There’s been a bit of buzz about procedurally-generated open world walking/mining/flying simulator No Man’s Sky recently. We have covered some of the interest here, most recently the game play video shown at E3, and there is a lot for people interested in the Eve universe to be excited about. The scope of the game is truly immense and extremely ambitious – a massive universe with literally thousands and thousands of separate worlds to visit, apparently all procedurally-generated, leading to huge amounts of possible diversity. With all this potential to explore it could be argued that a five minute game play video really isn’t enough to do the game justice – what we really need is something that shows a bit more of the game, some of the interactions, and maybe somebody actually interacting with the planets and exploring exactly what happens when I do this.
Well, now we have a bit more to go on. Thanks to IGN First there is now an eighteen-minute video available showing some interesting interactions, some of the game mechanics in action, and giving a bit of an insight into the size of the game world that No Man’s Sky operates in. It’s hard not to be impressed with some of the visuals here, especially the fly-through of the universe which just seems to go on and on and on and … my god, it’s full of stars!. OK, the pop-in on some of the assets may be a little jarring, and the graphics generally may not look super-awesome, but it has an interesting aesthetic (which may be very different on different planets, depending on how procedurally-generated everything is), and this is still a product very much in development right now.
It’s undeniably impressive, ticking most of the boxes that Eve players are going to be interested in, like flying through space, blowing rocks up, blowing NPCs up, blowing other players’ ships up, or getting your own ship blown up. There is a game play niche for people who like to gather resources, or explore, or gank freighters, or ninja-loot wrecks – and if you have been looking for Fish Discovery Simulator 2015, well, I think your search may well be over. It is a very impressive bit of work, and really could be a rival for the crown of King of the Space Sandbox Shooty-Shooty MMO that is sitting relatively comfortably atop Eve’s head. It’s even more impressive when you consider that developer Hello Games is a tiny studio, with only two previous games in its back catalogue.
There are however a couple of things that make me a little nervous about the game. One is the scope. It really is huge. Incomprehensibly huge, to me at least – and that’s great. But the team developing it is tiny, and their track record is not extensive. This is not a comment on the quality of their other games, as I have no experience of them – but it is a comment that it’s a brave move to produce a game, a sequel to that game, and then choose to develop what seems to be one of the biggest game worlds committed to hard drives. I hope that they pull it off, because I think that No Man’s Sky could be fantastic.
The other concern I have (which is tied to the first and is the bigger one for me) is whether there will be enough content in the game to actually drive people to want to play it. There isn’t a huge amount of developed content on show from what I’ve seen. There are the beacons that show on screen that can be explored, but there doesn’t seem to be much information on what will happen when they are visited. Then there is the comment that the centre of the universe is the goal of the game, the seeming end-game. However, there is no other information as to why that is the case, or what is driving the players to head there, or what kind of action can be expected when it is reached. I understand that the developers aren’t going to give away any massive spoilers, but from what I’ve seen so far very little has been divulged about what players can expect in their interactions with the game (separate from interactions with other players), other than they can shoot rocks (or goats – but don’t shoot the goats or you’ll get torn a new one by the local police), identify fish, and fly to different planets – where they can do exactly the same thing, but with a different skin. The scan will reveal points of interest which could be the equivalent of missions or anomalies in Eve, but also may simply be trading posts or random drops rather than actual content. Content is a massive thing for all games, and as a great many Eve players know content creation is a highly prized skill as that which is provided by CCP is not the most compelling – missions and anomalies are interesting enough the first time you see them, but they get repetitive quickly and can become more of a chore than an enjoyment. Fortunately the Eve community is very good at creating content for themselves, and to CCP’s credit they are also pretty good at working with the player base to help support the emergent game play that comes about in this way. It remains to be seen whether No Man’s Sky will have either the compelling and varied in-game content that players (especially solo players) will need to keep them interested, or if the community that develops with the game will be able to exploit the sandbox that Hello Games have provided and generate interest to keep the game fresh and fun for the player base.
Oh, and they probably need to reduce the size of that gun model. I mean, seriously, that thing is huge!
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Wotan Mjolnir.