I heard about this game over a year ago, and while I liked the sound of it, I didn't plan on buying it. I don't have a console, and my current laptop didn't seem to have the processing to be able to handle the demands of the game. But I kept tabs on it, checking out the occasional Youtube video released by Hello Games. I was slowly reeled in.
I bought it last week, and it's the only game I've been playing since. It has had a lot of people looking forward to it for some time, and reviews on it are very, very mixed. The consensus seems to be, from those both who love it and hate it, is that it had a very good concept, but hasn't met those expectations--so far.
For me, it touched a nerve, because it eerily echoes a game from my teen years. That game was called Starflight.
Starflight was released in 1986 or so. My best friend's dad bought it, and made a copy for he and I to play. It consisted of a galaxy of over 600 planets, generated in three dimensions. You went out from your homeworld, met alien races, entered solar systems with your ship and picked crew, scanned planets, finding rocky worlds, gas giants, molten worlds, and frozen plutoids. Some planets you could land on, if their gravity wasn't too strong, and explore them--mining the ores you found, or cataloging or even capturing the plant and animal life some of them had. There were sometimes ruins of civilizations on them as well. Two sorts. One, an old empire, some ten thousand years old...and the other, ruins of ancients well over 500,000 years past its destruction. More recent ruins of abandoned posts were discoverable too. Some tech you found in the ruins could be put to use on your ship.
All of this was put towards an overarching plot where you were trying to first explore as the first crew to travel beyond your own system, but eventually in a search to understand why your home system's star was suddenly due to flare and kill all life on your homeworld in a matter of months. It was a race against time to catalogue liveable colony worlds for the people of your planet, while seeking clues that might stop the flare. The eventual answer to all of it was one of the most incredible plot twists I've ever experienced in a videogame, even to this day.
I feel like the creators of No Man's Sky were likely influenced by Starflight. The similarities are too strong to be coincidence. The parts the two games have in common are what draw me to No Man's Sky. The limitations of Starflight were painfully apparent in 1986--600 planets was incredible to us back then, but even after you finished the main plot, the joy of exploring systems you hadn't visited, or continuing to get to know alien races...it kept you going. But eventually you ran out of worlds to explore. The game had to fit on two 5.25 inch floppy discs, and the game creators talked about the tricks they had to do to fit all the game code in that limited space.
No Man's Sky, by the way, has 18 quintillion worlds to explore. Yes, you read that right.
Milky Way: approximately 150,000,000,000 stars, so somewhere around, let's say...750,000,000,000 planets, if 5 a star.
No Man's Sky: 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets. That's 100,000,000 times more planets than the Milky Way. Or maybe that means there are one hundred million galaxies to explore. The number seems almost absurd, considering how many people are playing the game, and that there is no hope for even a million players to explore even 1% of the total number of planets in the game.
Lots of things that were discussed by developers weren't actually put in the game when released. Sony put up money to support Hello Games, and for that the games was released on the PS4 a week before the PC version. The PC release has been bug-riddled, to say the least. There is already a large cadre of players who are so disappointed with the release on PC so far that they are now die-hard haters of the game.
I can't hate it. It's too much down my alley as a game. Imagine Minecraft in space, but instead of blocky graphics, replace it with smooth modern graphics with a theme reminiscent of 1960s and 70s science fiction book cover art. And like Minecraft, this flawed gem of a game is also promising more DLC as time goes by to improve it. The developers owe that, at the least, to those of us who are continuing to play and support the game.
Sure, there are frustrating aspects to the game. But what works in the game is just too compelling to resist for me. I love being the first human to set foot on a new world, like a futuristic Adam, naming the world and the species of plants and animals...even mineral formations. Hunting through alien ruins for usable tech...maybe even discovering an old but salvageable wreck of a starship I can commandeer and repair to replace the barely-serviceable one I'm currently using. Wandering on a habitable moon with aquamarine fields of waving grass and crimson-leaved alien trees, gazing up at the rocky dead world it orbits, huge in the sky above. Battling it out with space pirates eager to loot my just-mined minerals from a world I've just left. Sitting in the cockpit of my ship on a world surrounded in constantly-raining toxins, wondering if my envirosuit has enough upgrades to keep me alive outside in the downpour--at least, long enough to go collect some needed plutonium so I can blast back off the godforsaken rock.
Anyone else out there tried this game yet? And what did you think of it?