Preface: I Love Space Shit

Seriously. I’m in love with space. Ever since I was a kid the one thing I wanted to be was an astronaut. My ceiling was adorned with correctly placed constellations, I had a manual of the 3-Hour launching sequence, I’ve been to Cape Canaveral and one of the best birthday gifts I got was the complete VHS set of The Right Stuff, and the freckles on my forearm create a near-perfect replica of the constellation Orion!  Seriously. Space kid for life.

With that in mind, let me tell you how excited I was for No Man’s Sky.

In the week Sean Murray, creator of No Man’s Sky, began talking about the game and articles spread on the internet, I was hooked. Pre-ordered via Amazon the moment it was available.  Intentionally, I neglected following every article and every trailer released as I wanted many elements to be a complete surprise by the time I played the game. I understood Murray’s messages about it NOT being a PVP game (thank goodness; that’s one reason I left EVE Online years ago) and that there could be some interaction with other players, though, mathematically unlikely (I’ll address this later).

As information trickled slowly onto the Hello Games website, I knew the need to upgrade to the PS4 was inevitable. In fact, I specifically purchased a PS4 just for this game (the white Destiny edition because it looked awesome and space-like despite my dislike of Bungie’s game).

A release date was set, my pre-order was in, and I played the waiting game for a few years.

Pre-Launch Sequence Activate

Finally, after much hype during E3, videos, images and updates from the website, launch day was here. Except, it was pushed back. Kotaku reported that the game would miss its July mark and aim for an August release instead.  Count me as one of the disappointed, but not upset. For a small indie company willing to admit the game just isn’t ready after so much press coverage was brave, and I fully understand the desire to publish something that is perfect and complete rather than broken and incomplete.

This didn’t sit well with other gamers, though. The loud, entitled few took to the internet in a massive typhoon of rants and raves equivalent to that of a child throwing a trantrum over not receiving a freshly baked cookie that still needed time to cool down. Seriously, it’s inedible, it’s too hot, you’ll burn your tongue and the entire cookie experience will be ruined!

That mattered little to some fans of the game. Murray tweeted on May 28th, 2016:

I have received loads of death threats this week, but don’t worry, Hello Games now looks like the house from Home Alone

Death threats. A man and his team received death threats because they chose to delay the launch of their game. Not only did the creator receive such threats, the Kotaku journalist whom first reported the delay also received death threats and other vile messages simply for doing his job by reporting the news.

On top of the delay, Murray used twitter on August 8th, 2016 to once again reiterate that NMS was not a multiplayer game:

To be super clear – No Man’s Sky is not a multiplayer game. Please don’t go in looking for that experience.

Granted, it took several years for Murray “to be super clear,” as he often skirted around definitively answering the question regarding multiplayer abilities as seen here in an interview posted on JeuxVideo.com’s YouTube.

Regardless of the tweets and drama that circulated around No Man’s Sky, my heart was still ready and open to the possibilities of infinitely exploring worlds unseen.

Internet, We Have Liftoff

LAUNCH DAY! Yes! FINALLY IT WAS HERE! I actually waited a day to play, knowing full well from previous launch day experiences that servers would struggle. …Also, I was stuck working an ambulance shift so I couldn’t play, but, that’s semantics.

No Man’s Sky finished downloading and I booted up the game. Instantly I was greeted by a blindingly white title screen. Supposedly, some people couldn’t figure out how to get the game started and believed their game to be frozen. A simple push of the Square button revealed to be the “start” for the game.

Immediately you’re standing outside of a ship. No explanation. No true tutorial. The button configuration was self-taught by a read-through of the controls in the options menu.

The colors hit me first. The world I was in, seemingly random as with everyone else sharing photos and streams of the game, was beautiful. Massive, moss-covered stones of greens and reds and browns jutted roughly across the landscape. Giant crystals were clustered together, dotting the terrain lightly along with other tree and bush-like life. Each one a new discovery or a new resource.

Eager to get into space, I accessed my pre-order code for a new ship equipped with a hyperdrive already. I truly cannot remember WHEN I even received a warp cell (fuel needed to power the hyperdrive in order to warp to different solar systems), but within the first 20 minutes of playing I’d already warped to another system.

That was a huge mistake. Or bug. It’s still a bit unclear.

With absolutely no directions, I took to space trying to gain resources desperately needed to fuel my ship so that I could travel to the next system. But I couldn’t. Here’s where the game became nearly unplayable for me.

No Blueprints, No Antimatter, No Problem

In No Man’s Sky, the traveler obtains various blueprints in order to construct upgrades for their ship, multitool, and exosuit.  The blueprints are critical in advancing to other solar systems and surviving on planets.  The main goal of the game is to reach the center of the universe.  You can’t do achieve this when you don’t have the blueprints required to convert several resources into other constructs in order to combine all of those in an exhausting chain to create gosh-darn warp cells to fuel your hyperdrive to traverse the universe and get to your destined objective!

This became known as the “pre-order bug.” Gamers that hopped into the preorder ship before obtaining the hyperdrive blueprints and those required for creating its fuel were SOL after making their first jump into space.  I was stranded on a planet with a trading station that offered some of the materials needed to craft fuel, but I lacked the funds to purchase them in the beginning ontop of not possessing the appropriate blueprints that required those materials.

After spending hours and hours farming resources and selling them on the AI-ran market, I was able to purchase only some of the materials needed for fuel, but could not combine them because oh-em-gee I still didn’t have the blueprints. I scoured Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube for help, but there was nothing to be found and Hello Games was eerily silent on the matter.

Needless to say, I soon grew bored of exploring the two planets I could jump back and forth to. In that amount of time I managed to earn nearly 2,000,000 units (the game’s currency) and outright purchase a bigger ship for 1,500,000 units. I explored as many abandoned buildings, outposts, and manufacturing plants as I could find, walking the majority of these distances, and still was unable to “randomly” find the blueprints I so desperately needed in order to play the game.

Fast forward to a few days later and suddenly/spontaneous/magically I have new blueprints. Now I could craft a warp cell, but still lacked the anti-matter blueprint. And hey! Wouldn’t you know?! A brand new waypoint popped up on my navigation bar that definitely was not there the other day.  It directed me towards a manufacturing plant! Guess what blueprint was in the plant? You got it! With the antimatter blueprint now available, I was free to craft all the fuel I wanted.

Without further delay, my ship was fueled to capacity and I was bound for the stars!

Only to warp into the middle of hostile ships that annihilated my own… But I’ll save that story for the next part of this in-depth living review. I’ll detail the bugs and glitches I’ve continuously encountered along the way, and offer a final opinion on the game.

Leave a comment about your experience with No Man’s Sky! Did you suffer from the pre-order bug? Have you encountered any other issues? Leave a comment