No Man’s Sky, the hugely ambitious title from Hello Games has been boggling gamers' minds since its December 2013 reveal. Taking place in a procedurally generated universe full of billions of planets, the potential for endless engrossing space exploration and discovery is astounding.
Players will encounter a whole suite of unique alien creatures and challenges as they begin to decipher the colossal world of No Man’s Sky. With the game arriving next month, we’ve listed five things you need to know ahead of No Man's Sky arriving in stores.
No Man’s Sky takes place across an entire universe filled with a dizzying array of planets, stars, lifeforms and ecosystems, all ripe for discovery. You will stumble across alien creatures, ancient civilizations and strange, untouched technology as you make your way toward the centre of the galaxy.
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There will be a total of 18 quintillion planets, which would take players centuries to explore in real life on their own. The odds of encountering another person out in the wild is near impossible, unless you have the exact co-ordinates of their current star system.
Everyone will begin at the edge of the universe, with the goal of reaching the centre. On the way you will discover planets, communicate with alien races and make your mark on the daunting galactic horizon. Hello Games estimates that 99.9% of planets will never be found by players, which is a bit overwhelming, and sounds like a challenge which no doubt many will accept.
The universe in No Man’s Sky will no doubt be filled with engaging mysteries and profound lore, but there will be no linear story to follow. The story will instead be told by you, punctuated by the planets and creatures you discover along the way.
There are also a multitude of alien languages to uncover as you progress. These come in the form of a fully-fledged alphabets that can be used to communicate with NPCs such as merchants and hostile mercenaries. It’s unclear how extensive this feature will be, but it should add a considerable amount of meaning to your galactic plundering.
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Much like The Long Dark and Ark: Survival Evolved, it’s up to you to connect the dots and draw conclusions from the surroundings you come across, piecing together cohesive tales from the abandoned ships, artifacts and alien creatures you stumble upon.
Space exploration will play an integral part in No Man’s Sky, so as you might expect, keeping your ride in up to speed is super vital. Every spaceship can be upgraded in a number of categories, whether this be brutal firepower or agile manoeuvrability.
You’ll also be able to purchase shiny new ships at space stations dotted throughout the galaxy, so long as you have enough currency that is. Unfortunately, you can only own one at a time, giving you an incentive to upgrade each component in a way that perfectly fits your play style.
Each vehicle will be fitted with a hyperdrive that allows you to jump between star systems, a feat that requires ludicrous amounts of fuel. This can be gathered on new planets or purchased at vendors, and is a vital amenity in No Man’s Sky. If you happen to get blown to pieces on your travels, don’t worry, your ship will accompany you when you respawn.
It isn’t quite Grand Theft Auto in space, but misbehaving in No Man’s Sky does have its consequences. When harvesting resources on a new planet you don’t want to be too greedy, otherwise Sentinels will come after you. These towering mechanical beings can be defeated if you have the right equipment, but pack a hefty punch regardless.
The same rules apply to each planet’s wildlife. If you harm them or purposely destroy their natural habitat you’re in for some serious punishment. Such a procedure should prevent players from needlessly destroying all planets they explore, or taking all the resources for themselves.
All of your naughty actions will be represented by a wanted level while you explore the galaxy, which can be lessened by leaving the associated planet or eliminating nearby threats.
You might not stumble across a living, breathing human in No Man’s Sky, but there will be plenty of opportunities to form new relationships, which can be good and bad. If you befriend specific characters in the game world you can join special factions with their own unique benefits.
Helping certain factions could reward you with new equipment and resources or drag you into an irreversible conflict. Rival factions will often go into battle with one another, forcing you into colossal dogfights in the vast emptiness of space. This will put your skills to the ultimate test, so make sure you come prepared.
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Of course, you could just avoid interaction entirely, opting instead for a purely solo adventure. This may result in fewer rewards and a more arduous search for resources, but the sense of isolation as you explore the never-ending solar system sounds fantastic.
We could go on and on about No Man’s Sky, and we probably will if it ends up getting delayed again, but for now, let us know what you’re excited about in the comments below.
No Man’s Sky is scheduled to launch in 2016 for PS4 and PC.
To check out our hands-on impressions of the game, read our thoughts from E3 2015 below.
Available on PS4 and PC
No Man’s Sky release date: June 24, 2016
Few games have had quite the hype of No Man’s Sky. Unveiled all the way back at E3 2014, the idea behind it caught the imagination of millions of gamers: what if you could visit an entire galaxy of planets and name the ones you found? The excitement has been building ever since.
At E3 2015, developer Hello Games finally gave us an insight into what players will actually be doing in this infinite universe, aside from just flying your ship across space looking for new worlds to name after rude words. If we were wearing our lazy journalistic comparison hat, we’d say No Man’s Sky appears to be a mix of Elite and Grand Theft Auto -- you can choose to be a warrior, a trader, an explorer or a mix of all three, but if you do anything wrong, expect to have the space police chasing after you.
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When you find a new planet in No Man’s Sky, the idea is to scan for a beacon in order to name the planet. Once you name that planet, that’s how it will be known to everyone else through the galaxy. To answer some immediate questions: Yes, you can give multiple planets the same name (if you want them all named after you, for example). Yes, there will be some filters on what you can and can’t name planets. And yes, they really are huge in scale. Or as Murray keeps saying: “Our planets are planet-sized”.
When you land on a planet, the idea is to scan for beacons and other points of interest. Some life forms will be hostile, but most of the wildlife is friendly. If you shoot at the innocent inhabitants of a planet, a local enforcement sentinel will take an interest. Continue to misbehave, and your wanted level will rise, much like in Grand Theft Auto, with stronger and stronger law enforcement units at each level. Get a wanted level 5 and the huge walkers come in. Thankfully, you have a rechargeable shield that protects you, but once that’s gone, there’s only five hit points between you and death.
Most people won’t want to destroy the local wildlife though, at least according to Hello Games. “You will find creatures you want to share,” says Murray. “If you’ve been travelling for tens of hours, what you’ve collected becomes a point of pride.” Other players will be able to see what you’ve discovered in your profile -- a screen that currently looks very similar to the profile screen in Destiny.
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Murray also hopes that you’ll want to explore the galaxy out of your own curiosity, finding relics from previous civilisations on your travels. Nearly all of the content in the game is procedurally generated: from the worlds, to the ships and even the weapons -- No Man’s Sky has thousands of unique-looking weapons. You also need to discover new technology on your travels -- technology determines how far you can jump through hyperspace to find new worlds.
Naturally, you’ll be able to perform upgrades to yourself and your ship in No Man’s Sky. You have a certain number of inventory slots -- these slots can hold cargo or upgrades, so you need to balance being able to carry stuff or improving the capabilities of your ship.
Likewise, your space suit can also be upgraded. Your suit determines how long you can last in toxic environments or stay underwater. Different planets will have different resources -- some planets will be packed with really valuable assets, whereas others will be more barren. If you do find valuable goods, you can travel to a local trading post and sell the resources you’ve gathered.
With so much hostility in No Man’s Sky, you have to think about the possibility of dying. If you die on a planet, you lose discoveries that have been made; if you die in space, you lose your ship and you’re put back on a nearby space station. Some planets are really dangerous -- you’ll have pirates warping in from afar to take you out. Far off planets will have more deadly enemies: you can kill their fighters who will drop loot, but killing them gets your wanted level up. Thankfully, if you can get off a planet quick enough, your wanted level doesn’t carry across the map, so you can evade the police like in GTA.
The main restriction in No Man’s Sky is fuel -- you can buy it, but it’s expensive. The alternative is to mine fuel directly from planets, but this takes time and resources. This is the central economic mechanic of the game -- you can buy, mine, steal, or trade fuel. Freedom is a big thing for Hello Games -- you don’t need to ever land on a planet if you don’t want, according to Murray.
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What we know about the story is still minimal, but we know you’ll start the game on a planet and go exploring from there. Murray cited games like Salt, Stranded Deep and Terraria as influences in the way that they put you in a world and don’t explain why you’re there. “That’s for you to find out,” he teased.
The multiplayer aspect of the game was compared to Journey by Murray. Don’t expect to meet a lot of people in No Man’s Sky -- the universe is just so overwhelmingly massive, it’s going to be difficult to find people. “We could start a million people on one of these planets and they’d probably not find each other,” he claimed.
One final question that we had answered in our session was that day and night cycles exist, and they are realistic in relation to the nearest sun.
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Clearly, there’s a lot of thought that’s been put into this game, and we’ll undoubtedly continue to think up new questions as we discover just how big this world is. No Man's Sky will be coming to PS4 and PC on June 24, 2016, so we don't have long to wait.