When No Man’s Sky released, I was so excited. From everything I had read, I was sure that it would be the game I had dreamed about fo so long.The sheer size of it and the open world (universe) aspect of it appealed to me immensely and I had all sorts of thoughts about the things I would be able to do and see in the game. Saying I was excited is actually quite the understatement.
Not Quite What We Expected
When the game actually released, it seemed like virtually everyone I knew was disappointed. No Man’s Sky reviews everywhere seemed to be rather negative. I had friends who had bought it, but then like a number of others, sought to be refunded. I didn’t want to refund it, however. I just wanted it to be a great game.
For the most part, when I first started playing, I actually liked it. I had some issues with it, such as not likeing some of the controls and the ridiculously low draw distance that had things popping up only when I was almost on top of them if I was moving too fast, but I actually liked it. I liked the idea that I would be the first person– and given the size of the game, perhaps the only person ever– to set foot on a given planet. I would be seeing things that no one else was seeing. I would be experiencing a totally unique game.
There were some story elements that I didn’t like though. Given the size of the game, I couldn’t understand how the alien races encountered could be spread out over such a massive distance. I didn’t understand how the Sentinels could be on every single one of the 18 quintillion or so planets… That broke immersion for me.Plus, the game was just too open for me. I like to have some back story. While I appreciate (love, actually) the ability to make my character be anyone I want, I also want to have a bit of story to fit them into the setting in a logical manner.
So Much Variety With So Much Repetition
One of the selling points for NMS was that everything would be procedurally generated and we would be seeing, in theory, so much unique content. That kind of fell flat, however, when after taking a couple of hours to explore my starting planet, I set off into space and eagerly warped to my closest planetary neighbour, excited by all the new discoveries I was sure to make. Sadly, even though this was only my second planet, I found that everything seemed to look the same. Same plants. Same abandoned alien buildings. Remarkably similar creatures.
Still, despite that disappoinment, there was something that I just liked about the game. The exploration was pretty chill. Wandering around collecting the resources I needed was strangely relaxing, and there were moments when I did come across a rather attractive landscape. I thought that this could be a great game to lose myself in.
After a couple of days, however, I’d had enough. I wasn’t getting any sense of a narrative in the game, and collecting resources to power my ship so that I could fly off somewhere in order to… collect resources to power my ship grew very tiring. I still had a strange affection for it, and I still really wanted to love the game, but I found that I just couldn’t maintain the interest to keep playing when I had other games vying for my attention. I stopped playing, then after a couple of months of not touching it, I uninstalled it.
Laying a Foundation for the Future
When the Foundation update was released, I was drawn back to the game. So many cool new things had been added! I was excited all over again! However, much like my experience with games such as The SIms, the idea of building a base was much more appealing than actually doing it. The Foundation update was a great first step in adding content and variety to the game, but I found that it wasn’t quite enough for me personally. I found myself playing for a couple of hours, only to uninstall it yet again.
I started watching videos for games like Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous, and they both caught my attention in a manner very similar to the way NMS had done before it released, but both had the added appeal of more realistic graphics and settings, with a greater concentration on story. While I doubt I will have a PC capable of running Star Citizen any time soon, I started to obsess over Elite: Dangerous, thinking that it could very well be the game that I had hoped No Man’s Sky would be.
When it came out, I grabbed Elite: Dangerous and immediately put in a number of hours exploring and getting to know the universe. I loved it, even though many people complain that there is “nothing to do”. Just the simple act of exploring space was enough for me, especially with the ability to create a character that I could actually see and enough of a backstory (which I am still learning) to allow me to invest myself in the lore.
I kept reading up on No Man’s Sky, however, as part of me missed the game and still had hope for what it could become.
Now, a year after release, we have the latest update, Atlas Rises, which once again brings a host of changes and improvements to the game. What I welcome the most, however, is the addition of the Mission Agent, who hands out various tasks to be completed for rewards, and a new story, which is promised to run approximately 30 hours.
After all this time, No Man’s Sky has given me enough of a story to sink my teeth into and become invested in the game. I have done a number of Mission Agent mission, which are pretty simple, but seem to offer decent rewards, and have started upon the new storyline, which has proven to be more engaging than I had anticipated.
I have even put down Elite: Dangerous to return to No Man’s Sky’s universe and am actually considering creating a base at long last.
If you have tried No Man’s Sky in the past and found that it fell short for you, you may just find it worthwhile to give it another shot. I am personally quite happy witht he improvements and additions, though I was also somewhat predisposed to likeing them, as I have been pulling for the game to succeed despite my on-again, off-again relationship with it.
This universe is worth exploring again.
If you decide to return to No Man’s Sky, or if you are trying it for the first time, let me now what you think. I’d love to hear some other reactions to what it now offers and what is to come in the future.