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No Man’s Sky is actually starting to make sense

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For a longer time than I think even Hello Games cares to admit, a lot of people were really confused about what No Man’s Sky really was. A combination or struggling to present all of the game’s genuinely unique ideas in a short space of time and media unable to fathom what all it’s randomly generating maths means, No Man’s Sky was eventually just this thing. This game that allowed you to near infinitely explore a gorgeous universe, and do some other things on the side. No one was really sure.

That’s changed in a big way, especially after many previews for the now June bound game went live last night. A handful of press managed to squeeze in some hands-on time with No Man’s Sky recently, and even these brief, fleeting playthroughs have offered more insight into what No Man’s Sky is than ever before.

First and foremost, No Man’s Sky is about exploration. Director Sean Murray explains that while lacking a narrative, No Man’s Sky is about the beauty of exploration and the pursuit or knowing more. This insatiable need to know more ties in with the game’s ultimate goal – reaching the centre of the universe. Given that No Man’s Sky can create 18 billion billion permutations of planets, it’s not even certain you’ll ever reach it.

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There’s no possibility for guides or walkthroughs, because everyone’s game is different, and that’s exactly what Hello Games is trying to achieve. According to Murray, this is one of the single most important goals for the game to nail. As Murray explained to Gamespot:

“So 99.9 percent of these star systems will never be visited That’s either quite beautiful or seriously depressing.”

“The centre is a really long way away. Like, really long.”

So No Man’s Sky is big. We’ve known this for a while already. What we didn’t really know is just what we’d do with all that space. Landing on a planet was previously just about resource gathering, but we now know that some of its randomly generated inhabitants aren’t all less intelligent wildlife. No Man’s Sky will feature massive NPC alien races that you can talk to, trade with or just generally be a dick too. Trading resources helps you gather more rare items – such as resources from planets you’ve probably never heard of before – which tie heavily into the game crafting system.

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Crafting is probably the most important bit here, because it determines so much about how you’ll explore No Man’s Sky’s worlds. Land on a plant too cold, and your suit will start to warn you of imminent hyperthermia. Land on one too hot and you’ll be burnt to a crisp in seconds. Upgrading your suit opens up new doors for you, just as upgrading your weapons and ship allow you to gather different resources and fly to more distant planets respectively.

Also there’s space pirate that are just eager to shoot you down and steal all your hard earned resources. So yeah, your ship is pretty important. Speaking to IGN, Murray expressed how RPG-ish No man’s Sky can feel.

“I can upgrade everything about myself. It’s kind of a non-linear RPG. You can upgrade your tech tree in whatever way you want.”

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So No Man’s Sky really sounds rooted in familiar tropes after all, even if it’s taking these tropes and relying on the unpredictability of the maths that essentially builds the game as you play. It’s fascinating to say the least, and and less intriguing than the day it was revealed all the way back in 2013. And now that I have a better idea of what it’s going to be, the wait until June 21st is going to feel even longer. No Man’s Sky is out on PC and PS4.

Last Updated: March 4, 2016

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