No Man's Sky Review

Review: 100 Hours Into No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky was one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, with over 293,000 pre-orders. Now that the game has been out for several weeks, many players have abandoned No Man’s Sky due to it not living up to the hype. While many players requested refunds within the first few dozen hours, there are those of us who are still playing well into 100 hours of game play. I would like to offer some thoughts on why No Man’s Sky is a fantastic game for anyone with a love for science fiction.

The Hype

When the game was first announced in 2013, gamers were very excited about the concept of No Man’s Sky. By the time it was released, players had become so impatient that many enlisted the help of a Virtual Private Network to access the game a few days early.

During the three years between the announcement of No Man’s Sky and its release, the media went wild with hype. There wasn’t a single person in the gaming industry who didn’t hear all about the game and its promised features. The hype eventually broke into the mainstream, with Hello Games giving a demo of No Man’s Sky on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The New Yorker featuring it at the publication’s first-ever Tech@Fest.

All of this media coverage showcased the impressive graphics and innovative gameplay features that Hello Games promised players. This hype only set it up to fail. Assassin’s Creed Unity and Watch Dogs are just two examples of how badly a game can crash and burn when the developer sets it up so high.

With the gaming public continually being reminded of just how revolutionary No Man’s Sky would be, potential players set their expectations unrealistically high. So, when the game was finally released, players were disappointed that No Man’s Sky wasn’t precisely as progressive as they had been led to believe. Many players were so disappointed that they demanded refunds within the first ten hours of playing it.

Our review aims to ignore the hype, providing an unbiased look at No Man’s Sky from the perspective of sci-fi fans.


Hello Games co-founder Grant Duncan is a huge fan of speculative fiction and the sci-fi film genre. One of his favourite films is Dune, which helped to inspire the vast universe of No Man’s Sky. With 18 quintillion planets, No Man’s Sky aimed to emulate that enormity, and we were impressed that the game offered us the chance to explore such a huge world.  The entire universe is procedurally generated, so no two planets look alike. To see everything in the universe of No Man’s Sky, it would take players five billion years.


When No Man’s Sky debuted its trailer at E3 2014, the gaming public was mesmerized. The game presented alien monsters and faraway worlds with realistic graphics, and we were instantly transported to a stunning new universe that we would be happy to spend hundreds of hours fully exploring.

Of course, the actual in-game graphics are not entirely faithful to the trailer. The textures are a bit rough, and the creatures are somewhat pixelated. It just wasn’t what we were expecting. With the release of the E3 trailer, expectations for the game’s design were sky high but the actual in-game graphics fell a bit short. On top of that, many players experienced graphical errors and frame rate drops, frustrating many players even further. On a positive note the graphics can be tweaked and improved on the PC using community modifications which appeared very shortly after release.

Still, each planet is rendered beautifully. If you can suspend your disbelief, you do feel like you’re in another world. The unique plants and beasts are certainly the stuff of sci-fi films and novels. They could pass for visualizations of some Ray Bradbury stories. If you are a fan of speculative fiction, then No Man’s Sky certainly does bring your dreams to life.

No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky

Explore uncharted solar systems and catalog unique new forms of life. Every planet’s landscape is different from the next, and populated by species never before encountered. Find ancient artifacts that could reveal the secrets behind the universe. Choose whether to share your discoveries with other players. They’re exploring the same vast universe in parallel; perhaps you’ll make your mark on their worlds as well as your own.

Developer:  Hello Games
Genre:  Action / Adventure / Survival

Platforms:  Windows, PS4
Year: 2016
4.5 out of 5 stars


At first, it seems like No Man’s Sky is just another huge sandbox survival game that leaves players wondering what their next move should be at all times. This isn’t exactly the case, but it is very easy to lose track of what is going on, narratively. Although there is a plot in No Man’s Sky, it is not linear in the slightest. Players gather new information about their world as they explore each planet, and it is up to us to piece everything together. The more you play, the more you learn about the universe, why it exists, and if or how you can make any significant change.

It seems to be more of an intuitive learning experience than a pre-determined plot. This non-linear approach has turned some players away, but it has captivated many. There are plenty of gamers who appreciate being able to piece together the story on their own, and it only makes the universe more intriguing and exciting to explore.

Exploration Potential

The main goal of No Man’s Sky is to eventually reach the center of the universe. Along the way, it’s up to you to explore that universe. Initially, players expected the procedural generation of the universe to mean that there was limitless potential in the world of No Man’s Sky, but this wasn’t exactly the case.

Many players noted that there was very little variation from planet to planet, which resulted in a large portion of them abandoning the game after just a few hours. They felt as though there wasn’t very much to explore if all of the space stations looked the same and if all of the planets were only a slight variation of one another.

While I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that players came across plenty of similar wildlife, it wasn’t enough to discourage me from playing altogether. The fact that the universe is randomly generated is impressive, and there is still plenty to do aside from taking in the sights. When you immerse yourself in the world, there is plenty of exploring to be done.


In No Man’s Sky, traditional missions don’t exist, but we were still excited to explore the universe. As we came across outposts, traded with NPCs (non-playable characters) and engaged in combat, we received rewards that were plentiful enough to keep us going on our journey to the center of the universe. This is a unique model of a sandbox-style game, but it suited the explorative nature of the game and managed to keep us engaged for hours.

One of the biggest disappointments for most No Man’s Sky players is that it doesn’t offer up multiplayer gaming. In such a vast universe, players expected that they would eventually be able to find each other and interact. There is certainly great potential in this concept, as players would be able to explore the world and achieve goals together. However, the universe is so huge that the chance of two players ever crossing paths is “pretty much zero.” Although we understand how unlikely it would be for two ships to meet up in such a vast universe, we were still quite let down that the only interaction we had was with NPCs.


While No Man’s Sky hasn’t particularly lived up to expectations in the gaming public, it is still worth over 100 hours of game play. Serious gamers may want a more in-depth plot or more rigid missions, but science fiction fans will appreciate the ability to explore an entirely new universe at their own pace.

What are your thoughts on the game? Have you managed to play it for a while, or did you find it boring after you started? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think.

Words © 2016-2021, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
Images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).

1 Comment

  1. My interest faded pretty quickly with NMS. It’s not what was promised, here are no factions, or space battles that you can get involved with that can change the story because ther is no story. All it is is an endless exploration game and while neat for the first few hours is just become a dead galaxy right away. everyone involved oversold and underdelivered on NMS and they shold be ashamed.

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