Games I Love: No Man’s Sky, Part 2: Now What?

It’s been roughly two months since No Man’s Sky came out. I’ve played the game off and on since the day it came out. Not sure how many hours worth exactly, but it’s been enough to get to the point where I’ve lost interest in the game. There’s been a bit of controversy around the game, about false advertising and mostly negative reviews. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed playing the game and it’s given me several hours of enjoyment, but the game, despite its near-infinite number of worlds to explore, has a very limited number of things you can do.

What have I accomplished?

  1. 7 out of 10 achievements completed. For each of the 10 achievement categories on the Journey screen, there are 10 levels to complete. I’ve finished all but three of those. Still need to destroy some more pirate ships, though I’m close to that. Amazing how tempting it is to pirates if you just fly around with a cargo hold full of gold. I still have to last several more sols in an extreme climate, which is really just leaving the game run next time while I’m on one of the very few planets that count as “extreme.” And, I have to warp a couple more times. So, really it’s just a matter of time until I get those.
  2. I am untouchable. There is no strategy in the game. No tactics. What’s the secret? Shields and a lot of zinc or shielding plates (which can be made from iron, which is literally everywhere). There are three levels of shields, both for your exosuit and your starship. Build them all. I was worried about my first encounter with pirates after the stories my other friends who were playing told, but when I did finally encounter them, I had all three shields and they barely scratched me by the time I finally figured out which buttons made the ship’s guns work and learned how to aim. After shields, coolant modules and homing modules are your best friends. I ended up with literally all the possible Sentinal enemies after me while I was harvesting Abalone Pearls and they weren’t even difficult to defeat. At this point, I just give a giant middle finger to anything trying to come after me. I died once, on my first world when I encountered a hostile animal, but since then it’s been easy peasy.
  3. I have bought everything and upgraded everything. Well, that’s not quite true. I don’t have my perfect ship yet, but the one I have now is damn near perfect and I’m only 4 million away from buying the biggest ship in the game and then getting all the best upgrades on it. By the time I finally make it to the Core, that’ll be old news. I have all the available exosuit slots and all the best upgrades for it. I have my multitool fitted to the nines. Honestly, I don’t even really care about getting the best ship at this point. It just feels like a boring grind of getting the rest of the money.

What have I taken away from the game at this point?

  1. Exploration is boring. I used to love exploring new planets. Now they’re just a way to farm money while I work my way to the end of the base storyline. I’ll stop on a planet, do a quick scan of what’s in the area I landed, maybe hunt up all the animals if they’re not too hard to find, and then move on within an hour or less.
  2. The story is good, but you have to dig for it. The only waypoints I stop at anymore are trading ports to unload cargo, manufacturing plants to find the elusive few recipes I’m missing, and monoliths because that’s where the real story’s at. I’ve learned enough korvax and gek to be fairly fluent in both languages and have heard tales of the destruction of the korvax homeworld and their worship of the Sentinels, followed by the rise of the gek First Spawn and how horribly awful they are. Have yet to run into any vy’keen but that’s one of the few things I have left to look forward to in the game.
  3. There really is no substance to the gameplay. It’s pretty and it seems like there’s a lot to it because there’s so much space to explore, but when you get down to it, there really isn’t. There’s a finite number of blueprints you can get for your multi-tool, exosuit, and starship. It took me a while to stop compulsively checking spots for blueprints because I had them all. You can do a very limited set of actions: mine things, shoot sentinels, buy things, sell things, talk to three alien species.
  4. Your actions have no consequences. At first, when I came across a waypoint that had a manufacturing facility or platinum store that you have to break into, I thought “I’ll be friends and I won’t break into their stuff.” Don’t do this. The cool shit is in the manufacturing plants, and you have to break into them to get recipes. Also, there is absolutely no reason not to. The sentinels will get angry, you shoot them down, and your reputation with whatever race controls the planet actually goes up if you solve the puzzle inside.
  5. Your reputation doesn’t matter. In theory, you can use it to get different levels of things from the alien traders, but in reality, all that I do is try to learn new words from them and skip past the other options.
  6. Buying and selling are limited. The game has the base of an interesting trading system, where certain things are more valuable in some systems as opposed to others, and some traders value some things more than others. In practice, I just sell to whoever doesn’t give me a super shitty deal just to get cargo out of my inventory because I’ll just fill up again on the next planet and money doesn’t matter to me anymore.

I’m fairly close to finishing the game. If I wanted to, I could just ignore exploration and warp the rest of the way to the Core. I might do that next time I pick the game up. Whenever that happens to be. For now, I’ve moved on to Destiny and the new Rise of Iron expansion, at least until the remastered version of Skyrim comes out on October 28th and then I’ll be lost forever.

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