The Game to Spend the Rest of Your Life With
Imagine a game where the infinite stretches out before you. A stage where millions of people create their own stories and worlds without meeting a single player along the way. A universe that spans almost the literal size of our own. Sounds like something straight out of the romanticized future, doesn’t it? Well you don’t need to hitch a ride with the doctor or find a time machine of your own, this game is more than fiction.
No Man’s Sky feels like the game to end all games. A space exploration game that spans the size of our universe. Yes, you read that right. This game is close to the actual size of our actual universe, all conveniently stored in your slick computer or Playstation 4 (don’t think about it too hard or you might dissolve into a never-ending existential crisis.) The first time I heard about this game I nearly fell out of my chair with excitement. Ever since I was young, I dreamed of exploring the stars and planets. I would spend hours with my nose buried in my space books and telescope my parents bought me. I was even lucky enough to have an alien correspondence when I was a little girl. I swear I’m not crazy; my sister was just sweet enough to write letters for me posing as my pal, Ruby, from a nearby planet. Space was the reason why, as a kid, I tricked my dad into buying Spore for himself just so I could play, too. Space is also a huge reason why I love the Mass Effect series so much (amongst other things in that series.) It gave me the ability to explore alien worlds and the deep reaches of the Milky Way galaxy. So, you can only imagine my reaction when I heard this game will basically give me everything I ever wanted as a child. An opportunity to explore the universe and its endless magnificence and mysteries.
Space and Me: A Guide to Everything Laura Knows About This Game
Let’s start with the basics — No Man’s Sky’s release date. It was just recently set to release on June 21st, 2016 for both PS4 and Steam (sorry Xbone users) and June 24th, 2016 for our friends in Europe. To be honest, this is quite a feat for this game since it’s apparently been in development since the conception of HelloGames, founded in 2009. Sure, 7 years sounds like a long time for an indie game, but the game only had a team of 5 that barely scaled to 13 a few years later. Give ‘em a break, they were building the universe! No Man’s Sky picked up traction when Sony formally announced its involvement at the 2014 E3. With Sony behind them, there was a whole world (I guess, universe) of possibilities ahead of them, but more on that later.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the game. Finally. As I said before, and I will repeat it many times, No Man’s Sky is our literal, actual, factual universe in digital format. It’s not a small section of the Milky Way, it’s not a section of the center of the universe, it’s not a random planet in a galaxy far, far away. It’s about 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 (or about 18 quintillion) planets ready for us to explore. Talk about an open-world game. HelloGames managing director and creator of No Man’s Sky, Sean Murray, has said that it would take billions of years to explore this beast. It is important to note that the game’s universe is not an infinite and expanding universe, like ours supposedly seems to be, but I challenge every one of you to explore all 18 quintillion planets. It’s okay, I’ll wait a few billion years for you to finish.
While No Man’s Sky can house millions of players, it’s not technically an MMO either. The sheer size of the game makes it so meeting another player is an incredibly slim chance. Murray, during an interview with KindaFunnyGames, even stated that you will not be able to upload your coordinates to a friend who is also playing the game. You’ll just have to try really, really hard to meet somewhere out in space. It’s just you and the open universe. And what an amazing experience that will be. There’s a great chance you’ll be the first to discover a planet, and be given the ability to name it whatever you want. The best part? Every single person to find that planet after you knows that you discovered it first. But the exploring doesn’t just end at naming planets. You’ll discover ancient ships, alien technologies, amazing creatures, long and forgotten artefacts, and more. Just thinking about it has me bouncing up and down on my seat.
The let-downs I’ve experienced with space games are the planets themselves. My beloved Mass Effect is guilty of pasting the same terrain onto different alien worlds. I understand the limitations of creating vastly different planets and don’t blame them for making it simple, but it gives me another reason to love No Man’s Sky already. The planets are not randomly generated, but are a result of complex algorithms that I have absolutely no chance of explaining in this article. From my understanding, the universe in the game follows similar mathematical rules that our own universe seems to follow. This results, not in randomly generated planets, but unique and, dare I say, even somewhat realistic planets. For example, planets closer to the sun will be barren and have scorching temperatures. Some planets may have an atmosphere toxic to your explorer. There are thousands of possibilities. The most interesting feature of each planet is the ability to explore everything you see. You know how in some games you see an interesting mountain, or lake, or whatever, that you want to explore? You can actually explore those distant places on the planet. This just keeps getting better and better.
The planets are not only largely explorable, they’re inhabited by an amazing assortment of interesting creatures. Creatures are generated the same way that planets are in No Man’s Sky; not a random mish-mash of limbs, eyes, and mouths, but rather a complex mathematical equation which generates animals of varying sizes, appetites, and threat levels. It’s entirely possible that a player will stumble upon a planet of carnivorous giants hellbent on eating whatever is unfortunate to cross paths with them. The developers make it a bit harder to deal with these monsters, though. Instead of pulling out your weapon of choice and shooting away, you’ll have to either scare the creatures away or run for all you’re worth. If you harm an animal there is a big chance that an entity known only as “The Sentinels” will find you and attack you. So, basically park rangers, but with lasers and gigantic ships.
Though you might be spending a large chunk of your time jumping from planet to planet, don’t forget there is an entire expansive universe to travel. There doesn’t appear to be any actual NPCs in the game and the only people you’ll run into are fellow players. This doesn’t mean you won’t come face to face with computer combat. Throughout the universe ships are traveling to various destinations. Kind of like our oceans, the universe will be teeming with freight ships, patrol ships, convoys, and even pirates. Yup, space pirates. (Watch out, John Silver, I’m coming for your precious treasure planet.) You have the option to attack these heavily guarded convoys to loot their resources and face off against pirates, but you might want to pick the other option. Planets will also offer a wealth of resources just waiting to be plundered by the right explorer. Why do you need these resources? To upgrade your weapon, ship, and space suit, of course! Like all games, you’re not equipped with the best of the best right at the start. You need to collect resources in order to improve your equipment. Remember how some planets will be toxic, or be home to dangerous creatures, or have temperatures that would send the Antarctic on a run for its money? Well, you need better equipment to handle all of the above and more. Players will be spending a good amount of their time collecting resources so they can kick the universe’s ass.
So far we know that No Man’s Sky is all about exploration. There are 18 quintillion planets waiting to be discovered by humanity. But if you’re like me, and your attention span for games is short, then you’re wondering how you’ll keep yourself interested. The developers made sure to squelch that question before it could even cross your mind. According to Murray, your driving force will be discovering the center of the universe. Players will start the game at the very fringes of the universe. The reason you explore planets is to find resources for your equipment, the reason you upgrade your equipment is to journey to the center of the universe, the reason you journey to the center of the universe is because Murray is a genius and knows humans can’t say no to their annoyingly persistent curiosity. The developers have been able to keep the secret of the center of the universe underwraps pretty well. The only way you’ll know what’s there is to fly to it yourself (or read it on a forum, but where’s the fun in that?)
Space Magic and Me: Everything Laura Speculates, and Just Really Wants, in This Game
This game already fulfills a lot of the wants and desires I’ve ever wanted from a space-themed video game. I was addicted to Mass Effect when I first played because I was given the autonomy, albeit limited, to venture out into the unknown and discover new and exciting things. No Man’s Sky is like Mass Effect on a crazy, hybrid version of crack and heroin. There’s only one thing I could see as possible for this game. Virtual reality.
There are a few reasons why I think No Man’s Sky will support VR technology in the near future. The first being Sony’s involvement in its development. The game went from being contained in a small indie company to being part of one of the biggest companies in the industry. It could be because it’s a game that none of us could have imagined possible, but I like to think Sony is a bit more creative than that. No, I think they picked up this game and invested in it for Project Morpheus. What would make a better launch game than our literal universe? Even though Sony’s VR won’t be ready in time for the release of No Man’s Sky, who’s to say that Project Morpheus won’t come packaged with a ready to play VR version of it?
The more compelling evidence comes from the mouth of Murray himself. In an interview with KindaFunnyGames, Murray stated that the game would not be released with VR support, but he did mention that seeing the game with VR would be exciting, “I think – I’m probably saying too much but – I think No Man’s Sky would be a really exciting title for VR. I think it would be a cool thing, right? But we’re like a tiny team working on this game right now.” Most believe that Murray is obviously implying a future together with VR. I know I do.
No Man’s Sky would be the ultimate game to feature with VR support. Imagine a 360 degree stage in which to discover millions and millions of planets, creatures, ships, and whatever else else in the universe. It could possibly open up a whole new way of experiencing games. I think more developers will move away from the strictly combative games to ones more focused on exploration. There are thousands of possibilities for a system like VR; each one more exciting than the last. No Man’s Sky could be the beginning of the new way to game and stretch our imaginations.
The Universe and Us: Insatiable Lust for More
Humanity has an unquenchable desire for the stars above our heads. That’s why we have a probe circling our 8 (or 9) planets in our tiny solar system. We want, and need, to discover every hidden secret in this vast emptiness. Hundreds, if not thousands, of real people have dedicated their entire lives to uncovering the unknowns in our universe. No Man’s Sky grants that amazing chance to millions of people that could only dream of stepping into space.Maybe children who grow up with the game will aspire to venture forth into the real unknown and look for those hidden secrets we have only ever dreamed about. Maybe they’ll push humanity even further into new territory. Maybe we’ll never turn back. No Man’s Sky will not only be an amazing video game, it will be an experience that almost every single one of us has wanted. We can all become the astronauts we grew up dreaming about.