A lot of games get hyped. Few games this generation, however, have garnered quite as much hype as No Man’s Sky. Since its announcement at E3 2014, Hello Games’ much anticipated space-exploration adventure has been steadily discussed by gamers worldwide. Most of the time, we asked: “What do we actually do in it?” Now, we have a pretty strong idea. From what we know, however, it seems that No Man’s Sky — launching August 9th — is set to disappoint.
First and foremost, you cannot play No Man’s Sky with your friends. In fact, the odds of running into another player are slim-to-none — though not entirely non-existent. The odds of running into a friend, on the other hand, are almost entirely non-existent — making for a potentially lonely experience.
Many people will not mind No Man’s Sky being a single-player experience. Plenty of gamers actually prefer to not have other people invading their game. Many gamers, however — like myself — would prefer exactly this type of game to have, at the very least, some kind of online co-op. I want to explore procedurally-generated planets with my family and friends, or at least have the option to. I want to encounter others who may befriend me, or attack me, or ignore me, or trade with me.
I understand that allowing for co-op multiplayer deviates from the intent of the game. Everyone starts at a random place, far in the outskirts of space, with the goal of finding the center of the Universe. Therefore, joining a friend’s game doesn’t make a lot of sense. Still, without the option of being able to play this game with my brother, friends, or strangers, I wonder how long I will be into exploring the limitless expanse of space... alone...
As we all know, No Man’s Sky features impressive procedurally-generated planets and ecosystems. And wow... do they look gorgeous! But how long until the excitement of exploring a new planet wears off? How long until we start to see the same animals? The same trees? The same planets?
It is certainly possible that the game boasts impressive enough systems that the player won’t encounter the same things throughout his quest. But even if this is the case, how long can the hook of moving from planet-to-planet sustain most gamers’ attention? It will surely be fun to land on a new planet, farm materials, explore, upgrade, encounter some AI, and take off... but for how long? When will this gameplay hook get old? A year? A month? A week?
We, obviously, cannot answer this question until the game has been out in the wild for enough time to gauge it’s activity. Nonetheless, the risk exists that players may quickly find No Man’s Sky... boring...
No Man’s Sky was debuted at E3 2014. Since then, it has been talked about at every junction, almost non-stop. Rarely does a game — even in an industry known for it’s chronic over-hyping — receive this amount of hype. Of course, with such excitement and high expectations often comes unreasonable expectations.
We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that Hello Games is a company of roughly fifteen people. Fifteen! Even though those fifteen individuals are likely very talented and hard-working, video games require a certain level of manpower. It is highly probable that Sony assisted in some way, given their stake in the game, but the fact remains that a very, very small team developed this game.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a small, “indie”-style team. Nothing. But gamers should consider that fact when setting their expectations for what No Man’s Sky actually will be. We may not be looking at a ground-breaking, revolutionary change in single-player space exploration. We may, instead, be looking at a game that is very, very good... though one that falls victim to unreasonably-high expectations.
The one thing that No Man’s Sky screams is “virtual reality.” From the very first announcement trailer, everything about the game seemed perfectly compatible with Playstation VR, and we should have no doubt that the game would be one of the best experiences on Sony’s new game-changing peripheral.
Something that may hurt No Man’s Sky, however, is the fact that it isn’t launching with Playstation VR. Instead, it’s launching two months earlier, and VR support is still unconfirmed. One can’t help but wonder if bundling No Man’s Sky with every Playstation VR, thus marrying the two experiences together from Day One, would benefit both immensely. If this was the case, No Man’s Sky would be judged, at launch, by both its outstanding (assuming) VR experience and solid (assuming) TV experience.
Instead, No Man’s Sky will, for all intents and purposes, be judged solely by it’s non-VR experience... at least for two crucial months. Sure, the majority of gamers would have played it on a television anyways, as Playstation VRs are not going to be in every household for a long, long time. But having critics and lucky gamers experience No Man’s Sky, for the first time, with a VR headset on would almost undoubtedly provide a massive boost to the game’s critical reception.
That is, if the game supports even supports VR.
What do you think? Are you excited for No Man’s Sky? Do you think it will do very well, or are you afraid it will disappoint? What kind of scores do you expect to see it receiving? (I anticipate 7-8s.) Tweet @Shasdam and let me know in the comments!
Until next time, don’t let the hype-train ruin otherwise good games!
Adam James is a MA student of the Comparative History of Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe. He lives in Budapest, Hungary, and doubles as a freelance writer and private English-language tutor for businesses and individuals. He can be contacted via Twitter @Shasdam.