Opinion PlayStation PC

No Man's Sky - Lessons from 18 quintillion planets

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18 Quintillion planets. Limitless variety. Endless discovery. Journey to the end of the universe .... and never come back. 

"The one thing I want to experience most is the solitude of space travel that comes from exploring such a vast landscape. There's a comfort that permeates the soul when you're surrounded by undiscovered beauty. What are you looking forward to most? On the other hand, our high expectations of this game might be its downfall." Han Cilliers July 15, 2016

And what a downfall it was.

Yesterday I requested a refund from Steam for No Man's Sky. A week ago four GameZone staff members started their No Man's Sky journey. Two have requested refunds, one stopped playing, and the last one have been struggling for two days to recover his game file. It became corrupted for no apparent reason. He clocked around 35 hours with over 300 alien words learned, a 34 slot spaceship and 32 slot Exosuit. All gone now.

How could it go so wrong so quick? Here's how; dev hints at ground-breaking possibilities>hype>player expectations>downgraded product.

Looks familiar, doesn't it. As the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica used to say, "All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again." Before you rage at me because you are having the time of your life in a galaxy far, far away, allow me to explain.

I don't deny that the PlayStation 4 version at least looks spectacular, (although PC is a stronger machine) and that for some people the game is a marvel. However, the PC version is a big mess, and even with the experimental patch it's still ugly and full of glitches, and for some like my colleague, it even stops working altogether after working with no issue for days. By the way, the same thing happened to me, I played for a few hours, and when I logged back in the next day, my whole PC froze after I launched No Man's Sky. I had to download the experimental patch to get it to work normally. Visually the game looked worse with the experimental patch and my rig more than meets the recommended system requirements.

Here's the thing that complicates my view of No Man's Sky - at times it looks gorgeous, and I can only stand and stare in wonder at the world around me. And then you hit outer space, and you get a glimpse of something that can only be called genius.


You really get that sense of space exploration, awe and excitement - only to have it squashed. There's the repetitiveness of doing the same thing over and over and over. Don't get me wrong; I don't mind repetitiveness per se (I played WoW for years), but not all repetitions are created equal. What irks me in No Man's Sky is that it feels like Hello Games created zillions of planets that look unique but then they dumped almost the exact code on every planet. A bigger issue, however, is that Sean Murray didn't deliver what he showed us, or what he hinted at over the past two years. It feels like a betrayal.

In case you've forgotten and you think the game before you are an accurate representation of what was promised.

8 December 2013 

9 Jun 2014


30 Oct 2015


The finished product: August 2016


The above video is my last flight and planet discovered. I quite the game and asked for a refund. Check the recent comments on all the videos - they all echo the same disappointment. Hello Games promised something and delivered something else.

  • "This trailer is better than the game, I was expecting a lot more uniqueness in terms of lifeforms and upgrades but all players end up with the same upgrades for suit, ship and multitool for the most part and the creatures aren't all that diverse."
  • These trailers are better than the actual game. Sigh.
  • Ive been to the edge of the universe down the to center and have not seen anything like this so far
  • Where's the No Man's Sky we were sold on - Redditor lists all the broken promises.

And on it goes.

The facts are; every planet isn't so unique, every trade doesn't tell a story, and where are the stampedes shown in the trailers?

I feel sorry for the players who cling to their "18 Quintillion planets that are unique" hope. As customers we should expect better, we should expect developers to be blatantly honest about their product. I've not even touched the multiplayer debacle. A hint that creates expectation and hype that you never correct is a lie. Guys, No Man's Sky is an expensive game, and you bought it 'cause you expected something based on what the developer showed! By the way, it looks like Murray is also changing his mind about players never paying for DLC. "Murray walked back those remarks very slightly in an interview with the Daily Star. He told the site that he was “perhaps naive” when he ruled paid DLC out completely, adding that it could happen if “maybe in the future there’s some reason why we just couldn’t possibly afford to do a certain feature without charging for it,” reports PC Gamer.

So what has No Man's Sky taught me?

Things I thought I knew by heart - that I've written about many times. Don't pre-order games. Don't fall for the hype. Wait for reviews. Curb your enthusiasm.

It reminded me of the power advertising holds over consumers. That when it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true. Don't get me wrong, as my fellow explorer gone refund states, "Although No Man’s Sky is an incredible achievement in terms of size, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of actual gameplay."

No Man's Sky is a technical marvel in many aspects, but it's just not what we were promised. Maybe, this time, I will take the lessons to heart.

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook

"a glimpse of something that can only be called genius"

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