Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Editorial: No Man's Sky

Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Played on: PlayStation 4

I didn't buy into the hype as much as most people. No Man's Sky always seemed like a survival game first, exploration game second, sci-fi adventure third. I thought it was a cool concept, but not the type of game I want to play.

I don't have time to figure out the survival parts of games like Don't Starve. In the limited gaming time I do have, I like to be able to hit the ground running with a clear objective and clean instructions.

My buddy put a solid 15-20 hours into No Man's Sky and generally he liked it, but there were times where he would call and say, "I just don't know what's motivating me. I'm doing the same things over and over again, but I keep coming back."

So he let me borrow his copy just so he had someone to talk to about it.

I did get a little excited as I booted the game up and saw the loading screen where it was generating my opening planet. I got a sense that this was my planet and no one else would see it.

What generated was a mostly green and rocky gas planet. I saw my downed ship and had some vague goals flashing on my screen that I need to collect some matter to get my ship going.

First things first, I knew I could name my planet and make my mark on this game. So, because I'm an adult, I named the system "PooPoo" and my planet, "PooPoo Junction."

So I start walking around, firing my mining laser at rocks, some plants, even a mini-brontosaurus looking animal. I was just getting a feel for the game.

And then I got a warning that my environment protection was running out and I needed to find a second material to stave off gas asphyxiation.

I didn't know where to get this material so I continued mining a bunch of things and seeing some numbers under requirements count up.

I wandered through some small, empty habitats that looked incredibly like the empty, soulless habitats in Mass Effect. And these little hyena bastards kept nipping at my heels.

Then only thing propelling me forward is that deep human need to check things off my list. I saw another question mark on the horizon, and I had to head toward it to see what it was.

Then I got a warning that my mining laser was out of ammo. I didn't know this could happen. It looked like an overheat sort of system. I was just firing at everything. But there I was, staring at a warning that I'm out of ammo and need to recharge it.

I still hadn't found the first two materials I needed, now I needed a third. I took a look at my inventory and I didn't have any of the three materials, but I had picked up the materials to upgrade something on my suit, so sure, I'll do that.

Since I'm out of ammo in my mining gun, the thing that gets me resources, I was now told to start hitting rocks and animals with my mining gun to collect materials. So I run up to a rock, hit it, see that the health of this rock only goes down about 1/20th of it's life and I sort of flip out at the game.

I was done, officially, 20 minutes in, I was done.

I didn't expect No Man's Sky to change my life like other people. I didn't even expect to like it. What I found was a completely competent, great looking game, that wasn't meant for people like me. And maybe later when they add updates and DLC to it and put in more of their sci-fi stuff, maybe then it'll speak to me. But right now, the No Man's Sky vanilla version is not a game I want to interact with.

And people, that's OK. Games don't have to change your life. Games can be just a surface level building block which what to build with. Look at how Minecraft started out. It was a game that was like, "I don't know, here's a couple tools, figure this shit out." Now it's the top selling game of all time.

No Man's Sky might not ever get near that level. In fact, it probably won't. But the backlash the dev team are getting from this is sickening. It's yet another poisonous well that is going to probably cause a few great minds in gaming to leave forever.

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