ByJay Ricciardi, writer at Creators.co
Senior Editor of Now Loading. I like good games, good beer, and long walks up treacherous mountains shrouded in sinister, whispering fog.
Jay Ricciardi

The end-game goal of No Man's Sky, technically, is to explore your way to the center of the universe. Recently, Redditor u/daymeeuhn has reported that it took him only 30 hours to "beat" No Man's Sky.

Some fans have found this to be pretty shocking.

The game promises a massive, limitless experience, full of discovery and mystery. Many are painting this "short" (as if 30 hours was short in the first place) as a massive disappointment. Some are demanding refunds and cancelling their preorders.

Skyrim also takes about 30 hours to beat

Let's be honest, the internet outrage about No Man's Sky's 30 hours is misguided, at best. Just look at Skyrim. The story mode of Skyrim takes roughly 30 hours to beat as well, with some people even completing the game in about 20 hours.

As I'm sure you're aware, the story mode of Skyrim isn't even half the reason to play. Skyrim has enjoyed an immense amount of longevity, with many players dumping hundreds of hours into play despite the short 30 hour requirement to finish the main quest line. Mostly, this is because of everything besides the main quest: the exploration, the side quests, the fun challenges, mods, and more. Most people have spent far, far longer than 30 hours exploring the world of Skyrim and all it's denizens.

After five years, Skyrim has had numerous re-releases, enjoys a constant top 20 spot in Steam's peak and concurrent user statistics, and Reddit's r/Skyrim remains active to this day.

See, the point of huge open world games like Skyrim and No Man's Sky isn't to just beat the game. I don't think most people have actually beaten Skyrim, because the real fun is adventuring off the main quest's path. The true joy of an open world game isn't the story mode, it's everything else.

Open games are appealing because of the freedom they provide and because you know that you, as a player, rarely experience something the same way another player does.

So many people still play Skyrim, five years after release. Players are still finding new secrets and still finding new ways to enjoy the game. There are countless ways to play with and have fun in the massive world of Skyrim, and Skyrim doesn't have 18 quintillion planets.

Another quick comparison: Minecraft

Furthermore, beating No Man's Sky is like "beating" Minecraft. Both Minecraft and No Man's Sky are completely open games where the main appeal and the main fantasy is exploration, crafting, and storytelling.

People rarely play Minecraft to "beat" the story mode - most people don't even realize that there is a campaign mode to beat (the credits roll when you kill the Enderman).

Now, granted, these games are not 1-to-1 comparisons, and we should keep in mind both Minecraft and Skyrim's sustained popularity has a helluva lot to do with modding. But, also keep in mind No Man's Sky will likely have modding too; Hello Games founder Sean Murray has said in interviews that he does think the game should have mod support in future.

The point stands: don't judge a game solely on its main quest playtime. If there's still something about No Man's Sky that gets you the least bit excited, give it a real chance. Don't write it off because the base game isn't meeting every single expectation you might have had.

Even at 30 hours, you'll still be able to explore, craft, fight, and discover your way through the massive expanse of No Man's Sky. These games are all about the stories you can tell as you explore off the main path.

No Man's Sky is 2016's most-hyped game, by far. Even though the players who somehow snagged an early copies of the game (for a crazy amount of cash, mind you) have been causing a bit of pre-release mayhem, don't let the number 30 scare you. If you've been looking forward to No Man's Sky, the reasons you're excited are still there, still waiting for you.

Of course, also remember, No Man's Sky might deserve criticism in other areas of the game besides main quest length. The point of this article is not to say that NMS should be immune to criticism - I just want you all to realize that the amount of time it takes to beat No Man's Sky should be a non-factor.

Some other notable games with main quests you can complete in 30 hours

Hell, there are a ton of very, very good games that take only 30 hours to beat the story mode - that shouldn't dismiss those games' quality! Here are some of those games, according to HowLongToBeat.com:

  • All core Pokémon games (25-43hrs each)
  • Portal & Portal 2 (5-10hrs each)
  • The Metroid games (all under 20hrs)
  • All Legend of Zelda games (15-38hrs each)
  • Mass Effect franchise (17-24hrs each)
  • All the Fallout games (18-31hrs each)
  • The Last of Us (15hrs)
  • The list can go on and on!

Bottom line: The amount of time it takes to beat a game's main story line, especially when you don't consider a sheer volume of other gameplay experiences available in a title, really shouldn't have much bearing on your decision to play a game.

Even a massive game like 2015's behemoth The Witcher 3 was touted to have over 200 hours of gameplay, but the main story quests took about 45 hours to complete.