No Man’s Sky, take off? Or emergency landing?
Over the last couple of years the Indie gaming scene has been growing and growing, producing tons of new unique, fresh and exciting games. People have started to take notice and that’s down to the hard work and some of the gems that have been produced. Admittedly these gems are few and far between, for every one gem there is multiple trash that follows it. Then every once in a while we are treated with something that threatens to shake the games industry to its core and has even the most hardcore gamer that only plays AAA titles peaked in interest. The latest game to do this is of course No Man’s Sky, a game full of incredible ambition and innovation that hasn’t been seen before.
The scope of this game is scary, players are free to explore an open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion planets. This is one of the many reasons why we need a good balance of indie developers as well as big AAA companies. As without developers willing to take a huge risk like this, there would never be games like No Man’s Sky. I think it’s safe to say everyone in the gaming industry is hoping this game succeeds and does well.
But will it succeed? I’m not convinced it will and I don’t believe No Man’s Sky is the game we are all hoping for.
Firstly lets talk about the scope and size of the game, No Man’s Sky has a procedurally generated open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion planets. That’s an insane amount of planets and there is no way each one of these will get explored. Apparently to stop and visit each planet for a mere second will take 5 billion years!. Which leads me to wonder about the level of detail the planets will receive. Of course we already know that each planet is procedurally generated but it will still have to work within a certain and restricted set of rules and wont have the same level of detail that a hand crafted world would have. My biggest fear with the scope of the game is that the universe starts to become monotone and boring. Everyone will be looking extra hard to try to notice how each planet is different from each other, so after visiting a dozen or so planets if they all feel the same with just a different colour of skin and lack personality the game will get old, start to feel the same and the world won’t be worth caring about.
Secondly, isn’t No Man’s Sky going to be very repetitive and lonely? The games basic concept is fairly simple, you roam the galaxy map in search of a planet to land on, once you’ve chosen 1 planet out of the 18 quintillion, you fire your space ship and make your approach onto your new alien planet that’s never been discovered before, and you even get to name it. Being a man who likes a simple life, I’ll be calling mine Planet 1 out of 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 or however you write 18 quintillion. You land and take your first steps onto Planet 1 out of 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 and search every nook and cranny of your new home, making lots of new discoverers along the way. For example, I might discover a new species of fish, this amazing fish is blue and has three big eyes but I’m going to name it two-eyed red fish just to confuse the other players that land on my planet, their mind is going to be blown!. Oh wait there’s 18 quintillion planets, what’s the chances of that happening, damn I feel so lonely in the massive yet so empty universe. What’s the point in coming up with all these fancy names if no one is going to see it. Oh well time to do the same thing on Planet 2 out of 18,000,000,000,000,000,000.
I know No Man’s Sky offer’s more than this but nothing else really stands out or sounds interesting. I want to be a space pirate and invade other people with a group of friends and threaten to destroy them and the planets they have discovered Dragon Ball Z style, unless they give me resources and currency. I want bounties placed on my head because I’m a notorious space pirate and watch in awe as my crew get into amazing player space battles from bounty hunters trying to get their Cowboy Bebop on. I want my own unique planet that I can call my home and base of operations, where I’m able to build a colony of people and start my own civilization, build stuff from my resources I’ve collected, breed animals and tend to my ship. Being alone worked for PlayStation classic Journey, the game was a short experience and it was exciting and special meeting someone anonymous for the first time, only for them to disappear without a warning, leaving you with sadness. This is a completely different experience and if the core gameplay isn’t good enough playing alone in a massive universe isn’t as appealing as it first sounds.
My last concern is the hype that as been surrounding the game, the game has blown up recently in terms of exposure and it’s already been touted as a GOTY contender and it’s on many people’s most anticipated games of 2016. This isn’t the developers fault and now a lot of people will be going into this game blind as they have heard praise after praise for the game and how unique the game will be, this game isn’t going to be for everyone and if you’re not aware of that it will be your own fault. On paper the 18 quintillion planets full of deep exploration is a game seller for most, it’s something new and fresh for us to play. But I believe all this hype has been bad for the game, Hello Games vision for No Man’s Sky is what will be in the final product, that’s how they saw the game and how they wanted to build it, Hello Games being an Indie developer, might have been limited and restricted at certain times to add certain features but for the most part it’s their vision. I fear people will get Hello Games vision mixed up with their own vision for the game. Then abandon and bash the game because it isn’t the game they thought it would be.
Although I have these deep concerns for No Mans Sky, I’m hoping it will prove me wrong and become a huge success and open up the door for more developers to take bigger risks and make the games they truly want to make. Hopefully No Man’s Sky has something special up its sleeve, it’s the type of game that will get people talking to each other, about the stuff they have discovered, secrets to find and what’s in the middle of that massive universe. But so often with games entering new territory, usually the first game doesn’t hit the ground running and generally aren’t the best, but lay the foundations and the benchmark for future games. This could actually be the case for No Man’s Sky, the base game won’t be very good, but they will constantly update and add to the game whilst listening to the player feedback providing us with free DLC and improving the player experience for years to come. Because we sure as hell wont need a No Man’s Sky 2 with a centillion of planets.
My friend at Gaming Respawn Daniel Garcia-Montes wanted to get involved with this topic and here’s his thoughts down below.
Daniel Garcia-Montes shares his opinion
I had a short yet complicated back and forth deal with No Man’s Sky. When I first heard about the game, I was somewhat intrigued when I heard how many different planets would be available to explore in the game world, but I quickly stopped myself from researching it any further for fear of getting involved with yet another huge game. Kind of like when you’re trying to drop a few extra pounds, you don’t want to tempt yourself by staring at the pizza and chocolate chip cookies portion of the buffet table. I’m a picky gamer and make it a point not to get involved with too many different games, because once I get involved, I normally stick with the series in question to the very end. This is also why I normally prefer not to get too many games that can take hundreds of hours to get through. I have Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but I don’t have any of the other games in their respective series since that would just be too much for me. Anyway, time went on and I practically forgot about No Man’s Sky.
Then I decided “what the hell” and looked up more stuff on the game. I checked vid after vid of gameplay and developer interviews of No Man’s Sky, and in no time I found myself adding it to my list of “Must Have Games”. The game’s scope is truly incredible with basically an entire galaxy filled with eighteen quintillion planets to explore, with discovering planet after planet being the main goal. That and reaching the center of the galaxy to see what the hell is in there. This game certainly has a lot of interesting things going for it with its focus on space exploration and survival. In time though, I realized that this may not be the game for me to jump into right away.
While the game shows off how each planet will have a different appearance and its own collection of wildlife, I have to wonder just how different they can really be from each other. I believe the longer a player spends on this game, the greater the chances that the planets will begin sort of blending together and looking like slightly reskinned versions of each other. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of variety to the gameplay. Explore planets, collect material from the environment and wildlife, battle or run away from Sentinel robots that will attack you after depleting too much of a planet’s resources, upgrade your ship or buy a new one so you can fuel it up and fly to other far away planets….and do it all over again. Getting involved with space battles between different NPC factions does sound interesting, but I fear even that may wear thin after a while since you can’t really interact with any NPCs face to face.
Speaking of interacting, it is possible to run into other players while exploring planets, and this feature had me very interested at first since it meant I could probably team up with a friend for some pure co-op gameplay with very little risk of getting involved with any PVP action. I’ve played some PVP type of online games in the past, and while they can be fun, I’ve realized that I prefer cooperative gameplay more. However, the chances of running into another player in No Man’s Sky, let alone a friend, are literally astronomical given the sheer size of the galaxy. The fact we get to name the planets we discover so they can be catalogued in the game’s Atlas is another interesting feature. The downside to this though is that I can see many planets being given names relating to certain parts of the human anatomy by gamers who find that kind of humor to be clever. Let’s be honest, we all know there will be plenty of gamers out there giggling like little schoolgirls after discovering a new planet and calling it “Planet Ass-tastic” or “Schwang Land”. I can only hope there will be some kind of filter that will automatically delete any dirty words once they’re entered into the Atlas.
So do I think No Man’s Sky will suck? No, I wouldn’t go that far. Do I think it will change the face of gaming forever? I wouldn’t go far in that direction either. Honestly, I can see the game selling like hotcakes (what the hell are hotcakes, by the way?) when it eventually gets released. However, I do have to wonder about the game’s lasting appeal. There will of course be a portion of gamers who will live and breathe for this game and potentially spend the rest of their video gaming lives exploring the galaxy. However, I also see the possibility of many gamers eventually getting bored and moving on to something else.
This is just an educated guess going by the fair amount of research I’ve done on the game, because I honestly don’t know what changes will come to the game after it’s been out for some time. The developers have said they will likely add extra features and such based on gamer feedback, for free no less, so that’s something. Personally, I don’t want to take the risk of buying No Man’s Sky right off the bat. I took that risk with Evolve due to its somewhat unique nature and while I like the game well enough, it does have its flaws and I feel I would have been better off buying it later on after it had gotten cheaper and had more features added in. No Man’s Sky is a very different game, but it still has a similar risk factor to it, at least for me. I’ll be keeping my eye on this game after it’s released and depending on what I see, I might buy it at a later date. No promises though.