Following the unexpected leak of No Man’s Sky late last week, developer Hello Games released a significant day one patch for the game this morning, effectively pulling the rug out from anyone who got an early start. It resets the state of the game’s vast galaxy and all player-made research discoveries. It aggressively rebalances inventory management and the galactic market. In practice, No Man’s Sky feels different today than it did yesterday, but in spirit, it remains the same. We aren’t ready to issue a final review for No Man’s Sky, not because of this new patch, but because we’ve only just begun our journey.
With a personal spacecraft and a multitool weapon that’s perfecting for mining resources, you are free to adventure around a massive galaxy–a net of 18 quintillion planets. The point of No Man’s Sky is to explore, but there’s more than one reason to heed the call. You’re lured not only by a common goal–to reach the center of the galaxy–but also by a distant, mysterious force that appears now and then to steer you into the dark and sinister corners of the cosmos. Nevertheless, your priorities are ultimately in your hands; you can ignore explicit objectives and live a life of greed if you so wish. You can also spend your time cataloging discoveries and leaving your mark on planets, which may, someday, be discovered by another lone traveller.
Casual exploration is almost consistently rewarding thanks to the wealth of resources, outposts, and ancient ruins present on almost every planet–it’s hard to remember one devoid of lucrative opportunities. The money you earn from mining and selling resources can be spent on new multitools and spacecraft, both of which come in numerous colorful and exotic designs. Looks aside, better gear also comes with more slots that can be used to store items or house equipment upgrades–equally important capabilities in the long term.
Even a few hours in, however, there comes a point where the loop of seeking and acquiring gear begins to sag, and the vastness of the galaxy sinks in. With an unfathomable universe beckoning, and hundreds of thousands of light years separating you from the intended finish line at the center of the galaxy, it becomes far too easy to question the meaning of your pursuits. No Man’s Sky is an impressive technical feat, but its enormity may come at a cost. What does it mean to be alive in a world where everything is driven by algorithms, and your existence is solitary?
Despite the fact that there is a tangible formula beneath it all, No Man’s Sky can instill a grand sense of wonder. On any given moon or planet, the call of a distress beacon will lure you over the next mountain, where you might then discover a cache of rare minerals in a cave that allows you to refuel your hyperdrive for another interstellar leap. You may wander so far in search of random events that you begin to fear becoming stranded on an alien planet, and you long for the familiar comfort of your cockpit.
I will never see everything there is to see in No Man’s Sky. It’s the promise of unforeseen discoveries that I must continue to investigate, along with the value of prolonged virtual isolation. Is it worth my time to journey into the unknown for hours in search of treasure that may or may not exist? Would I be happier merely sailing among the stars, rather than toiling away on radioactive planets in search of minerals and generous aliens? I will be chronicling my journey through No Man’s Sky leading up to the full review, so check back with GameSpot every day until then as I plot my course to the center of the galaxy.