Its little over three months until the release of one of one of the most original and anticipated games of recent times. But will the promise of a galaxy of possibilities work for the modern gamer?
No Man’s Sky (NMS here after) promises an entire universe of exploration for players, with an estimated 18 quintillion (or a billion billion) explorable planets complete with their own lifeforms, fauna and ecosystems. Each of these planets is generated with set algorithms, the distance from a sun will determine if the plant can support life, whether it will be baron or radioactive. These planets are then intern filled with life (or not) that is again randomly generated meaning players should never encounter the same world twice. Whilst the numbers are impressive the question presents itself; is total freedom good for games?
With an estimated run through time of 5 billion years (to see every planet in full) it is safe to say that no one will ever see the full potential NMS has to offer. In an industry that focuses more and more on trophies, accomplishments and player stats is a game that offers an impossible completion statistic going to work? With gameplay details currently outlined as adventure and survival is there enough to keep gamers interested in NMS’s massive galaxy? Will there be enough combat to entertain the modern gamer? will there be a solid plot and narrative with characters? will there be sufficient Star Wars/Alien/ any sci-fi movie references?
Another question I find myself asking is wether the infinite choice on offer is genuine or just an illusion of variety. Every planet, creature, building and terrain is created using deterministic algorithms and random number generators (I have no idea what it means either). What this means in its most basic form is that everything you encounter will be a variant of a base model. For example; you encounter a fish on one planet, this fish will appear on other planets with different skins, different behaviour patterns and different aggression levels but ultimately it will always be the same fish just painted slightly differently. Whilst this is still a massively impressive feat of a randomly processed universe it does still leave me wondering if I will get tired of the fish with many faces.
Ultimately the numbers are still impressive, with the sheer amount of work and mathematical prowess that has gone into the game being a startling feat of its own. My only hope is that NMS will deliver in the places we haven’t seen much of yet; that its gameplay is inventive and engaging, its characters fleshed out and rounded and its narrative focused enough to keep people playing beyond the initial exploration of its universe.
What do you think of the potential of NMS? Do you think it’ll be a universe of endless possibilities or will it be a impossible challenge that may leave you frustrated?