No Man’s Sky, the sci-fi game that lets you explore a vast universe of planets, doesn’t have a release date. That hasn’t stopped gamers everywhere from powering up their hype-r drives.
Hello Games’ new title stole the show at E3, taking home multiple awards for its trailer that showed a planetary pioneer discovering alien worlds and life forms before blasting off into space with a seamless transition.
But coverage and excitement levels for No Man’s Sky have already reached critical level, and it’s a long way from being released. While it’s ambitious and original, there are a few reasons to reverse course.
The biggest game world ever “created”
“Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” – Betteridge’s law of headlines
While No Man’s Sky’s world has looked impressive in the images and videos we’ve seen so far, its world is generated by a set algorithm. All credit goes to the developers for creating the game’s assets that populate each world, but those assets will be reused across numerous planets. They’ll likely be recolored or recombined in different ways but the base asset will still be there.
This isn’t to take away from the world-building the developers have done, but it’s been made an issue by headlines like the one above. If the editors at GameSpot really believed No Man’s Sky had the biggest game world ever created, they wouldn’t have used such a sensationalist headline.
Many promises, few examples
“Hello Games aren’t interested in spilling the beans on this game or talking about specific mechanics or features. They want to retain its sense of wonder so that we can all enjoy it at launch.” -GameSpot
This quote raises all sorts of red flags. There is something to be said for leaving some things for players to discover on their own, but the promise-to-example ratio of No Man’s Sky’s features so far isn’t encouraging.
The game lacks even an estimated release window, which means it’s far from feature complete. Is Hello Games not “spilling the beans” because they want its features to be a surprise, or is there simply not enough finished material to spoil?
While some players might be content exploring a massive universe of alien worlds, many will want more to occupy their time on each planet. No Man’s Sky‘s main gameplay element might be exploration, but to keep players’ attention it will have to provide more than that.
Even Lewis and Clark got bored eventually. This is where Hello Games’ media strategy is lacking – they haven’t given us enough of a look into the game’s secondary elements. We’ve seen space combat, and some form of multiplayer has been announced, but it’s hard to justify this level of hype for how few examples we have.
The balance of vibrancy
The biomes Hello Games has shown us in preview footage are vibrant, whimsical, dangerous and most certainly alien. And the worlds we’ve glimpsed seem truly lived-in.
And yet, while individual creatures and worlds might technically be different, the art style could become stale if they aren’t diversified enough. If you end up seeing the same creature but with a different color pallet on two different planets, or if there are only so many planet archetypes, you’ll be less excited and motivated to explore new worlds.
Essentially, if every world is so heavily saturated with the same life and colors, that vibrancy can become the norm and lose its luster very quickly. Hopefully No Man’s Sky maintains its shine after release, but one thing is for sure: the hype rocket has reached light speed, and it isn’t doing the game or its developers any favors.