit back in 2017 for an update of this review, ok? :)
  • You don't buy a game to shelve it for a year to see if it works by then, that's not how it works, that encourages this kind of stuff to happen. You're telling them that they can release a half done game with a terrible port. This needs to stop.
  • haha half done games are the new trend NOW. Show me ONE game as big as NMS without any bugs on day 1!! Bad ports are not something new and dont forget that this project is an INDIE game powered by SONY so considering this information.. its not bad at all. Nobody tells you to buy it right now, you can wait for a price drop which will come 3months from now, after 6m. the price will be droped by 50% and the game will be patched up and maybe some contest will be added too :)
  • 2.5 currently... The review is written on how the game is now. 2.5 is in the middle of 0 and 5.
  • If that is the case, maybe they should have sell it one year from now, no?
  • RIP No man's sky. we barely knew you.
    oh well. ill just play starbound
  • I had no interest in this game from the get go and expressed it. Fanboys defended it constantly. IGN has been riding the NMS hype train for weeks now. Time to get off boys...this game is worthless as I saw it on reveal.
  • Yeah I know. The same people that slated Quantum Break for it's metacritic score. But yet NMS scored worse from reviews than Quantum Break and that's the PS4 version.
  • I would peg the game as a 6/10, a bit above average based on the scope and potential. That being said I'm not one of those reviewers that says a 5/10 is mediocre because that's a stupid scoring scale, 5/10 is average, plain and simple, just because other sites treat a 7 as average doesn't mean you have to be a sheep. I do prefer Elite Dangerous as a space sim, but this game isn't really about the "space" element, it's more about the planets themselves and slowly building up the lore of this galaxy. Each planet you visit you gradually pick up a few more tidbits of information. I don't think it's worth 100 bucks, hell I don't even think it's worth the 79 bucks that I paid for it. I think that the current Australian PC price of $62 on GoG is about right (once that sort the issues). I plan on sticking with it though as i really love the lore, even if the menu system and soar navigation are rather subpar.
  • You mean "An unending broken universe to explore ALONE."
  •   I've read some many reviews on this game. Honestly how can anyone say they're a professional reviewer of a video game if they're unable to adapt to a game quickly. Been playing games since Atari, played 1000s of games. Adaptation and being open minded is key. I take every experience as a new experience. I did not play elite dangerous hoping it would be the next mass effect. Same goes with this game. It doesn't hold your hand, it teaches you the basics. The core problem with this game is people thought it would be COD in space, a mainstream space sandbox sorry folks that's a joke. It was never describe as a story driven hold your hand experience. How could a person buy Forza Motor and get mad because the game is to sim with no story. That's the point of the game. Maybe do more research. If you have Xbox and you want a game like this get Elite dangerous. Though I'll warn you very little story, no cut scenes, no hand holding, large learning curve but epic, and you can play with others.