No Man’s Sky is tedious, annoying, boring, yet strangely compelling

Yes, annoying, tedious, and boring describe No Man’s Sky (NMS) pretty well. You’ll note that the word “fun” isn’t there, but there is joy to be had in the game. NMS is an inventory management and resource gathering game. Sure, the setting is a procedurally-generated galaxy with tons of worlds that nobody else (players, that is) has ever seen. But really it is about getting a space ship with more inventory slots. And getting a multitool (magic mining laser/gun) with more inventory slots. And upgrading your exosuit so it has more inventory slots. Sure, there’s exploring new worlds that are very much like all the other worlds, and meeting aliens, one at a time. Occasionally we can shoot space pirates too (or be killed by them). But overall, it’s all about managing inventory well enough to build the things you need to fix the new space ship you found that has one more inventory slot than the last one.

Even though the worlds are all different, they are largely the same, in that the mineral deposits look the same on all the worlds, and since that’s all that is important, that’s the defining characteristic. Sure, the animals are different, and the weather can be very different, but in your exosuit, who cares. On the other hand, some of the views are spectacular, and it is fun to be the first player to explore a place, including naming things.

The biggest problem I see with NMS is scale. The galaxy is huge, as are the planets, yet I’ve got a space ship that is reasonably expensive to launch and tedious to land. Much of the exploration therefore is done on foot, which is tedious and not much fun. There is a galactic map, but no ground maps where you can mark a favorite trading post or a rich mineral area. So, in short, it’s a big universe, and you can visit a lot of it, but once you get there, you can’t cover much ground. I think something like an in-atmosphere flyer that you can call and get picked up nearly anywhere and jump off quickly would be perfect. Something like the ability to get vehicles in the latest Saints Row games would work. I think the NMS universe is great and I’d like to be able to explore more of it. I’m already on my 3rd star system, and I really regret leaving the first two so quickly. I may even go back to check them out again (if I can find my way back on the map).

So at the moment, the challenge and interest slightly exceed the tedium, so I’ll keep playing No Man’s Sky for a while more, at least.

Comments are closed.