It's the biggest gaming release of the year by several lightyears, but does No Man's Sky live up to the hype? Here's what to expect from its first few hours...
Few games in the industry’s history have garnered the kind of hype that No Man’s Sky has. First teased at the VGX Awards in 2013, the game promises a genuinely infinite, massively-multiplayer online universe to explore, with countless procedurally-generated planets, plants and animals there for the discovering, naming, and maiming.
Its scope is impossible to comprehend and the online anticipation has been almost as big, but does it deliver on its promise? And what, as so many people have asked, do you actually *do* in the game? Here’s how the first few hours of my journey went down…
Log Entry 1
My ship is goosed. There’s smoke coming from its roof (never a good sign), and it urgently needs some new panelling if I ever want to get off this rock. And I sorely do; the arid, brown surface of the planet I’ve found myself stuck on resembles that of a knobbly biscuit. The night sky is the colour of mouldy tea. My suit tells me there’s radiation everywhere. It’s a backwater hell hole and I want to leave quickly.
But what’s worse is that the crash seems to have knocked all the spacefaring knowledge out of my head; it feels as though I’m learning all this again from scratch. My inventory screens all seem like one incomprehensible mess, for instance, but maybe that’s just the concussion rendering things more complex than they actually are. The only things I know for sure? 1. My ship needs fixing. And 2. My life support needs topping up. So if I’m to survive the night ahead I need to go foraging. Urgently.
Log Entry 2
I explored (read: stumbled) far enough from the ship that my life support reached an all-time low of 0% and I started to take some serious damage, but it was worth it. The strange plant life here is abundant with the raw materials for crafting what I need to move on, but these elemental building blocks weren’t all I found on my travels. Far from it. For a start, I stumbled across a huge outcrop of Emeril, which my scanners tell me is worth an absolute flippin’ fortune on the exchange market.
But harvesting it came at a price in the form of my first interaction with the galactic 5-0. It didn’t take long to work out that there’s a strong correlation between my zapping the landscape to kingdom come with a mining gun and drawing the unfavourable attention of the little flying robot Sentinels, and I guess it’s because they want to minimise people’s interfering with the natural order of things? Who knows. One of them started shooting at me so I decided to interfere with the natural order of its circuitry by way of my massive gun.
Big mistake. Huge. I’ve never run so fast or far in my life.
Somehow, though, I managed to give the pursuing bots the slip and make it back to my ship with only a few bullet wounds to my name, which is where I now sit. I think that’s enough exploring for one day.
Log Entry 3
What a day! I found a cave away from the watchful eye of the Sentinels that was rife with Plutonium, so before I knew it I’d crafted all the necessary bits and bobs to fix and refuel my ship. And so, with trepidation, I disengaged the landing gear and climbed out of the atmosphere of this godforsaken rock (which I had decided to officially catalogue as ‘Bad Biscuit’).
I was in space! I’d made it! Only… There was another problem. Without a functioning hyperdrive I’d be forever confined to this single solar system. And that would be a waste considering that there’s a whole lotta space out there. Worse still, given that there was only one other planet in the system, my options were frustratingly limited.
Log Entry 4
Bad Biscuit 2 is not, you may be unsurprised to hear, any prettier than Bad Biscuit. It did, however, provide me with my first friendly encounter of the third kind. Inside a small outpost a mile or so from my ship sat (or sits? He’s still there, I think) a robotic Daft Punk-esque alien chap reading a Kindle. Yes, really. He spoke at me with unknown words, but I must have smiled in a convincingly diplomatic manner because he decided to gift me a key ingredient for making warp cells for my troubles – the final piece of the hyperdrive puzzle! I was also able to plug into a trade terminal and sell all the Emeril I’d previously mined, instantly making me, I’m fairly sure, the richest man on the planet.
I thanked the metal man as best I could and hot-tailed it back to my ship to craft the hyperdrive. Only Thamium9 (the fuel) was missing, but I managed to find some through my highly scientific research processes. By which I mean I accidentally shot at an asteroid with my ship’s gun and found it to be chock full of the stuff.
With that, my ship’s control panel flashed up a message, allowing me to open up the star map see for the first time just how immense the universe I’m in truly is. I zoomed out on the map until Bad Biscuit and Bad Biscuit 2 were distant and invisible, plotted a course to the furthest star I could reach with the fuel I had and throttled the hyperdrive. This was it: the fullness of space was finally mine to explore. Or…It would have been, were it not for the fact that the relentless hunt for raw materials (to keep me alive) stays fixed at the top of my priority list.
Log Entry 5
I’m stood just outside my ship as I write this. I’ve landed on another planet in another system that’s quite featureless save for its building-sized outcrops of pure gold and its dog-rat hybrid creatures (which I’ve opted to name ‘dograts’ for obvious reasons). And that’s all great, but I know it won’t hold me for long – the spirit of adventure has me now. The promise of bigger and better planets (with, you know, oxygen) is too much to ignore. And besides: with thousands of other pilots out there, I want to be where the action is.
“The promise of bigger and better planets is too much to ignore.”
But, in an endlessly huge universe, I know I may never bump into another human explorer before my exploits come to their natural (or unnatural) end. So it’s a lonely, quiet life I lead for now. And that’s a sobering thought. Especially because I’m so, so, staggeringly rich.
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