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25th Jul 2016

11 reasons why No Man’s Sky is going to be the game of 2016

Finally, it's actually happening.

Rich Cooper

It’s the most hyped game since Duke Nukem Forever, and we all know how that ended.

The weight on No Man’s Sky’s shoulders is immense. Since it was announced at E3 in 2014, gamers both casual and committed have been in a state of near-religious fervour about the game. Despite delays and hold-ups, the game is finally finished and is coming to PlayStation 4 on 10th August 2016.

But let’s take a step back and look at why No Man’s Sky is set to be the biggest game of 2016 – literally.

1. There’s never been anything quite like it.



Open world/sandbox games have been around for a while now, but No Man’s Sky is operating on a different level. You may have heard the term ‘procedural generation’ used in reference to the game; this basically means that it uses algorithms to generate the game as you explore it, rather than one giant, pre-existing map. Planets, life forms and environments all generate based on your co-ordinates within the game, so even though the universe is massive, the game itself doesn’t take up a lot of space.

While this is far from the first game to use procedural generation, no other game has attempted it on this scale before. 2008’s Spore promised procedurally generated worlds and creatures, but failed to live up to expectations when it launched. NMS is by no means the first epic space exploration game either, but it’s the first pitched squarely at a mainstream audience – no complicated controls or overbearing technical demands.

2. It’s going to be maaassssiiiiivvveeeee.


Like, bigger than you can imagine. To give you a taste of the scale, there are over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 visitable planets in the No Man’s Sky universe. The universe is so big that the likelihood of two people visiting the same planet is practically zero; this means that every player has the opportunity to have a completely unique experience.

3. There’s no story, just one objective.


The aim of the game is to get to the centre of the universe. At this stage, no one really knows what happens at the centre, which makes the prospect of travelling there all the more enticing. Everyone starts at the edge of the universe, and to get to the centre – or pretty much anywhere – you’ll need to upgrade your ship, and to upgrade your ship, you’ll need money.

Units are the in-game currency, and there are a number of ways to earn a living in No Man’s Sky. You can mine planets for resources and sell them on; you can become a pirate and attack freighters for their cargo; you can scavenge the galaxy and gather discarded loot – if it puts pennies in your pocket, you can do it.

Don’t forget, though: you’re flying a goddamn spaceship through near-infinite space. That’s enough of an objective for anyone.

4. You will be a virtual pioneer.


Because the universe is so huge and varied, you are certain to discover planets and species for the first time. You can record these discoveries for your own purposes, or upload them to The Atlas – a giant central database of everything in No Man’s Sky. Uploading your discoveries to The Atlas earns you Units, which you can use to buy better ships and weapons.

Not every planet you visit will be teeming with new flora and fauna, however. Many will be completely barren, some toxic and harmful to life. Your suit is your life support and can shield you from injury, but you’ll need to upgrade it in order to survive more hostile conditions.

5. Ships are unique and ever-changing.


Everyone starts off with a basic ship (above) which you can upgrade or swap for better ships when you’ve got the cash. The way you choose to play the game will determine the right kind of ship for you: if you want to be a fighter, get a ship with advanced weapons capabilities; if you want to trade your way to success, get a ship with a larger holding bay, etc.

It’s possible that new ships will be made available over the time, but one thing we do know is that you can only have one ship at a time, so you can kiss your dreams of a space hangar full of cool spacecraft goodbye. But if your ship gets destroyed in combat, you won’t be left stranded in space – the basic ship is always available for free.

6. You can become an outlaw.


Don’t think you can roll around doing whatever you want; this isn’t No Man’s Somalia. The universe is patrolled by Sentinels (robot police, basically) who, if you kill too many lifeforms or drain too many planetary resources, will attempt to kill you.

Much like Grand Theft Auto, you gain a wanted level when you ‘break the law’. The greater your indiscretion, the higher your wanted level, and the harder the Sentinels come after you. If the Sentinels kill you, you’ll lose any unsaved resources, Units and discoveries, so piss them off at your peril.

7. There will be blood.


Well, not actual blood, but there will be space battles, freighter assaults, even turf wars. No Man’s Sky is almost infinitely massive, but if you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a vicious dogfight, fighting for control of a shipping route, or have to defend your cargo from attacking pirates.

8. There are near endless species of animals and they are very animal-like.


Many hundreds of thousands of animal life forms can be found on the inhabitable planets of No Man’s Sky. Like the environments, the animals are procedurally generated, allowing for a huge range of weird and wonderful beings. The animals themselves are not random, however. They follow routines, like going to sleep at night or going down to rivers to drink. Some are loners, others work in packs. If they feel threatened by your presence, they may attack you; some even hunt each other for food.

9. The music kicks ass.

Instrumental rock band 65daysofstatic have provided the music for No Man’s Sky, which fans of the band will tell you is an absolute masterstroke. Like the game, the music is procedurally generated; the music created by 65daysofstatic will morph and change as you progress through the game. The band have released a couple of tracks from the soundtrack on their Soundcloud which you can check out for free.

10. It’s not a multi-player, but there are multiple players.


Developer Hello Games has made it clear that this is not a MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game; this is a huge, open world that happens to have other players in it. You don’t even have to be connected to the internet to play it, unlike a lot of major titles.

The game isn’t designed with meet-ups in mind; you and your friends will begin the game so far apart that it would be amazingly boring to try and find each other. It’s not impossible, and could be a rewarding experience if you dedicate the time to it, but it’s not really what the game is for.

11. No Man’s Sky is anything you want it to be.


That said, No Man’s Sky will never tell you what to do – the clue is in the title. If you want to float around space, you can. If you want to try and wipe out an entire species, you can. If you want to play the trading game and become rich beyond your wildest dreams, you can. This is why No Man’s Sky could be the most significant game of the year, if not a generation. Once Pokémon Go dies down.