1) Your starting world
The one thing everybody who I’ve spoken to since No Man’s Sky came out can agree on is that their first world was a magical experience. Before the game came out, I heard that there was no difficulty gradient, so the first world could be an inhospitable nightmare without the resources to allow you to escape or rich in precious resources and beautiful scenery. Cue weeks of imagining what my world would look like, hoping and dreaming. Did I want it to be Hoth or Tatooine? Rigel or Riga?
Once the loading screen finished, all my hours of waiting were over. I was on a beautiful green paradise; verdant grass and an emerald sky, twin suns illuminating purple trees and large sparkling geodes, laying out before me to explore. The knowledge that no one else had ever seen that planet, not even the developers, made it all the more magical. I didn’t even care that the temperature averaged -25 degrees during the day.
Whatever your world looks like, the wonder is the same.
2) Alien Languages
So you’ve run around your unique world, and maybe even found a trading post manned by a strange looking life form. When it speaks you see the nonsense language appear, and wait for the translation so you know what they’re asking you. Except it never comes. Oh no, you need to EARN your translations. So off you hike to find the strange pillars that teach you one word at a time.
Several hundred pillars later and there was a deep sense of satisfaction as I could finally understand words a computer was barking at me during a systems failure, enough to solve a problem and earn a huge reward.
3) Alien Ruins
A lot has been made of the element of discovery in the main story line. I remember that I had been traversing a rocky valley for a long time when I finally crested the peak and peered down onto the grassland to see a giant tower on the horizon.
Naturally, I veered towards it and as I got closer I found that it wasn’t just a tower, but the remains of what I can only describe as a space castle. I ascended the structure to find several translation towers, and a mysterious orb. Activating the orb then gave me a tiny sliver of an alien culture’s history. Incidentally, this then led to a ten hour journey to uncover more of this alien backstory (which turned out to be incredible and well worth the effort).
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d get to be a space Indiana Jones.
4) Insane creatures
I think I speak for everybody when I say that the weird mushroomy things and space cows are getting boring. Occasionally, however, No Man’s Sky spits out a creature so unbelievably cool that it takes my breath away. I don’t mean the highly venomous Space Chicken that hunted me over an entire planet, but I do mean the giant flying space worm five times larger than my ship. Or the giant crossbreed between a T Rex and a preying mantis (a creature so terrifying that I immediately jumped into my craft and left the planet).
Procedural generation has created some truly wonderful creatures, and wondering what may be on every new planet keeps it exciting and fresh.
5) First space flight
From conversations with other players, it turns out I was fairly unusual in that I didn’t leave my starting world for nearly twenty hours. When it was finally time, I got into my ship and headed out of the atmosphere. Now, I’m going to show my age a bit here, but I remember when I was a teenager and read about the ability to navigate the galaxy in Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic. Childhood dreams of piloting a space fighter like Starbuck (original series BSG there), or Han Solo, had me whooping with excitement. Then the game came out and we found out that it was essentially a series of loading screens, not real controllable flying at all. I wasn’t disappointed though, at the time it was a huge leap forward.
Back to now: I’m flying up through my world’s green clouds, when suddenly the ship rumbles as it hits atmospheric friction, the heat shields go wild and beep at me until I enter space, stars appearing around me as I stare out into the void for the first time. I see distant planets in the same system, a space station and thousands of asteroids.
That is nothing, however, when compared to the moment I performed a 180 degree spin and looked back at my starting world for the first time. It was giant! Huge, green and beautiful. It had no water on it at all, the forests, grasslands and mountain ridges stretched the whole way around.
I turned back to face the next planet I wanted to travel to. Travel time: 24 hours real time. That was the moment I first realised how big this game truly was, and my first space flight was far more magical than I could ever have expected.
What have been your defining moments of No Man’s Sky so far? Have you been surprised, found any crazy creatures or fought endless space pirates? Let us know in the comments!
No Man’s Sky is available now to buy on PS4 and PC.
Johnny Di Girolamo | @Jdigirolamo