Features

‘No Man’s Sky’ – The AA Analysis

Potentially one of the most anticipated releases of 2016, No Man’s Sky is now finally out in the wild. This unlimited universe of procedurally generated planets, galaxies and creatures had high expectations from every excited space traveler.

Needless to say the release of No Man’s Sky’s has been met with quite divisive opinions, both critically and publicly. But what does Analog Addiction’s finest think of the final product?

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In the latest edition of The AA Analysis both Devon McCarty (PlayStation extraordinaire and reviewer of No Man’s Sky) and Jamie Briggs (Weary space traveler and Trophy fanatic) will explore No Man’s Sky vast array of systems, galaxies and more to find out where exactly developer Hello Games succeeded and failed.


Jamie Briggs – I believe I had a similar initial experience to No Man’s Sky as you did in your first impressions piece. After my initial 6 – 8 hours with No Man’s Sky I felt quite letdown with the finished product. I was expecting vast planets filled to the brim with exotic creatures, aliens that would offer quests that would take me across the galaxy, and the rush of exploring a never ending universe. But that wasn’t exactly what I experienced, instead it felt more like this giant empty space. Almost like someone was preparing to build this amazing playground, but forgot to order any playground equipment. Which honestly left me very disappointed.

However, I had an extended break from No Man’s Sky and when I returned I had a different mindset to the experience. In the best possible way, my hopes were not set extremely high as they once were. Instead of jumping in my ship and powering forward into uncharted worlds, I decided to explore one planet. I decided to take in what No Man’s Sky offered and explore this one planet to its full potential; and I won’t lie, my experience was a lot better for it.

Instead of considering what No Man’s Sky could have been, I enjoyed No Man’s Sky for what it was. It isn’t the revolution many expected, but it is a unique adventure that does not exist anywhere else.

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Devon McCarty – I think a lot of gamers are sharing your initial reaction, and then internal correction to that line of thought. I had several expectations of what I wanted No Man’s Sky to be, and it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be when I started playing it. Even reading your thoughts on meeting aliens that would offer quests across the galaxy, I can’t help but think of how much of a missed opportunity that was. How many life forms have I met on my journey? Not one of them asked me to do little more than trade a specific element just so I could continue trading. Isn’t that weird?

But once I broke from the thought that this game “could have” or ” should have” been whatever else, I started to enjoy it as much as you.

If you just became nothing more than a planet hopper, spending time only to refuel your hyper drive and warp to a new planet system, I would absolutely hate this repetitive game. However, by exploring the planets ecosystem and really digging into the Knowledge Stones and Obelisks on each planet, opened up a whole new level of lore I haven’t really experienced before.

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Generally speaking, a game will let you understand the creatures and characters you need to understand. In No Man’s Sky you’ve got to learn every single word of a language to really be effective in trading. Sure you can guess and see what happens with little punishment and small reward, but I don’t think the purpose was to punish or reward, but to give you something to learn.

It still currently stands as some of my favorite moments of the game. Especially when you reach an obelisk and have a hallucination that tests your character. Do you feed the ancient evil that is trapped within so you can set it free? Do you put the damaged creature out of its misery? Those little stories are excellent!

Jamie Briggs – Those moments when you are given a small story as to the events that are occurring on screen brought me back to the original Mass Effect. There were side quests that would give small text based stories like that and they were always wonderful to read and let your imagine run wild on what could be happening on screen. Learning the lore and language of each alien race was certainly one of my favourite things to discover and finally being able to understand what certain aliens are asking felt like a great accomplishment.

The issue I did have with the main alien races is the lack of diversity. The best comparison is once again to the original Mass Effect, which suffered from the same lack of diversity issue when it came to alien locations and outposts. In No Man’s Sky almost every single trading post in space, and most locations on each planet had the exact same architectural design. Perhaps I am being a little picky, but I’m surprised these were not procedurally generated or slightly altered for each alien race. It did certainly take away from the unique lore of each alien, as they all seem to have the same decorator.

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While the visual style of No Man’s Sky is off the charts, with gorgeous neon colours and a unique colourful design; I unfortunately experienced many of the same rocky baron planets throughout my adventure. Perhaps it was due to bad luck, but only a small percentage of planets were brimming with alien wildlife and different types of terrain. As Hello Games stated the planets would continue to get crazier the closer you get to the center of the galaxy, but it didn’t seem to be the case for me; which is most likely bound to happen with the insane amount of planets available.

Devon McCarty – There have already been several updates to No Man’s Sky that are focused on helping people stop struggling with game crashes. While I hadn’t experienced any during my play sessions, I did watch my friend’s girlfriend have a space ship land on her, and the game glitched so she couldn’t move. Sure, she shouldn’t have been standing there, but you figure a code should be in place to prevent landings when the only key user is on that platform.

I do hope they start adding updates that focus on more diversity of planet geology and life forms. Like you, I’ve encountered several of the same species already. For instance. Right before the aforementioned glitch, I saw a bunch of different crab life forms I had never seen in my own game. I’m wondering how much of the same content is specified to an individual user, and more integration could be beneficial to solve that.

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I would also like to see updates focused on base building and customization. First off, WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE?!?! This ongoing issue I’ve been having is that I have no idea what race I am or what I look like. Have we just evolved beyond that? Probably not. It would be nice to to know what I look like and switch it around a little if I wanted too. Same thing with my ship. I don’t want to constantly switch ships. I would like to be able to customize the one I have if I like it a lot, and then move on from it when I’m ready.

Last thing would be to have a place of my own to put my gear. You’ve only got so many slots, and there is some stuff that I would like to keep around in my home base. I get how in a game like this, travel is the center focus as we are all going to the center of the galaxy. However, I can’t help but wish there was a place more than my ship to call my own. With these outposts and space stations on and between every planet, I think it would be cool to have a base of your own to build up and upgrade. Add weapons to protect from pirates, and a beacon for your friends to find it and see what you’ve seen and accomplished. Also to add a specific warp interface (black hole, whatever) that will let you warp back to your base whenever you want, and then go back to where you were exploring

With hardcore and heavy games like Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 on the horizon, Hello games has a lot of work to do if they want to keep their players engaged. And I am rooting for them because I like the game a lot as is, but would love to see some additions.

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Jamie Briggs – Surprisingly, I never really experienced any crashes and/or technical issues; which regardless of the content within No Man’s Sky is quite a feat. While it is obvious the long times that appear when jumping between planets are essentially load times, the fact I can transition from on-foot travel, to the skies above, to the vastness of space and back down to a new planet within a matter of seconds is astounding. No Man’s Sky is a technical marvel and the fact it is essentially an “indie game”, sets an entirely new standard for similar studios going forward.

Base building personally doesn’t excite me, simply due to the fact I’ll constantly be traveling between planets and systems. I’d much rather either a constant store built into my ship which allowed me to sell items I have found; as the fact remains at the moment that vendors are few and far between. There is nothing more annoying than having your inventory loaded with essential survival items and not being able to collect other items due to being overloaded with minerals. While the upgrades to inventory space in your suit and ship are appreciated, the upgrades are not introduced fast enough to make the annoyance of such a small inventory become a thing of the past.

While the inventory issues are one thing, I’d most like Hello Games to introduce an alternative menu navigation system. I personally found the cursor system to be quite annoying and wish there was a most console-friendly system in place. Due to the small initial space and annoying menu navigation, managing your inventory is a lot more frustrating than it needed to be.

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Devon McCarty – At the core of it, No Man’s Sky delivered on the promises Hello Games made. We have the ability to travel across the universe, discovering limitless amounts of creatures and lifeforms, in the endless pursuit of exploration. While there may be a few tweaks that may be beneficial, and a bunch of additions I would appreciate, No Man’s Sky is an impressive game, and I’m glad to have added it to my collection.


Now that you have heard what AA thinks of No Man’s Sky, we want to know what you think. Let us know in the comments below if you agree, disagree or believe we didn’t cover something you experienced in No Man’s Sky.


Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can like them on Facebook, follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA, and his videos on YouTube. Devon McCarty is struggling with the choice between Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2. Have questions for Devon?   You can hit him up on the Watch. Chat. Play! Facebook page , chat to Devon @DesignatedDevon.

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