I think it’s fair to say that Hellogames has landed. Sean Murray is a superb visionary who may very well have changed gaming forever. No Man’s Sky is an example of what a developer can achieve when not entirely focused by stocks, shares and dividends, rather, by passion, creativity and individuality.
In a world where games are developed entirely for corporate slugs and with the end goal being staff wages, No Man’s Sky dares to be different.
Marketed as the world’s biggest play area – offering 18 quintillion planets, NMS is the most technologically impressive, ground-breaking and entertaining experience which modern gaming has to offer, yet, even with all of those accolades, there are some people who still don’t like NMS.
You may now be screaming “But why?!” as you try to understand the complexity of the critical mind, but fear not human, I am here to explain and describe what I believe has led people to disliking NMS.
Warp Factor 10 Mr Sulu
That title – while funny – is one of the geekiest things you will read all week, this highlights the first thing I believe that people find difficult to like about NMS – it’s just too geeky. Be it a paragraph about how one fictional race of aliens wiped another fictional race of aliens about, or all the talk of ‘warp cores’ and ‘phaser beams’, if you don’t like Sci-fi, NMS is going to be about as penetrable as Bedrock.
NMS does not try to ensure it’s accessibility to just anyone, and if you are not familiar with Science-fiction, a great deal of what happens in NMS will be complete gargleflop.
Science-fiction is quickly becoming a widely-accessible plot field and many developers, who in the past have focused on entirely different worlds of play – see Call Of Duty – are firing up their exosuits and charging their plasma blasters in order to earn a fortune in sales and profits and cement their standing in the ever-changing gaming industry.
How big is it really? Gigantunormous
On paper, NMS is the biggest play area ever put to gaming media. Offering an accessible area of 18 quintillion planets and each star representing a star system, it dwarfs even the sprawling landscapes and vistas of the most popular MMORPGS. While a huge play area has the potential to be an absolute boon for replay-ability, it is no secret that some people happen to find the prospect of being let loose on a play area so large just a little bit, terrifying.
Be it, the prospect of being lost and unable to find their way back home to their starting point or being too afraid to venture too far into the play area for fear of missing something, some players like to have limits which restrict their play area, thereby adding a level of unseen control into a world of apparent agency.
It’s nice, but it’s just a bit bright
NMS is a vibrant game, highlighted with over-saturated landmasses, exotically hideous creatures and malformed plants, it can often be a little too hard on the eyes. Each planet in NMS is either far too much of one colour or shade or far too little detail, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
While the environments are unlike anything you will play this year – in a good way – it’s no secret that the worlds in NMS can be just a tad odd.
Not suffering from hue problems (see what I did there), NMS pulls off the perfect combination of eccentric and garish, to land somewhere in between Marilyn Manson and Dr Seuss, but again, that’s not to everyone’s taste.
But I want to play with my friends!
Multiplayer is to modern day gaming what oxygen is to humans – a necessity. In order to ensure the sale and success of a game, developers the world over who previously have displayed no interest in the multiplayer market, are adding co-operative and PVP modes to their games. This is a view which Sean Murray does not share with the rest of the gaming world, when he said NMS would have multiplayer, people had the impression that it would present itself in a Elite Dangerous-style, with players attacking, helping and looting one another for galactic supremacy – this is not the case.
Sean Murray famously said “You could travel for hours and hours without ever seeing another soul” and this is not untrue. The one instance where players have managed to be in the same place has been plagued by issues of timescales being off and not appearing in one-another’s games.
NMS is NOT a multiplayer game in the traditional sense of “play with your friends!”. NMS drags players back to a time where games where discussed and debated, where people shared their experiences and helped each other along, all without ever having been on the same server – this is called a community.
NMS players are a community of nerdy things with far too much time on their hands, no self-restraint and very little expectation – this s what makes them the perfect gaming family to become involved with.
Guns, Guns, and mining?
NMS has a heavy – almost aggressive – emphasis on mining. You must mine to live, live to mine, mine to sell and sell to mine – it all comes back down to mining. With that in mind, why would you even WANT a gun?
The way in which you interact with the environment in NMS is a very non-lethal “I’m just doing my own thing” way, with a view to impacting the environment as little as possible – for fear of sentinel drones – you carve your way through the universe in search for your personal truth, which may lie at the centre of the galaxy, to any player who is used to blasting, carving and punching their way through Russian separatists or Afghan insurgents, will – most likely- not find this very entertaining, and thus, will dislike the very core of what makes NMS great – individuality.
What’s the story morning glory?
The narrative in NMS is delivered in a way reminiscent of Dark Souls, rather than being a narrator delivered plot which serves to move the game aong at steady pace with crescendos at dividing points, NMS delivers its lore through item discoveries, NPC interactions and player-environment interaction. This type of story-telling is becoming much more prevalent in gaming media but is still yet to take flight (sorry) in NMS.
It’s good, but it’s not quite E3
Only a real fool would dislike NMS for not being what we saw at E3, at least HelloGames showed us gameplay, unlike certain other developers whose name rhymes with ‘Unitoft’.
From the very beginning of development, Sean Murray has been brutally honest about NMS and has – at regular intervals – warned people to ‘stay realistic’ and ‘consider the limitations of a small company’, however, people – as they often do – lost their collective shit. NMS was pegged as the best thing since Simon met Garfunkel, unfortunately this is not true.
NMS is plagued by horrific shading issues, laggy ‘loading’ times, occasional system crashes and a ‘lack of discernible narrative. These all combine to make the ‘hype machine’s’ interpretation to what NMS SHOULD have been, a distant fantasy and serve to ruin any hope of NMS being a runaway hit.