The Basic Things to Know
Your character isn’t the fastest thing in the universe. Even with upgrades, you’ll move pretty slowly.
The graphics are crisp and the worlds generated are gorgeous.
It will get repetitive regardless of how you play, but everything is, also, always new. You’ll get both the feeling of familiarity and foreignness from every place you visit.
It’s a lonely game. You’ll experience its entirety most likely alone.
The scale of the planets and the galaxy is amazing.
The galactic map is a genius addition to the game. Exploring that map is a joy on its own.
The two menus work smoothly. They’re easy to understand and easier to use.
There’s a colossal variety of Multi-Tools and Starships.
The only loading takes place while traveling between two stars. If you never leave your star system you’ll never witness a loading screen.
Disclosure: This game is not for everyone. If you lack creativity or need someone to tell you what to do in a game, this is not the game for you. No Man’s Sky is a game in which you give yourself purpose. Much like Minecraft, in which you choose what you want to do and when you want to do it, this game requires you to make your own choices and plot out your own missions because there are none given to you. So, I’ll repeat: If you lack creativity or require direction, this game is not for you.
No Man’s Sky is an exploration game.
No Man’s sky is a survival game.
No Man’s Sky is an action adventure game.
You can truly only understood this game by playing it. The more you play, the more you understand, and the more purpose you find to the universe you’re in.
You begin the game on a planet unique to you. Someone might stumble onto it one day… One day. By your side will be your crashed ship. This is where you make the first big decision. The game will allow you to walk away and explore the planet you’re on without any need for your ship, or you could repair it by mining and collecting the necessary resources, which you'll be able to find abundantly on planets, moons and in space. Caves are particularly good place to search for resources. You'll find all kinds of crap in there.
You’ll immediately notice the survival elements. Inventory management is by far the most important aspect of this game. Should you wish to fix your ship and use it, you are given the ships inventory alongside the inventory of your exosuit. Not to say that two inventories increases your carry capacity by much. You’ll find that you must constantly pick and choose what to get rid of, keep, or sell. The inventory menus are simple to understand, manage, and use. This is great considering you’ll be seeing them a lot. Regardless of whether you fixed your ship or not, you’ll still need to mine and collect resources to maintain your life support systems in functioning order. The same must be done for your ship. Repairing and upgrading anything is as simple as inventory management. It takes one button to see the upgrade possibilities. If you have the resources needed to construct the upgrade or technology, then you are only one more button away from having it.
Once your ship is repaired you will be faced with another choice: to either explore the planet you are on for however long you decide or leave the planet and explore the star system you’ve spawned in. Near your crashed ship you’ll find the beginning to a brutally vague quest-line named Atlas. This is the first and most obvious chance at purpose. Should you decide to accept the quest, you’ll be given a travel route for your journey to the center of the galaxy. As you follow the path laid before you, you’ll come across some interesting and otherwise easy to miss things.
Exploring the planet:
There is true beauty in a foreign land. There is greater beauty in a foreign world.
If you decide to explore the planet, whether on foot or by air, you’ll be faced with a couple of interesting possibilities. Your planet could be barren and filled only with alien outposts and stations, which exist on every planet. It could be, on the other hand, filled with vibrant plant life,
Or unique animals or dinosaur like creatures.
You are free to interact with any animal, but beware that some may be hostile.
On each planet there are also patrol robots known as Sentinels.
The sentinel’s job is to protect abuse of the natural order of things on any and all planets in the galaxy. If you cause too much damage to a planet’s natural life and development, or mine too many resources they become increasingly hostile towards you. Similar to Grand Theft Auto, you’ll have a five point system on the upper right of the screen to tell you how hostile they are at any given moment. The higher your warning level the more brutal and dangerous the sentinels that will arrive.
You travel with an all-purpose gadget named the Multi-Tool. It’s your mining laser. It’s your gun. It also contains its own set of customization options similar to the starship and your exosuit.
The multi-tool upgrades revolve mostly around making either the gun aspects more lethal and faster shooting. The mining upgrades will decreasing cooldown times and extending the duration of the laser before having to worry about cooldown times.
On the surface of your planet, like every other planet in the game, you’ll find alien outposts and science facilities. Here you can attain technologies to upgrade your exosuit, multi-tool and starship. Some may have traders inside and free technology up for grabs.
Exploring the star system and the galaxy:
For those of you that decide to get off of the planet, which will be the majority of the population playing the game, you’ll quickly learn a couple of things. First of which is the crap ton of planets and moons to explore. It’s rare to find a one planet star system, so there is always room for further exploration around a star.
Second, you’ll become aware of the stellar space station orbiting either the star or one of the planets. These space stations alongside some alien facilities on the surface of the planets and moons will contain an interactive machine in which you can trade goods.
Other starships will fly into the space station and onto landing pads by alien facilities which you can also trade with, as well as make offers on their ships, of which there seems to be infinite variations.
After fully repairing your starship and adding a couple of new technological upgrades to it, you’ll be faced with yet another choice. You’ll have to decide whether to remain in your current star system system or leave to another with an entirely new set of planets, lifeforms, and challenges. You'll do this through the use of the genius galactic map.
In your travels through the galaxy you’ll come across several methods of learning alien languages, one word at a time. This will improve your understanding of conversations with alien lifeforms and allow you to make better choices after dialogue. This can open new doors for you as these aliens will give you new technology and information.
This is where the game begins to break down for people who lack creativity. Those that require instructions will follow the Atlas quest line, finish it within 30 hours or so and instantly become bored with the game because of the repetitive nature and the consistent grinding. The people with a big imagination will start to experiment and begin to discover interesting new things.
Playing No Man’s Sky:
This game is mostly about exploring new worlds and upgrading your starship and equipment. In order to do this, three key things will happen:
1. You’ll need to locate the tech you’ll be upgrading into your starship, multi-tool or exosuit.
2. You’ll need to mine the necessary materials and resources to power all of it.
3. You’ll need money to buy what you cannot find for free (Additional slots for your exosuit, new starships and higher quality multi-tools).
There are too many ways to accomplish all these tasks.
You can attack large freighter ships for their loot, some of which you can put back into your equipment and others which you can sell at high prices. You can attack starships and loot them for the same purposes. You can mine down on the surface of planets and moons, as well as meteors orbiting the star. And, you can upload anything you’ve found on the game, whether it be plants, animal life, planets, moons or star systems, through an easy to use discovery menu.
Once you’ve more or less figured much of this out and decided what the small picture will look like, it’s time to choose what you want the game’s big picture to be.
Ways to play No Man’s Sky:
This is where your true creativity should be kicking in. How you decide to play the deciding factor on how different your experience will be from anyone else.
You can decide to be a Planetary Explorer. If done by foot, you’ll be walking and jetpacking anywhere and everywhere you go. Every location will be a site you can absorb. You’ll chart every bit of animal and plant life on the planet. Find every facility and discover every waypoint to trade what you’ve gathered. Over the course of your exploration, the planet is bound to grow on you and become quite personal. You’ll be the expert of one planet. This type of player will by default end up upgrading, mostly, their exosuit to improve the quality of their journey. They’ll find pods with additional slots and spend quite a bit of time hunting down technologies to improve the suit.
If the same is attempted with the starship, sites become less amazing. You’ll rush by at such speeds that you’ll miss much of the glory of single planet exploration.
This brings us to the Stellar Explorer. The same basics that the Planetary Explorer lives by will be applied here, with the addition of the orbiting space station, and the fact that it will be more than one planet being explored, but all taking place around one star. In this scenario, you are charting and discovering anything and everything on every one of the planets around one star, but because of the size of this task, much will be missed. The player will then become an expert in one Star System, but have an average or simple understanding of the planets around their star. They will still be greatly knowledgeable about the planets over time, but never to the magnitude of the Planetary Explorer. These types of players will focus mostly on upgrading their multi-tool, although a great deal will still be added to their exosuit, and perhaps a couple of upgrades will make their way to the starship in case they have to defend themselves or someone else in their stellar space.
Next comes the Galactic Explorer. Needless to say, this is just a bigger version of the Steller Explorer with a greater emphasis on the bodies orbiting stars rather than what may be on said bodies. The Galactic Explorer will only end up on planets to gather the materials needed to find new stars and new planets. They chart one or two life forms here and there, one or two waypoints here and there, but focus mostly on getting to new stars, charting and naming the planets around them before moving on to the next. This type of player isn’t an expert on any one thing, but rather the art of exploration. Their major skill comes from learning to mine in order to maximize the speed of their travels, therefore, the number of their discoveries. This is what I believe most people will end up doing. This type of player will focus mostly on buying a large starship and upgrading it in order to have all the necessary cargo to fuel their trip, and firepower to defend attackers who want said cargo.
Their time on planets is superficial and quick, so their multi-tools and exosuits will be neglected to some extent. The most probable reasons they’ll have for landing on any planet is to mine what they need for their trip, or to find a trading post with a landing pad to buy a or trade, or to hunt down a crashed ship and possibly repair it, abandoning their current ship for something greater.
If exploration isn’t your thing, maybe you are a Linguist. In the game, you will have the ability to slowly learn alien languages through different methods of teaching, which rest throughout the galaxy. As a linguist, your journey is based on discovering as much of the alien languages as possible. This playstyle is more like a scavenger hunt, in which you are trying to find facilities, ruins, monoliths and any other thing that might give you a new word to add to your steadily growing knowledge of multiple alien languages. These players will heavily neglect their multi-tool and starship in exchange for a high quality exosuit capable of keeping them alive on the surface of moons and planets while they hunt whatever they need to improve their word bank and increase their standing with alien races. They'll be able to make better choices during dialogue and advance through the galaxy through the means of communication instead of force.
They’ll jump from planetary body to planetary body, and from star to star, but they can do so with the most basic of technology, before landing and exploring with their incredibly overpowered exosuits.
Perhaps you don’t care much for alien languages, but are a Tech Geek and want to discover the best technology, just because. In this case you will be much like the Linguist, except your targets are crashed ships, abandoned buildings, and alien stations. This is one of the few playstyles that will result in a consistent upgrade to every aspect of the player’s technology, because the purpose is, after all, technological advancement.
The trader gameplay styles are where we reach the moral grey areas. These player’s goal is ultimately money. To have the most units possible. They get their goods and take them to the closest trading post.
The first of the trades is the Miner. These players mine expensive resources to sell at the space station or alien outposts. Due to the nature of their playstyle, they’ll end up maximizing their multi-tool to most efficiently mine resources and make the quickest buck. Miners will become well versed in the language of elements. They’ll know, quite well, where to locate rare and expensive elements to sell at the highest price.
The Pirate is the crooked equivalent of the Miner. Rather than working hard for their resources, the Pirates wait until a freighter is in site and attack it for its resources, or they tail starships on trade routes to attack and loot their remains.
These players will focus on upgrading the combat and defensive technology of their starship in order to most effectively swoop in, take out the target, defend against any additional involvements and swoop out before anyone knows what hit them. Ultimately ending up at a space station or outpost to sell the goods and get the money.
These players’ whole goal is to reach the center of the galaxy at all costs.
The Atlas Followers will do everything possible to remain on the Atlas Path. These players will be taken through the galaxy in their attempt to reach the supermassive black hole at the center. Because of the nature of their mission, all aspects of their technology will be upgraded. Most of the other playstyles will work their way through this one as they attempt to bring their rank up through the accomplishment of several milestones in order to progress through the questline.
The Jumpers are the players who will hunt small black holes to jump closer and closer to the center of the galaxy without following the Atlas Path. What I find most interesting about this playstyle (which happens to also be the one I use) is that you could potentially, stick around whichever star system is closest to the supermassive black hole, name the star “Lets Meet Here” and name every planet “I’m At The Space Station at 3 pm Eastern Time” or some nonsense like that, and potentially meet several players to then head out into other stars to explore with.
This game is about mining for resources. There is beauty to be had, but it’s about the mining and a lot of inventory management. It’s not for everyone, like I said at the beginning. If you are either creative, interested in astrophysics, or ever wanted to be an astronaut, give it a try. If you play games to complete the story, give it a try, but don’t expect much after you follow the Atlas Path because it’s still an open universe exploration game.
Now, I’m going to go play this game some more. Enjoy your day, and I hope you look into No Man’s Sky. I love it, maybe you will too. See you in the galaxy… Or maybe not.
Keep Looking Up!