It is really hard to describe the allure of No Man's Sky. For such an ambitious, overreaching game, it has certainly made a significant impact in the past year and a half with constant updates showing off this vast universe in-game, while fans wait patiently for the chance to play in the sandbox the team at Hello Games is creating. Even then, it is hard to really describe No Man's Sky as a game. Part space sim, part Minecraft, part Journey, No Man's Sky is a game where the game itself has no goal, but rather the goal is what the player makes it to be.
See, as Sean Murray, the director of Hello Games, has constantly pointed out with their title, No Man's Sky is a game about choices. Discussions regarding player choice have been done ad-nausea in many ways, but Hello Games is clearly trying to capture the feel of tangential choice the player has. The game's mechanics dictate their behavior, not the game itself. This could, in theory, allow the player to play No Man's Sky indefinitely. Scour one of the 18 Quintilian planets the game can offer for resources, hidden caves, underwater treasures, or new wildlife. Engage in piracy and warfare with your spaceship, or become a master merchant and play the stock market at a kiosk. Or simply go someplace random and wreak havoc until the robotic sentinels come for you.
These type of choices are what make No Man's Sky so alluring; they are not forced upon the player. Much like the freedom some sandbox games can give you, No Man's Sky is hoping to emulate that on a galactic level—infinite possibilities if you are willing to take them. The world reacts to your choices as well, so they are not done in a vacuum; consequences can, and likely will, occur during the game if you are not careful.
In truth, the best way to describe No Man's Sky is to simply show it to people. The pictures of far-off planets, exotic wildlife and vibrant colors and shapes are supposed to invoke a classic Sci-Fi feel, reaching back to famous art by the likes of Paul Lehr, Roger Dean and Wayne Barlowe to present a dynamic, alien world to players. Everything, from the animals on the ground to the color of the trees, is proceduraly generated, meaning no two planets will ever be exactly alike in the game thanks to a mathematical algorithm.
This also leads to the biggest question of all with No Man's Sky; despite all we know about the game, it is still wrapped in mystery regarding its full potential. There are elements of the game that are not fully disclosed by Hello Games, including the possibility of a multiplayer style mode and an actual climax, or new game plus. All Sean Murray has stated is that for most people, the end goal is to reach the center of the universe, a journey that many may not even take in the end when the game is finally released.
Perhaps this is why it is also so difficult to explain what the game is about. Unlike other Space Simulators, it is on a different playing field because of its uniqueness of the world around it. Titles like Elite Dangerous, or the upcoming Star Citizen, put much more emphasis on their attention to detail and scientific accuracy to pull off a believable world. Both also contain full on multiplayer and MMO-styled gameplay, something No Man's Sky seems to lack. This is not to say that No Man's Sky is better or worse than the other games. On the contrary, each title serves a different perspective on the Space Sim genre, which is seeing a resurgence in the past couple of years.
Each game simply offers something different for the player—Star Citizen, a full on, MMO experience with 100 hand-crafted planets, and Elite Dangerous provides a galaxy-wide system of procedurally generated worlds. What No Man's Sky offers, however, is a single player experience shared among millions, like the game Journey. The game is basically a space for drop-in and drop-out interaction, and while players will be all over the galaxy, you may never see them, at least, tangentially, outside of chance, random encounters that can dot the universe here and there. It is an interesting take to say the least, one that does make the game stand out among its peers for sure, but it may also be a hindrance to the experience, becoming a lonely sojourn through the stars instead of a shared sense of wonderment by your friends or strangers online.
Couple this with the number of 18 quintillion planets, the world of No Man's Sky is daunting to say the least. It is impossible for one person to explore and discover every single planet in the game in their lifetime. In all likelihood, parts of the universe in No Man's Sky will forever remain untouched as well, never to see the light of day forever. Such massive scale can lose its scope easily, making No Man's Sky an exercise of calculated risks over obvious rewards, as the procedurally generated worlds you can land on may be booms or busts, depending on how lucky you really are.
The biggest problem of all, however, is the status of their release date; namely, there is none. It is not even guaranteed No Man's Sky will be released this Fall, let alone this year. Sadly Hello Games have been cagey about that detail, so players on the PC and the Playstation 4 are still left wanting for more information on the game. It has left fans wanting, starved for information and hoping No Man's Sky will see the light of day this year.
But regardless of when it comes out, without a doubt, No Man's Sky has made a massive impression since its first reveal. Time will only tell if the game can live up to the sometimes unrealistic expectations of the hype around it, but one thing is for sure, a universe awaits us if we're willing to take the risk. A universe of infinite possibilities that will, at the very least, make No Man's Sky a one of a kind experience for all who play it.
So are you ready for No Man's Sky? Looking forward to the game? Leave your comments below.