No Man’s Sky (PS4)

No Man’s Sky is a game about exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated universe.

No Man’s Sky has been receiving a lot of hype for a while now pretty much ever since its release, it has without a doubt been the most anticipated new game of 2016 and something that I have been eager to get my hands on following its arrival on release day. I’ve already sunk several hours into the game and may offer up a few more complete thoughts closer to the end of the game, but for now, here is my early reaction.

Unfortunately, I was unable to download the Day 1 Patch due to the slow internet that I have meaning that I’ve been playing with the version straight out of the box and it is pretty visually impressive. You really get the sense and scope of living in an alien galaxy, as you follow your character from one planet to another. If you like discovery games then you’ll get a kick out of this one, which literally has a big wide universe to offer and holds nothing back. After an introductory tutorial where you start having crashlanded on a planet, you have to put together your ship by finding elements like Carbon, Iron and Zinc that you need to craft items that will help your ship get off the planet. It can be quick or slow depending on where you are in the galaxy, as each planet will have different amounts of elements and no two planets is the same, which is pretty impressive when you consider how many there are.

There isn’t much of a story here and don’t expect characters and plot. You do get to interact with a few aliens though and No Man’s Sky adopts this rather unique approach of having you know very little about the alien language when you first meet them, forced to make guesses via the multiple choices provided. It’s probably a good idea to also have something on hand when you meet them as well, as they will often request items and your standing will go up or down in the species depending on how you interact with them.

In No Man’s Sky, space is a wide, open frontier that stretches out beyond the horizons. There are drawbacks, for those expecting lots of action it doesn’t deliver with only real conflict so far being if you get caught harvesting Isotopes by drones or annoy a small unintelligent alien, but it’s not about combat. It’s a game that has an amazing atmosphere, a beautiful soundtrack and great graphics, but there isn’t much of a story to it. It’s a voyage of discovery that will, depending on how many planets you want to explore, keep you busy for days on end. The ultimate journey of course is to try and get to the centre of the Universe but that can take time and you’re better off exploring as many worlds as possible on the way.

The major problem that I’m having with No Man’s Sky though is that it never really has enough depth. Sure, the universe is beautiful and the exploration part is fascinating but beyond that there’s nothing. The stuff on the ground is dull and long periods of travel can be tiring, as well as the constant need to find resources can also be draining, with the basic core mechanics that involve you keep having to find replacement elements over and over and over again for things that you have spent becoming quickly repetitive regardless of the planet you are on. It’s a shame really because there are very cool moments here but I’d rather the game lost a few worlds in favour of more balance.

That said though, the game is mostly good and aside from that issue I’m enjoying it a lot and it is probably going to keep me busy for a while. In hindsight it was never ever going to live up to the enormous hype surrounding the game’s launch, but for now, there are things to recommend and things that people will take issue with. And on a final note, Battlestar Galactica fans will also find something to love about the game’s space stations and their hangars, they look pretty similar to the ones used to launch Vipers, and they’re very cool indeed. There’s a reason why I named two of my planets that I discovered Caprica and Kobol. Now I’ve just got to hope that I don’t get any Cylon problems anytime soon….

VERDICT: 7.5/10 (subject to change)

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