You don't want to hear it, but you need to. You're not going to like it, but here it is: No Man's Sky is smarter than you.
That's right, No Man's Sky isn't actually bad. It's just that you've been playing No Man's Sky wrong. When the game was first announced, it became one of the most anticipated titles of 2016. Fans were incredibly excited to delve into Sean Murray’s procedurally-generated universe of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. They were hoping for the ultimate space-faring, open-world title, one that would allow them to trade and fight and talk their way across the universe. For a brief time, Sean Murray was seen as the herald of a new way to play video games.
Then, the title released. And though it was a genuinely new kind of video game, No Man’s Sky wasn’t the revolution everyone wanted, and gamers were righteously pissed off. They went to exhaustive lengths to castigate the developer they’d previously deified. But that's what everyone got wrong about No Man's Sky. The game is executed perfectly as is. In spite of all the bitching and the anger, and the endless number of burned Sean Murray effigies, No Man’s Sky is a gaming revolution.
You were just looking at it the wrong way.
If You’re Listening to the Hype, You’re Listening to a Bunch of Crazy People
If you’re somehow a gamer who has yet to pick up the title and you’re still on the fence about it, don’t base your opinion on the people who are still railing against the title.
These guys are straight up fanatics, who began their time with No Man’s Sky by literally comparing Sean Murray to Jesus and now fill their days re-writing Eminem songs to capture their heartbreak. They’re a weird bunch, so you don’t want to go making big decisions based on their obsessions.
No Man’s Sky Is About the Journey
Rare is the game that’s truly about the time you spend inside it. When it comes right down to it, most major titles are about the endings. Even huge open-world games like Bethesda’s celebrated Elder Scrolls series - in which players can spend weeks of real-world time tromping through dungeons and fighting monsters - is still about getting to the end. Bethesda is just smart enough to provide lots of little endings to keep players moving forward: the end of the dungeon, the end of the quest, the end of the story, etc.
In No Man’s Sky, the end is but another beginning. The point of the experience is to travel, it’s to see the expanded universe and truly explore every nook and cranny. There aren’t any shiny baubles waiting for you, it’s exploration for exploration’s sake. If you’re going into No Man’s Sky looking for treasure, you came to the wrong game.
Solitude Is an Integral Part of the Journey
You have the option to share what you’d like to share, but if you want, No Man’s Sky can be a completely private experience. More private than any other title ever released. Because the universe is so huge, no one else who ever lives will ever play the game the same way as you do.
Huge is actually an understatement. It would take 585 million years to fully explore every single inch of No Man’s Sky. Even if someone wanted to mimic your footsteps, they couldn’t. The experience was built to foster a feeling that the individual sights and sounds you experience while playing are yours and yours alone.
Murray’s Original Vision Was Achieved Spectacularly
Let’s start here, with a quote from Sean Murray back when he was still beloved. When No Man’s Sky was first announced, Murray explained that the tech behind the game was something really special. It was an entire universe all crafted from one immensely complicated algorithm. In Murray’s universe, players could explore billions and billions of procedurally-generated, uncharted planets teeming with bizarre, alien life. The universe was so big that even Murray and his team at Hello Games would be unable to see every one.
Murray said at the time, “We wanted to create the feeling of landing on a planet and knowing that no one had ever been there before. That is the one thing that has been there since the very start of the game.” It’s the sensation of exploration that’s fueled the development of No Man’s Sky, folks, not sweet-ass space battles.