Sept. 22, 2017
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Game On: No Man's Sky Ongoing Review Part II

Days 4-8

August 19, 2016, 3:10 pm

Finally off-world, I recharge my warp drive. It took me ages to gather the components to craft the thing, but it will allow me to jump between star systems. ...In my travels thus far I’ve received any number of cryptic instructions, both from the mysterious Atlas and from fellow travelers. I’m not entirely sure what to do next, but I know I must venture forth. I steel myself, set my coordinates and, with a flash, I am gone.

The major drag of No Man’s Sky comes down to one undeniable flaw—the things I’m doing today are the same exact things I was doing on my first day. Even with the possibility of warping between systems, the gameplay loop of find planet/mine resources has grown stale. Now, it’s quite obvious that most games have the same rhythm: learn and use mechanics to progress, but without an overt storyline or even a variety of objectives, the game is best played in short bursts. But even then, it’s hard to justify. 


As such, the most enticing thing we can say (at least so far) is that finding new alien species like the Vy’ken or Korvax is marginally exciting. This is where learning those languages comes in handy and where you’ll get a chance to pick up new items or even trade up to a ship with more inventory slots. This is also a huge issue—the all-important inventory slots. Early hours will find you discarding items that seem pointless in favor of mining resources that seem more valuable (both monetarily and upgrade-wise), but this is always a tough decision and it’s possible to screw yourself. For example, I found myself stranded on a particularly radioactive planet on which my exo-suit’s life support system could only protect me for a couple minutes before I had to either retreat to my starship or find shelter. This wouldn’t be such a big deal had I not run out of plutonium to charge my ship’s thrusters; I literally could not take off in my ship and I was nowhere near the precious resources I needed to circumvent the issue. I did eventually find a small deposit of plutonium, but the process was so aggravating that I had to turn off my console before I lost my mind.

New tips for this week
Find Save Points
There are these small save points dotting every single planet that look kind of like light posts. These serve as waypoints. Find and activate them.

Don’t Go Swimming
There are structures beneath the water on certain planets that offer the potential to be resource-rich locations. It isn’t worth it, at least not until you’ve managed to upgrade your exo-suit to allow you longer underwater time. Not only is the default time limit for underwater operations outrageously minimal, you’ll bob up and down on the surface as you attempt to breathe air and, without the ability to keep your head above water long enough to recharge the your suit, it’s throw-your-controller-through-a-window levels of irritating.

New Ships!
Anytime you find yourself in the vacuum of space, it’s a good plan to use your scanner and reveal interesting waypoints. One such thing revealed will be the space station (there’s one in every system). Not only is this a great place to meet new aliens, learn new languages and buy or sell items, other ships will land inside and, assuming you have the money, you can speak with their owners about buying them. The aforementioned inventory slot issue comes into play here as certain ships have higher numbers of slots. Keep in mind that if you do buy a new ship, you’ll have to transfer your inventory over to it or lose your stuff forever. You can also find crashed ships on planets (again, use your scanner), but the cost of repairing them is often high. Don’t be impatient and spend time and money on a ship that only has one or two more inventory slots, though—you will find better ones elsewhere.

Scan the Wildlife and Plantlife
We touched on this briefly before, but it’s possible to construct a visor-like apparatus for your exo-suit, which will allow you to scan plants and animals for cash rewards. This is accomplished through the pause menu. You can also upload your found waypoints and locations for a few credits. Remember when we said touch everything? That still applies.

Don’t bother saving everything
We said that thing before about prudently choosing what to discard, but it’s wiser to sell the stuff than get rid of it. Adopt a “I haven’t used this in an hour” attitude and save your slots for the stuff you need right now.

Build Atlas Passes
As soon as you have this recipe, it’s wise to have a couple of these on hand at all times. They’ll open locked doors, help you reveal more locations on a planet and so forth.

Almost Every Shelter Has a Multi-Tool Upgrade Terminal
Again—interact with everything. Once you know what the upgrade terminals for the multi-tool look like, keep them in mind. You can upgrade all kinds of weird things such as grenade deployment speed, ricochet power for your boltcaster weapon, mining laser efficiency and on and on.

Go to That Ruin
There are ancient ruins scattered on all kinds of planets that come with neat surprises like a deeper understanding of alien languages. Learning these new words ups your reputation with the various alien species which allows for greater rewards and upgrades. It's worth it.

Space Dogfights Suck
Fighting hostile ships in space without substantial upgrades to your ship’s arsenal is, at best, annoying and, at worst, an exercise in utter frustration. You won't be able to speed out of the fray and recharging your shields in the heat of battle is just the worst. Think about getting better weapons immediately or you may as well just reload your game the minute hostiles show up.

If you’ve got the patience to keep going, good on you. For us, however, we feel as if we’ve got a clear idea of what No Man’s Sky is all about. We’ll keep going for review purposes, but unless something particularly interesting happens soon we’ll have to start thinking about a final score. As it stands, we’ve got an incredible technical achievement powering one of the more ho-hum experiences in gaming history. If exploration is your jam (and it’s worked in titles like Journey, though that game was short and sweet and provided enough peril as to be rewarding), then we’ve got good news for you…if you prefer action or narrative, you will probably be kind of sad.


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