Video Game Review: No Man’s Sky

Zakary Robinette

No Man’s Sky was released on August 9, 2016 by Hello Games. It is an adventure game about exploring hundreds of life sized galaxies. Because No Man’s Sky is the largest open world game, it is auto-generated. Besides designs used to create animals, plants, and planets, the auto-generation still does an amazing job. It is estimated that it would take around 585 billion years to explore the entire No Man’s Sky universe.

Animals can be found on most planets–some are friendly and others are not. Depending if the player is playing in creative mode or a survival mode, animals have different behaviors. If in a non-creative mode, the fauna are able to defend themselves and attack the player at will. In creative, the fauna are unable to defend themselves, but might still run away from the player. Some creatures can also be tamed as pets to explore the universe by the side of the player. Most land and sea creatures can be killed for resources, but some–such as the Titan Worm–cannot be killed, only be earned as a companion by completing the Community Expedition mode.

Planets can be very unpredictable with what’s on it; any planet could be extremely dangerous from the weather, animals, and terrain. Many different types of planets exist. For example,  Solar planets have very hot but provide ample resources. Frozen planets are like Solar planets, but just freezing. Desert planets usually have limited resources. Toxic and Radiated planets most likely have survivable temperatures, but the atmosphere is very deadly. Anomaly planets are very rare because they have exotic flora and fauna. Tropical planets are the nicest in my opinion. These planets may have superheated storms, but they also might have light rain and are also rich in resources.

Plants can vary in size and shape and all are able to be destroyed for resources. Some can be dangerous to be near because they produce toxins, but they are valuable because they provide oxygen when destroyed. Certain plants can be grown and sold for Units, which are the basic currency.

Currency is a large part of No Man’s Sky because it allows the player to buy ships, resources, and better multi-tools. Multi-tools allow the player to gather resources. Units are the main currency that can easily be gained. Nanites are used to buy upgrades, and they are usually earned in small amounts at a time. Quicksilver is a special currency that is gained by completing special missions in the Anomaly, which is the online hub/lobby. Quicksilver is used to buy special items such as decorations and appearances.

The Life Support System is important to surviving; it provides protection in combat and against the environment, and oxygen is used for charging it. Ships come in many different types: Fighters are best for their speed, Haulers are good for carrying lots of supplies, Shuttles have a larger hyperdrive range, Explorer ships have well balanced statistics between all the ships. Exotic and living ships are a branch of fighter ships, but mostly for collection. Exotic ships can be found, usually one per wealthy system. The living ship’s egg can be bought with Quicksilver, and it takes a few days for it to hatch. Multi-tools are a mining beam and a weapon combined. Larger multi-tools are usually better because they can have more technology installed. Freighters are used as a mobile base and for holding many ships. Ships, multi-tools and freighters come in four ranks: C, B, A, S. All but the freighter can have their class upgraded.

The species that are found throughout most of the No Man’s Sky universe are Vy’Keen, Korvax, and Gek. The Vy’Keen are a warrior species who focus on honor, fighting, and dying a good death. It’s unknown if the Korvax had a biological past or if they were always machines. The Korvax focus on collecting data and information for their Convergence, or Hive Mind. The Gek mostly gained their wealth from trading, and they were also responsible for previously enslaving the Korvax to gain power in their empire. Gaining standing is important because it allows the player to make more choices and have more respect with other species. Each species also has their own language which can be translated by asking for help or through Knowledge Stones.

Combat is a part of the survival part of the game, with the main enemies being Sentinels. Sentinels are machines that exist in almost every system. It is unknown where they come from or what they are, but they roam the universe scanning planets and policing everything they can. Sentinels are best avoided by newer players. There are five different stages of combat–the first few stages of ground combat are mostly basic. The final stage has a Walker deployed. Walkers are large bi-pedal Sentinels, and they can only be destroyed after their five armor plates are destroyed with the help of a multi-tool or ship (however ships are more adept at killing them). Ground combat can be started when collecting resources around Sentinels or attacking them. Some planets have aggressive Sentinels, which means they will attack the player if they are seen. Space combat has Sentinel fighters attack until the final stage where a Sentinel freighter is called onto the scene. Space combat can be started if the player attacks the local space station or any freighter.

The story starts when the player leaves their starting system, receives a message repeating “16”, and then talks to another traveler named Artemis. Another story path is also started called “The Atlas Path” which is about finding out what the universe really is. Side quests can reward the player with useful technology and resources.

Encounters may occur when the player is using their Pulse Engine, (an important ship part) in space. Encounters can be trading with an NPC, finding a derelict freighter, or an anomaly. Anomalies can be destroyed for resources or a relic to sell, could be a message possibly containing coordinates, a creature either dead or alive, or it might be a part of galactic history.

Travelling by ship to get to another region in the galaxy is the slowest way to get to other regions of the galaxy, but portals make it a much faster process. Portals can be crafted to teleport to a base or space station, but some portals can be found, allowing the player to travel anywhere in the galaxy. It can be activated by charging its interfaces, allowing the player to put in the address of their next location (the location that the player travels to is random unless they look on the Wiki for a popular system to travel). Portal addresses on the Wiki are usually for traveling to the Galactic Centre or a planet with rare animals called Diplos.

Resources are the most important part of surviving. They allow the player to recharge their equipment and let them craft items and install technology in their life support system, their ship, and their multi-tool. Space stations offer resources with different prices based on the local system’s economic status. Abandoned and undiscovered systems don’t have a place to purchase resources. Trading posts usually offer better prices with buying and selling items. Richer systems sell items for cheaper prices, and poorer systems allow the player to sell items for more units.

No Man’s Sky has five different game modes:

  • Creative where the player has unlimited resources and money.
  • Normal–basic survival. 
  • Survival which is the same as normal mode but harder.
  • Perma-death where dying will delete the save file.
  • Community Expedition where survival with other players with the goal to complete a special objective to get exotic rewards.

The Anomaly is good to trade resources and help other players, and missions can be joined to make a hard job easier. The Anomaly is also where the player can buy blueprints for useful technology that will improve their gear or base. Nanites can also be earned in large portions by completing achievements, scanning fauna and flora, and turning it into an NPC.

No Man’s Sky is a great game for people who like to explore and build. I enjoy playing No Man’s Sky because it allows me to build whatever I want and gives me the freedom to explore and change the story based on my decisions. I also find it fun to play with other people. The game is available on PS, Xbox, and PC.