Unless you’ve been locked in a box for the past Year or two you probably heard about the recently released title No Man’s Sky by Hello Games. Upon it’s release it was received with very mixed feelings from the gaming community. Sure, this isn’t the first game that’s received such a response. Some rightfully deserve the online flamethrower of disappointment for being broken as all hell, like Aliens: Colonial Marines, yeah, I will never forgive you. Some simply advertised the product as being a far deeper experience than it eventually delivered, like the narrative lacking Destiny. Some are more arbitrary criticisms, such as, Watchdogs reducing the graphical fidelity in the launch title. So, does No Man’s Sky deserve to be on the list of hyped E3 disappointments?
Many would say so, as it didn’t really deliver all that was promised. So why do people seem to think they bought a game that wasn’t what they expected? At this point I would normally say it’s down to the consumer to inform themselves. The problem occurs when trusted and popular gaming media channels are trying to railroad the conversation to things they want in the game over what the game will actually offer. It’s like the moment they heard it was an open world that played online they became fixated on it being a multiplayer experience. Time and again Shaun tried to steer away but they kept on pushing to a point he’d just say something to pretty much shut them up. Maybe it’s down to Shaun’s inexperience with interviews that he eventually mentioned the insanely unlikely chance of bumping into another player. He went as far as to clarify that you won’t see them, you will only see their ship as it’s almost purely a single player game about exploration. It was clearly something you could possibly do but not what the game was really about. Even in his interview with Stephen Colbert they seemed to poke fun at this with the mock browbeating until he said “Yes” to the question of it being a multiplayer you can play with friends. However, people ignored this and magnified a feature that wasn’t integral to the game to ridiculous proportions.
Then we have all those who expected things that were never promised such as base building, loot hoarding and character customisation to name a few. I know we’ve come to expect such features in games like this but I can’t help but feel these people missed the point. The entire thing is built in a retro style, including many of the mechanics. Complaining about limited inventory while ignoring it’s supposed to encourage you to explore for upgrades that are easily available is either lazy or just plain stupid. Yeah, it’s a definite generation shock for many, even I struggled with it at first but then, as with any game, I learn and adapt. Just because a game is set in first person, it doesn’t mean it has to conform to the standard shooter model. Especially when exploration, not shooting, is the priority of the game. It wouldn’t be much of an exploration game if you just sat around in one place and did very little to get everything. Seems all those handholding games has generated a level of entitlement that does us no good at all.
That’s not to say Shaun Murray is completely innocent of the allegations that he advertised a different product to that which was received. Things are clearly missing such as, Alien Portals, Walkers patrolling planets, Space cruisers that you can dock with and something special to see at the centre of the Universe. Sure, these features can be added at a later date but they were expected on release. It would appear that somewhere in the last 9 months of development limitations became apparent to them and they never informed us of the changes. More transparency from developers when it comes to problems they’re facing that actually affect the end product is needed. When developers omit important details like this in interviews they set themselves up for failure. In this situation the consumer can’t inform themselves in an effort prevent them from buying a product that doesn’t live up to that which was advertised. All they had to say is, they cut certain things to focus on making everything else work perfectly. Now this wouldn’t please everyone but it would have given people enough to make an informed decision instead of feeling duped. Hello Games built up a level of trust and respect and lost it all in an instant. No matter how great their next game might be, many won’t accept it until it’s actually released.
I have to point out, none of this over shadows the huge game development achievement elephant in the room. Hello Games made a fully functioning procedurally generated Universe and that’s a big deal. One that you can go from ground, to space, to another Planet, to ground, without any loading times. Even though it’s missing certain promised elements, what’s there actually works and still impresses. The lore is compelling and I simply adore the learning alien languages mechanic reminiscent of retro game Captain Blood. There’s a massive amount of variety in planets and plenty to see and do for those with the aptitude. The problem is, some respected critics are complaining about the game without playing nearly enough. This is highlighted by their criticism being a somewhat ignorant case of, I didn’t see it, therefore, it doesn’t exists. I’ve played the game for over 40 hours, I’ve seen and experienced things they clearly didn’t and I still wouldn’t claim I’ve seen it all. Though there are things missing, there are certain assets such as the Alien portal gates on planets, they’re just not functioning, perhaps future DLC?
So, is No Man’s Sky another E3 disappointment? Well, yes and no. Even though the final product achieved the vision of a procedurally generated Universe, it clearly wasn’t that which was advertised for whatever reason. The severe lack of features promised without any kind of informing the consumer of these issues, makes it seem like a bait and switch. I have to admit that it was an E3 disappointment on those grounds. However, I can’t ignore the fact I thoroughly enjoyed the product I received even though I know it should have had so much more. It delivered in the areas that were important to me as they fulfilled a nostalgic experience I’ve wanted for a long time. So I’m left wondering how much of a difference those missing features would have really made to the overall game? I’m of the opinion, not much at all.
If you want to know more about the No Man’s Sky experience then please check out our full PS4 review
Stuck in No Man’s Sky? Check out our No Man’s Sky Top Tips for exploring the Galaxy
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