We finally have an official release date for No Man’s Sky! Hello Games and PlayStation will be dropping this gem for PS4 consoles on June 21, 2016. This is right in that sweet post-E3 window in which Sony loves to release generation-defining games (see The Last of Us). That’s not even the best news, though, because we actually got some hands-on time with the game earlier this week. Now that we’ve experienced what No Man’s Sky has to offer from minute-to-minute, a lot of our questions (and prayers) have been answered. Read along, but only if you’re sure you want to know what to expect when you fire up this game on June 21.
Malik interviews Hello Games’ Sean Murray
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Finally, we know the main objective of No Man’s Sky
It’s no secret that this is a humungous game. Hello Games and Playstation have frequently touted the scale of this game, which is said to allow you to explore up to 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets. This is all great, but up ’til now, we hadn’t had any true indication to what this game is about. What’s the end goal? What will we be playing for?
While there are a slew of activities for players to partake in as they explore the many planets, there is one clear purpose in No Man’s Sky: travel to the center of the universe. Every player starts off the game within the outskirts of the universe, on planets that are more habitable for players at their beginners stages. As you make your way to the core of the universe, the difficulty of the game will scale accordingly, and this will require you to adapt to the different environments using the games upgrading system.
The upgrade system is quite robust
Progression will rely heavily on how well you manage upgrading your space suit, your space craft, and your weapons. Increase the thermal protection on your spacesuit for colder environments. Spruce up your space craft for better performance during space battles while traversing from planet to planet. Fine tune your weapons to take down some of the game’s greater threats. Scouring planets for their resources and utilizing the game’s trading system will allow players to upgrade these items, thus further preparing them for the dangers that lie in the way on their voyage to the universe’s core.
Despite what’s been indicated in previous reports, No Man’s Sky will have a plethora of NPCs for players to interact with. Most of these NPCs are from alien races, so players will be required to investigate the planet for writings and hieroglyphic-covered monoliths, and request assistance from NPCs to learn their dialect. Increasing your comprehension of alien vernacular will open up opportunities to trade with them and can even result in them providing you with much needed items as gifts.
You will never play this game with your friends
While No Man’s Sky is certainly a shared experience that multiple people will take part in, the chances of players actually playing the game together, competitively or cooperatively, is “zero.” Don’t expect to be exploring these planets with a party of more than one person. Sean Murray stated that 99% of the game’s solar system will go untouched by each single player, making the prospect of bumping into anyone else highly unlikely.
No Man’s Sky is still a shared experience, however, so you won’t feel completely alone in the universe. “If two players go to the same place, they’ll see exactly the same thing,” stated Murray during his presentation. Players will stumble upon planets that others have already discovered and notice things like human-made distortions in the planet’s structure or renaming of the planet’s indigenous creatures—a feature that’s sure to get abused by the obscene minds of the Internet. This really encourages exploration. Just like our most esteemed astronomers, you will be impelled to confirm the existence of life on other planets.
Hello Games classifies this as a “sandbox survival” game
Still can’t put your finger on what genre to categorize this game in? Neither can I, and that’s after having hands-on time with it. Hello Games calls it a “sandbox survival” game, with the “survival” element resembling Minecraft‘s survival mode more so than, say, Resident Evil. This bodes true if you take the various planets’ different life-threatening conditions into consideration.
The temperature on one planet was so low that my thermal protection went offline, which diminished my shield, eventually causing me to freeze to death. Another planet was crawling with sabre-toothed cat-like predators that relentlessly chased after me and the surface’s docile creatures. I was forced to gun them down as a means of survival, and added insult to injury by renaming their species “mean f***ing cat.”
This game will feel very familiar to FPS fans
If you’ve played an FPS title, No Man’s Sky will feel well within your space pod. Pressing and holding the X button accesses your jet pack (limited use that requires cool down) and can serve as a simple jump with a slight button press. R2 fires any weapon that you’re carrying, L1 serves as your weapon’s secondary fire option, and pressing down the left trigger allows you to sprint (also limited use that requires cool down). Piloting your spaceship is as accessible as Star Fox 64, just with a far wider amount of ground (or space) to cover.
The hud display isn’t anything out of the ordinary either. The top left of the screen is occupied by your shield and health bars, the top right is occupied by your ammunition gauge and the bottom left by your space suits thermometer. The menus were slick, easy to navigate, and reminded me of the intuitive style that Destiny designed their menus in.
Gameplay is seamless and free of loadscreens
I only played the game for 30 minutes, but in that time, not once did I run into a load screen. Instead, the elements continuously loaded around me as I moved into different areas. Sometimes they’d load so fast that I didn’t even notice, but there were other times where I’d see creatures popping into my field of view abracadabra-style.
The same was the case when flying between planets. It was as seamless as actual flying, with no hiccups or stops, just the occasional loading in of elements in my field of view. This trait alone added a sufficient amount of immersion and quality to the experience.
There are plenty of interior environments
You won’t just be exploring the outside surfaces of each planet—structure interiors will play quite a role in this game. Whether it be a random control center on a new planet you just discovered, or a space station you find while roaming amongst worlds, the interiors are fully explorable, and are where you’ll find most of the game’s NPCs. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as being close to freezing to death, only to find a space station in the near vicinity to warm up in just in time.
There are also huge cave networks to be discovered if you dig into planets’ surfaces. Using a grenade to blow a hole into the ground is certainly a possibility, and sometime you’ll find very valuable minerals by exploring deeper into each planet’s core.
Sean Murray traipsed out in front of a small group of video game writers to show off his game, wearing no shoes on his feet. I figured this was to help him deal with his nervousness—he was, for the first time since E3, here in the US, getting ready to show off a game that has been receiving an unprecedented amount of hype—for an indie game—over the last three-ish years. It turns out, though, that Sean and company just like to feel at home. There’s a sense of tranquility and zen that goes along with walking around in your socks, something that transfers well to games like Minecraft, Hohokum, and now No Man’s Sky.
That said, expectations are only going to get higher from here on out, especially with how much more promising this game is looking with every little detail we’ve dug up on it. Let’s hope that Hello Games can keep those shoes of theirs off and keep up the great work leading up to No Man’s Sky launch this summer.
No Man’s Sky hits the PlayStation 4 on June 21, 2016. For more from Sean Murray on No Man’s Sky, check out my interview with him at the top of the page!