With just over two weeks to go until the release of the highly anticipated No Man’s Sky, the hype meter is through the roof. In fact, it has busted through the roof, pierced through the clouds and has nearly reached outer space at this point. People can’t wait for this game, so much so that the mastermind behind No Man’s Sky, Sean Murray, has received death threats following a modest two-month delay. Of course this is an example from the extreme side of things, but it’s representative of a much larger group that has been dying to get their hands on this title for a few years now.
If you take a step back and look at the promise of No Man’s Sky, it’s hard to blame them for being so passionately excited about the upcoming sci-fi exploration game (besides those who are sending death threats, that’s simply unacceptable). With 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets, each of which hosts their own unique life forms, environments and chemical compositions, No Man’s Sky’s promise is rooted within an unprecedentedly vast universe.
However, could No Man’s Sky be another victim of the hype machine? The game has been in development for over four years now and has suffered through multiple delays. People have been impatiently awaiting its release, and imaginations have run off with what this game could be since its formal announcement back in 2014.
This is partially due to the fact that little was known about the game for some time, as a game of that size is difficult to demonstrate in the short time-span of a demo. Despite multiple IGN First videos and various other demos that show off the different aspects of the game, it’s still not entirely clear what No Man’s Sky is, exactly. There’s a legitimate concern that gamers could be let down due to the high expectations for the game that have been stewing in hype.
We know the main pillars that make up the game: exploration, crafting, resource gathering, fighting, surviving and trading. You’ll have to manage at least a few of those different aspects if you want to thrive in No Man’s Sky. Which ones you choose, however, is completely up to you. Maybe exploration is your thing, so you’ll hop into your spacecraft and venture off into the universe to discover new planets. Perhaps you’ll want to focus on trading resources and materials that you discover along your journey. If you’re like me, you’ll want to try and explore each element of gameplay as much as possible. Essentially, there’s a virtually infinite universe to explore, and you can experience it however you see fit. Furthermore, no matter what you choose to do on your space adventures, you’ll be able to do it with no load times once you’re in the game.
This all sounds incredible, but there are still so many unanswered questions about No Man’s Sky. Is there anything beyond these core elements of the game? How deep are these systems? How long will this gameplay loop feel fresh? How long will the discovery of planets feel unique? Are the planets really going to be that different? We know the goal is “to get to the center of the galaxy”, but what the heck does that actually mean or entail? These and many more questions still remain to be answered just over two weeks from launch, which speaks to the potential vastness and diversity of No Man’s Sky.
Many games have fallen prey to the hype machine, including a case in point: Watch Dogs.
Yes, Ubisoft over-promised and under-delivered with Watch Dogs. However, it’s a prime example of what a dragged-out development cycle and unmet expectations can do to the reception of a game. For all intents and purposes, Watch Dogs wasn’t a bad game. But if you were to look at many gamers’ responses to the title, you might think that it was. Quite simply, it was a letdown of epic proportions; an unfulfilled promise of what next-gen was going to be right out of the gate. Do I think No Man’s Sky will be the next Watch Dogs in this regard? No. However, it does have a tall task in delivering on its promise to long-awaiting gamers. Many of whom believe that this will be – pardon the word-play – “a game-changer”.
Quite simply, No Man’s Sky is loaded with potential. Whether it succeeds or not will be largely dependent on the ability of its gameplay systems to keep players invested. My greatest worry - to quote IGN’s Justin Davis - is that it will be “as wide as an ocean, but as deep as a puddle” (a lot to do on the surface with little to dig into).
With that being said, I sincerely hope that it lives up to its high expectations, and I’m cautiously optimistic for the sci-fi exploration game. If it lives up to the hype, No Man’s Sky promises to deliver an unprecedented scope that has never been seen in any entertainment medium to date.