Have You Played… No Man’s Sky?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

No Man’s Sky has changed a great deal since the initial release, switching from a pure, lonely exploration experience to a game with base building, harder survival-based modes, rudimentary multiplayer and a lot more. I still prefer that original lonely exploration, though.

I think it’s great that Hello Games have continued to support the game post-release, and I’m happy it’s now satisfying more of what people wanted from it. But I have other games that offer bases to craft from parts, and I’m never going to enjoy settling down in No Man’s Sky as much as I do in Astroneer or other games with more satisfying crafting and building tools.

No Man’s Sky will always for me be about moving on. Landing on a planet, spending a while cataloguing some creatures and gathering resources, and then heading on to the next planet. I liked that the space stations were sparse and that interactions with aliens were mostly short. It’s to their credit that even while leaning more towards what the audience wants, that core experience remains accessible. I hope Hello Games continue to support the game, but never bend too far from that original vision.

43 Comments

  1. contractcooker says:

    I really like this game. I think people were way too hard on it even though the developer probably shouldn’t have made so many ridiculous promises. What’s important is that they didn’t just drop it immediately after release and continually “improved” upon it although I agree with this article that just bouncing from planet to planet was a soothing and singular experience.

    • DrJ3RK says:

      I agree completely. I actually really enjoyed it even in its stripped down state initially. There was actually something about the sparse/cryptic nature of it that appealed to me. That said, they’ve done a lot of really cool things with it now, and it’s continually getting better. I’ll take this opportunity (as I always do when talking about this game) to demand gas giants!!! :D That’s the only thing missing now in my opinion.

    • fish99 says:

      I think the game deserved it’s initial reception. At launch it was buggy, grindy, repetitive, ugly, had a terrible interface, and played awful, plus the PC version was a technical mess. It also spectacularly failed to match up to the trailers (not to mention the missing multiplayer), and was overpriced for what it offered IMO.

      I haven’t played it since so I don’t know how much of that stuff has changed, but I can respect Hello Games for their determination to improve it.

    • pentraksil says:

      I couldn’t disagree more with you on that one. They deserved every single thing that came their way after making so many empty promises. But also, part of the blame goes to the players themselves….It was obvious that there was something fishy going on there and still they blindly believed it. All that based on some scripted and controlled gameplay “playthroughs” on conventions. That being said, I agree that they should not be too hard on them now, since they are at least trying to fix somethings. But it is no use, since the bandwagon love/hate relationship that players have with every single game in existence, and it is not going to stop. Game that were genuinely OK received similar treatment, let alone a game where devs blatantly lied to peoples faces.

  2. int says:

    Never did, but the calamitous release was interesting to behold.

  3. Colthor says:

    It’s the only game I can think of where I kinda hated myself for the 24 of my irreplaceable hours I let it waste.

  4. Dachannien says:

    Well, it’s not quite the steaming pile it used to be. But I think this guy does a better job of explaining what’s still wrong with NMS than I ever could.

    • foszae says:

      That was a particularly visceral dissection. I was considering giving it a peek, but now i wouldn’t even install it even if it came in a bundle

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        Raelalt says:

        Too bad, it is definitely worth a try now.

        • Marr says:

          With mods and cheats to fix all the asinine design decisions, yeah. Shamus’ articles are *about* the latest versions failing to fix any of those. As he sums up: “It really is shocking how hard Hello Games worked to do things the wrongest and least satisfying way possible.”

      • PancakeWizard says:

        That article is the most nitpicky whine I’ve ever seen. I guarantee you aren’t thinking about any of that stuff moment to moment.

  5. Kefren says:

    I can’t deal with pressing a key and nothing happening, then realising it is one of the ones where you have to hold it for a second for some bizarre reason, so you have to press it again and hold it this time. Pro tip for devs: none of my other PC games do this.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      There’s a mod that fixes this: link to nomansskymods.com

      Though I agree disabling this should really be an option out of the box and it should never have been designed this way in the first place. Holding down a button to click (as the main regular click action) is one of the worst PC interface ideas of ALL TIME.

    • lancelot says:

      I think there ought to be some quarantine measures in place to stop that console disease from spreading. It’s pretty common in action games, was especially annoying in Ghost Recon Wildlands: the car is on fire, I switch to the keyboard and press E to get out. Nothing. Do I need to hold E? No, they’re getting back inside the car!!

      I’m not going to pay respects, because I don’t want to hold F.

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        Ninja Dodo says:

        Hey now, console games are great too and multi-platform games means more people get to play things. However when you put something on a specific platform you need to (re)design the interface so it suits the platform. That’s all.

  6. geldonyetich says:

    I gave in to the hype pretty hard, but I wasn’t as crushingly disappointed at some at the release. It was a chill walking experience, that wasn’t so bad.

    I did have to change my initial Steam review to a thumbs down when the challenge had utterly abandoned me and I realized that the true opposition in the game, the Sentinels, were basically just easily popped loot dispensers. Somewhere along the line, they decided that the wanted meter goes down when you pop the Sentinels, and this kind of defeated the point of a wanted meter.

    Several revisions later, I gave the game another replay last month, and grudgingly put it back to thumbs up. The game is better. The “survival” challenge mode is hard enough that it actually makes sense the wanted meter goes down when you kill the sentinels. That said, it’s still plagued with some technical limitations, pop-in textures and at times really janky framerates, and the spaceflight model is too rudimentary and abstract in execution for my liking.

    Well, if you want first person perspective, open-ended universe exploring game with a working interstellar economy, ability to fly and land on any planet you can see, and AAA production values, your best options are currently either No Man’s Sky or Elite: Dangerous. Drop a few of those features, and you end up with the likes of Space Engineers and Starmade, but it’s just not the same kind of game anymore.

  7. BaronKreight says:

    No i haven’t and I will not.

  8. wombat191 says:

    As soon as I saw the trailers and the hype I was wary and when they mentioned “procedural generation” I had a pretty good idea what the result would be.

    I held off until the last time it was on sale and I’ve really enjoyed it a lot.

    Making a base at the moment, lots of glass :D and big enough that it’s expanded outside the building area :)

  9. haldolium says:

    Yes. And I did so again this spring and it was the same.

    The game is broken at it’s core. It doesn’t matter what they add or how much the tweak the existing misguided design decisions, it will remain a grindy and boring interface-management game that lost out on everything what could’ve been remotely atmospheric.

  10. Shadow says:

    Still a shipwreck of a game for me. It’s fine that it proves interesting to some salvagers, but it’s better that it became a cautionary tale against overhyping and false promises.

    An unfortunate but necessary sacrifice that, like Mass Effect Andromeda, can only benefit the industry’s quality going forward.

  11. ColonelFlanders says:

    I pirated it before buying it, and was glad I did. It’s a crappy survival game, not even half as good as the higher profile ones on Steam, and I wasn’t overly fond of those either.

    Honestly I think it got a lot more flak than it deserved; it’s a shitty game, but hey people make shite games all the time – maybe their next one will be really good!

    • Marr says:

      Thing is, this shitty game was financed by millions of $60 pre-orders in a carefully misdireted launch campaign designed to string everyone along just far enough to prevent refunds. A fine illustration of the difference between legal and ethical.

  12. DrJ3RK says:

    I think a lot of people are actually missing out on something they’d enjoy just because they allowed other people to make their decision for them. A decision largely based on people that never even tried it. Oh well. I’m still enjoying it.

  13. dontnormally says:

    How hard is it to get to the point where you have your own space freighter?

    • DrJ3RK says:

      This depends entirely on how you want to play the game. In creative mode you can pretty much do this right away because this mode is all about giving you everything you need to just explore, build, and waltz through the various stories if you want to.

      Normal mode, it will take some time, but isn’t terribly difficult. I’d make a rough guess of 30ish hours (maybe a bit more depending on where you start etc.) You’ll need to do some side-questing to be able to get resources faster, maybe do some farming for units, etc. If you’re lucky enough to come across a few certain planet types, it may accelerate the process. In normal mode combat, pirates, sentinels etc. aren’t terribly difficult to deal with either, but will still give you some action.

      I haven’t tried the harder modes. I’ve played Normal mode the most, and have a creative mode game going on the side just to wander around and find cool things.

      I haven’t actually grabbed a freighter yet, but I believe I’m sitting on enough units to do it. I’ve just been too busy exploring, and doing one of the plot-lines.

  14. Eightball says:

    No, man.

    sky

    I’ll pick it up when it’s super cheap.

  15. leeder krenon says:

    It’s always been a good game, although initially was rather niche.

  16. badmothergamer says:

    Couldn’t figure out the html coding and I guess we’re limited on edits, so here is the link to RayRod’s Overhaul:

    link to nexusmods.com?

  17. Mister eX says:

    I enjoyed it for about 10 hours, then I already started to feel the grind. Which I hate. Except in THPS games.

  18. Zenicetus says:

    Played it for a little over 10 hours and then shelved it. I felt like I got my money’s worth as an interesting tech demo, but the mechanics didn’t click for me as a “game” I’d want to spend more time with.

    The UI was horrible, the flight dynamics were horrible, and I kept seeing the same heavy-handed art direction and color palette in all these supposedly very different planets.

  19. milligna says:

    Pretty awful stuff even after the updates. Just not engaged by resource collecting and the flying spaceships part of a flying spaceships game should be fun.

    It’s not.

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    Neurotic says:

    I do want to buy it, but until it’s significantly cheaper, Empyrion scratches all those itches really very well.

  21. Spacewalk says:

    Ugh.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    I’ve enjoyed it (with the fast actions/instant button reaction mod) mostly as a 70s sci-fi photography walking sim. The crafting doesn’t really do anything for me, but I love the landscapes and some of the creatures are pretty neat. I haven’t had the chance to play it much since the updates but I’ve been meaning to explore some more.

  23. racccoon says:

    Yes i still do. I see no reason for all that fuss early on in its release, it is quiet shameful of the media to down trod them like that after they were the ones who caused the over presumptions & hype.
    Hello Games did nothing wrong and they were constantly pushed into a corner during early pre-press announcements. For a small group of independent devs locked in a small dank office doing their thing, making a game without handouts or begging bowls..I think its is brilliantly done! & there was nothing wrong with the games release, of course at times it did become a little repetitive but it was worth it overall to be able to fly around worlds attacking freighters & doing loads of other great game stuff! Now with all these brilliant quick constant updates for free, its is a amazing achievement of a wonderfully great idea.
    I say hats off to them for this great work set upon a whole new concept in gaming development & ideas.
    Well done HELLO GAMES :)

    • fish99 says:

      They definitely lied about multiplayer, and the trailers they put out clearly weren’t representative of the finished game. It also crashed quite a lot at launch.

  24. Captain Narol says:

    I loved the exploration in this game despise all its flaws, and I’ll return to it someday now that they added new content.

  25. majorbrighton says:

    I do not understand what it is that you want to say with this artical. At least it does not start as another poke at Good Games, or does it?
    To quote: “No Man’s Sky has changed a great deal since the initial release, switching from a pure, lonely exploration experience to a game with base building, harder survival-based modes, rudimentary multiplayer and a lot more. I still prefer that original lonely exploration, though.”
    The problem here, is that you seem to be contradicting yourself. Everyone complains and wants more in the game and I for one think they are doing a great job. If you dont like base building, don`t do it. I know that we all tend to compare similar games, yet this is a poor way of arriving at whats good for you and also belittles the games balance.
    This game has not focused just on base building (thankfully) and has taken a relitivly relaxed approach, you you can skip it. I for one am starting to find the planets are far too alike.
    Seeing the same animals and plants repeating over and over.
    Yet the worst part, it the lack of variation in these elements.
    Forests or at least patched of growth that hide a part of a valleys scene. Something to make you want to walk on and explore.
    When I come to a rise and look down into the valley, I see all there is to see and you loose the point of wanting to explore more.
    Caves are maybe the worse, as they always have the same content.
    Lets hope they can come up with a fix for this soon.

  26. Peppergomez says:

    What is the point of these Have You Played? articles? They are usually so brief as to be really slight.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      It’s an opportunity for some wistful observations from the Hivemind and for readers to talk about their experiences with a game in the comments, much like What Are We Playing This Weekend.