“I have no idea what I’m doing.”
That was my first thought as the visor of my avatar kicked into life and I found myself on my first planet in the new title No Man’s Sky for Playstation 4.
The planet’s temperature gradually tore through my Exosuit’s protection and Life support slowly faded.
The suit’s parameters had been calculated and loaded via the HUD, while my avatar slowly checked over its Analysis Scanner and mining tool; things that will grow to become fundamental in your travels.
I checked my ship which appeared to be giving off some smoke, and then activated a giant red orb that told me of Atlas (I’ve no idea either).
Picking up whatever resources I could scrounge around me, I then activated a beacon that opened up and sent out a pulse declaring that my death had been overstated.
And as I walked toward a mountain edge and looked out over the large, untouched landscape ahead of me, I thought:
“I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Maybe that’s the point of No Man’s Sky?
It’s not so much that you don’t have any immediate objective, its maybe that you just wake up, you explore, you survive, you fight and then you trade.
When you think about it, that’s kind of a weirdly nice metaphor for life. But that’s looking at the game with more depth than the expanse of its universe.
So what is No Man’s Sky?
From the get-go, I felt the game was ‘Minecraftian’ in execution.
That’s not a bad thing though, so stop it.
Heavy is its hand in resource management and acquisition, that if you had the means, you would wipe a planet from existence in-game if it meant you obtained all of its resources.
While I found the prospect of the title overwhelming at first, I soon threw myself into it much like you end up throwing Steve of Minecraft into it.
The difference here is, you tend to take Steve down into the depths of the game, whereas in No Man’s Sky, the only place you want to head is up.
Your first mission/objective/something to do is simply to get off-planet.
Of course that’s easier said than done, as the time taken to do so can be increased in length by how much of an in-game collector/hoarder you are.
By the time I’d set off over the ridge, I’d started scanning and approaching points of interest while burning everything in sight (I suspect this is what it would look like to be invaded by some kind of unrelenting godly-force).
At first I didn’t care for what the resources were, I just knew I was going to need them.
And then I ran into my first ‘Inventory Full’ message.
OH RIGHT! I’m dealing with the basic level of this game. I am a nothing (even though my mining laser certainly says otherwise with its destructive might).
Activating access to my inventory via the touch pad, I find 2 areas of storage and another menu for the ‘Multi-Tool’ (a.k.a MINING LASER OF DEATH).
It is here that I thought to myself “Oh damn, look at this built for PC UI (user interface)”. While simple in delivery, the snappiness and layout lends itself better to a keyboard and mouse than our goddamn wonderful Dual Shock 4 controller.
After accidentally building some stuff and wasting resources, placing myself in a Schrodinger-like state of pride and anger, I pushed on.
“Holy crap, this place is huge.”
Naming the planet after members of my Twitter Community, I traversed Planet DevTroy further, renaming some local flora and fauna as I went just in case.
Discovering giant rocks that allowed me to learn the English meaning of Korvax words (who are apparently the aliens you meet eventually), it wasn’t like there wasn’t anything to do.
It was a marvel in scale.
But it was therein that I started finding my problem with it.
I felt lonely.
Looking at other games I’ve sunk a huge amount of time into (LOOKING AT YOU The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion AND Destiny!), I found there were 2 factors;
The world of Oblivion was a bustling land of a lot of things trying to kill you. But it also had a lot of people who had LIFE to them, sending you on missions for them to get a potato or something like that.
And because of that LIFE, it was easy to sink your teeth in and experience the lands of Tamriel.
Destiny on the other hand was full of another type of life.
While you may meet a lot of random guardians on the same journey, it’s the friends you make or friends you have that make this adventure something great.
Countless Raids and Strikes run with friends.
Losing my cool (getting salty/sweaty is the term) in Player VS. Player matches.
Destiny is something I can grind away in, simply because I know I’m always engaging with someone else, somewhere in the world.
But No Man’s Sky is just big.
Yeah, sure there’s some creatures here and there.
And okay, there’s weird lifeless robots scanning and protecting properties asking to be destroyed (look, you need the resources).
Some ships also fly by too.
And some areas might have a being of some sort, but they’re all explained by inner-monologue as you learn the language, so they’re not really THERE with you.
For me so far, that’s it.
Feeling much like Matt Damon in The Martian, I was racing myself for resources wondering what others might have been doing out there in the universe.
I think it was about at this time, that Kermit the Frog showed up and started singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ to me.
Destroying large rocks. Plants. Never creatures though, I am a generous god. Buildings.
It was all fun, but it was just…
After what felt like the duration of the film The Martian, I’d finally done enough (that I was happy with) to get me off-planet.
That experience on the first hand is…FUN.
The Launch Thrusters kick in and you suddenly jump off the planet, tearing away the virtual shackles that bound you there.
Hopefully unlike me, you decide to go off-world immediately (I personally saw another point of interest so went there because collector/hoarder).
Oh boy, as you climb and the game educates you on your flight control scheme, you activate the boost which pushes you skyward faster than…something really fast (I’m not sure what to compare it too).
And then as you break the atmosphere, that’s where the Pulse Jump will re-engage.
Sure, you will get warp which will assist with jumping between galaxies, but pulse jumping…you’re going to be doing a lot of that between planets.
AND IT IS FUN.
You can focus on a point of interest and it will give you an estimated time of arrival. Watching this go down as you engage the different thrust systems you have is a RIOT! And it really gives you that sense of distance.
There’s also more stuff out there!
I don’t know if all of them contain living creatures, but there are space stations! Flying in makes you feel like the space pilot you always dreamed of being, while also giving you an area to trade all that stuff you may or may not need (you need it).
Flying out simply because I can, I pulse jump toward another planet and leave the pedal down; Re-entry animation kicking in as I descend toward the new planet (that I haven’t named yet).
I find myself laughing maniacally as the automated systems engage so I couldn’t bring my fiery god-death through impact of a starship on the planet’s surface.
The cockpit opens and my avatar jumps out. I look around at this new planet and think:
“I still have no idea what I’m doing.
But this is going to be fun.”
Contest Rules & Disclaimer
- Competition closes Wednesday 17th August 2016 at 12PM NZT.
- Winner will be chosen by Wednesday 17th August 2016 at 1PM NZT.
- That Guy Xenojay will contact the winner.
- The winner will reply via e-mail to That Guy Xenojay by Friday 19th August 2016 at 12PM NZT - otherwise we will re-draw your prize.
- 1x winner will receive 1 x No Man's Sky Keyring, 1 x No Man's Sky Pin, 1 x No Man's Sky Playstation 4 Game.
- Competition is open to NZ Residents only.
- Prizes cannot be exchanged or redeemed for cash.