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No Mankind's Sky: Divided

No Man's Sky, PC version, is just one night's sleep away from release.  It bodes very poorly they're in crunch time to get a playable version out under a deadline, but we will soon see if they will succeed.

I took two extra days off hoping, in vain, No Man's Sky was going to stick to that original release date.  It didn't, so I ended up needing to fill those two days some other way.  I was unable to get myself to play the three games I was planning to play:
  • Fallout 4 (survival mode) - The challenge largely evaporates once you get a few levels to bolster your hit points and have enough accumulated supplies to defeat illness.  Then you're back to the same old monotony of dragging junk back to your settlements... except  in survival mode there is no fast travel and your carrying capacity is significantly hampered.  This game desperately needs a gopher mechanic.
  • Rimworld - It is every bit as good as a solid sci-fi graphical reinterpretation of Dwarf Fortress should be.  However, I just don't have the time to play a game where basic tasks take a long time to complete and yet losing is considered so fun that the only balanced AI (Cassandra) tries its best to make it inevitable.  I am certain this game is worthy of a play when it gets out of early access, but in the meanwhile I should endeavor not to get any more burned out from it than I am.
  • Starbound - My post v1.0 review: Starbound is essentially just a new sci-fi version of Terraria.  There are innumerable differences, of course... but not enough.  I'm bored of Terraria, I'm bored of this game.  This is what millions on kickstarter gets you.
It turns out that games I played before and was burned out from remain boring to me.

So what did I end up playing instead?
Elite: Dangerous, another game I played before and should have been burned out from.

Why?
  • Because it is the second closest thing to No Man's Sky without actually being it, the first being Subnautica. (Both are not really fair comparisons.)
  • Because there have been numerous improvements since I last played it (at the beginning of the year).  The biggest changes I have noticed:
    • The mission interface and outfitting interface have been overhauled into significantly improved versions.
    • There is a gambling side activity that converts unique fiddly bits of recovered stuff into randomized weapon potency modifiers... they call this mechanic, "Engineers."
    • Enemy AI appears to have been overhauled.  They put up a much better fight.  I suspect they have been given a potency handicap, and that rankles in a game balanced as tightly as this.
  • Because even if Elite: Dangerous is not the most fun game, it is certainly a contender for the most immersive, and this makes it attractive when I feel trapped by life's circumstances.
Watching No Man's Sky being played on a PS4 stream on the side, it is clear that Elite: Dangerous is the superior technical accomplishment in many ways.  Unfortunately, Frontier Developments can't seem to figure out how to finish it.

Horizons has basically added a whole side activity, away from credit earning, in order to give the players who have hundreds of millions of credits in the bank more to do.  Go drive around on planets and do missions to earn the parts needed to gamble on the engineers to tweak your ship to be even more powerful.

Prior to this, players would just devolve into player killing monsters when they reached the end of things to do in the game, just like any other open world where there's really no point waiting at the end.  Now, there is a speed bump in front of that.  I think I'll keep playing in solo mode for now.

I think that No Man's Sky's simpler economy gives it a significant advantage in fun potential versus the unmitigated grind that is the core of Elite: Dangerous' progression.  However, neither of them has an economy as developed as EVE Online, and would get a longevity benefit out of going in that direction.

Regardless of how I end up feeling about No Man's Sky, I have something excellent to look forward to...
...Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be out in another 12 days.  The other game at the top of my Steam wish list for over a year.

It is the latest iteration in the genre-defining series of first person cyberpunk stealth-friendly RPGs.  For good or ill, it promises to add an open world and quite a bit of gritty dystopian seasoning to the already heady mix of multiple puzzle solutions against a backdrop of tinfoil hat conspiracies given substance.  

Adam Jensen, the protagonist of the new games, is a great character for whom I am ecstatic to step into his prosthetic shoes to see where his story goes from here.

For now, I'm thinking I ought to give Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Director's Cut) a play while waiting for Mankind Divided to come out.  This should give me a little variety along with No Man's Sky.

Because having ideas is the easy part:

I was talking it over with a friend of mine and we agreed that if we were to take what No Man's Sky did and added some Fortresscraft Evolved building elements and Eve Online's economy with Planetside 2's netcode, that would be a way cooler No Man's Sky.   

While we're at it, might as well throw in the awesome space interface from Elite: Dangerous and the awesome ground interface from these new Deus Ex series.

Unfortunately, this promising chimera is way above my talent level to produce, but maybe some AAA gaming company will manage not to let real life economic pressures crush this beast in its egg.

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