No Man’s Sky – The Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve written of my brave adventures exploring the galaxy, universe, small speckles on a screen in a computer game, and now of course we have that update. All these new features and things to do and see. The question becomes will it make any difference.

I’ll go through the changes I’ve noticed since the update in a bit but I’ll draw the conclusion now. People who were still playing and enjoying No Man’s Sky will have found a new love for it and continue as they were testing out the new features as they explore. People who’d moved on probably won’t come back for this. Because while there are a few novelties here the essential game play remains the same and it really is up to you to create the story you want to follow as you explore.

What has changed?

Well, I now get a shiny warning every single time I try to launch the game that my PC isn’t up to recommended specs. I knew my PC was barely capable of running the game and that I’m playing with most the settings turned right down just to keep it functional but this update has pushed it further and now feels the need to tell me every launch that maybe I shouldn’t be trying to play.

Thanks for that.

Ignore. Launch anyway.

We now get a menu straight up to choose a mode of play. I’ll be honest and point out I have yet to try either of the new play methods because I like the exploration that I was playing so they’ve yet to be touched though I assume eventually I’ll check them out. All this menu really does is means I can’t launch the game and then go get a drink while it loads because I have to wait for the menu, select the game mode, and then go get the drink while the game loads. Did I mention how much I love changes to games I actually liked? All these extra steps have really value added to my playing experience.

Okay, enough complaining about that. Let’s look at the game itself. We can now find habitable bases and claim one for our very own. Yes, you can claim ownership of a planet through claiming a base and then you can build (assuming you have collected sufficient materials). You can then install a builder, a weapons guy, a scientist, and a farmer and they can give you all manner of things to improve your experience. In theory. Mostly what they do is send you on fetch quests and even after my limited play time both weapons guy and builder have told me they have nothing new to teach me. So why are you still hanging around my base? Waiting for the next update so you can give me some other random missions?

This is actually not a terrible addition to the game because you can completely ignore this aspect of it once you get the improved laser and the hazmat gauntlet (and you do need both or the vast majority of materials are going to be off limits now including some minerals you could mine before because now you need an advanced laser to mine them). Or you can teleport from any space station back to your base to check in on your happy family, build some storage sheds and do a couple of fetch quests before returning to whatever space station in whatever system you were in and getting back to whatever else you might like to do.

There’s also a whole bunch of new things to collect and some of these are a pain in the neck to find (read I spent nine hours trying to find an underwater plant for a particular substance, finally found it and was still three units short of being able to build the thing I was aiming for). And that brings me to the next point.

Resources are much harder to come by now. Before you were tripping over plutonium and titanium and whatever else and now you can walk a long time without a single glimpse. The exotic resources are scarce and even when you find them the quantity of some of these resources are very low (rare actually means rare now). Also, the bases and drop pods and things you used to trip over every five minutes on a planet are now really few and far between. This is countered by the fact that you can now build your own save station (for the cost of some resources) so expect to literally wander around without coming across anything of significance for ages. It makes exploration feel more authentic but when you finally realise you are sick of a planet and your space ship is at least forty minutes away it can be a little disheartening.

This one I’m not so sure about but it also feels like your jet pack isn’t as effective and that you run out of power for some of you engines and shields faster than before. At least I know I feel like I’m burning resources much faster than I was when travelling between planets. Also, your pulse engine now uses iron instead of whatever it used to use so expect to be blowing up a lot of rocks.

That said, I still haven’t managed to build an autonomous mining unit and I really want to get there (copper wire, why did it need copper wire). I haven’t built a landing pad yet. There’s a whole bunch of plants I haven’t planted yet and I haven’t got around to building a trade terminal so still plenty of things to do now that I have the designs and I just need to collect enough resources. I also haven’t managed to buy a freighter just yet (or hire, not sure which it is) and that is definitely next on my wish list of things to do. Still short a few units though because I object to destroying ecosystems for profit (small problem when your main source of income is mining).

Right, to sum up. I love this game. The new additions make some things harder and some things more fun. There’s certainly a really rich variety of things to look for and collect and as I said in the beginning, most of the basic game play didn’t change (except a few keyboard changes they made which drove me crazy until I got used to them and stopped hitting the build button when I wanted to change my laser). The base building has been fun and I’m in the process of deciding which flags I’d like to decorate my base with right after I put in windows everywhere (glass building is a pain).


No Man’s Sky Update and Questions

It’s been about a month now that I’ve been playing this off and on and while I am still thoroughly enjoying exploring the galaxy one planet in the solar system at a time, I am now ready to identify some of the questions and issues I have with it as a game. As much fun as I am having there is definitely a few issues that I have come across.

  1. Why is there no way to map where you’ve wandered around on a planet? I get that just giving us a map would be too easy given it is an exploration but as we trudge our way across barren desert, through radioactive swamps, and waist high grass, surely we could generate a map of where we had been and maybe even leave notes on said map so that we remembered which of the many little blue question marks was actually the one where we could call our spaceship or trade? Possibly I could solve this problem by having a sense of direction but I don’t and to be honest I’ve gotten lost from my spaceship a few times and just kind of had to point my cursor at the little ship icon and hope there wasn’t an uncrossable barrier between me and it. But for advanced space exploration, lacking any kind of mapping feature is just a bit sad.

2. While we are on maps and directions, why is every marker that you have on your map indicated by how long it will take to get there (calculated by current speed which means if you run or accelerate the distance shrinks and then it get’s bigger when you run out of endurance and you are walking again)? Could we get that in kilometers (I’d even settle for miles)? When I ask someone how far something is I expect them to tell me it’s a k or 2 or 100km. I don’t expect them to say, “If you maintain current speed it will take you 3 minutes.”

3. One ecosystem across the planet. Now, I haven’t explored all that far yet in the galaxy so maybe there are planets that diversify, however so far every planet I’ve been on, regardless of how far I explore, has had one basic ecosystem (a pool of water or a cave doesn’t count particularly if every pool of water and cave are the same across the planet as well).

4. Why are the pirates so dumb? Alright, this game isn’t combat based but I really suck at flying that space craft and yet pirates still get shot down by me. To give a clue as to how bad these pirates are, one group chased me to a planet that I landed on. I kind of expected them to blow my ship up after landing, but they didn’t so I explored for a bit and then took off. On leaving atmosphere, they attacked again and this time I attempted to get them in my sights but as I pointed out, I suck. So I dove back into atmosphere. This time they followed so I pulled up. They kept going down. As I floated above the planet I watched the two pirate ships circle above the surface of the planet and then I leisurely lined up my laser and blew them apart without them returning another shot. For that I got an achievement (apparently I’d shot down x number of pirates by then).

5. Could the trader’s and various aliens remember what random interaction we’ve had before I ask them to teach me a word. One interaction went like this: The alien was studying a screen showing a battle and looking worried. I pretended not to see him leave his multi-tool and run away. Only, the guy was still there and I could still talk to him and have him teach me the language. So other then gaining his multi-tool (which was awesome, thanks for that) what was the point of the exchange?

6. Lastly, why can’t we have multiple characters and save files? Now that I’ve played awhile there are a few things I’d like to try but I don’t want to upset my standing in my main game. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be an option.

Once I got the game working on my computer, I haven’t had any issues with crashes and the like, though I do get the occasional floating tree or mis-timed music cue. Otherwise the game runs well (on fairly low settings) without issue. It’s only lost a save once and sent me back to a previous way station.

So what have I achieved in my latest round of exploration? I finally catalogued all the animals on one planet (stupid bird things wouldn’t stay still long enough to scan). I’ve upgraded my exo-suit so I can now carry a decent amount of loot so less trips to traders and to the ship. I now have filled my hyperdrive with fuel and have a fairly large supply of anti-matter ready to make more fuel. My language learning was going well but now I’m in a solar system where I need to learn Vykeen instead of Gek so it’s basically back to square one.

Onward and upward. I will continue to explore the galaxy and see what I can uncover.


No Man’s Sky Update

I kind of feel like this is going to be a thing for awhile.

So, I’ve played some more (not excessively because I just don’t have the time, but I am having to set an alarm before starting the game because I completely lose track while playing) and I’m starting to get a feeling that things are at times a bit too repetitive. And then I think, I’ll just go over one more hill, one more scan, one more planet, one more monolith and somehow I get hooked straight back in.

Naming things is one really fun. Each system I enter I have to think of a theme and all the planets and moons are getting named whatever the first part of their original name was and then hyphenated with a name relating to the theme I’ve chosen for that system. Plant and animal life on each world also has a theme. Sometimes letter combinations, sometimes lists of things, it doesn’t really matter but I’ve ended up with some truly bizarre planets.

It took awhile before I died the first time. I was warned that the sentinels on the planet were aggressive and would attack me on sight. I was warned. More than once. I still got myself shot down. Lesson learned and all that but still a pain trying to get back the resources I was carrying. I haven’t died since though a dinosaur (named Elvis of all things) had a real go at trying to duplicate the effect.

Honestly, I’m trying to decide whether I want to follow the path the monolith is trying to send me on or whether I want to keep just randomly jumping between systems. Having an actual goal and direction set for me seems like it could be fun but at the same time I’m really liking the not knowing what is on the next planet or in the next system. More importantly, given some of the imagery you get from the monoliths, I’m not certain I trust them to send me somewhere good.

The last system I jumped to has a lot more traders and life than any of the systems I’d been in previously. The disadvantage of that being that I also finally got attacked in space and man does that space ship handle badly. You know that from the start but you really notice it when you are being shot from behind and you know you don’t have any kind of shielding that is going to save you unless you figure out how to manoeuvre (luckily I survived and managed to shoot the pirates down – unluckily I didn’t gain anything for that other than an increased standing and the ability to live on).

I’ve also found that discussing No Man’s Sky with other players is fantastic. Once you get started on what you’ve found or tried it just keeps going. For a game that some argue is boring, a lot of people are certainly having fun exploring their lonely corner of the galaxy. I’m continuing on my journey and I’ll do an update every now and then on how that journey is going.

Let me know how your journey is going.