It has taken me awhile to get my review for this game up but that is because I wanted to take my time with it and not just rush a quick review out. No Man’s Sky is a game that has built immense hype over the past couple years due in part to the fans and the publisher. Some people’s expectations for this game were just so absurdly high that there was no way this game was going to live up to them. For me No Man’s Sky is a lot like what I expected with the absence of some things I thought I would see from it.
No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game with a heavy emphasis on surviving and collecting resources. At its core that is what it is so if that doesn’t sound appealing to you then the game probably isn’t for you. Every player starts the game on his/her own planet and they are the first to ever see it. For me I started on an icy, frozen world that had me constantly running back to my ship to get warm. You’ll have to search this first world for the materials needed to fix up your ship so that you can lift off. This is where you will learn a lot about the game and some of the different materials.
You’re equipped with a Multitool that allows you to fire at rocks, plants, etc to mine them for their resources. These include Plutonium, Carbon, Iron, Thamium9 so on and so on. Each of these resources are used for different things. You’ll use them to recharge your Multitool laser, your shields for both your suit and your ship, fuel for your ship and more. While I could have fixed up my ship and got off that frozen deathtrap of a planet quickly I ended up spending hours just roaming around and finding interesting things. Each world you arrive on could have it’s own set of creatures to discover. You can then use your scanning visor to scan them and get data about them including if they are hostile or not. You can then give them a name and upload it to the servers to show you were the first to discover it. You can do this for most things on the various planets including plants, rock formations, and even the planets and star systems themselves.
There are various buildings scattered across these worlds as well some of them inhabited by aliens and others having been abandoned. Then there are mysterious alien artifacts called monoliths to find. These will teach you a word from a one of the various alien races languages so that when you talk to them you can understand what they are saying. Everything that you scan and discover can be uploaded and be sure to do that as you get a good chunk of money every time you do. Discover all the creatures on a planet and you’ll get a huge payout.
At the start of the game you’re also given a choice of different paths you can follow through the game. You can follow the Atlas Path that will take you to the mysterious center of the universe or you can chart your own path through the stars. I decided to follow the Atlas Path in my time with the game. Having decided that I fixed up my ship and took off which was pretty cool for the very first time. Flying up through the atmosphere and into space is something truly special about this game. I then headed to the nearest space station to check it out. Space Stations are where you can buy and sell things with the merchant aboard as well as see other ships come and go.
Now one of the issues that the game has is the inventory system. They don’t do the best job of teaching you how to use the menus and you will always be fighting to have room for more things. Your exosuit and your ship both have so many slots that you can use for both materials you are gathering as well as upgrades. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in these menus as you move stuff around as well as between your suit and ship. You can purchase other ships that have more slots but these get quite expensive the bigger you go. The biggest I’ve seen was a ship that had 48 slots that cost well over 100,000 million credits. That’s extremely expensive especially seeing as how it takes awhile to build up a good amount of credits. As for your exosuit you can find upgrades for it on the space stations and drop pods on planets. These add one slot to your suit every time you find one but they too start to get very expensive very fast.
If you happen to come across a planet with things such as Gold, Emeril or Gravintino Balls these sell for huge amounts. I found a planet with Emeril all over the place and I filled up every free slot on my suit and ship with it and hauled butt back to a space station to make a good profit. Be wary though as if you pick up a Gravintino Ball the Sentinels will come after you. The Sentinels are robotic creatures that protect the planets. If you start killing creatures or are harvesting too many resources they will come after you. You can build a higher wanted level as time goes on and more and stronger sentinels will be deployed after you. You can fight them with your Multitool laser or other weapon upgrade you might have installed if you wish. The gunplay isn’t one of the strong factors of the game I will say so expect to be disappointed in that regard.
As far as flying the ship it too works but doesn’t feel as good as it could. Because of that combat in the ship doesn’t feel particularly great either. You’ll want to upgrade your ships weapons and defenses as well as early on you could be attacked by space pirates and you won’t have much of a chance against them. I kept getting ambushed by about 5 of them when I would be flying towards a planet and ended up dying pretty quick. Later on when I upgraded my ship I could easily wipe out 8 of them or so with no problem. Should you die whether it be in space or on a planet anything you were carrying you can go back and pick up where you died so long as you don’t die again before you do. There really isn’t much of a penalty for dying at all although you probably won’t die much. I only did the few times early on when I got ambushed in space.
Now like I said early on if the idea of exploring and gathering resources over and over doesn’t sound fun then you should pass on this game. That is essentially what you do over and over again. That gameplay loop can be fun for some and not for others. As you travel to more and more star systems you’ll be doing that over and over again. The worlds you discover will also start to look less and less different as well and I will say some of the worlds seen in the trailers don’t seem to be quite what you see in the game. Don’t get me wrong there are some beautiful worlds that I came across in the game but again nothing quite like what I saw in the trailers. The creatures start to look a lot alike as well and I never did find a gigantic creature like the trailers had. Still I’ve had a lot of fun with the game trying to upgrade my stuff and learning more and more words of the various alien languages.
Visually like I said there are truly some beautiful worlds that this game can generate. Just the various plant colors mixed with the terrain and more makes for some stunning stuff. Then you have those that aren’t so pretty and are pretty dull. Everything in the game in procedually generated so expect to see lots of pop in as those things are created. It’s honestly to be expected from something like this. Some of the different ships look cool as well but I wish we got more from the aliens. Pretty much every alien from each race looks the same and none of them do anything. When you talk to them they are just there pretty much in the same position. It would have been cool to see aliens landing their ships and getting out and actually doing things. As they are they are just basically statues.
The music in the game is a highlight for sure and it always fits exactly what is going on. When you are just cruising through space expect the music to fit the lonely mood but get ambushed by space pirates and that music ramps up immediately. The game has no real online play which it was always said that it isn’t an online multiplayer game. While it was believed to have a very rare chance of coming across another player that doesn’t seem to be the case in the final game. Players can come across the worlds and star systems that others discovered and uploaded however. I only came across a couple things discovered by other people so far in my time playing and that is to be expected with just how huge this game is.
If you’re a trophy person the game has over 20 trophies including a Platinum which will come pretty naturally while you play. Most of them are just for doing certain things so many times. I do want to say that the game has crashed on me around 5 times while I’ve been playing but it has happened to others far more than me. As of this review this issue has been fixed mostly via patches.
While it doesn’t quite live up to some people’s expectations No Man’s Sky is still a great game and some of the things it does are truly a great achievement. There is simply no other game out there that is as big as this game but I do wish that the game had more to it to warrant exploring more of that gigantic universe. It does get repetitive and the flying and gunplay are not great. It has inventory issues and it doesn’t have a great story or very interesting lore. If you like survival games and resource management you’ll enjoy No Man’s Sky a lot more than others. I can’t speak for others and I can only speak for myself but I got a lot of enjoyment out of the game. There is a great foundation here that can be built upon in the future to make this game even better. I hope Hello Games can continue to update it and hopefully make it into something much more in the future.