Screenshot from No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky Is Now Living Up to Expectations — and Then Some

After several changes and updates, the sci-fi game about exploring alien worlds is finally delivering on what it originally promised, and more.

Ever wonder what it would be like to explore the stars? Discover faraway planets left untouched by intelligent life? Uncover lost secrets of an alien universe? The indie game studio Hello Games wished to fully realize the world of science fiction on gaming consoles across the globe. Despite a rocky first launch (pun intended), “No Man’s Sky” is finally a video game worth diving into.

First, a quick history lesson. At VGX 2013, Hello Games officially announced their brand-new intellectual property, “No Man’s Sky.” Quickly, fans realized this game would be like no other. It would be a massive sandbox to explore on a universal scale. The game would be colorful and vibrant, lush with alien flora and fauna, each solar system would be decorated with unique planets and the player would get to explore every nook and cranny of this fictional cosmos with their very own spaceship.

Not to mention, every procedurally generated creature, plant and planet could be claimed and named by the player. Explore alongside countless other players, but remember the scale of this game is massive, so much so that it’s extremely unlikely for one player to stumble across another. The game is so vast, with 18 quintillion unique planets, it could take billions of years to see the game in its entirety.

By E3 2014, everyone was convinced that this game would be the greatest achievement in the gaming industry. Science fiction fans would get the game they always dreamed of, on a scale one could not possibly imagine.

“No Man’s Sky” got plenty of press and interviews, with each question raising more and more expectations and hype. The pressure was specifically placed on Sean Murray, the founder of Hello Games. Interviewers turned to Murray to answer all the questions. Questions he might have been able to answer.

With over 100,000 preorders sold, did Hello Games live up to the pressure, or did the game crash and burn? A bit of both, actually. The launch was messy. Not only was the release delayed from June 2016 to August 2016, which led to multiple death threats toward Murray, but there was also a leak of the unfinished game that made gamers skeptical.

The game was soon released, but the final product was far from finished. Many of Murray’s “promises” were not upheld, including, but certainly not limited to, large-scale space battles and multi-player. “No Man’s Sky” was a skeleton of the expectations surrounding it. Even what remained was unplayable; the game had terrible bugs and would crash constantly. Procedural creatures weren’t sights to behold, but incredibly awkward.

The single best-selling game in the PlayStation Store in the month of August 2016 was a broken and unfinished nightmare. Worse, it was $60 in the U.S, a fully priced game complete with a collector’s edition for over $100 dollars.

The gaming community was outraged. How did Hello Games respond? Nearly three months of silence. For more information on this topic, the Internet Historian on YouTube made a more in-depth video on the history of the launch of “No Man’s Sky.”

So why even care? Sounds like Hello Games failed, right? Well, the game was never abandoned. In fact, the studio spent those three months of silence working. First, the patches rolled out, tackling all the prominent and noteworthy bugs and glitches encountered by players. The studio also adjusted some tedious gameplay mechanics and inventory management.

Then, “The Foundation,” “Pathfinder” and “Atlas Rises” updates brought brand new gameplay to players. As of today, over 10 major updates have impacted the game. Suddenly this massive empty galaxy was lush with new things to do, like a single-player narrative, freighters, a base building, vehicles and the long-overdue streamlined multiplayer. Even more recently, cross-platform play was announced by Hello Games so that any “No Man’s Sky” player on almost any console or PC could play together.

This is all neat, but what kind of game is “No Man’s Sky,” and is it for you? At the game’s core, “No Man’s Sky” is a space-explorer simulator. It’s neither an action-adventure nor a mainstream first-person shooter. It’s a largely unexplored galaxy for the player to uncover and make what they desire out of it.

Even with its many updates, the main gameplay principles remain the same. The player wakes up on a random, procedurally generated planet in the fictional galaxy of Euclid. The player fixes his or her crashed starship and equipment then explores the galaxy. One can purchase and upgrade tools and starships with unique designs, mine resources, trade, avoid pirates and name anything they first discover.

The game’s massive updates allow players more creative liberty with the gameplay. The patches refine the game’s basic principles and allow for a more rewarding path of discovery. Build a massive base, share discovered creatures with the “No Man’s Sky” community or be a successful space-billionaire. And now with multiplayer, “No Man’s Sky” communities can create unique ways to have fun.

The Galactic Hub Project is arguably the most prominent and canonically recognized community within the fictional game world of “No Man’s Sky.” The hub’s primary function is “exploration and documentation.” Players can join in colonizing the stars, engage with player-versus-player events and gain the vast riches the community has to offer.

But first, the player must find the Galactic Hub among the stars. Using the Pilgrim Star Path by pahefu, a player from any point in the Euclid Galaxy can reach the Galactic Hub and explore its 11 regions.

I remember watching the trailers all the way back in 2013. This game was supposed to be the greatest gaming experience of my life. In hindsight, of course, these expectations were absurd. I was part of the hype train like everyone else. But after these major improvements to the game’s quality, I realized this game gave me exactly what I and so many others wanted. A chance to get sucked into a vibrant sci-fi universe, pilot my very own starship and discover alien worlds. The game does a great job of realizing that and more — now more than ever.

As fans know, Hello Games likes to reveal major updates in the summer, so it shouldn’t be long before the next one arrives. If you are interested in “No Man’s Sky,” now is the time to take flight. I hope to see you out there in the stars.

James C. Loftis, University of North Texas

Writer Profile

James C. Loftis

University of North Texas
Media Arts

Hello, my name is James Loftis! I am a writer/screenwriter, podcast producer (in the works), and student at the University of North Texas!

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