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More Fun Than It Has Any Right To Be

So the PC version of No Man's Sky released and I played the snot out of it.

For the most part, it turned out exactly as I thought it would.
  • Riddled with consolitus With weird console GUI concessions, sub-par textures, and boggling default configuration settings that render it downright unstable until corrected.   At least it is playable on PC, provided you don't have a AMD Phenom processor, so it was not a worse case scenario... but, at the end of the day, the PS4 was still the primary platform.
  • Too little gameplay to fill that much content.  An easy prediction, admittedly. 18-quintillion planets is an awful lot of content.  There's maybe 100 unique enough for me to care.  In terms of gameplay, you do nearly the exact same thing on each and every one, so there could have been only three planets (one for each alien race) and I would not have been missing much.
  • Multiplayer so low on the priority list that they took it out.   I nailed that prediction in an earlier draft of a previous entry.  Although, I don't really think of it as an outright lie from Hello Games, it's more like a parent telling their kids about Santa Claus.
Yet, despite all this, I still enjoy playing No Man's Sky.

Part of reason why might be the walking simulator appeal of navigating an open-ended environment that is quite unique from most game offerings... 
No Man's Sky is quite the screenshot generation engine
... however, there is also heaps of old fashioned endorphin triggering; the game is constantly rewarding you:
  • See a rock?  Shoot it until rock candy comes out!  Even the trees and animals are loot piƱatas!
  • See that burning drop pod in the distance?  It doesn't even make sense there's so many of them!  Who cares?!  Free technology!
  • See a ruin?  A new alien word and a snippet of story, guaranteed!
  • See alien animals?  Whee!  Alien animals!  Gotta discover em' all!
  • See a sentient alien?  They're always up to delivering another story snippet and will usually give you something!
  • See a crashed ship?  It's yours if you want to invest the resources to fix it!
  • See a sentinel?  They're there to deter you from shooting and looting everything.  Shoot the sentinel and loot it.
You can't take a walk from one waypoint to another without stumbling across dozens of opportunities to trigger some endorphin.  It's rather insultingly pandering.  It's rather under delivering in what I feel virtual worlds should be about.

It's rather all I really deserved for $60 down.  Lets face it, what we all wanted No Man's Sky to be was an everlasting Gobstopper.  Is such a thing even possible?  Don't care, still want one.  No Man's Sky is a few degrees of sophistication short of qualifying as more than a spurious example of such, but was this really a fair expectation of ours?  Well, they deliberately over-hyped it, so maybe it was fair for us to expect that.

What was delivered was worse than a broken toy.  They gave us a working toy with a few flaws that still manages to be entertaining while not being that everlasting Gobstopper we wanted it to be.  Here's your perfectly adequate toy, Timmy, and if you deny that's exactly what it is then the world sees you as a brat.

Despite this cruel sleight, I'll probably continue to play No Man's Sky as the chill experience it is.  But only because I'm too old to be bothered by the everyday experience of dreams not coming true.

However, after about 4 days into play, I have already built up a laundry list of things whose lack is a detriment to smooth play:
  • Far and away the worst problem is the wanted meter is neutered.  You can make sentinels stop noticing you by blowing them up. Imagine if GTAs wanted meter went down by committing more crimes.  Sentinel wrath is the closest thing we get to genuine conflict in the game and they threw that away!  It feels like cheating, and I don't like it.
  • Another issue is race relationship scores only ever seem to go up.   You can badger the same Gek trader for endless favors as long as you've got the carbon.  It would make more sense of begging favors came with a minor reputation hit.
  • The transmission towers are reusable.  If that is not a bug, it should be treated like one.  (It's mighty suspicious there's no animation for them to reset.) Limiting them to one use will make finding these towers more significant and prevent players from cluttering up their GUIs as much.
  • Naming things gets monotonous fast, and seems silly when you end up naming identical things that exist on multiple planets.  Make naming rocks, flora, and fauna a community goal that involves donating units to decide the top pick for an official name.  Yes, this name shows up on ALL planets.  Of course, solar systems and planets can still be named by their discoverers.
  • We need some kind of mechanic to find species you need to complete a planet's species list.  Right now it takes too long.  It would also help if you knew if the remaining species were aquatic, terrestrial, or aerial.
  • Some kind of mechanic to make landing at designated landing areas easier would be appreciated.
  • Move the jetpack out of its corner on my exosuit so I can link jet upgrades to it.
  • I have not found a single panel to purchase a multi-tool upgrade from in over 25 hours of play.  There's something weird going on there.
So many little improvements I'd like to see.   But if wishes were starships, we'd not need No Man's Sky.  

As always, I'd be more likely to realize my dreams by committing to the sweat of my brow and making my own game.  Too bad life seems determined to make that extremely hard for me to do.


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