Arriving in 2015 first on PS4 and then later for Windows PCs, No Man’s Sky is a massive procedurally generated galaxy waiting for players to explore. It it reminds me of the vast worlds of the Elder Scrolls, but spanning planets (your kind of game, @UrbanReflex?). I must admit that while I prefer depth to breadth in games, the universe of No Man’s Sky looks absolutely stunning and begging to be explored. It appears inspired by Minecraft as well, with gathering resources and simply living within that fictional universe a part of the game.
This has been on my radar alongside The Witcher 3 and The Last Guardian. It seems like the most unique games that deviate from the mainstream offering something unique, interest me the most. Games that elicit strong emotion.
The objective is to go on a journey of discovery; exploring strange new worlds, while the main goal is to eventually reach the center of the galaxy. Seeking out answers to the meaning of existence? That seems right up my alley.
I still haven’t played Journey. It will likely be the first title I try if ever I get or PS3 or 4. I did watch Us and the Game Industry which features Journey predominately, so I’m familiar with the game to some extent.
The mission to reach the centre of the galaxy is intriguing. Hopefully what you will find there will be worth it. But more importantly, the journey itself needs to be self-rewarding.
As stunning as it looks, I’m still not convinced that there’s actually going to be a lot of things to actually do in these worlds. It’s kind of like Mass Effect 1. That game had better exploration than any of its sequels, but the tradeoff was that many of the quests there were very generic. Personally I prefer more linear story-driven games, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that I simple don’t have as much free time as I used to have. I’m still interested in seeing how the game develops though.
I just want a game that has endless exploration. I don’t think I need a reason (ie quests) for it anymore, because then it feels like a guided grind.
No Man’s Sky is something I’ve been looking forward to ever since it was shown at E3. Like Draikin, I too do not have as much free time as I used to. That’s why, as long as the worlds themselves are varied enough, I can see myself spending much of my free time doing nothing in this game.
I explored the world in Morrowind and Oblivion like that - just wandering about the land, seeing where stepping into the road would sweep me off to. Following the main quest felt repetitive, so I never finished those games, but immersing myself in their worlds was enjoyable.
No Man’s Sky is now avaliable for preorder on Steam and GOG. I might get this game, but after the initial reviews since there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Gamers have complained about the high price tag, but so long as there’s enough diversity in the environments I’m okay with it.
I’m finding that my tastes in gaming are changing; I’m appreciating non-linear, exploration based games over more structured experiences. What’s interesting about No Man’s Sky is that it appears to have very little in the way of structure, at least as far as we know. There isn’t even a map to help you find objectives, just a compass that marks particular locations that you’ve been to. It seems that No Man’s Sky won’t be a game that you play through in a short amount of time, so it’s probably not a game for those who want to fast travel around the universe quickly to complete objectives. For those of us wanting an immersive experience that can be played a little at a time, I’m hoping that No Man’s Sky provides the right feature set to enable that.
The price tag means I probably won’t buy this game anytime soon. The problem with these types of games is that they typically become boring very fast, and as much this game is being hyped, it just doesn’t feel like it will have a whole lot to offer in terms of varied gameplay. This is ultimately an indie game and it feels like expectations are way too high. I hope I’m wrong though.
That’s interesting, because for me it’s the opposite. I’ve just lost my patience in playing games. I barely get around to finishing games anymore to begin with so every minute that I’m not progressing the main story means I’m less likely to ever finish the game. That’s part of why I prefer linear and story (or rather character) focused content. I do still like exploration in games, but only as long as it’s finite. Panzer Dragoon Saga did this very well. I don’t really enjoy repeatable or copy-pasted quests simply because I feel like I’m wasting my time doing them.
I feel like MMORPG type fetch quests are the worst and take away so much from an rpg’s focus. That’s wihy I feel if the game is not an MMORG it shouldn’t have these quests. It sort of creates a big distraction just to prolonge the game, when a handful of meaningful side quests would be just fine and could ultimately add to the story…
Getting back to No Man’s Sky, I fear it might become repetitive as well.
-How long will you want to spend collecting resources before it becomes dull, still not able (because your gear is not updated) to get to the planet you want to go to?
-Will the structures, ruins and creatures we can find, basically all look the same (limited variations), just on different planets?
-The creator said very few people will make it to the center of the galaxy…
I think if No Man’s Sky attempted to create a Journey-esque experience it wouldn’t be very effective. Journey’s second player worked because the environments were relatively small so it was easy to find another player when traversing through the level. No Man’s Sky’s planets can take literally months or perhaps even years to walk across. The planet sizes are comparable to actual planets. It would be extremely unlikely that you’d just stumble across another player.
That said, I think the shared database aspect of the game is potentially exciting. You could be the first person to discover a planet or a new species, a discovery which is then shared with every other player.
I should clarify that I’m still pro structured, linear games. Indeed, my top ten list mostly consists of games which are highly structured, complete, linear experiences. Regarding story, the problem is that most games, as structured experiences that tell a story, well… they suck at it! Books, films, and other media are typically much better at telling a linear narrative because they don’t have to have trade offs between the gameplay and the story; they can be all about story. If we consider a number of linear, story-driven games that have come out in recent years - Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Halo, Call of Duty, etc - these games have passable storylines at best. But the story usually does very little to address the plot element that you’re playing as a serial killer and the consequences of that (the Last of Us is a notable exception to this rule). Most games are about combat, or some other non-story related gameplay mechanic such as puzzles or resource gathering, so they have this problem of putting the gameplay and story in seperate boxes. It also limits game stories to a certain type of story. There are exceptions, such as Life is Strange, but these games are few-and-far between (outside of the indie games). So for most games, I think it’s worth questioning whether it’s even worth playing games to “progress through the main story”.
Non-linear, exploration games have the advantage of not having to tell a story. You create your own story through your actions. Indeed, I would argue that if you’re playing these games with an predefined objective in mind (story or other game-related goal), you’re playing them wrong. I talked about this more in the Bethesda games topic, but to summarise, the appeal of these games is the freedom they provide not to have an objective imposed on you by the developer. You have to let go of the goal-oriented, efficiency based approach that we often take towards games (and life in general) and live in the present a bit more to appreciate what the game world has to offer, I think. I don’t play open world games with the intention of finishing them. It wouldn’t matter if I didn’t finish them (whereas by starting a story based game the intention is normally to finish it). I enter these worlds for an hour or two at a time, often as a means to relax.
The attraction for me is the geography of the game world, of traversing through the world without a specific objective, but coming across new locales and events within that world, but having the choice as to whether I participate. For example in Fallout 4 I have completed very few quests, but spent over 40 hours just exploring the world and I’m still stumbling across new things. But you could easily have a good time just spending 5 or 10 hours exploring if the goal isn’t to complete anything. Sure, there is certainly some repetition as you wander around, but the joy of discovering something new (without necessarily intending to) things makes up for that.
Regarding No Man’s Sky, I do think this is legitimate concern that there may not be enough in the world to keep the game interesting for long. It’s certainly ticking the boxes that I like though - large expansive worlds, the ability to play how I want to (no requirement for combat), survival aspects, and options for multiple approaches to progress.
MMORPGs are a whole other beast. When I played World of Warcraft (for two months) it became clear very quickly that these games are designed to prolong the experience in order to keep you paying that monthly subscription fee, rather than because the extended experience is geniunely enjoyable. And if you don’t play the game enough during the month, there’s the feeling that you’re wasting your money paying the subscription fee. Whereas with single player games, the developer already has your money, so there’s no need to drag out the experience (DLC is another matter). So, I typically avoid MMOs (and free to play games) like the plague.
To tell you the truth, I sort of lost interest after watching some reviews. They sort of confirmed my fears. The generated planets and environments could only go so far before becoming repetitive. And without an engaging narrative, I knew it wasn’t for me…
I’m not sure what people were expecting exactly. No Man’s Sky is an indie game, and comes with all of the limitations of an indie game. That should have come as no surprise. Perhaps the high price tag made people think that there would be more to the game.
The limited time I’ve spent with No Man’s Sky has been enjoyable, but it’s definitely a slower paced game, one that I can see myself playing when I feel like exploring vast worlds without gamey distractions such as combat, quests, and puzzles. Indeed, I think the lack of traditional game elements, and the main focus on collecting, crafting, and exploring adds to the appeal. Having such a large universe to explore without a lot of artificial challenges in it makes that universe feel more real; you’re on a journey of your own making rather than following someone else’s obstacle course. That said, I’m not sure how long No Man’s Sky will hold my attention. At this point I’ve encountered a few different worlds, but they are similar enough that visiting a lot of these worlds may become tiresome. We’ll see.
The overwhelmingly negative response is, I think, hugely overblown, even if the developers did overstate some aspects of the game. There’s nothing quite like No Man’s Sky, so I think that warrants trying it at least. But I also think waiting is advisable. In hindsight, I should probably have waited before purchasing the game. Not because it’s a bad game but because I haven’t had much time to play it and it is somewhat overpriced. Another reason to delay getting No Man’s Sky is that the performance isn’t great on PC, even on high end video cards. It was practically unplayable on my setup until a patch was released, and even then it chugs. All that procedural terrain is quite taxing. I assume you had to upgrade your PC, @UrbanReflex? If you’re just looking for a detailed exploration game with survival mechanics, you can pick up Fallout 4 for a slightly more and it will run significantly better as well. There’s also a plethora of other survival games on Steam available for much cheaper than No Man’s Sky. So for those on the fence about getting the game, I advise waiting.
This is the main reason I decided to opt out of getting the game. I know it might be interesting at first, just for the sheer size and scope, but my instincts told me: after about 10 hours I would start to see the same structures, the same layouts, just rearranged in different patterns. I’d say this may be a good game to rent from Gamefly or Redbox for a weekend.
10 hours is a decent amount of playtime though. IMO it’s the kind of game that you don’t need to finish to enjoy, and playing it in short sessions over time might feel more like an epic journey than a weekend marathon would.