I Played 15 Minutes Of No Man’s Sky

I Played 15 Minutes Of No Man’s Sky
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Last Friday, the people who are making No Man’s Sky told me they’d been late to a meeting with Steven Spielberg. The legendary director waited, though, because he — like millions of other people across the world — was fiending to play No Man’s Sky. No pressure, right?

The reason Hello Games’ away team was late showing their space exploration title to ET’s daddy? The blame lies squarely on Elon Musk. Yes, the billionaire who’s putting electric cars on the road and rocketships in space just had to see the game, too. Me? I was choking on Los Angeles smog as I waited for studio co-founder Sean Murray to wrap up the demo meetings scheduled to happen before mine. Hello Games wasn’t stationed at the Los Angeles Convention Center during E3, choosing instead to rent out a penthouse apartment close-by. You could see the convention center from their perch but it seemed, appropriately, a world away.

The quiet in the near-empty apartment suited No Man’s Sky well. For all the 18-quintillion-planets hype surrounding the game, the procedurally generated first-person adventure feels, at core, like a quieter experience than many other games. I played about fifteen minutes of No Man’s Sky last week, warping from one solar system to another, discovering new lifeforms, mining resources and getting embroiled in a skirmish between pirates and freighters outside a massive space station. Here’s a bit of what I learned, some from Murray and some from first-hand experience:

  • You can only have one ship and one weapon. Each one will support modifications to make them uniquely functional, with various ships offering a different number of inventory slots. So, players won’t be amassing a fleet of vessels in this game. Upgrading handheld weapons will help with mining, too.
  • Harvesting resources will be a big part of the game’s economy. The millions of planets in No Man’s Sky will be home to unique natural resources and elements, which sit on a made-up periodic table. You’ll be able to scan for them and then blast outcroppings or underground deposits to claim the shiny minerals. You’ll be able to sell these resources in their raw form or combine them into bespoke alloys that might be even more valuable. They will also be used for crafting upgrades.
  • A vanilla spacesuit isn’t going to cut it. The default protective garb players start the game off with won’t be all-purpose. You’ll need to buy and upgrade survival gear for toxic, radioactive and frozen planets.
  • There won’t really be a traditional story. Instead, Murray told me, there’s a layer of lore undergirding the exploration. For example, the Sentinels patrolling the planets you visit were made by an ancient race and seeded throughout the galaxy to preserve the delicate balance of planetary ecosystems. But the Sentinels are a bit out of control, Murray teased, hinting at a thread of lore that may be lying in wait for players to discover.
  • Mess around too much and your wanted level rises. If players destroy too much of a planet’s geography or wildlife, the Sentinels will hunt you down and try to make you pay. Similarly, attacking trade ships as they try to dock into space stations can draw out fleets of enforcer vessels ready to blow you to bits.

The time I spent playing and watching No Man’s Sky left me feeling like the PS4/PC title will be more meditative than anything else. Yes, there were explosions and dogfights and giant robots bearing down on me during that session. But, as my ship skimmed over the red oceans of one planet and I walked through the mushroom grass and watched overgrown rabbit creatures skip past, I started to think of No Man’s Sky as a giant book that will live inside my PS4. If all goes well, I’ll be able to play through a chapter or two, come away with a weird thing to show for my travels, and compare notes with fellow adventurers. That’s all I want right now.


  • Still way to skeptical to get hyped. If they pull off what they want then I have no doubt I could spend many hours wasting my time in his game but its such a scale I have a hard time believing they will be able to do it without massive amounts of repetition and 6 months of Destiny has me kind of grinded out. Damn do I want this to be everything they are saying it will be though!

    • My sentiments exactly. I want so badly for this to be amazing, but I just can’t see it at this point. I feel like it’s gonna be:

      Planet A: Purple grass, blue tigers, red sky
      Planet B: Red grass, purple tigers, blue sky
      Planet C: Blue grass, red tigers, purple sky

      • That is my greatest fear of this game ending up like. I so badly want them to finally do PCG (Proc-Computer-Gen) right with not just the environments themselves being generated but missions, tasks, NPCs and everything in the game being truly life-like so there is stuff to do that has meaning.

    • What if…the planets change according to what players do on them. Maybe when a planet has more visitors, more sentinels appear too. And eventually the planet warps into this total mega hard planet to explore with super high reward. Pretty cool if the game and difficulty level evolves with the players. And it doesnt hurt new comers as there are tons of new planets to explore.

      Just as an example (and a suggestion).

  • The time I spent playing and watching No Man’s Sky left me feeling like the PS4/PC title will be more meditative than anything else.

    We all need a game like this from time to time. It is one of the reasons why I loved Freelancer back in the day and why I am excited for NMS. Just the idea of cruising around space and looking at stuff and maybe doing some low impact trading sounds fantastic.

      • I honestly didn’t play it, an oversight on my part sadly. I was however intrigued by elite dangerous I think it was though my plate of gaming is a little full currently so also have yet to get my hands on it too.

        • In the same boat. I think I reinstall Freelancer and play it through maybe once a year, but my PC isn’t quite up to the task of installing Elite: Dangerous yet. Once I save up enough for a new GPU, it’s near the top of my to-buy list.

    • Sounds crazy but I’m like that with Farm Simulator 15 which my friends don’t ‘get’. I love at the end of a night after a good gaming sesh to just chill out and plough or seed or harvest and just…..relax. Stress free gaming.

      Insert smiley face please Siri.

  • Every time I see footage for this game I think to myself “Oh man I wanna play this so bad!”

    My problem… How long will I want to play it for? How long before the things that look fun in a 5 minute demo become beyond tedious?

  • It’s a super pretty looking game and that hook of trying to reach the center of the universe through upgrades is enough to keep me going. The sentinels are a nice new addition

    I hope there will be morpeus support though

  • I’m starting to worry this game doesn’t have any real content. If it just winds up being a another Minecraft clone (in space) where your major objectives are just cutting down X trees and gathering up Y rocks I will be disappointed.

  • I really want to have FTL style gameplay (with or without turn base system) in 3D just like this where you are one individual crew member who controls a function on a starship…

  • I feel sorry for the devs. Even they themselves said to not get super hyped, they’re a small studio. If they execute a cool vision that they had, I will be happy with that. It’s not going to be Star Citizen levels of depth.

  • the Sentinels patrolling the planets you visit were made by an ancient race and seeded throughout the galaxy to preserve the delicate balance of planetary ecosystems.

    Wait so all of these undiscovered planets have already been discovered and have a patrolling security system? Bummer.

    • I think it’s more that the planets will have procedurally generated patrols. So the may be ‘undiscovered’ to players and the community, but in-game were discovered by ‘ancient aliens’.

      • Ancient aliens must have a pretty big bankroll to populate what seems an infinite amount of planets with huge mechs for patrol… Also… who’s does the maintenance on these machines? And the beacons to keep them in working order…

        This game just seems way too far fetch…

        • Are you actually complaining that a sci-fi game is “too far fetched”

          There are plenty of games that had “ancient races” that were far more advanced, creative and dominating than current races still around in the world.

          ie Dwarves from Skyrim, reapers from ME

  • Yep, this still looks like a game about nothing. I anticipate in the next year or so, plenty of post mortems from Hello games explaining how they probably should have been more focused and pulled the reigns back on their ambition a little bit.

  • There was a game like this in Early Access a while ago which was going to let you build your ship in 3d. Probably doesn’t look as good, and dev probably bankrupt living in box now but was a nice idea.

      • nope, this one actually looked like it was going to have decent graphics, and didn’t use voxels to build the world. You could assemble a ship with parts like on space engineers, however it looked better.

  • Some people are concerned with the hype levels but I’m pretty sure it’s the kind of game where you can tell if you’re going to be into it by this point. People may be forgetting it’s STILL an indie game, it’s not AAA. I love how it’s a passion project though. Combining pre-existing elements from other games into a package that hasn’t been seen before. And on a console! Making it super accessible. I think this video from GT.com really sums it up

  • My only real concern for this game is that it runs well on my PS4 – if the overall gameplay is smooth or thereabouts, I can work with whatever else the game has in store for me because…..to be honest……it really sounds like my dream game…..like someone reached into my mind and designed a game specifically to please me. The icing on the cake will be Morpheus support – if it has that, I think a Morpheus headset purchase will be happening on launch day for sure.

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