Should You Buy No Man's Sky Right Now?
The simple answer
If you don't want an elaboration on this topic, the answer to the question in the headline is from my point of view simply - no, not now, maybe later.
The game that was promised is barely there. You should only buy it now if you are really looking for an occasionally pretty walking simulator with some tacked on gameplay elements for good measure. Do you enjoy just walking about and looking at things in your games, and not doing much else? Then No Man's Sky is perfect for you even in it's current state. No judgement in this at all - it is a really great walking simulator with some cool stuff to look at.
For those of you like me who perhaps expected something else, I will elaborate further why I think this game is a perfect example of when waiting to dive in is just the right thing to do.
When most gamers saw No Man's Sky fantastic trailer on the big stage at this year's E3, they were flabbergasted. The game had looked good before, but what was shown was simply fantastic - and only two months away at that. A lively verdant world filled with dinosaur looking gigantic beasts, danger close dogfights assisted by wingmen, glorious vistas to discover. It simply looked unreal for a game created primarily via procedural generation, a programming algorithm basically running along for years and generating variations of animals and enviroments. Is this what all the of the 18 qunitillion planets had on offer?
It turned out it might have been unreal, as the game that was delivered was nowhere near what was shown in the trailer. Instead of lively planets and animals interacting, most were drab, brown or purple rocks with little life, and the life that existed displayed somewhat more ugly characteristics. Don't get me wrong, there are apparently gigantic beasts and planets filled with life, but it turns out that even then they are not that dissimilar from one another.
Infinite content with zero variation
A common descriptive phrase for No Man's Sky is "wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle". That perfectly sums up the game in it's current state. The amount of planets, animals and other stuff to see is basically, for any human lifespan, endless. The variety in what you can do with all of that content is summed up as collect, craft, and discover, with some shoddy combat from time to time. On paper that sounds plenty varied, but it's just that this is so simplified that it might as well not be there. The crafting is just clicking some Destiny-style menus to combine elements in to items that... Well allow you to carry more stuff or go a little faster. It's boring. The combat is flimsy at best, and the discover mechanic needs a bit of work, even if it is the foremost draw of all the gameplay elements.
It's not a fun game by any measure, and it gets old very quick. What this game needs is proper crafting, buildings and more meaningful relationships with the game's factions and story. Some of this is already on it's way, perhaps as soon as in the coming weeks. Exactly what the patches entail is unclear, but hopefully it can add some very much needed complexity to the game.
Expectation versus reality
An unfinished project
I view the current state of No Man's Sky to be unfinished. It is basically in early access, but is being sold as a complete game for a full 60 dollars or euros, which by itself is a pretty big sum, at least for a PC title.
Instead of splurging on that now to follow the hype, very likely to be disappointed like a majority of Steam's ever so unreliable user reviewers, you should just wait it out. This is not a finished game, and the basic framework of what this will finally be is not enough to warrant the cost, nevermind the time, right now.
In a few months, we can expect No Man's Sky to be filled with a lot more variety, content and ways to interact with it's sometimes fantastic worlds, very likely for a lower cost of entry. Until then - save your money.