No Man’s Sky is proving to be one of those games that divides opinion and after offering my initial thoughts on it last week I think its time I give my final position on the game now that I’ve spent a good deal of time with it. I should start off by saying that I’ve changed my mind on a few things. I tried to ignore the frenzy of hype that surrounded this game and a week before launch I wasn’t even sure I was going to get it. I relented and bought the game and really enjoyed the first 5 or 6 hours but then I came to a sort of realisation, and that is what I’m going to talk about today.
I guess we should start by addressing the obvious. Many people on PC are having serious performance issues right now like low or unstable frame rate, stutter, screen tearing and crashes. We aren’t talking about people with low end PC’s either. I know someone who has a very good PC and yet the game is unplayable for him. These kind of issues are unacceptable. PC isn’t just one platform however, there’s thousands of different configurations but I wonder if there was any kind of testing done. My game seems to run a lot better than most but even then I get stuttering and random frame drops. I’ve yet to speak to someone who says their game runs perfectly.
It’s obvious that No Man’s Sky means a lot to the small team of people who created it so why on earth would they release the game in the state that its in? A patch has been released recently to try to address the issues and work arounds have also been recommended but I get the feeling it may be a while before we see the kind of stability the community deserves and expects. Pop in is dreadful and artifacting is appearing too. The UI is dreadful and why on earth do I have to hold a button to select something? Just let me push it!!
Another glaring issue becomes apparent when you start comparing the game we’ve been sold to the game Sean Murray talks about in the many interviews that he gave over the last few years. A lot has changed from Sean Murrays pre-release vision to what has been released and its had a big impact on the overall feel of the game which is a shame. Reddit users have compiled a list of features that were spoken about as being in the game that have seemingly gone AWOL . You can find the info on that, now deleted reddit thread, right here. If you would like a more visual idea of what people are complaining about then this YouTube video sums things up rather hilariously and to be honest accurately.
Sean Murray had plenty of opportunity to clarify and explain any omissions and alterations they had to make prior to release and part of me does wonder if perhaps Sony effectively forced him to keep quiet as they seem to be controlling his comments like we saw when Murray was talking about a possible Xbox One release.
Now I thoroughly enjoyed my first few hours with No Man’s Sky and there are times when all you want to do is take pictures of the stunning beauty that you occasionally stumble upon. Exploring can be fun at times if a bit pointless due to the abundance of resources and lack of variety. Three languages have been developed and whilst the AI sit motionless, cemented to the spot the dialogue is very well done. You find yourself wanting to learn the languages so that you can better understand what is being said. The Music too is nothing short of brilliant. Typically I turn in game music off but in No Man’s Sky it adds such an atmosphere and compliments the game that I decided to leave it playing. In fact here it is for your pleasure or if you are on Spotify you can click here
The character movement is fine in my opinion and whilst I’ve seen others call the jet pack “clumsy” I’ve never really found it to be so. The biggest issue I have with controls is when you jump into your Star ship. The flight mechanics both in the atmosphere and in space are truly awful and a cock-eyed control scheme does little to help the situation.
The biggest problem with no man’s sky is that it has about as much depth as a puddle. How often have you heard someone say that a game is great but light on content? Plenty of times right? Well No Man’s Sky has plenty of content but each part has no depth to it. After I wrote my ‘initial thoughts’ piece I quickly realised that actually, there wasn’t a whole lot else to see or do. The planets are all pretty much the same, rich in resources and with the same trading outposts, alien buildings and crash sites etc. The only real difference is normally the temperature reading and some will give you different coloured hazard protection bars. Animals are basically made up of the same bits clumsily switched around so you end up with a T-Rex head plonked on the arse end of a skunk and it seems they didn’t even bother with plant life since they are all essentially repeated on each world with just the name changing. This is a procedurally generated game and to be honest it doesn’t do a particularly good job of it because (probably) it has a limited library of textures, resources and what nots.
So where does that leave us? Well I have to revise my statement that No Man’s Sky offers value for money. It doesn’t. The game humours you for a while but then drops off all of a sudden and it loses its magic. Perhaps if future updates were free then I might feel confident with my first statement but even that has been back tracked on and so I must say that you are not getting a AAA game for the AAA price. There seems to be just enough to keep you happy to take you beyond steams 2hrs refund window.
It can be a great game and it has/had great potential but ultimately it’s light years away from achieving that potential and is nothing like the game that was shown to us over the last few years. If you are going to buy it then rid yourself of all expectations that you built up from the pre-release marketing and hopefully you’ll find enough to enjoy. As for my journey to the centre of the galaxy? well I’m going to take a break and see what the Modder’s can come up with but I will probably go back to it eventually because one thing the game is if nothing else, intriguing.