WAYPT: No Man's Sky

A creature in a spacesuit with a shining orb for a head looks out over an ocean at sunset

It is a testament to sheer determination that No Man's Sky both still exists and is actually good.

For those unfamiliar, the release of No Man's Sky was one of the worst fiascoes I can recall in game development. It was marketed as a genre-defining space exploration experience, with near-infinite procedurally generated worlds, multiplayer support right out the gate, a spaceflight simulator, all of which contributed to a colossal mountain of hype that (to be fair) almost no game could've properly lived up to.

It didn't quite live up to the high expectations; at one point it had one of the worst player ratings on Steam. It crashed more often than it didn't, the graphics were unreliable, the ending was phoned in, and the whole thing was a mile wide and an inch deep¹ in a profoundly unsatisfying way. Most game companies would've either folded or scrambled to crudely glue half-assed features on in an effort to stop hemorrhaging goodwill, but Hello Games decided to buckle down and try to get No Man's Sky to live up to its potential.

Somehow they pulled it off with the NEXT and Beyond updates, and while the game still has some technical issues, there's substantially more content and it's gone from a tragic heap of Spore throwbacks to a quirky space exploration sim that's dangerously easy to get absorbed in.

Some of the procedurally generated flora and fauna are, uh...

A strange creature with an antelope head, chicken legs, and a dinosaur tail called "J. Dasyhyae"
what happened to cause this cosmic mistake

... a little weird.

The progressions in technology and in where you can go generally make sense, though they can be a little clunky. Dying is frustrating, though it's a setback rather than a game-ender. I've forgone making elaborate buildings in favour of plowing through as much space as I can, scanning and naming anything that will sit still long enough. (Don't worry, it's a good thing – my Sims houses are basic polygons and this won't be any different.) One of the lovely things about the game is its versatility; whether you're more of a builder, an explorer, a fighter, or a trader, your playstyle will work.

Do not go into No Man's Sky expecting a good spaceflight sim; it's mediocre at best, but I'm also speaking from hundreds of hours in Elite Dangerous, so I've got unfairly high standards. The controls are sticky and for whatever reason, you can't hover. It does get the job done and it's not really the point of the game anyhow, so forgive me a nitpick.

I've spent most of this past weekend gallivanting through space, rejoicing in a game that has come an immensely long way from where it began. If you like fairly relaxed space exploration games, especially if you were initially disappointed by No Man's Sky, give it another try.

¹ In a lot of ways it still is, but it's just deep enough now to be interesting rather than repetitive.



Occasionally reality-prone. Cross-stitch, synthwave, and video games.