No Mans Sky (2016) PC first impressions review

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The much anticipated and mired in controversy No Mans Sky is finally out. Every time I saw this game promoted I wondered “besides walking around procedurally generated planets, what do you actually do in this game?” Now that I’ve given it a bit of a spin, I now know and I’m underwhelmed to say the least.

Before I give this game a lashing, I will start with the positives. The first positive is that the retro pulp sci fi aesthetic is really cool with the bright colours and weird worlds and the scan line filter and all that. The next is that the procedural generation tends to work pretty good, at least on a cosmetic level for the planets and from what I’ve played, have yet to see creatures that are totally nonsensical. However, the wonder of this wears of very quickly. The third is that the soundtrack seems pretty nice. Also, I am running it at high settings at 1440p and seems to be performing decently for me, as well as having a decent set of graphics options. As an aside, the lack of multiplayer doesn’t really bother me, although it would have been nice.

But that is about the extent of the compliments I can give it. The game is lacking in satisfactory mechanics and loop. You start the game on your own unique planet and you need to find the necessary materials to repair the ship and craft the items to repair the ship. Once you’ve done that, you’re free to pilot the ship, and travel to other worlds so that you can continue to mine and craft things to improve your equipment so you can better mine and craft things. There’s other shit to do like finding landmarks and learning an alien language but it doesn’t seem tied into the game or narrative (which is non existent) other than some far too vague lore that prevents coherency. Piloting the ship is also so basic that flying about in space becomes boring. There are barely any NPCs and there are so few spaceships and what little there are seem to be window dressing that don’t engage the player in any meaningful way. When I go into hyperdrive, I can take my hands off my keyboard and only have to pay the barest minimum of attention to what is happening.
First person shooting is also present in the game, but it’s so underdeveloped. All you do is hold M1 at the sentinels or aggro’d creatures. No crouching, cover, ADS, enemies with interesting AI. Nothing. In short, the combat mechanics here don’t seem to add anything to the game and feel like a mere formality rather than a necessary and coherent feature of the game.This game wants to be played for hundreds of hours, but it can’t. The mechanics are just so dull when looked at individually or as a whole. I think I have figured out what this game truly is: another indie walking simulator in disguise that is only barely above these walking simulators.

To make a long story short, the game is a bore. The mechanics are so dull and uninspired that the procedurally generated planets just can’t carry the game. And because the ambition of the game is so broad in scope, there seems to be a failure of any coherent design. The redeeming factors are mostly only aesthetic and in terms of features, the game seems like an Early Access title, except you have to pay full price. I very much wanted the game to be good, but it simply did not turn out good. In it’s current state, No Mans Sky is a No Mans Buy.

3.5/10

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