Few games from a relatively unknown developer have been as eagerly anticipated as that for No Man’s Sky. The game is an action adventure survival title and is available for the PS4 and Windows. Sony first showed it off at their 2014 E3 announcement and more information has slowly slipped out over the last two years to an incredible amount of hype.
The game casts you as a planetary explorer in an unexplored universe with a spacesuit – jetpack, multitool and a spaceship. Collect information on everything around you and upload it to “The Atlas” database and get paid. Mine and collect everything in sight and craft or sell it. Use the money to buy better gear, tools and spacecraft letting you explore further and more difficult environments.
No Man’s Sky’s universe is procedurally generated from a single massive seed number so while the game’s (theoretical) 18 quintillion planets will seem unique to you they’re actually part of a shared massive online world. Apparently massive changes get reflected but I’ve not seen this in my play and I’ve seen little evidence of it in the media.
There is a storyline that you can choose to follow but it’s not that essential – the point of the game is more exploration adns seeing what you can find and name.
Price: ± £40 – £46
Paid extras: No DLC’s or in game purchases announced.
About Hello Games
Hello Games is both the developer and the publisher and was formed by industry veterans in February 2008. They’re based in Guildford in England and only employ 15 people. No Man’s Sky is their third game after “Joe Danger!” and “Joe Danger 2” – sidescrollers that met with critical success and a mild commercial success.
- Target audience: Diverse focused on those who want a game that will let them explore and go exactly where they want in a relatively forgiving way. There is a story but it is very much secondary to the freedom offered.
- Target age range:, Children, Teens, Adults
- PEGI/ESRB rating 7 : Some violence in a comical context.
- Target gender: Unisex/gender neutral with the character you play being unidentified and interpretable as either male or female
Font size is customizable, standard or large in a clear type, no cursive
- Text and interactive elements displayed against a high contrast background.
If animation present, option to turn it off. Highly visible interactive elements and cursor
- Field of view customizable and appropriate to game design
Essential, temporary information is provided within eye-line Voice GPS is available for games where navigation is vital Voice over for all essential text, including menus & installers Multiplayer supports voice communication
Minimal or removeable flash and flicker effects
- Essential information is never conveyed by colour alone
A choice of text colours/colour blind mode is available
Full closed captioning Full subtitles that indicate who is speaking
- Limited subtitles
- CC/subtitles are on by default at the start
Minimal background noise during dialogue
upports text-based communication in multiplayer games Visual communication options, like emotes are available Subtitles show or state who is speaking: Always Essential audio cues are distinctive and have a directional visual counterpart
Global mute option
- Individual volume control for music special effects
Ergonomic accessible controls
- Adjustable sensitivity of controls
- Windowed mode enabled
Full button remapping
- Limited button remapping
Multiple input options fully support (installer, menus and in game)
- Input options: Keyboard & mouse,
Mouse only, Controller, Touch screen, voice activation, motion control Simple (tap, swip, hold) touch screen or gesture controls Simple, ergonomic controls (single presses, few buttons in close proximity that match hand anatomy) Playable with either hand
Range of difficulty levels that reduces speed and accuracy requirements Tricky gameplay elements can be bypassed without completion No repeated, timed input (quick time events or button-mashing) Ajustable game speed where speed is an essential gameplay component Assist mode (auto-aim, assisted steering) available for tasks that require precision or timing
- Hit boxes are accurate and well proportioned
- Essential interactive elements are stationary
- Synced movement (walk/weapon bobbing) or option to turn off effect.
- Minimal simulated vehicular movement
- Minimal screen shaking, jitter cam or other motion based special effects
- User controlled perspective / adjustable view point
Language and literacy
- Minimal language/reading requirement
- Text can be read at own pace
with voice over available
- Simple, easy to follow or inconsequential narrative
Complex instructions, information recorded in an accessible log Voice over available for menus and installers Symbol based and voice communication an option in multiplayer games Minimal memory requirement or memory aids built into complex games Minimal navigation required or breadcrumb trails optional
- Indicator of current objectives/tasks in progress with option to focus on one task at a time
Save slots have image thumbnails Simple, shallow, well-organized menu and user interface Game starts on the first/second level of the menu
- Tutorial available
Practice mode or easy early restart an option No sudden, unexpected visual/audio effects as integral part of gameplay
- User settings are automatically saved and remembered
No numeric elements in the game Basic numeracy essential to gameplay
- Complex calculations an essential gameplay element
- In-game currency and economy, budgeting essential
- No social interaction required
- Option to opt out of social interaction in multiplayer games
- Text-based communication option always available
- Friendly and welcoming in-game atmosphere
- Non-combatant violence
- Discrimination: ethnic
If you find yourself getting hooked by the No Man’s Sky bug there’s an awful lot here to explore. The main storyline has you working your way from your start point to the galactic core and looks to take around 30 to 40 hours if you don’t rush too hard and between 10 and 20 if you pull out all the stops. If you choose to ignore the storyline you can theoretically explore forever. Once you’ve topped out your ship and technology the only lure left would be the exploration but that’s the game’s strong point.
Chances are like most major releases NMS will drop in price in the next few months although I’d be surprised to see any really major regular price changes in 2016.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Genre: Openworld, Action, Space, Inventory management, survival.
Layout: Sandbox, corridor-cave, map-based, side-scroller, sim, narrative game.
Length of game: 40 hours plus
Number of players: single player with some small MMO elements
Recommended length of play sessions: short bursts, 30-45 minutes, marathon sessions
Difficulty settings: easy, standard, hard, one setting
OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions)
Processor: Intel Core i3
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: nVidia GTX 480
Storage: 10 GB available space
There has been a lot of comment online on the optimisation – or the lack of – of the PC version. I run a relatively powerful system and wasn’t able to run the game at more than mid level graphics without major frame rate drop offs and visual glitches. It also crashed several times mid-game with no error message which when added to checkpoint save meant that I lost significant progress every time.
If you plan on playing No Man’s Sky you’d better have a powerful PC – I’d regard the minimum specs provided by Hello Games as very very optimistic. Hello have several patches announced to fix at least of these problems but chances are it’s going to take a while and focus on more powerful systems to start off with.
After 15 hours of playing No Man’s Sky I’m still in two minds about the game. It get’s so many things right but drops the ball so badly in other areas that you wonder if you’re missing something obvious. The good. No Man’s Sky is the first game I’ve ever played that lets you feel genuinely free and open. The combination of very well done procedural generation and the ability to just jump in your spaceship and take off in whichever direction you want (without load screens) gives a real sense of space. This does mean that it’s a game where you need to make your own motivation. Once you’ve gotten past the initial tutorial storyline there’s nothing to stop you getting bored with the game except for your own internal motivation something some people excel at but many will hate.
The bad is unfortunately to do with the UI. It looks very pretty but it’s counter intuitive and very restrictive and the game often turns into inventory management rather than the open experience it should be. This is compounded by the absurdly high amounts of graphical glitches and a frame rate that does up and down like a yo-yo.
In the whole it’s a difficult game to recommend to most people but if you’re self motivated and want a real open-universe experience and have got the PC to back it up its the game you’ve been waiting for.
The review is based on the PC Release version of No Man’s Sky kindly provided by Hello Games. Read more about Ergohacks’ eco and access used in reviews. This article was first published on 15th August 2016.