No Man's Sky, or the Boredom of Empty Space

Unveiling the NMS logo

A whole honest universe, full of diverse solar systems, space stations, anomalies, discoveries, and adventures – No Man’s Sky promised to become the best space simulator of all time. The gamer could sit in the cockpit of their own spaceship, fly somewhere to Omega Centauri, learn the language of an alien race there, hunt dinosaurs, and steal a sacred artifact of a dead civilization… And so on – for a couple of thousand hours in a row. At least.

Oh yes, and also the NMS universe would be shared among players! You discovered a fish-cthulhu, named it after yourself, and now every first adventurer who managed to fly into the same black hole as you would witness your triumph as a pioneer.

Such beauty would be worth waiting a few years for. The first time the public heard about No Man’s Sky, it seems, was when the Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles had just appeared on the market, and Sony and Microsoft were eagerly acquiring exclusive projects. Ah, those distant times were full of hope, optimism, relatively cheap hardware, and big announcements. Nowadays, the grass has withered, gamers are offered to buy “powerful” versions of the same PS4 and XBO for the second time, and the main console projects not only lost their exclusivity in the overwhelming majority, but also have not been released yet. And those that have been released…

My first NMS planet turned out to be nothing like what the developers demonstrated in the trailers. There is no water, no grass, and no wonderful creatures. It’s just a dreary desert, pulled out of a weak generator of crumpled balls. But, well, not every first galactic dead end should be a paradise on Earth, in systems not without their own monsters. Plus, look, some kind of strange worm with feathers just zoomed by, it’s already fun!

Mysterious NMS screenshot

Judging by the clumsy jumps and overall miserable appearance, the unfortunate homunculus didn’t really want to live. The second big randomizer generator gave eight appropriate unattractive creatures to the uninteresting naked galactic pebble. And all eight, as it turned out, are still unknown to the great galactic science! It’s time to rename “Defaultus Wormacus” to “Pavlin-ctulhu named Vasily Pupkin” (abbreviated as “pkivapup”) and leave your mark in history. Then rename the second worm, then rename the chicken, then rename that phallic-shaped tree over there…

…somewhere around the tenth discovery, the spark goes out. How many more solar systems are ahead, I will grow old while staking out every first freak. The Vasily Pupkin sector, spreading like a plague throughout the universe – it’s wonderful, but at the same time tedious and boring. It’s much easier and more enjoyable to fly incognito over barren planets and collect only the most insane specimens for the collection.

Since peaceful zoology no longer interests us, we could declare a big hunt on them. But the trophies from the local fauna turned out to be worthless. A handful of red stones symbolizing some “carbon,” and that’s it. The animals don’t offer any real resistance either.

In general, what was your humble servant expecting from the fauna of No Man’s Sky? He was expecting truly interesting adventures as a pioneer. Where unusual animals wouldn’t just walk around the landing pad, but would inhabit deep caves or the ocean floor. Where predators would put up a fierce fight, and then rare materials would fall from them, not a hundred percent two liters of universal space fuel. Where there would be some real difference between the local kangaroos and armored creatures. Do you know what the difference is here between a healthy carcass on a third of the screen and a small creature? You can feed the small creature carbon. Again, that’s it.

Another view of the NMS world

The scattered planetary stations and mysterious obelisks distract the hero from the sorrow of the discoverer and carbon obesity. We will talk about the former a little later, while the latter are the true beacons of joy and progress in the sea of planetary apathy. After all, thanks to visiting ruins, one learns words from four initially inaccessible languages ​​of civilizations inhabiting No Man’s Sky. Well, three and a half – one of the local factions is very, very ancient and already extinct. Sort of. One artifact found – one word in the piggy bank.

Extreme linguistics is perhaps the only game mechanic that gives a sense of real progress. You used to fly to a lonely reptiloid at an outpost and didn’t understand a word of what he was saying to you, but after half an hour of archaeological hunting, you already understand a couple of words!

Finally, random obelisks are perhaps the most beautiful objects in the game. The main thing is not to wander from one to another on foot, otherwise you will die of boredom.

Scenic NMS landscape

Walking tours are useful, of course. You’ll get some fresh air, discover some lonely cosmonaut with a carbonated drink, melt a nugget of gold sticking out of the ground… But seriously: gold, platinum, and other galactic mithril just stick out of the ground, and the main difficulty in mining them is enduring two minutes of tedious harvesting. Then, a minute of slow walking to the checkpoint. And if you can’t steal a personal spaceship from that checkpoint, then you have several more minutes of uneventful walks.

The “emerge from the ship where needed – check-in with a selfie – jump back” scheme is so much faster and more efficient that you don’t want to return to boring walks for a long time.

By the way, those planetary stations that have been mentioned several times are not very attractive either. Their main purpose is to point the player to a couple of nearby checkpoints. And if you’re really lucky (or the planet has been thoroughly explored), the local sonar will point you to a location you’ve already visited.

What is happening in the No Man’s Sky universe that is worth spending more than 30 minutes on?

There are only a couple of real goals in the game. The first is to find the legacy of the “Atlas” civilization. The second is to reach the center of the galaxy. As you can see, planetary amusements don’t play any role in galactic achievements, except as monotonous pit stops. However, hyperspace flights are also, in essence, just rides between checkpoints.

A glimpse of the NMS universe

Interesting point: at every first Atlas stop, NMS will ask again – maybe, forget about this one thread of meaningful gameplay, let’s give up on the search? Seriously. No Munchkin’s Sky will repeatedly ask if you have changed your mind about playing for good.

I don’t even want to talk about flying to the center of the galaxy. We simply haven’t come up with a dumber goal. Imagine that in Minecraft, the main interest is digging to the lava.

I caught a glimpse on the internet of what will happen if you actually make it to the center. There will be… nothing, the galaxy will reset, you will be thrown back to its edge, roll to the center again. After 200 or so rolls, there will be… a total reset, with completely new star systems. Joke. The star map will always be the same, just the open freaks and eaten cacti will be reset.

NMS Sreenshot

The overall picture, I think, is clear. No Man’s Sky is a healthy world, but there is nothing to do there. The general impression is that the project is simply unfinished.

Both ground and orbital combat are extremely basic. You shoot plasma straight ahead and enjoy life. There are no truly formidable enemies. On the planets, there are some robot guards that can only approach and shoot with glowing nonsense. In space, there are groups of pirates that work according to the same scenario. Both types of opponents are defeated not so much by clever maneuvers, but by consuming iron and carbon, which instantly restores the spacecraft’s hull and ammunition supply, respectively.

The game presented me with exactly three surprises, and all three were hanging around in near-earth orbit. The first one is these incomprehensible healthy space barges lazily spitting out the same pirates. The second one is an unusual space station with two linguists on board. The third one is a black hole that twice suspended the NMS client and only after a lucky third attempt spat out my ship into a random standard solar system.

In short, the universe exists, there are creature generators and other things, there are basic mechanics, but there is no content at a higher level. No Man’s Sky can hypnotize you with grinding for twenty hours, and then its two main sins, boredom and emptiness, completely overwhelm enthusiasm.

No Man’s Sky
Adventure, RPG, VR, Indie
Hello Games
Hello Games
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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