Space, the final frontier.
These four words opened every episode of Star Trek, launching the viewer into an unknown universe full of discovery and possibilities. Each episode found the crew of the Enterprise landing on a new planet of strange creatures with the explicit instruction of non-interaction that would inevitably be broken. Under this premise Captain Kirk and his crew learned valuable lessons about their own humanity and place in the universe.
The original Star Trek series may have ended in 1969, but the dream of galactic exploration shared by millions of people worldwide did not end with it. So long as we can look at the stars we will try and reach them, as impossible as it may be.
No Man’s Sky is a game that brings the universe to you. Designed by Hello Games, a 15-person team from Sheffield, UK, No Man’s Sky transports the player into a full-scale galaxy with 18 quintillion planets. That’s 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique worlds, each with their own environments, minerals, gases, animals, flora and fauna.
Fire up the game for the first time and you’ll find yourself alone on a planet in a tiny corner of the Euclid Galaxy with little more at your disposable than a multi-tool, a jetpack and a broken ship. You have one task: fix your ship and leave the planet.
You’ll spend your first few hours doing just that by mining various materials and synthesizing them into boosters, rocket fuel and a Warp Drive. However, it won’t be so easy; most planets in the galaxy are inhospitable to humans and are a drain on your spacesuit. You’ll need to gather Carbon, Iron, Plutonium and other minerals to keep your shields robust enough to survive the toxic atmosphere.
This first world, and indeed all worlds in the Euclid Galaxy, are not your playground. Most planets are monitored by Sentinels; hovering robots that ensure the living creatures and geological formations on a planet are not disturbed by careless wanderers. They are the primary antagonists on your journey, but they are fair. Take only what you need and little else and they won’t be a bother. Become too bold and they will attack, although even your base multi-tool should be enough to stand your ground.
Further upgrades to your suit, multi-tool and ship require blueprints scattered across the various star systems to visit once your Warp Drive is ready. You’re unable to fly to the nearest star system on your boosters alone, but you wouldn’t want to as it would take several real human years in order to complete the journey.
That being said, once you’ve left your starting planet and fueled your Warp Drive the galaxy is your playground. Open up the Galactic Map and take in the sheer size of the galaxy, then plot your course to the nearest system. The deeper you explore the galaxy, the more varied the planets are, the more rare resources you’ll find and the more aggressive the Sentinels become.
There is only one true “goal” in the game: reach the center of the galaxy. At the start of your journey you’re given a choice of three “story” paths to take, but this is nothing more than context and background lore for the Euclid Galaxy and is not a true priority. You’ll meet three different races of NPCs on your trek, each with their own history and customs, but you’ll really only be speaking to them to further improve your suit, ship and tool functions and to sell your excess minerals and resources.
And that’s really all there is to No Man’s Sky.
Fly to a star system, explore planets, gather resources, upgrade your stuff and sell the excess. Repeat infinitely. Emphasis on INFINITELY.
If No Man’s Sky doesn’t seem like a worthwhile experience for you, it won’t be. No Man’s Sky is a game for a certain group of people; those who are comfortable with solitude and have an unquenchable curiosity for the unknown. Those who don’t fall into this group will find a game with frustrating gameplay loops and a dearth of actual content despite the vastness of the universe. Those intrigued will find a universe of possibilities and many many hours of entertainment.