We’re busy trucking away at our review of No Man’s Sky, which has been the talk of the video game work for weeks now. While we’re waiting until we’ve experienced the extent of its main story and core exploration loop before posting our final review, there’s a lot to talk about so far. Of course, giving away tidbits that players will experience hours down the road doesn’t seem especially pertinent immediately after launch. Those later impressions will certainly be arriving in the coming days, but for now, here are three things you can expect during your first gameplay session of No Man’s Sky.
1. There’s a ton of constant inventory management here
If you’re the type of gamer who is jumping into No Man’s Sky hoping to fly around space shooting things constantly, then you’re probably going to be disappointed when you find out that a major component of No Man’s Sky is item and inventory management. You’re going to constantly be fiddling with items in your inventory, attempting to gain more upgrade slots and perpetually putting different items together to get better loot. Fans of games like Minecraft and Terraria will feel right at home here, but those looking to play the next great space action game are in for a rude awakening.
The core loop of No Man’s Sky’s crafting and item systems is pretty simple. You’ll land on a planet and gather resources until you either have the right ingredients to craft something or you have a full inventory. Once you do this, you’ll probably need to find a Galactic Trading Station in order to offload some of that extra loot in hopes of starting a new trek for more isotopes, oxides and silicates. If this sounds like something you don’t want to constantly do in your next video game, then No Man’s Sky is absolutely not for you.
2. Shooting for completionism will drive you insane
Fans of open-world franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are well accustomed to the idea of clearing out a map. Certain gamers love the idea of having a checklist of things that can be done and then incrementally checking off every item. If this is the mentality you find yourself bringing to every open-world game that you play, then No Man’s Sky is going to be the title that ends up killing you. Whenever you land on a planet, you’re going to be swarmed with items to mine, points of interest to discover and other fun encampments to explore. These items come up constantly, and while some planets can be easily cleared out (which gets you a ton of in-game currency), trying to clear out every planet that you explore is going to burn you out quickly.
On top of being a game that’s absolutely impossible to 100%, No Man’s Sky is essentially a fascinating combination of a number of mundane tasks. Basically every planet and moon that I’ve encountered so far has basically had some combination of alien monoliths, trade outposts, small loot-filled buildings and abandoned mining facilities. Make no mistake, this is not all there is to see in No Man’s Sky, but there’s enough repetition going on here that trying to complete every procedural task that comes your way is going to end up preventing any sense of progress. Do yourself a favor and continually move to new places as you see fit.
3. No Man’s Sky is comically overwhelming
It’s okay if you feel like there’s a shocking amount of things to do in No Man’s Sky. After all, what makes every moment in this bizarre procedural universe is that you can basically do whatever you want at any moment. Yes, there’s a critical path that will allow you to follow a straight line all the way to the center of the universe, but those who want to explore a new planet for five minutes before moving on are equally justified. The key to getting over the fact that No Man’s Sky is shockingly overwhelming is simply to embrace it, as this is a game about exploring an entire universe after all.
As you play more and more of No Man’s Sky, certain gameplay patterns begin to emerge, making your goals far clearer. I’m still trying to figure out the point where these patterns stop being helpful crutches and start becoming a source of boredom that cripples discovery. A lot of people have their opinions on what No Man’s Sky actually is, but now that it’s out, we can finally report that this is a game far closer to being Space Minecraft than it is to being the be-all-end-all of video games.