Why No Man's Sky Wasn't a Success

Updated on August 17, 2016

No Man’s Sky has gained a large amount of traction over the last few months leading up to its release. It impressed in its various showings at gaming events across the globe and everything seemed as if it were going to impress upon release.

When the upcoming title was a no show at E3 people started wondering what the situation was. Shortly after this the owner of Hello Games (Sean Penn) told fans the news they were dreading, the game was delayed until August. Penn told a fan on Twitter that he had the choice of attending E3 with his title or taking the time to work on the game and of course he chose the latter. Its never easy to win over fans after a delay but Penn did a great job in reassuring fans that it was in the best interests of the game to delay the release. Fans and me included were generally understanding of this due to the fact that No Man’s Sky is a project of epic proportions for any studio to complete let alone a small one.

The confidence that Penn projected throughout the process calmed the fans of the game and everything was looking back on track for the title to be a success. August came around and after another short delay by the developers the game was released. Along with many other players, I enjoyed my experience in the universe of No Man’s Sky… for about 3 hours. The opening to the game is genuinely beautiful and the lack of direction the game gives you is different but appreciated. Being told to forge your own route throughout a near infinite number of planets is one of the best ideas of any game. Unfortunately that’s all the game is, an idea. Its a really great idea that Hello Games gave a great attempt at translating into the game everybody wanted it to be. Sean Penn and his studio genuinely deserve a lot of credit for their work on this title and I honestly believe they did a good job based off of their resources. The issue with this is that it still doesn’t fix the way the game is from an unbiased and neutral perspective.

The premise of mining and crafting your way to power and riches has been around for a long time and with games like Minecraft pioneering this style of game. The main problem with this genre is the fact that it is difficult to keep the player coming back to the game without getting tired of it. No Man’s Sky definitely falls victim to this, I have around twenty hours logged in the game and I wish I could say that it was over a small number of sessions. However it was not, the biggest issue with No Man’s Sky is the massive lack of new things to do. I’ve spent my time going from one planet to the next and mining the bare minimum resources needed to go to the next planet and do the exact same. The game does have an end goal which is to reach the center of the universe however this is also an incredibly repetitive task. This works using the same mechanic as travelling planet to planet, you mine the resources and craft the necessary tools to fuel your hyperdrive and you travel to the next section of the galaxy to do the same thing. The repetitiveness of the game really feels like its empty and lacks content when of course the situation is the exact opposite.

The game boasts a few features however when looked into its quite clear that these features lack the content behind them. The first feature of the title is the fact that it contains over eighteen quintillion planets. On the surface this seems like an incredible feature which will bring each player unique experiences that they can share and compare. The issue with this is that when you actually play the game you quickly realise that whilst no two planets are the exact same, they are basically a few different templates that are made up of different colours. I’ve been to multiple planets that really didn’t feel any different to each other and the lack of content on the surface of them feels like they were rushed. The various resources although categorised well feel like they are either too abundant or too sparse to enjoy collecting. Trading with the various life forms and space stations in the universe feels like its the same experience being copied and pasted. The aliens speak a line of text that you cant understand at first and then they make way for the same trading experience over and over again. The one redeeming part of this is that you can slowly learn the various languages throughout the universe by discovering old ruins on different planets, but even this feels repetitive and in all honesty boring.

The UI of No Man’s Sky looks good aesthetically however if you are playing the game on a console as opposed to a PC it feels slow and at times unresponsive due to the fact that it works like a cursor and not by simply selecting each element. This coupled with the fact you always have to hold down the key or button for a good second to perform any action makes the whole UI experience feel slow. This coupled with the fact that you have an incredibly small amount of inventory slots for both your ship and your exosuit means that your rewards for going out on an exploration and mining session usually result in you bringing back about half of what you set out for. I get the idea Hello Games were going for here I really do, they wanted you to be careful and have to really think and compromise about what you keep in your inventory at any given time however it just comes off as an annoyance. Landing on a planet and having a full inventory within five minutes of being there really discouraged me from wanting to stay and explore this new world I had literally just discovered.

All in all No Man’s Sky is a great idea and a bunch of wishes. I wish I enjoyed it more, I wish it had a better looting and crafting system and I wish the vast universe that I have been exploring didn’t feel like an empty mass. But unfortunately that’s what No Man’s Sky is. Sean Penn and Hello Games really only scratched the surface of what this game really could've been and I hope that one day they find a way to do themselves and their fans justice in making No Man’s Sky the game it deserves to be.

By George Richens

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