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No Man's Sky



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No Man's Sky 2020
Posted: Posted July 29th by Xhin
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I've played it for about 20 hours so far. It's good. Really good. Probably finally worth playing, for those of you who wanted to wait a few years.

I'm going to use this post to kind of write up my thoughts as I continue playing it. Feel free to chime in if you've also played it recently.

Some background

I played it a bit in 2018, and while it had more content, it was unintuitive as hell and the game still required a lot of grinding, so I abandoned it. I also played it a lot in 2016, but the lack of content and repetitive planets eventually made me grow bored of it.

In this latest version of it, they seem to have fixed a lot of the issues, including the fruitless exploration and endless grinding. It isn't a polished game by any means, but it's a much better experience.

Pros

  • The planets are significantly better -- trees are way taller, the landscape scale is huge, resource deposits and harvestable resources are unique and reward scanning them. There's also underwater content, which looks amazing. Planets also seem to be different from each other, and there are some really weird planet types to find and explore as well. I was legitimately surprised by some of them.

  • So many features now, holy shit. I haven't explored a fraction of what this game has to offer and my game progression log has all kinds of stuff in it that I haven't gotten around to.

  • A lot of the huge annoyances of earlier NMS versions (including the endless grinding for minor upgrades) seem to be fixed -- you can recharge systems very quickly, it's easier to make money, you have way more inventory slots and space across the board, there's fast transportation between systems you've already visited, etc.

  • Sentinels and pirates are waaaaay less aggressive and it's easier to flee them. One of my biggest gripes of 2016 was these kinds of attacks seriously breaking the flow of the game and its relaxing/exploring nature.

  • Making money is way easier, or has way more ways to do it or something. I already have a freighter and like four ships (plus I wasted 5mil on the desolation update content, which was fun but wasn't worth the money).

  • Exploration is heavily rewarded. This was one of my big gripes with NMS 2016 -- it's supposedly an "exploration" game but there's nothing interesting to explore and you also don't get any useful rewards for it. The second issue has been heavily rehauled, probably because there's a lot of features now and so more useful loot available. The first problem is still an issue with buildings, but the planets are significantly better so that makes up for it.

  • There's more to the main story. Still isn't great or anything (see the Cons section), but it does seem to be way longer and more interesting.

    Cons

  • The game is sometimes very buggy. Like an early access release kind of buggy -- random invisible walls, menus appearing wrong, negative numbers, etc.

  • Performance is a mixed bag. It does seem to be significantly better across the board (paradise planets were basically unplayable on my machine in 2016), however there are still times where you'll get stuttering or lag.

  • Landing your starship is an absolute nightmare -- can't land if you're going too fast, if you're too high, or for completely random terrain/entity reasons. There also isn't any indication of where you actually can land, so this is a real problem. If you're summoning your starship remotely you have to kind of walk around and hope for the best. Since you spend a lot of time landing starships, this is a *huge* problem.

  • The controls are quite wonky in other ways as well -- sometimes you can click a menu easily, other times you have to wait for a circle to fill up, often with no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes changing menus uses A and D, sometimes it uses Q and E, again with no real logic.

  • Starship keyboard controls don't offer anything other than forward/back and roll -- you need to use your mouse for steering in every case, which presents problems in combat or even just flying to/from/around planets.

  • The star map is horrible. Laggy as heck, Difficult to work with, and no indication of how far a star actually is (there might be some way of rolling around, but again the lag prevents that). Controls are also very unintuitive.

  • The lore and different races are enormously boring. This has been a problem from the beginning -- it feels like the texts on plaques or w/e are randomly generated even though they're not, they're just that bad.

  • The story seems to be better and more interesting, however it involves a heck of a lot of mindless grinding to advance it. I don't have an issue with stories told largely through text, what I have an issue with is going to Holo-Terminuses or other structures over and over and over in order to advance the story. With how many features there are now, you'd think there would be more variety in gameplay. To be fair though I'm only 20 hours in, it might get better.

  • Buildings and space stations are the same thing over and over and over and over. Not sure why they can't procedurally generate these to add some variety.

    Conclusion

    Overall, this game does seem to be finally worth a purchase. Despite its flaws, it does have a lot going for it. I'll check in here again at the 40-hour mark.

    What about you guys? Have you played it recently?

  • There are 6 Replies

    What sort of things are there to find with exploration? I assume this is still the game's primary draw? Is the random generation now diverse enough that early complaints about lack of variation are no longer valid?

    Performance is a mixed bag. It does seem to be significantly better across the board (paradise planets were basically unplayable on my machine in 2016), however there are still times where you'll get stuttering or lag.


    Are you playing on PC or console? If PC what's your spec? Just curious, I've learned not to trust internet reviews that claim performance is "mixed/bad" because often it's down to the person's spec not being necessarily up to the task.

    Posted July 29th by Moonray
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    Moonray
     

    What sort of things are there to find with exploration? I assume this is still the game's primary draw?


    Exploration isn't the game's primary draw anymore, unless you count exploring game systems. The game's changed a lot -- it's good, but not good in the same way that the original E3 trailers were.

    Is the random generation now diverse enough that early complaints about lack of variation are no longer valid?


    Yeah this is definitely one of the areas that's been fixed. There's a wide variety of planet types, some of which are quite bizarre and all of which have been scaled way up. Flora are very different from one another, and actually worth scanning due to their unique material compositions -- I got pretty stuck on an ocean planet until I realized that the di-hydrogen I needed for liftoff was in one of the plants.

    If you didn't like the lack of variety at launch, you'll hate toxic planets -- those seem to be where NMS's old generation went.

    I'll make sure to snap some photos my next playthrough.

    Are you playing on PC or console? If PC what's your spec? Just curious, I've learned not to trust internet reviews that claim performance is "mixed/bad" because often it's down to the person's spec not being necessarily up to the task.



    PC. Might have something to do with it. I don't have issues running modern games (or even VR), but thinking back No Man's Sky also had bad performance for me at launch, so it probably has something to do with it being designed for PS4 or something.

    Edited July 29th by Xhin
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    Xhin
     

    Please do get some screenshots. I never bought it myself so not played any version of it, I was put off by the poor reviews from users early on.

    Posted July 29th by Moonray
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    Moonray
     

    What's your CPU? GPU? RAM? As long as it's a gaming PC, I'd hope settings can be tweaked to save performance.

    Posted July 29th by mariomguy
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    @Moonray:













    Posted July 31st by Xhin
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    Xhin
     

    So, I'm around 40 hours in, here are some new thoughts:

















    Pros

  • You can ride animals. That's really neat. Kind of useless, but really neat.

  • What happens after the end of the game is pretty cool.

  • Still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer, which considering I'm around the 40-hour mark is crazy.

  • I got really good at making money and hung around space stations to build up a fleet of personal ships -- at the moment I have one geared towards exploration, one for combat, and a gargantuan monster for doing trade route runs.

  • The "radiant" quests are surprisingly fun, plus you can stack up a bunch of similar ones and complete them all at once.

    Cons

    I hate this game so much.

  • After a longer time of playing the game, the bugs and overall UX issues have stacked up to the point where I'm consistently frustrated a lot of the time. The game's still fun and offers a lot, but man it needs some serious work in a lot of areas to smooth it out.

  • I finished the main story -- it was just as dull as the original one was and involved a ridiculous amount of grinding, which is always my least favorite part of games. So an improvement I guess but it's forgettable and requires way too much grinding.

  • There was a second part of the main story. My god, I thought the main story was bad -- this one was ridiculous -- more grinding (including a sequence where you have to activate ~16 statues in a circle), zero story, zero useful rewards. It also made the crafting menu worse than it already was (it was pretty bad already). There are third and fourth stories which I'm working on now -- hopefully they're better.

  • While there's a larger variety of planets, they never fixed the actual underlying problems, so as a result planets are starting to all look the same again. There are exceptions, but they seem to get rarer and rarer as time goes on. The planets do look good, don't get me wrong, but it seems like once you've found one planet of each type you don't need to see more, and there's no real point in exploring the planet past your landing site either. This isn't a huge deal since the game has a lot more to offer than "exploration" now.

  • The game suffers from severe organizational problems. Most games do, to be fair, but most games don't let you explore quintillions of planets. If you don't rename your planets/systems you're not going to be able to remember what's in them, but even then if you find something new you can't rename them, and there's no other way to take notes in-game.

    Will check in again around the 80-hour mark.

  • Posted August 2nd by Xhin
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