No Man's Sky in 2022 - Zero Punctuation

No Man’s Sky in 2022 – Zero Punctuation

This week in Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee reviews No Man’s Skyagain, to see in 2022 how it has evolved since launch.

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Every week for a while now I go to Nick the editor and say “Have we got any new review codes worth looking at?” and Nick replies “Please stop resting your cock on my shoulder.” He then adds, “Here’s an idea, have you thought about re-reviewing No Man’s Sky? People keep asking you to now it’s been patched into serviceability like a sheep with two robot legs.” And I say “What? Go back to a game I’ve already reviewed? What is this, Eyes Wide Shut? Maybe while I’m at it I should stick a disabled war veteran’s prosthetic hand up my ass and use that to type.” But by all accounts, the No Man’s Sky of today is a very different beast to the partially developed foetus that plopped out on launch day like a mostly dead mouse from the mouth of an unduly pleased with itself cat. “Oh, that was mostly the publisher’s fault, Yahtz.” Yeah, heard that one before. Fuckin’ number one go-to developer excuse, that one, right up there with “Well it was working before Windows updated.” But nevertheless I gave it a go, and after it drew me in for most of the week, I have to admit, there has been a significant unfuckupening. It’s got a third person camera now, for one thing, that’s a big tick. 200% more buttocks flapping around at any given moment.

No Man’s Sky by “Hello, games!” is a crafting survival exploration space shooter with an infinite procedural universe where you can go from interstellar flight to waddling about with your trousers down looking for the least classy-looking bush in a meadow with seamless transitions all the way, and obviously that’s so massive in scope it’s going to bring down the entire mouthwash industry. So perhaps a little wobbliness was understandable when we loaded down a newborn baby with a rucksack full of expectations and demanded it take its first step. But let’s do this properly. Let’s go over the points I made in my first review of No More Skeroes back in 2016 and see if they’ve been addressed. Alright, scroll, scroll, snarky opening, clumsy analogy, ah: “The thing about exploration, my little pubic louse, is that the appeal lies in the finding. You can explore a sheet of blank printer paper for an afternoon, but it wouldn’t exactly stimulate. There’s nothing to find in No Man’s Sky you can’t find in about five hundred million other places.” Now this is the eternal sticking point of procedurally generated infinity. You can mash copy paste an infinite number of times but you only have a finite number of assets and different arrangements to draw from,

so your infinite universe is going to start getting pretty fucking samey after planet three thousand and two. One of the completionist activities available is surveying planets, scanning all the different life forms and uploading the pictures to teen gossip magazines. And it’s hard to feel motivated to do that when you finish the checklist and the game goes “Well that’s one down, infinity percent to go.” After a while every planet’s the same rolling hills broken up with a squiggly plant every few yards and an IKEA flatpacked alien base every few miles. But here’s the thing: there’s no reason to explore the galaxy, but the game doesn’t seem to be asking you to anymore. I played for like thirty hours and by the end I was still in my starting star system. Because that’s where my base was and every crafting resource was available in it or a neighboring one. See, another thing I said in 2016 was: “The main question for me was what the hell I was supposed to be progressing towards” and it’s in the area of ​​player progress that a lot of. Erm. Progress has been made. There’s a story campaign that you’re doing all this crafting and planet exploring to advance in, sort of like how Subnautica works but procedural.

So every time you need to go to a specific character or facility for the plot the game randomly spawns them on or near the planet you’re already on and says “This was here the whole time!” while coughing and refusing to make eye contact. One might reasonably ask at this point why there needs to be an infinite explorable universe at all if you can get everything done inside one conservatively sized cosmic cul-de-sac as long as the home owner’s association’s on board, but I guess it would be the same without it. I don’t particularly want to travel eight trillion light years to explore a new planet with emerald green rocks rather than chartreuse, but it’s nice to know that I could, if I ever get really bored or the lumpy land mammals that hang out near my base start putting up Trump election flags. It’s like how people mainly solo play World of Warcraft but still want to do it online amid other players because there’s no point in being a cool lone wolf if no one can see you do it. And staying on one planet to build a one to one replica of St. Peter’s Basilica is made all the more special when there’s three thousand trillion empty planets you didn’t do it on.

Speaking of online multiplayer, that’s another area in which No Woman No Cry has made up for the original version which was about as communal an experience as picking your nose. Now there’s a dimension hopping space station tardis thing you can visit at any time where other players hang out and you can join them on communal missions if you happen to give a flying antimatter powered intergalactic fuck. But it was nice to see them and look at how many of them had gotten hold of ships other than the default model so I could see the quietly in resentment about it. The communal hub is also where you go to buy base blueprints and progress the path of the plot periodically, so it’s the playground where all the various paths one can take intersect, whether you’re one of the story campaign kids trying to read a book , the base building kids putting together the Legos in the corner or the multiplayer kids running around trying to push each other into the girls’ toilets. Speaking for myself, I’m a story campaign kid, and on that front No Money No Honey has absolutely delivered. It now, undeniably, has a story campaign.

It’s not very GOOD, but it’s there. I kinda stopped paying attention to it around the seventeenth time it told me to go to a random outside toilet on the other side of the planet and slap the nearest computer until some text fell out. But the thing is, No Hard Feelings was always an easy concept to market. That’s why it was initially more oversold than a Delta Airlines flight to Canada after the midterms. It’s a fully explorable sci-fi universe full of life and spectacle. That’s not like caravanning with the in-laws, that’s something I WANT to engage with. All it needed was the merest prod of motivation to keep me interested and that’s what the original No Mo Sko couldn’t provide. Now it can. Even if you stop following the plot there’re enough random toys in the cupboard to find your own motivation. You could work towards getting all the ground vehicle bays and adding sloping roofs to all your base buildings so it functions as a skate park. So after all that, amid the populous community of serviceable crafting survival open world games that all want to selfishly hog your time, No Man’s Sky is now officially another one. I think this has proved the viability of this re-reviewing lark. Maybe next I could reload my old Cyberpunk save and see if they ever figured out how to make my trousers spawn back in.

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