Games I Love: No Man’s Sky

I picked up the PS4 version of No Man’s Sky when it first released two weeks though due to the convergence of massive overtime at work and vacationing out of state, I didn’t get to play it until this past Monday. There’s been a lot of reviews about the game, mostly negative, but I genuinely enjoy it. That said, it’s a very specific kind of game that will appeal to a very specific subset of gamers. You either love it or you hate it. Very little in-between.

As someone who’s sat through hours of watching my husband play Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, No Man’s Sky is boring as hell to watch and the auto-message of “units received” upon every new discovery made me want to break the TV the first week we had it. So, if your only exposure to No Man’s Sky is your partner playing it, bring a book.

Playing it, however, is a whole different ballgame. I’ve lost hours to the game. I blink and it’s midnight and I have to put the game away to go to sleep. I want to take the game with me when I go away this weekend, but I won’t because I love my husband enough to let him play it while I’m gone. (And I prefer to pack light.)

If you’re looking for a game with a solid plotline that moves you through a detailed story, this is not the game for you.

If you’re looking for a game with clear goals and a strong sense of what you’re supposed to do, this is not the game for you.

If you want to run around on billions of planets, each one fresh and new, and discover all the flora and fauna that’s distinct to each planet and learn about alien cultures (I think there’s four main ones? Maybe 5? I haven’t left my starting system yet.) and pick up bits and pieces of the overarching story as you interact with aliens who speak different languages and explore ancient ruins, this is the game for you.

I got lucky, unlike my husband, and the game started me on a fairly friendly and gentle planet, aside from the killer death beetles that, like the name implies, killed me not long into my first foray into the world. (The husband started on a planet with temperatures dropping into -90 Celsius constantly.) From there I went on to the second planet in the system, which is full of radiation everywhere. To give you an idea of the expanse of exploration available, sometime on Tuesday I found a transmission from a crashed ship (you can fix these up to get free better ships, assuming you have access to all the materials needed to fix them). It was roughly 15 minutes of flight time away when I found it. I’ve played at least 5 hours since then and have yet to reach the crashed ship. I have however, discovered 80% of the flora and fauna of the planet, learned 80 words of korvax (the language of the sentient robot race that control this system), learned a few words and some lore about the ancient race of Atlas, made massive upgrades to my exosuit and multitool (which functions both as your tool for mining and also combat if you so choose), found some strange abandoned building overrun with green fungus, and raided several manufacturing facilities for crafting recipes to make advanced materials.

There are endless new things to do and see and learn, and as long as you’re fine with a directionless game, you can lose hours doing just that. You wander. Scans of the surrounding area will show you where different types of materials are, where you can find settlements and supplies and downed machinery. You can hack into beacons to find more cool locations. And the way settlements are set up, there is almost always a new point of interest within a 2-minute walk away, even if the are sometimes underwater. (Note: I have yet to find the suit upgrade that lets me breathe underwater, but that hasn’t stopped me. Nor has the fact that the water is highly radioactive.)

I have finally reached the point where the materials on my current planet bore me. I have platinum and plutonium and zinc and thamium coming out the gills. I can farm all the gold I want. Money is no object (except when offering to buy someone else’s ship and then I have enough I just have to think really hard about whether to spend the units on it). But that’s okay because I can just hop over to a different planet and get new things there. Or move on to a completely different star system. Or I can stick around, try to shoot down some birds and see if I can get the last 20% worth of discoveries to complete the planet then move on.

The options are endless and I love it.


Obligatory pimpage: Rainbow Conference 2017 is science fiction themed so if you like science fiction and you like queer content and if you especially like those two things mixed together, I recommend giving the convention a try. Rainbow Conference 2017 will be held July 6-9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida (USA). More details can be found at: http://rainbowconference.org

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