Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Exploring the Universe with No Man’s Sky

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Recently, a video game called No Man’s Sky has been hitting the news a lot, and not for good reasons. When it was released in August this year, Hello Games promised that their procedurally generated universe exploration game would feature an amazing array of extras – none of which appeared in release. Things were shown in promotional videos that aren’t in the game or look totally different. And since then, they’ve even said that they might release paid DLC to provide these promised features, which should have come with the base game.

As you can understand, players are furious. The game has now received overwhelmingly negative reviews on Steam, with anyone who bought it on release day for the full price of £39.99 feeling jilted. I was one of those fools.

Now, I’m not quite as angry as some of these people. The game promises to contain a universe with 18 quintillion planets, meaning you could never explore them all. Each one is procedurally generated, with a random atmosphere, climate, landscape and different levels of flora and fauna, as well as various hazards. If you like exploring in your games, it’s pretty good – but there’s really not much else to do apart from fly around and look at stuff.

However, I thought this could be a fun experiment for Sci-Fi Month – I’d pick some planets at random that I’d not yet visited, explore them, and document my travels. I’m hoping to do this over several posts. I’ve left all the planet and system names as the defaults, which is why some of them are unpronounceable… So here we go!

Planet #1 – Ibwayar Rolingi

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I landed on this planet, in the Ulhorinbodo system, during its night cycle, and the sky was a dark turquoise colour. It actually felt pretty creepy, as I could hear the shrieks of animals, but I couldn’t see anything. It was a grassy, humid planet, covered with bodies of water – which was actually the first one I’d found of its type in all thirty or so of the planets I’d explored before this.

Before long, the sun (or maybe suns?) came up, and the sky turned a bright yellow/orange. My surroundings were instantly a lot less creepy! The vegetation was lush, dense and colourful. I found evidence of some intelligent species having been on the planet in the form of storage pods, but I still hadn’t found any creatures.

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Finally I spotted something! A very shy, spiny creature that ran whenever I got near. After that, creatures seemed to appear everywhere and luckily they were all harmless… Even this one that looks sort of like a raptor with bunny ears. I also found an arch of rare metals, but it looked almost like there was lava flowing up through it and back down.

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Soon my HUD told me that there was an incoming storm, so I thought it might be an idea to find shelter. I’d seen something pop up earlier, so flew towards it – a base, where I was able to learn some new words of an alien language, Korvak, and pick up some new technology blueprints to help me on my travels. The storms in No Man’s Sky can be lethal – freezing, acid rain, fire – whatever they are, you do NOT want to be outside when they hit.

And with that, I decided it was time to move on. I warped to the next system to see what I could find…

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Planet #2 – Linjunguangkara

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If I thought the previous planet was creepy at night, it was nothing compared to this one. Located in the Euclid system, this planet was tropical and damp, dark and creepy, creepy, creepy! I immediately landed by a base – abandoned, and taken over by… something. Some sort of alien growth, like the red weed in The War of the Worlds. As I carefully navigated the base looking for resources, I had to keep an eye out for tentacles on the ceiling that would attack me. Ergh…

This planet also had water, typical after all those planets without. But was I going in that water? Nope. Nope. I did not trust the look of ANYTHING in that water. And there were caves everywhere. But the whole planet had me creeped out and too scared to even contemplate going anywhere risky. Who knew what could be lurking in there, waiting for me?

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Nearby, I found an alien monolith, which taught me a few words in the Korvak language. Sometimes you’ll find these scattered across the landscape, always imposing and unnatural, sometimes requiring some kind of sacrifice for a gain. It did nothing to settle my unease at this planet, so I decided it was time to leave.

I’ll be back with more intergalactic adventures soon!

16 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month 2016: Exploring the Universe with No Man’s Sky”

  1. Oh I want to play this game! I know it’s been disappointing but I LOVE exploring (it always annoys me in LOTRO when those pesky mobs attack- can’t they see I’m EXPLRING lol?) and this looks like afun game to explore, in spite of the failures. So I think this is a great idea! I love how you can just wander from planet to planet, find ruins and isolated bases. Both of those planets do look on the creepy side, at night, and I love how you can hear animals shrieking in the background. I would probably lose hours to this game, or even leave it on in the background while I went around doing stuff lol

    Great post!

    1. That is the only reason LOTRO is still on my PC, for exploring 😀 It is good for exploring, at least for a while, but honestly it can get a bit repetitive. Although the creatures and plants are randomly generated, you start to notice similarities after a bit, and there isn’t much colour variation. It’s more the topography of the planets that varies rather than anything else.

  2. See this appeals to me in some ways but it does just seem like a lot of wandering about with not really any reward. It looks beautiful though. I like an end result which is why I stick to Legend of Zelda!! Great post!

    1. Yes, that’s why it’s received so much backlash – people just don’t know what to do. There’s no clear goal or in fact any real reason to do anything :/ BUT it is so pretty, that is true!

  3. Holy crap, when this game first game out it consumed me for days! I had so much fun exploring and discovering and naming new things. Then I spent all my time trying to make enough money to upgrade my ship because you can never have enough inventory slots. Soon after my time in game tapered off though, when the content grew too repetitive. It’s a shame, with more varied gameplay NMS could have gotten really big!

    1. Same, I think for the first three days I spent every free moment playing it. And then I started to notice that things were looking kind of similar and there wasn’t really much to do apart from scan stuff. I don’t think they’d even have to add too much to improve it, it’s a real shame.

    1. It definitely has great potential for non-gamers, as there are loads of planets where there is little or no combat at all, and you just need to make sure you have enough resources to survive.

  4. Funny that I stumbled upon your blog today – because I had just randomly remembered No Man’s Sky today and thought maybe I’d like to play it again. Except it’s probably not possible, because boyfriend’s computer does not handle it very well. It’s incredibly slow some of the times, and when I say incredibly slow, you should know that what I mean is “it takes me about 2 minutes to go to the save point that is 10 steps away, wait for it to open and finally save”. It’s really ugh.

    You do get tired of the game, but if you’re playing it on a console (which I take it you are cause you didn’t complain about the speed) I guess it can be pretty enjoyable, because sometimes you do like the grinding and farming on a game.

    And hey! So nice to see this on a reading blog 🙂

    Hey, have you seen the really funny video from No Man’s Sky? 😀 I thought it was hilarious. Here you are, if you haven’t seen the mad teddy yet:

    But there’s probably no way you haven’t seen him yet. If you have, hope you still enjoy being reminded of it!

    Also, commentluv seems to be having trouble with my website, so if you’re curious, you can visit me on my blog here 🙂
    http://avalinahsbooks.space

    1. Nah I am playing it on PC – it runs quite well, but I recently upgraded my graphics card as I like to game a lot 🙂 Sometimes when I am flying over a planet it lags a little when loading, but really when running around it’s fine.

      I did see that video the other day! The creatures are so weird…

  5. This was the game that had me saving money to get a PS4 when it came out (my computer is pretty much held together by chewing gum and baling wire and wouldn’t come close to running it.) The early reviews were mixed at best and I decided to hold off on spending my money on it. I’m still tempted to buy it because I do love exploration in games. My experience would probably mirror what you and others describe: playing almost non-stop for a few days or so, then the urge to play waning as the repetitive nature of the game was revealed. Even knowing how it will probably go I am still considering it. Thanks for inviting us all along on this journey so we can see a bit of the game.

    1. I would definitely wait until it is significantly reduced – it is really not worth the full price because there’s just not that much to do. Despite the 18 quintillion planets, actually a lot of the stuff – particularly the animals and plants – begins to look really familiar after a while. But I haven’t yet seen it on sale once…

  6. Me and Jason were engrossed with NMS for maybe 1-2 weeks (bearing in mind we don’t get an awful lot of time to play between work and baby) wen it came out. But then the love kind of fizzled a bit, I was thinking of having another go soon, but it’s not an overwhelming urge that’s for sure.

    1. This is absolutely how I was! Addicted for a while, then I realised it was so repetitive and kind of aimless… then after a while you feel like exploring, but this time you cover a few planets, then drop it a while, rinse and repeat.

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