Now before I get started, I do just want to say that I'm not someone still blindly angry that No Man's Sky was originally sold as something it blatantly wasn't. I'm not filling up Sean Murray's tweets with hate or airing my grievances to the Hello Games DMs, calling them every colourful name under the sun. I'm actually very aware that the problem I am experiencing now is MY problem, and more than anything it makes me sad.
I had such high hopes for No Man's Sky when it first launched. At the time, and still now to a lesser degree, I didn't have much of a disposable income at all. Buying a new game at full retail was a serious discussion with myself about what I wanted to commit to as I could only afford one new title every two months. I doubled down on No Man's Sky and was bitterly disappointed. You know the story by now. Features used as tent poles in the marketing were completely absent and despite an infinite playground of possibility it was like a sandbox without any toys in it. Sure sand is great, but how much can you really do with it? That was my issue. Resource management was a slog and I painfully trudged my way through, what at the time, accounted for the main quest line. I put the game down for good not long after and was disappointed that such a perfect idea, and a game that seemed custom made for me (a space and sci-fi fanatic with a love of open world games), had fallen so flat.
Smash cut to now and Hello Games, despite immense criticism and constant backlash have tried to make good on the many promises they missed the mark on originally, which is to be commended, at a time when 'ship it broken' seems to be the default stance of a portion of the industry. Base building, vehicles, multiplayer, factions and creative mode is now all there as of the most recent NEXT update. It's seen the game jump in popularity almost overnight. Interestingly, a second hand copy, that was around £5 not three months ago, skyrocketed to £25 in my local CEX. I foresaw this rise in demand a little in advance of the NEXT update and picked up a new copy for just £10 at GAME, I sat on actually playing it until the biggest update dropped.
Having jumped back into the procedurally generated universe, I feel conflicted and no happier than if I had let the game languish in my past. Yes; Hello Games have added A LOT of content and if the game had shipped like this then I don't think anyone would have had any complaints. YES; there seems more to do in the grand scheme of things and a better narrative underpins it all. NO; the moment to moment gameplay doesn't feel different enough for me to want to keep playing despite all the very positive additions. YES; to me, the universe still feels just as empty even if it is no longer directionless. I'm sure, this would be a perfect game, now, to play with friends. My problem is that I like to play video games alone (Fortnite aside) and I like to either play or create a decent narrative experience. Despite the scope, I just can't commit to doing that in No Man's Sky. The feeling is strange, I can see a nugget of what I hoped it would be but I just can't connect with it. Like having a really good date but something just seems to be missing with the chemistry. The only thing I can equate it to with No Man's Sky, after an originally poor experience, is it's like going back to the location of a break-up. The place might not look a thing like it did. They might have bulldozed that old restaurant to make way for a funfair, but the negative feelings you had are still there, connected with a place you don't feel comfortable in anymore.
It's for that reason, as much as a baby as I'm being about this, that I won't be spending more time with No Man's Sky. For me, it missed the window of opportunity. If it came out as it is now I probably would have spent a hundred hours plus in its beautiful universe. It's just such a shame I can't get over the bad experience I have already had. Having finished the story, as it was at the time, I can't help but feel I'm done with the game and my attempt to experience what it is now feels like forced enjoyment. I traded the game in as of today and now that it is more popular I actually made a profit on the £10 I paid, so silver linings and all that. I actually had a discussion with the clerk who had re-bought and replayed it too since the expansion and our disappointments were the same. "It just feels the same to me," he said in a glum tone. "Me too" I added with a sullen nod as money changed hands.
If you've never picked it up before, I would advise you do so now, and know I really envy you. How did you find going back to No Man's Sky? Did you play it when it originally launched or are you fresh to the universe and experiencing it for the first time? Comment below or tweet us @ghoulishent.
Founder and Writer