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No Man's Sky: 8 ways it can be better

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No Man’s Sky is finally out, and it’s pretty good. It’s not for everyone, but the space adventure that Hello Games has created is – at least initially – incredibly captivating. But, much like Destiny and Frontier’s Elite Dangerous, Hello Games has already stated that No Man’s Sky is a game that will shift and evolve throughout its lifetime, receiving free updates and new features as the game progresses. Here are eight areas we think the game could improve.

Gameplay variation

The allure of No Man’s Sky is its planetary exploration, but no matter how many worlds you find, you’ll discover that you end up doing a very similar set of tasks on each. You’ll land, take stock of the first sights of the world, and then get to work, mining and scavenging from caves and abandoned buildings. You might find the occasional abandoned ship that you can repair and make your own, or a rare sign of intelligent life in one of a few random outposts.

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As the game gets updated, we hope that Hello Games add more variation into its gameplay, either via randomised specific missions that give you a purpose on planets, or by adding in new emergent discoveries that you can find when wandering away from your ship.

Space

The planetary stuff in No Man’s Sky is truly fantastic. Even after dozens of unique worlds, the thrill of setting down onto barren deserts and lush jungles is just as strong as ever. However, No Man’s Sky seems to sometimes forget that it is, at its core, a space game. Going forward, we’d like to see more variation in the space stations themselves, as well as newer, cooler things to find while flying about in your space ship.

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There’s only so many pirate ambushes you can take before hoping for something different; give us ringed planets, more interesting stars that are more than just pretty backdrops, and random encounters with aliens in space.

Opportunities for specialisation

The game’s appeal has so far been that you can choose to specialise in certain paths; be a trader, become an explorer, upgrade your ship and become a fighter. In its current state, these specialisations don’t really exist, at least not in such a defined way. In essence, everyone is a trader, scavenging planets for resources with some combat bits in between.

No Man's Sky

In future updates, it’d be great to see unique skill-trees added, with progression incentives for players to really invest time in the four pillars of gameplay that Hello Games specifically touted before launch. This will give purpose to the game beyond its current route of survival and exploration.

Combat

Speaking of combat, it really needs some refinements both in space and on land. It’s by no means terrible, and the fact No Man’s Sky is specifically not a combat game makes its janky controls much easier to bear, but the combat – especially in space – just doesn’t have the same peril as games like Elite Dangerous.

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The multi-tool is a cool idea, too, but having to go into your inventory to recharge your gun, or to refill the shields on your ship, just feels like an unwanted interruption to the flow of the game.

Inventory management

No Man’s Sky’s inventory management system is both confusing and clunky. The fundamental mechanics of its survival core are fine, even compelling when you get into a spot of bother as your life support depletes in the middle of a radiation storm. But the creation of certain items feels like busy work – in order to create the warp cells needed to fuel your hyperdrive for interstellar travel, you have to create three other items.

It just feels a bit padded, and instead we’d like to see a more streamlined way that the game can push you to collect resources.

Navigation

Getting around No Man’s Sky is made far tougher than it needs to be thanks to a convoluted galactic map and a lack of any real waypoint systems. If you find something cool, like an area full of gold deposits that you can mine for trading, but have no inventory space to fit it all, you’re essentially left in the lurch, unable to find it again.

No Man's Sky

The same goes for marking systems in the galactic map – the most useful way I’ve found of marking planets is by naming them for what they’re useful for, but naming planets “GoodForGold” isn’t the most intuitive way of doing this.

Stability

At launch, the game’s frequent crashes are a pain and we hope that No Man’s Sky’s stability problem is ironed out in the next coming weeks. This also goes for the game’s awkward, sometimes frustrating save system. Without a real way to manually save particularly often, you have to rely on the game to do it for you – either when you leave your ship, or when you find a save beacon somewhere on a planet.

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What’s annoying about this is that the game doesn’t save when you get back in to your ship, only when you get out of it. This leads to weird moments where you go to leave a planet and hop into your ship, hop back out, and hop back in to leave the planet with a fresh save guaranteeing you don’t lose any progress.

Multiplayer

The big obvious one, but multiplayer is arguably the game’s most sorely sought after feature. This is an enormous, lonely game; one that occasionally feels too lonely. What doesn’t help is that the gameplay variation on offer doesn’t quite give this vast, lonely world the mileage it needs to keep players playing alone. Without the hubs of activity that thrive in Elite Dangerous, multiplayer features like the naming planets and animals is novel but otherwise fairly unsatisfying. Give us the opportunity to meet our friends, or to kill our enemies. It will give the game a human heart that, at the moment, it’s kind of missing.

goose7

August 14, 2016, 8:29 pm

Your observations are spot on and I agree with basically everything you pointed out. I am however still LOVING THIS GAME!

I have poured about 35 hours into it so far, and I am far from being bored with the entire package. Sure there are areas that could benefit from updates and additions for content, but I just have to laugh at the idiocy of the HATERS. Most of whom haven't even actually played the game, but are of that pathetic ilk that loves to pile on the hate bandwagon every chance they get. Much like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

My response to these sorry excuses for gamers and their moronic comments, is that they deserve not to experience this game! Leave it for those with an imagination and the intelligence to appreciate something of this scope and uniqueness.

My biggest personal gripes with the current build besides the technical stability issues are as follows:

1) No clear way to re-visit previous systems easily. The current star map needs to be totally reworked to offer the ability to BOOKMARK star systems for later return or at the very least, show all the systems we have renamed and explored on our star map so we can see how far we have come, and a clear path back to those earlier adventures.

2) Inventory system needs to be scrapped/redesigned and replaced by something that works better for long range, multi-month play. - I would like to see the actual systems of the ship, suit and multi-tool made separate from the inventory section, so that upgrading your stuff doesn't reduce your cargo space.

3) Make the upgrade paths less confusing. - Why do I still have +1 versions of upgrades listed when I have upgraded to a +3? Do we actually need both? Or can I remove the lower ranked version once it has been replaced by a higher ranked version?

Currently I am doing just that and so far, this seems to be the way it works, yet Hello Games doesn't really tell you anything about this.

Anyway... As someone who has put over 4 weeks of actual gameplay time into Elite Dangerous between my Xbox One and PC versions, I am finding No Man's Sky to be a much more rewarding space game experience.

Sure it doesn't look as realistic and suffers from some very noticeable draw-in with the PS4 version (PC version purchased but holding for further updates), but the gameplay NMS offers is head and shoulders above the very shallow offerings currently presented in Elite Dangerous.

GlobalResident

August 14, 2016, 10:54 pm

I agree with some of these points, especially the one about being able to create waypoints at will. Hopefully it will be implemented in time. Can't agree about the multiplayer though - I like the solitude and that was actually part of the game design that not everyone may like.

I love the game. It's a new gaming experience imo, with a new kind of vibe. Hasn't even begun to get old yet.

For a "boring game about shooting rocks," as so many angry keyboard warriors say, they sure seem obsessed with the game for some reason. It's really given a snapshot of what makes them tick, unintended of course. It's absolutely bizarre. If the game "sucks" so bad, or it's "boring," they sure seem to devote lots of time to make their points clear, lol.

MCope

August 15, 2016, 7:07 am

I went to the youtube live-streams looking for planets, but most of
the streams, if one runs the cursor along the timeline, consist mainly of
inventory and trade, with the occasional planet in between. I would like
this balance to shift.

My list of things I'd like to see, all of them within Hello Games' capability:
- Space stations (and perhaps trading posts) populated with aliens and robots in the same way as planets are populated with animals, and with similar limited interaction.
- Rivers and streams on wet planets.
- Gas giants with floating life.
- Space whales
- Some sort of device that allows one to return by jump to planets one has visited before.
- Automated recharging (perhaps something earned) and anything else that will improve the necessary interaction with the clunky inventory.
- Improved animation for the comatose-seeming aliens.
- Robots
- A better algorithm for the surface of large bodies of water seen from above
- Optional multi-player. I quite like the solitude, but can see the appeal of doing it with someone else - which may explain the popularity of all the NMS live streams.

Chris B

August 15, 2016, 11:32 am

Bookmarking locations, showing which systems have been visited / uploaded in the galactic view definitely get an upvote from me.

A single button to upload all data would be very useful as well - you'd still be able to rename and upload individual items (I tend to name systems and planets, but leave the flora and fauna unchanged).

A centralised "stash", a bit like the bank in Borderlands. Takes a bit of the onus off inventory management.

Stackable crafted goods, like Carite Sheets and Microdensity Fabric - to craft other things, you often have to open up 5 or 6 slots in your inventory to hold the separate parts. Would be more friendly to have them stackable (though I admit this would be unrealistic - but it's not exactly a simulation at the moment...).

A manual of some sort, to tell us what the various icons / cargo loads mean (whether effects stack or not), and a way of comparing updates - at the moment, I assume that if an upgrade needs more resources to craft, it will be better, but this may not be true. Related to this, some visible stats on what an upgrade will do to your load-out.

I'm still enjoying the game, and I hope the updates take it in the right direction, allowing just as much freedom while giving more information.

Deranged Spaniard

August 15, 2016, 11:37 am

I've been playing this non stop with my youngest daughter and we are both having a blast. Last night I discovered a section of the planet I'm on is littered with gold. Huge rock formations of it. Everywhere. I felt like Scrooge McDuck. She was not amused. I wish there was a way to trade with other players like you could in Animal Crossing. That way I could help her get an upgraded ship and she can focus on exploring.

Lib Serum

August 15, 2016, 6:37 pm

Yep, this is pretty right on. Enjoying the game and believing Hello Games is comprised of good people and good listeners.

johanmalay

August 15, 2016, 11:19 pm

About the +1 vs +3 on upgrades - they stack (i.e. they're additive, having a +1 and +3 means it's a +4, and if they're next to each other there's a bonus). That's why they take up space in your inventory. If they didn't, you could just add all of them for every piece of equipment which would de-balance the game.

This forces you to make choices about what matters to you. If you want the best mining laser, you have to add all the +1, +2, +3, etc upgrades to your multi-tool, which likely keeps you from adding all of the bolt-caster upgrades...

Sure we'd all love to be perfect at everything, and have every upgrade, but I see their logic to limiting your ability to do so.

DaHoC

September 20, 2016, 4:17 pm

I would love to see it run on Linux, because I can't play it correctly in Windows and am about to switch to Ubuntu completely.

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