28 Apr 2018

No Man's Sky Isn't A Dud, But I See Why It Was

The hype was huge, and the fall was bigger, but having finally got my hands on it, I both love it and hate it.

So I finally got around to playing this masterpiece of a failure. One of the most polarising and disappointing games ever released to the public, I was interested to figure out what had gone wrong. Looking at what the game was actually about, I realised that there was actually a lot that had gone right.

Bear in mind I am playing after the famous Atlas Rises Update which overhauled large parts of the game

Now I’m a big fan of both open world adventure games (Minecraft and Skyrim) as well as point and click adventure games (Myst or Riven). I am also a fan games with no real meaning beyond story and the music such as Dear Esther. The soundtrack means a lot to me, and I was excited to hear 65daysofstatic has made this game’s music. I’ll get to that later.

The Gameplay

Look, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Everyone imagine space battles and huge exploration, discovering unique planets and wildlife. That was your fault, and partly Hello Games’. Their trailers and advertising material made it out like that, but surely you know by now that trailers do not match the game at all. In their interviews they made it quite clear what their objective was, and I genuinely think that they achieved it quite well. The game itself is a well polished turd that only die hard fans of the genre can truly love.

I love it. But I hate myself for loving it.

Things seem to move slow as you go and collect various resources, but actual objectives move quite quickly. Things are not as repetitive as they seem, especially if you play with music on and you get the Journey Objectives. The change in tone and music is very subtle but quite enlightening. It felt invigorating while not overbearing. This isn’t an at the edge of your seat bullet hell as some people thought. This is meant to be slow and difficult at times.

Figuring out how all of the systems work isn’t that easy at first. I hate the right click to go back system, but i guess it means moving your hand away from the wasd keys and mouse is limited. I generally like that setup since when I’m working I turn off the mouse/trackpad and simply work tieh the asdf and hjkl keys.

Steering your spaceship though. Wow that was a real trash fire. After some time I got the hang of it but I struggled a lot to get it right. I like being able to easily barrel roll partly for the meme effect of it, but also because when in space, it’s a very useful ability to help get around. I understand why Hello Games did it like that. But I didn’t like it at first.

Graphics

This was quite disappointing honestly. Firstly, some technicalities. Hello Games designed the game to run on OpenGL 4.5 Compatibility profile. No one does that. When I read about this, it completely blew my mind. It’s insanely unintuitive, and honestly just makes it unplayable for a lot of people (looking at AMD folks). I was fortunate enough to have an Nvidia GeForce 1050 so it wasn’t a problem, but when I started trying to push the graphics to ultra, the shaders decided to shit the bed. I expect since there is some really obscure acceleration involved there (this time looking at CSMT).

When it came to the game graphics themselves, it wasn’t as bright and vivid as the game had initially made itself out to be. Even space stations were dull and lack style. The planets were quite suitable honestly, but it wasn’t what I expected. Bright colours of blue and purple are definitely not realistic for a planet, particularly one that is toxic. Yellow and red is better, since it suits the presence of iron and carbon for instance. But why is plutonium sticking out of everywhere?

The aliens are interesting, and I like their interactions. Sometimes they are inquisitive and other times they are scared. As someone who doesn’t enjoy destroying the environment I play in (much to my pain in Minecraft), it was nice to interact in this world. The graphics on them aren’t next generation, but they are certainly well done.

Nights are terrible though. All the colours are muted and often I can’t see a thing. It sucks doing anything at night, so usually I prefer to fly around instead.

When travelling at high speeds in the spaceship, the view distance issue with asteroids is really quite irritating. Hello Games needs to fix this. Or maybe it’s hidden in the settings somewhere.

Overall

This game is and unfortunate result of overhype. I honestly feel bad for Hello Games, who set out to create an ambitious project that was delivered unfinished and frankly poorly made. The gameplay itself is however up to the level that Hello Games realistically said it would be. Since this is what I wanted from the game, I enjoyed it a lot. The graphics were a bit disappointing however. Hello Games really needed to do better there. Also please make saving easier.

Actual gameplay footage incoming soon.


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