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Posted by Marokai (3711 posts) -

Note: There are some spoilers for the story of this game in this blog, which is a line I never expected I'd have to say for what this game was before, so that in itself is a positive I guess. Consider yourself warned either way.

It really is good boxart.
It really is good boxart.

You know, expectations are a weird thing. Something that's actually pretty good can wind up disappointing, and conversely, something kinda shitty can seem sort of decent, all depending on what you expected of it before you even touched it.

Sure, you can pull yourself back and remind yourself of the "objective" quality of something, but it's still hard to shake the emotional sentiment inherently tied to what you expected. Humans are weird like that. Going into No Man's Sky's release last year, while it seemed like the entire gaming community's collective hype for No Man's Sky were snowballing out of control, I personally had only a mild interest in whatever it was shaping up to be. It seemed neat, but I've been around this block before; I remember Spore, I remember other disappointments. My husband says I'm too cynical - which is probably true - but it does have the benefit of insulating myself from disappointments in media sometimes, so when No Man's Sky turned out to be a bare bones space-exploring simulator that wasn't even especially good at doing the whole space-exploring thing, let alone not living up to the developer's promises, it was a bummer, but hey, I had plenty of other games in my life. All of that FFXIV wasn't going to play itself. I made a commitment to myself at that point to observe how the game would evolve over the coming year, and check back in when it was a more reasonable price.

Then it wound up crowned as Giant Bomb's Most Disappointing Game of 2016, which must've been an even bigger bummer for Hello Games.

But first? You need the most important bit of context that is key to understanding my perspective on No Man's Sky in 2017: the hyper-specific way I enjoy these sort of "simulation/creative/survival" games. No Man's Sky is essentially a variant on being space Minecraft (which is a really rough and over-used comparison but it gets the point I'm trying to make across) and the way I personally enjoy more sandboxy experiences the most is when those creative, free-form mechanics are used in service of a larger goal.

This has always been my problem with the modern incarnation of the Sims, for instance. I've always thought those early Sims adaptations on the PS2 were killer, and The Sims Bustin' Out is my favorite Sims game. Why? Because it uses the core gameplay of the Sims within a proper structured story progression. You're still playing the Sims, you're still designing homes, progressing a career, making friends, taking care of your Sims needs and eventually starting a family, just like you do in any good Sims game, but you're doing that within the traditional structure of a game. "Repair the house!" And so you use the existing Sims mechanics to clean up and renovate the house over the course of a chapter of gameplay, which you can do however you want, since it is a more "creative" game after-all, you're just doing it within a light structure. Similarly, I actually play Minecraft off and on a lot, because that game, despite being the poster-child for "creative" gameplay, actually has something that sort of resembles an "endgame" with actual "bosses," and it's fun for me to slowly use all the existing loose gameplay mechanics for a bigger eventual purpose. Direct objectives with open-ended gameplay is a great way to keep things fresh while maintaining some sort of structured challenge.

Again, to be very clear, I like and respect "creative" and "sandbox" gameplay, and under no circumstances am I arguing "I just want a clear linear gameplay experience like a normal damn game!" I'm just saying I like those kinds of freeform gameplay not existing just for their own sake. It is not mutually exclusive to have "sandbox" gameplay and also things like a story, or bosses, or an "end" goal. Happily, I feel like more developers are realizing this lately. So when No Man's Sky added a proper storyline, I instantly knew this could hit my weird, hybrid "freeform, but structured" desires.

Searching for some fucking Cave Marrow is what you'll be doing, son.
Searching for some fucking Cave Marrow is what you'll be doing, son.
  • Thanks to multiple content patches, No Man's Sky is a pretty good time - for about 40 hours.

Hello Games has had a bit of an up-and-down reputation with the fanbase of No Man's Sky, and it's hard to argue that roller coaster of sentiment wasn't at least somewhat deserved. The initial release of the game is notorious at this point for what can only be described has chronic over-promising, and some of their expectations (like that, since players were so unlikely to ever run into each other, this wasn't a possibility they evidently needed to plan very seriously for) were absurd. What the game initially released to be is, in retrospect, shockingly thin in terms of content.

The question "But what do you DO in No Man's Sky" achieved near "What is Firewatch"-level meme status, especially around these parts. The answer at first was basically "Well, you fly from system to collect resources to fly to more systems, exploring copy-pasted buildings for basic number puzzles that constantly repeat, and occasionally find monoliths that give you a ponderous, pretentious bit of text that is trying desperately to sound deep to conceal the fact that the game itself isn't, at all." Okay - maybe that came out a little more harshly than I intended, but I stand by my words. There wasn't exactly much of a game to No Man's Sky at first, and even as an exploration game it wasn't much to write home about. The good news is, after a year of constant work, No Man's Sky is finally something that resembles a fully-featured product.

Vehicles are truly indispensable for serious planetary exploration.
Vehicles are truly indispensable for serious planetary exploration.

The Foundation update from last November added base building, farming, recruitable NPCs, teleporters from bases and stations, numerous new kinds of resources, freighters, a bunch of bits and bobs of tech you can build and deploy on the fly, and more. The Pathfinder update from March added multiple planetary vehicles (each with different specializations - like a speedy dune-buggy like thing with little inventory space, up to a massive hulking tank), more base customization, increasing the complexity of ship types, a currency you collect through various means and use at a blueprint trader on every station, online base sharing, giving serious meaning to faction-standing, and yet more. The most recent major update, Atlas Rises in August, introduced crashed freighter sites to dig through, fleshing out the trading system between different system economies, tons of UI improvements and various quality-of-life stuff, the ability to edit planet terrain, ship combat changes, a system of what are essentially stargates, and most important: a decent, relatively lengthy storyline.

There are so many other little things I'm leaving out, too. Low atmosphere flight, different game modes, the ability to see other players (finally!) represented as a Fable-2 style orb, more biome diversity, deployable equipment, more ships, a mission board allowing you to do randomly generated missions for various rewards and new factions, etc.

Low-atmospheric flight is one of those things I wouldn't want to play without.
Low-atmospheric flight is one of those things I wouldn't want to play without.

And sure, at its core, No Man's Sky still has all those original, irritating flaws, and the broad gameplay loop remains incredibly similar, albeit with a lot more added steps. Dialogue with NPCs, along with the various little logic puzzles you find out in the wild, sadly repeat with inexcusable frequency. Stations all look more or less then same with slight changes to a single room. Yet, there is so much more now, that those flaws can be something you just push to the side a little bit. Unlike before, they're not all you have. Not to mention, the music is superb. These things don't carry the game forever, but at least now, you can have fun with No Man's Sky to a comparable length of other games on the market.

  • No Man's Sky is still a bad "forever game." Which is almost unfair. Almost.

At a certain point in my playing of No Man's Sky, it dawned on me; "Holy shit, is nearly everything I'm doing and enjoying not something from the original release?"

Cataloging planetary info thankfully doesn't take so long now with
Cataloging planetary info thankfully doesn't take so long now with "upload all."

It's almost comical how little would be left if you removed everything added in the year after release. Of course, most importantly, a lot of this stuff is fun! Yes, being reductive, much of No Man's Sky can be boiled down to "explore planets to gather the resources you need to explore more planets." Personally, flying to a new system, exploring, harvesting resources, and moving on to a new place is a fine loop, it just needed more. More reasons to be harvesting resources, more people to interact with, and in more ways, good-feeling combat interspersed throughout, and a broader story goal on top of it all. Humans are built to recognize patterns. It's not really fair to criticize a game just because you recognize a gameplay loop. We design clothes in repetitive, easy to understand patterns, music works this way, narrative, broadly, tends to have the same overall structure, and games especially can be boiled down to some variation of "Enter an area, conquer the challenges in that area, be rewarded, and move on to next area. Rinse, repeat."

To be the kind of game No Man's Sky kind of advertised itself as, though, it still needs more. It will probably always need more. On the one hand, it's unfair to complain "this game lacks content to keep me entertained infinitely!" The content systems and variety the game has now is perfectly defensible, I think, compared to most of its peers, with some exceptions. Something I think No Man's Sky could learn from, say, Minecraft for instance, is adding more meaningful combat challenges and combat-focused content that feels good, and worth doing. Minecraft is actually really good about providing "dungeons" and "strongholds" that provide fun rewards and are a great way to put your resources to work, and break the monotony of exploration. Combat mechanics in No Man's Sky are actually incredibly under-utilized. But even still, 30 hours of chill space-adventuring times is worth the $24.99 ask for a used copy at your local Gamestop. (IS THE CHECK IN THE MAIL, GAMESTOP?!) On the other hand, a sprawling, infinite experience is sort of what Hello Games is selling as their vision, here, so they're practically asking for it to be held against them.

Having randomly generated missions is good, but emblematic of a larger problem.
Having randomly generated missions is good, but emblematic of a larger problem.

Creating a game that you can explore for a literal lifetime carries the implication, to me, that there is enough there to make that endeavor, if not worthwhile, at least tempting. Which it just isn't. For a game selling itself on its endless procedural generation of ever-new sights to see, No Man's Sky is actually quite limited in the things you will actually witness.

There are some rare exceptions. Sometimes you'll find a larger settlement than most, maybe you'll come across a creature that is massive and awe inspiring, you might see a planet with truly bizarre flora, but for the most part, once you've seen a weird, randomly generated monstrosity, you've seen them all. There's actually a surprisingly small amount of individual parts that create the flora and fauna of No Man's Sky, which makes wanting to sightsee way less interesting, since I just lose hope of seeing something truly unique.

This is a common failing of procedural generation. Or at least, on relying on it to the extent No Man's Sky does. A design here and there may be accidentally impressive, but there is nothing designed about it. The value of actually hand-crafting animal or structure designs cannot be understated. The lack of well-designed-by-hand content is especially noticeable in the series of little numbers, logic, and language puzzles you'll come across in random structures on planetary surfaces, as well as NPC dialogue in stations, which I've had repeat multiple times on the same station. It's easy to just ignore these problems when you enjoy the game as if its a single player, campaign-focused thing. Afterall, there's nothing wrong with a lot of heavily-similar-but-not-quite-the-same wildlife when you're not looking so close. It's not as if wildlife plays much of a part in the actual gameplay. But if you ever dared to explore the galaxy for hundreds of hours, I hope you have a high tolerance for this "riddle" right here:

Get used to this fucking thing.
Get used to this fucking thing.

  • The storyline recently added through Atlas Rises is pretty good, and maybe the most meta thing ever. Or it's just all in my head.
The fellow travelers you meet along the way are pretty memorable designs.
The fellow travelers you meet along the way are pretty memorable designs.

Thanks to the recent updates, Hello Games has done a good job of giving various mini-objectives in a quest log that actually looks like it came from a real video game. Up until the new story added in Atlas Rises, these are mostly smaller side-narratives from people at your base, or contextual objectives based on your most recently acquired blueprints, but that doesn't mean they don't have value. All of these smaller pieces of interaction with the NPCs you recruit to work, combined with the flavor text summarizing the events in the log that capture your characters perspective on the matter, do a good job of something No Man's Sky up to this point desperately needed: proper world building, fleshing the people and places out more than not at all. Giving it character and more personality.

Exploring can be more meaningful when you're doing it to help someone, or when you really want to build up your awesome greenhouse, or whatever.

Each of your base specialists actually have really endearing personal stories too, with the only major negative being that I would just love so much more of them, instead of feeling so abruptly "over" after a half dozen or so quests for them. The aging Vy'keen warrior. The Gek obsessed with plants. The Korvax, broken from the Convergence, who decides to start his own little mini-convergence with a beacon and a few other bits and bobs - which is honestly adorable and it's a shame how suddenly it's over, with any further interaction with him dead-ending in a repeatable text that may as well say "fuck off, there's nothing more here." Like the rest of No Man's Sky, it's good, but the unique content here runs out a little too soon.

It's hard for me to not see meta-commentary in this, regardless of intent.
It's hard for me to not see meta-commentary in this, regardless of intent.

Atlas Rises however, boasts a major new "main" storyline, which is probably the most impressive addition to the game so far. After jumping to about three different star systems, you'll receive a mysterious transmission, desperately asking to be found. After eventually scanning the location of these signals down you meet a Traveler, one of an enigmatic group of people the normal folk talk about almost in mythical terms, who is ecstatic to finally meet another person. Introducing himself as Artemis, the first major "arc" of the story revolves around trying to meet face-to-face. Except, try as you might, you never seem to find each other. Then, Artemis suspiciously disappears entirely, just as you were getting close.

Continuing this very loose summary, you eventually run into two other fellow travelers - Apollo, a trader type who only seems to care about how rich he could get off the prospect of finally meeting another traveler, and -null-, an odd entity seemingly composed entirely of weird computer parts, who knows far more about the nature of existence in this world than anyone should. -null- reveals later on that Artemis is long-since dead, and you've merely been communicating with fragments of some memories broadcasting from his grave. There is a way to revive him, but it involves placing him in a simulated existence. A simulated existence, it turns out, within the simulated existence you are already inhabiting. All that you are, all that you have interacted with, is an ever-evolving simulated universe, in a series of simulated universes. You can be in the same position as another fellow traveler, but because you're not truly inhabiting the same space, you can't see each other. Sound familiar?

"I wanted to see what the audience playing this game would become."

Part of why I love the story that now exists in No Man's Sky, not strictly in Atlas Rises but also in all the little bits of exposition you receive here and there surrounding the Atlas Rises narrative, is how much it feels like a meta-commentary on the development of the game (the Atlas representing the "developer") and the people playing the game (the travelers) and how the game itself has evolved with those two forces almost in opposition to the other. The simulation that Atlas has created is inherently flawed. It tries, over and over, to reset and re-tool its simulation so it doesn't break itself down, so the people inside of it are satisfied, and yet those pesky travelers, those anomalies, can never leave well enough alone. The Atlas simulation is death by uncanny valley. Nothing ever seems quite right, even to the simulated nobodies populating stations and outposts, and the slightest curiosity exhibited about the nature of their existence seems to cause everything to melt down.

There is not a ton of wild twists and turns to the story of No Man's Sky or anything - it finds its themes, sticks with them, and that's that - which is why I'm so hesitant to talk at length about it despite how much I enjoy it. I personally choose to interpret the story of No Man's Sky, the history and evolution of the Atlas and its mysterious simulations, as an analogue for the evolution of the game itself, which gives it a delightful extra layer I found really fun to read into. Even setting that aside though, which is something that may not have even been intentional, I really think what they've added here is a lot of fun, and is a great central pillar the rest of the game's content can support and grow around. I hope they continue to add narratives like this in the future.

  • In the end, No Man's Sky is a fun, relaxing space-exploration game now, if you have modest expectations.

No Man's Sky is better the further away it develops from its original bare-bones state. Whenever I came across a monolith or a puzzle terminal with the old original text boxes and fonts, it practically felt like an accident or a bug or something, because it feels so unrepresentative of the game as it is in its modern form, yet they remain in the game for whatever reason, so separated from all the other improved aspects of it. Like some old MMO that has had so much new shit bolted onto it over the years, and whenever you wander back into an old zone it feels like you've gone back in time.

Is it so wrong to just want to kill some pirates?
Is it so wrong to just want to kill some pirates?

Something I've picked up in reading discussions on this game in the aftermath of me seeing most of what No Man's Sky has to offer, is that a lot of people, mostly defenders from the earlier days of the game's post-release period when it had been all but abandoned aside from the die-hards, seem to think No Man's Sky is wrong for trying to more fully flesh itself out and become more of a feature-rich game-game. The Time Magazine review last year is headlined with the scorchingly contrarian hot take of "'No Man's Sky' Isn't What You Wanted. Thank God." On that same track, I went back to read Alex's review from last year, and even he seemed to poo-poo the idea of playing No Man's Sky as a "game" and instead that he "loved" it for being more or a pure, isolating exploration experience even if nothing else. While that opinion is slightly more understandable in the immediate aftermath of the game's initial release, personally, I think this opinion has it completely backwards. Not to mention, it's aged poorly as Hello Games has made No Man's Sky not only a dramatically better "game" with more direct objectives, more content variety, and systems in service of other systems that I feel it desperately needed, but also a better exploration experience with absolutely no sacrificing the latter for the former. It can be both.

In comparison to its present form, No Man's Sky's original state is an extraordinarily dull exploration experience, even leaving the whole "traditional video game structure" debate aside. Which, by the way, is the main reason No Man's Sky has improved so dramatically and has experienced a minor boost in popularity in the last month or so. But I digress.

My experience with No Man's Sky is not most peoples' initial experience with the game. Like Brad's time with Mass Effect 3, my experience comes much later, after the developer has taken steps to compensate for the biggest flaws from release. In fact, just over the time of me playing it, Hello Games released multiple patches including even more adjustments to the game, such as giving all ships a Manueverability stat that gives each ship class noticeably different handling, and an "Upload All" button that makes reporting scanned discoveries about a million times less tedious. Every indication is that No Man's Sky will continue to be improved on moving forward.

You'll get pretty tired of talking to these fuckers after awhile.
You'll get pretty tired of talking to these fuckers after awhile.

This is the best possible time there has been to play No Man's Sky, but you should go into it with checked expectations. The way I played No Man's Sky was to slowly go through the Atlas Rises story while doing all the base-building quests I could, crafting anything that seemed interesting to me, talking with all the NPCs along the way, picking up side missions here and there, but never getting obsessed with seeing everything. Because you can't. And honestly? You shouldn't. No Man's Sky can still be a pure exploration experience, but I think I like it most as a tale of simulated existence with each person having a unique version of that path, and as a meta-commentary, through Atlas' repeated failures in maintaining the simulation, on the game's development overall. Then stopping after like 40 hours, just as it's getting tired.

It's a shame that most people seem to have abandoned No Man's Sky by this point, since if this was a 20-dollar game just released on the PSN, without all the hype pushed by Sony, and carried by a sixty-dollar price tag with a disc release, the conversation surrounding this game would probably be very different. Again, hype is a weird thing.

All that aside, No Man's Sky has a special quality to it, and even if some design decisions inherently hold it down, I really think if you like science fiction themes, or even just a Minecraft-lite crafting and gathering experience in a sci-fi wrapping, it has earned being worthy of your time. It remains imperfect, but in my book, it's the winner for 2017's "Most Improved."

If-I-Had-To-Give-It-A-Rating-I-Guess: 4 / 5
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#1 Posted by Sahalarious (756 posts) -

I respect your enjoyment, but I have to say, after checking in after every single patch, remaining hopeful, fuck this game. I've tried defending the game at many points in the last year, but its just too mediocre to warrant any attention. There is nothing here that hasn't been been done to death by a dozen other early access space games. The combat is extremely basic, the worlds are all identical save for a disappointingly small hopper of weird animal parts and textures, and the story, even post-patch, is extremely basic. there is no reason to play this game, in todays day and age where we have a dozen AAA titles releasing. Hellblade cost me half of what no mans sky did, and affected me more than this disappointment could ever even hope to.

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#2 Posted by XChairmanDrekX (434 posts) -

You know, you at least made be consider buying this on steam if It's $10 bucks or less at some point.

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#3 Posted by someoneproud (531 posts) -

I've had a good time with NMS since jumping back in (post Atlas update), the little bit of structure goes a long way for me too and it's pretty AF. I like playing it while I listen to podcasts/"spacey" music. Happy with my purchase now but bounced straight off it at launch.

Good write up, thanks.

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#4 Posted by pickassoreborn (764 posts) -

I'm still playing this - there's a relaxing factor to it which I enjoy although I do think the space combat has improved to the point where it's actually enjoyable. There's still something special about getting stuck into a battle and visiting a freighter to get your reward for helping out - although it still is easy to cause a friendly fire incident and have the whole battle turn against you. I've been super-careful with that stuff recently and think I'm onto something.

The terrain manipulator is also a nice addition - I've fallen into caves in my Roamer and have that thing save me multiple times. Digging out cargo from crashed freighters is also a novel use for that thing. I've spent more time exploring my home planet with the Roamer and grabbing Nanites where I can. As mentioned, the game still looks fantastic - sounds fantastic too. The sound design in this is still quite the achievement, and the new stuff recently added by 65daysofstatic only makes the whole thing even more atmospheric.

It's definitely the marmite of videogames although I have to continue to respect Hello Games and their support. I think the constant updates are helping to push the game with folk buying it at sale prices just to see what's up.

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#5 Posted by Marokai (3711 posts) -

@gtb08: I definitely don't think, regardless of how far No Man's Sky has come since launch, that the game is for everyone, but I think that games like Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous are going for very different things than NMS is trying to be. Not to mention, I much prefer the softer, more colorful look that No Man's Sky has to any of those other games going for a "serious" "hardcore" aesthetic. Otherwise I get how you feel though. There are certainly a lot of other big games these days with far more value than what No Man's Sky offers.

@someoneproud: See, totally, that kind of "relaxing, low effort" sort of game was exactly the kind of niche I purchased it to fill. While it may be true, as the previous poster mentions, that there are other games that are "better" or offer "more value" or whatever than No Man's Sky, I didn't get into NMS expecting it to go head-to-head with The Witcher or something. There aren't many "chill" games of this style, and if Hello Games continues to shape the game into something more structured and more content-rich over the coming months like they have so far, it can be something I keep coming back to here and there.

I really feel like there's a latent hostility out there toward this game or something. I don't hold it to an unusually high standard - I wanted a chill space-Minecraft game, it was a bit more than twenty bucks, and I had a good time with it for a couple weeks. For me it's okay that it's simple.

@pickassoreborn: Yes, totally! The terrain modifier is another one of those "I wouldn't want to play this game without it" additions right up there with low-atmospheric flight and vehicles. I've dug my way into pockets of rare minerals underwater, or crafted roads out of really rough terrain to make driving through mountainous or hilly planets easier, and it would be great if, like the rest of the game, they just simply added more to do with it.

Even though the combat is basic I agree with you at this point that it's serviceable enough on foot and space combat is actually legitimately fun now, particularly after the very recent updates that change all ship maneuverability. There are several different weapons now, and regaining shield upon destroying a ship, along with being able to recharge your shield with the tap of the d-pad and some resources, has given space combat a decent amount of flexibility to it that everyone can find their own preferences. What the game really lacks at this point, in my opinion, is totally stuff like Minecraft-style "dungeons" or "strongholds" to put combat skills and resources to use in. They've refined the combat mechanics at this point well enough that it's weird there's nothing really in the game to actually do with them.

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#6 Posted by ATastySlurpee (653 posts) -

@marokai: As a recent Switch owner( as in like 3 days ago), I cant help but feel like NMS would be perfect for that system. I played it a month or so after launch and...didn't like it at all, but could see the potential. Would love to give it another shot

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#7 Posted by Sahalarious (756 posts) -

"in the coming months"...the game has been out, 1.0, for over a year....its not getting any better. its time to move on, this was a scam from day one.

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#8 Posted by notnert427 (2159 posts) -

Thanks for this post. (Very well written, BTW.) I kinda suspected that in time, NMS might get to this point where it's arguably a lot better than many people are willing to give it credit for. I watched the overhype/underwhelm saga happen from a bit of a distance, so I feel like I could jump in on it "late" and have a good time. If they release a $30 version of it on Xbox One at some point, I'll probably give it a go. It at least seems like Hello Games has tried to make good on NMS.

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#9 Edited by selbie (2560 posts) -

I feel some sympathy for the devs because NMS was basically an Early Access game shoehorned into a AAA release by a man who didn't understand managing expectations. The content updates have followed the same kind of path as any other EA game and the experience has improved incrementally as a result. Coming back into the game now with the Atlas patch I realise this could be considered a 1.0 release because it has fixed the majority of issues I had earlier at launch - namely the atrocious ship handling which drove me away.

I have found that sticking to one local cluster of stars helps focus your attention toward accessing better equipment and making money, with the eventual end game goal to search for exotic planets, ships and acquiring the top tier super freighters. The constant nomadic planet hopping is not very fulfilling when you have to constantly grind for gear, money or supplies (the Thamium9 grind is real) so it helps to settle for a while.

I'm glad HG have pulled themselves out of the worst of it and I hope they can add more to the game. I agree NMS in its current iteration would make a good accessible Switch title for newcomers.

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#10 Posted by SkullPanda1 (1624 posts) -

I picked up a copy for $12 but between Mario + Rabbids & Destiny 2 I haven't had time to play it yet.

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#11 Edited by Howardian (187 posts) -

"Well, you fly from system to collect resources to fly to more systems, exploring copy-pasted buildings for basic number puzzles that constantly repeat, and occasionally find monoliths that give you a ponderous, pretentious bit of text that is trying desperately to sound deep to conceal the fact that the game itself isn't, at all."

Exactly. A patch adding "farming" and "base building" is like putting make up on a turd.

Please don't defend games that disrespect you with terrible lazy gameplay. You're better than this.

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#12 Edited by Qrowdyy (366 posts) -

The lack of promised content was the big headline, but not the only reason the game wasn't well received.

Here's the thing that people who are rediscovering No Man's Sky aren't talking about. The bare bones, barely functional game mechanics. Has this been improved? I have no idea, but here's a list of what I and many others found broken or boring.

  • Flying your spaceship felt pedestrian, as in you point your ship in a direction and go from point a to b. The hand-holdy flight mechanics do the rest.
  • The dogfighting felt straight up bad. There was no sense of velocity and it seemed like the pirate ships were always faster than you. Tracking ships that flew circles around you felt like you were manning a turret, not flying a spaceship.
  • Then there's the fps portion. You know you've fucked up the shooting mechanics when the combat is more of an annoyance than an integral part of the game. The barebones enemy ai. The multi-tool "gun" attachments that felt bad to shoot. No bueno.

Not only was No Man's Sky an empty sandbox(which seems to be fixed now according to the OP), the minute to minute gameplay was not engaging in the slightest. Which is fine if you want to disengage and relax or whatever. But there are other games that are chill without sacrificing game mechanics(Abzu, Stardew Valley, Breath of the Wild).

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#13 Posted by Jaalmo (1747 posts) -

Absolutely not. That game does not value your time at all. It's not even trying to make you feel good about the amount of time you’re wasting.

I don’t think spending 5 hours looking for the last animal on a planet is fun. Managing the inventory space is not fun. Constantly having to refuel your ship and life support is not fun. I don’t think grinding resources is fun, the amount of units required to upgrade your ship is not fun. It’s just not fun.

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#14 Edited by Marokai (3711 posts) -

I'm surprised, and maybe I shouldn't be, by the amount of strong pushback this game specifically still seems to elicit.

@otakugamer: I'm curious if you like any games of this kind of genre? The sort of sandboxy, survival/crafting/gathering games? Because if you're not generally a fan of that kind of game in the first place I completely understand why No Man's Sky would turn you off. As someone who can appreciate games like that I honestly found NMS' survival mechanics comparatively generous.

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#15 Posted by Jaalmo (1747 posts) -

@marokai said:

I'm surprised, and maybe I shouldn't be, by the amount of strong pushback this game specifically still seems to elicit.

@otakugamer: I'm curious if you like any games of this kind of genre? The sort of sandboxy, survival/crafting/gathering games? Because if you're not generally a fan of that kind of game in the first place I completely understand why No Man's Sky would turn you off. As someone who can appreciate games like that I honestly found NMS' survival mechanics comparatively generous.

I feel like I wanted a different game out of this. It’s not because I don't like those type of games, is just that it doesn’t seem to fit here. The way it has been implemented into this game so poorly. It’s just comes across as intrusive and boring to me.

I would love to explore the planet if I didn’t run so slowly and need to stop every 5 seconds to take a breath. If they gave us an exocraft whatever it is from the start, it would be so much better to explore. I would love to find every animal on the planet if they wouldn't randomly spawn and despawn 500 feet away from you. I would like to mine for resources if it didn’t just involve pointing a laser gun at it for 10 minutes. I would love to craft stuff if it was more clear on what purpose it had.

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#16 Posted by BoxxyBae (158 posts) -

@atastyslurpee: Man.. I never really thought about it as a switch title but man. It would be real good on the switch. Maybe I'm a sucker because I actually enjoy the game, but if it came out for the Switch for like $20 I'd buy it again.

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#17 Posted by FacelessVixen (2553 posts) -

I'm still interested in this game. Sure, it's not the second coming of Freelancer that I wanted, same for Elite Dangerous, but I can really dig Minecraft-esque aimless exploration in a game world that I'm unfamiliar with. And I'll totally give Hello Games the due credit of still working on the game over the past year despite all of the shit they've taken, compared to EA bailing on Andromeda after five months.

But, I'm just not $60 interested. Even $35 during a Steam or Humble Bundle sale is asking a little too much from me because this isn't the second coming of Freelancer that I wanted; not necessarily in terms of "quality", but because of the nuances between the two. Elite was a $15 gamble that I don't feel too bad losing on. If Sky drops to $20, or, $25 at most, I'll take the plunge.