On Release Day, I spent a few hours playing No Man’s Sky.
It’s not perfect, but damn, it’s close.
No Man’s Sky released with a Day Zero patch (doesn’t everything, these days?) so I can’t report on the original, unpatched version (I’m not getting paid for this, so why would I bother?), but I can tell you that the seamlessness of the gameplay is thoroughly impressive.
The game takes about thirty seconds to load up (not bad), but once you’re in Play Mode, it has none of those annoying beach-ball-spinning halts while it loads the next sector or map. I was able to travel from planetary caves, surfaces, and oceans, through outpost structures, jump in my spacecraft’s cockpit, leap up to the skies over my alien world, and head thence up into space and onto a space station all without a single glitch or hang. I’ve never known a game with such fluid transitions.
There were a couple of issues. I haven’t used the hyperdrive successfully to warp between star systems…the one and only system crash I experienced was during such a jump, and I didn’t try it again last night. I also experienced two instances of what I call “3D render errors” — I’m sure there’s an official game developer name for it — where I got close to the edge of a solid, 3D object and saw “through” it. One instance was when my ship was essentially scraping along the outside of a space station and glimpsed “through” it and saw the planet beyond, and the other — a much more commonplace error — was when I was spelunking, got caught in a close-quarter niche, and saw beyond the limits of the rock I was mining.
Cruising over the planetary surface, the landscape grows more defined as it got closer, resolving from vague, misty, pixelated areas to scenes of higher definition and resolution. This is pretty standard for any open world game, though, so I don’t consider it a flaw. It’s definitely not a distraction.
The possible activities are varied, and I only scratched the surface.
In my game session last night, I mined terrestrial materials, repaired my spacecraft, acquired blueprints for enhancements from crash sites and outposts, learned about twenty or so words in the (I presume) galactic language, explored the four worlds and one moon in my solar system, mined asteroids, discovered about fifty or so species of flora and fauna, visited a space station, died twice, and discovered that I really hate the sentinels that populate every nook and cranny of every world.
I did not engage in space battles. I did not go about rampaging through the countryside like some jerk on a space safari. I did not jump to another star system (yet) or explore the path to the galactic core.
The learning curve is fairly exponential — low and easy to start, but then it steepens quickly. I expect that, once I “get” a certain facet of the world mechanics, it’ll flatten out again until I hit the next steep rise (like, how do you get one of those Atlas chips? Or find antimatter for warp cores?)
Mostly, though, I’m enjoying the learning curve. It’s part of the exploration aspect, and is fairly intuitive. I’m also avoiding almost all gamer comments and reviews, as I want to learn it on my own. What’s the fun, otherwise?
The game is living up to the hype, for me. I’m sure we’ll see patches issued regularly as the weeks and months pass by, and I’ve read reports of overloaded servers, but this is all part of standard roll-out growing pains. As major roll-outs go, this one is a walk in the park.
After all, if we lived through Windows ME, we can certainly make it through this.