No Man’s Sky : A Month Later, Why All the Rancor?

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No Man’s Sky: A Month Later, Why All the Rancor?

No Man’s Sky (PC, PS4) was one of the most anticipated games of 2016. Combining open world exploration with a procedurally generated universe, the game promised over 18 quintillion planets to explore.  Using a space ship, players would explore planets, mining resources to build upgrades to their suit and ship. Players could also explore planets, discovering and naming flora and fauna and uploading their names to the cloud, where others could see their discoveries. When the game was formally announced at E3 in 2014, speculation and anticipation exploded and the hype grew.

The game officially launched on 9 August 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and 12 August 2016 for PC. The initial sales on Steam were estimated at just under a half million copies, with 99 percent of players up and running on launch day. After the initial honeymoon period, however, people started to notice that some advertised features were missing. Word of mouth spread and in the month since release, hourly concurrent players have dropped from over 137 thousand, to around 15,000. So what are the issues that are keeping players away?

Things That Didn’t Quite Appear

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On Reddit, a user (who has since deleted his account) posted a succinct list of features that were advertised by Hello Games and are missing from the game. One of the features most mentioned in the list of the missing is multiplayer. The developer said that even though there are over 18 quintillion planets, players would still be able to see each other and interact. There’s a famous YouTube video of two players arranging to meet on the same planet in front of the same NPC and not being able to see each other. Despite earlier interviews, where Sean Murray said that you could encounter other players, it seems this really isn’t the case.

Other quibbles include the lack of massive space battles, the lack of true physics, the way that all ships handle like you’re steering a rowboat through mud, and the presence of a skybox. By skybox, we don’t mean fancy seating at the new sports stadium down the street. A skybox is a way to draw the sky around the planet that saves on processing power. Essentially, the planet is surrounded by six panels, each forming one facet of the sky. It provides continuity as you roam around and saves your hardware the difficulty of figuring out how you hopping over a mountain will affect your view of the stars.

There are entire websites devoted to picking over past interviews with Sean Murray (one-half of Hello Games) and pointing out things that he showed and talked about that didn’t end up in the game. Looking on YouTube under “No Man’s Sky Problems” will bring up pages of videos titled around the clever pun, “One Man’s Lie”. But other games have promised features and never delivered. Even the massively popular World of Warcraft has their missing feature elephant in the room (Mention The Dance Studio to any hardcore player to start a five minute rant). What is it about No Man’s Sky that earned such scorn from the player base?

Why the Hate?

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The reasons are various. Nobody likes looking like they’ve been taken for a sucker, obviously. But when a game is as hyped as No Man’s Sky was, there’s bound to be some disappointment. Couple that disappointment with an indie studio charging a AAA price for their game, and there’s going to be some hard feelings. Would people have minded quite so much if the game had only cost US $30 instead of $59.99? Probably not; in fact, many people that we’ve spoken to are actually willing to pay for the game and give it a try once it hits the inevitable Steam Sale or drops in price. It’s worth $20 to see what all the fuss is about, but sixty dollars is a steep price to pay for entry.

Hello Games continues to release patches for the game, addressing stability issues for players. While there was a brief mention of paid DLC in the past, the studio has quickly backed away from that. They have gone on record saying that any future updates and patches will be free. Whether or not they plan to address any of the perceived missing content remains to be seen.

What do you think of No Man’s Sky? Has the game lived up to your expectations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

About The Author
Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds has spent his entire life immersed in some form of technology or another.  It started with a simple Non-Turing test compliant AI that he programmed using BASIC when he was fourteen, and has led to pursuing a BS in Computer Science with a focus on mobile security algorithms.  In his spare time, he is a stereotypical nerd, playing video games and trying to teach his two toddler daughters to type out his code so he doesn’t have to do what he considers, “the boring part.”