|Dev: Hello Games|
|Pub: Hello Games|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
If Open World was one of the big buzzwords of this year’s E3, then no game captured the idea better than No Man’s Sky. Shown off at the Sony Press conference, No Man’s Sky isn’t just an open world game, it’s an open universe game. It promises a huge world to explore, allowing you to play the way you want. But the big question is, is No Man’s Sky biting off more than it can chew? Are we going to see a replay of the Spore fiasco, with gamers expecting much more than the studio can provide, or will we truly see a digital universe come to life.
No Man’s Sky is all about exploration. Every player will start on his or her own planet. Each planet will have completely varying animals, plants, levels of technology and more. Planets can have varying amounts of land and water, and users will be able to dive into that water, or spelunk in caves, or roam the wild plains of untamed civilization.
Each planet will also have its own resources. In the stage demo we were shown, players were notified in their heads up display whenever something was harvestable. Players can then harvest those resources and use them to build things, including weapons, houses, and eventually space ships.
Exploration is a huge element of No Man’s Sky. Whenever you are the first to find something, your name Is plastered there like a flag. Whenever anyone else finds the same location, they will see your name and can contact you to learn more of the mysteries of whatever locale they are exploring. You might even get to name places you explore for the first time. The same holds true for… anything really. Find a new species? Your name will be tagged on it. Find a new resource? Your name will be tagged on it. Find a new tree? Your name will be tagged on it. In a way, No Man’s Sky is a race to see what you can discover before anyone else can.
While on foot, it looks as though the controls are pretty standard for a first person game. The HUD appeared to show health, inventory, ammo and more. Likely you will be able to have fights with the indigenous wildlife and even other players, should you run into them.
But here is why we say this game is the most open world of open world games. You know how games at E3 are claiming to make big advances in open world technology by not loading the interiors of buildings as you enter them? Well No Man’s Sky does that too, but for planets. During the trailer we got to see a player hop into a space craft and take up toward the atmosphere. After a long enough time, he escaped the planet’s gravitational field and found himself inside a vast universe filled with… well everything! Other players danced around him in their own space craft, asteroids made his progress treacherous, enemy battleships warped in to harass him, and more.
In the distance, there was another planet, and our player dipped into the planet’s atmosphere. Here, he saw yet another diverse world. This one was more desert like with its own animals and plants and geographic arrangements. The player had a high speed dogfight over the planet’s surface before pulling up and taking to space again to find yet another planet to explore.
This, in essence, is what No Man’s Sky is. It’s a toybox of things to play with, except the box is a procedurally generated universe and the toys are planets, animals, plants and starships. Players won’t even begin interacting with each other until they get off their planet for the first time. How players interact will largely be up to them. They can wage wars if they like, or simply guide each other onto different planets in order to explore the universe. The options are limitless.
If there was one downfall with the No Man’s Sky presentation it’s that the goals of the game are still very unclear. Honestly, a big sandbox of a universe is cool, but without some direction I could see the game getting dull very quickly. Not to mention, the team said nothing about how long it would take to get off planet, or what it is like to craft ships and other pieces of technology. No Man’s Sky was, in a sense, a great demo of what the PS4 can do with open worlds, but until I hear at least something about the story, I’m going to say I’ll remain cautiously skeptical about this one. Optimistic… but cautiously skeptical.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 30, 2014