No Man’s Sky and the Power of Expectations

-by Dylan D

Admitting fault

I was deluded. I was naive. I was silly. I thought there was something like an infinite video game that could produce infinite entertainment. I often joke around with my friend and co-writer Vinny Q by saying “No Man’s Sky” is one of the worst games of all time. Now as the year is coming to close I want to discuss the whole fiasco. No Man’s Sky isn’t a terrible game, it was simply human nature that ruined the reputation of the product.

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There are reports of lies and dishonesty on developer Hello Games’ part. Now I wasn’t one to keep up with every single article, interview and piece of news on the games development; but after a little research it’s easy to see that the game isn’t exactly what was advertised. Each spaceship isn’t entirely unique, there are no giant space battles, and most painfully; you can’t run into your friends. I’m not going to say they were blameless however. Shipping the game in it’s original state was a dumb idea. Sony is as fault too for marketing this game as a AAA blockbuster and Game of the Year contender. In reality it should have been shown off as what is it: an indie game about exploring, nothing more and nothing less.

Can you really blame us for getting hyped up?

Come on: it’s space and we’re video game lovers; of course we’re going to get excited! Parallels to Star Wars, Alien, Mass Effect and other beloved space fantasies were inevitable. Those examples I listed above all have one thing in common: a destination. They wanted to make you see and feel certain things while you get to the end. No Man’s Sky is too big and too pointless to make you feel anything at all. You just drift around from planet to planet asking yourself “what should I do?”

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It’s like the chicken and the egg. Did the developers get us so excited that we had unreasonable expectations for the game? Or were we expecting too much from the get-go? If we were, then it’s easy to see the stress the developers were under. Hello Games still claims that the product available to us is their original vision.

This is all not to say that No Man’s Sky isn’t impressive. Graphically it’s gorgeous and Hello Games did deliver on the planet sized planets. Ignoring the archaic inventory system and other gripes I had with the game; flying in my ship above the surface of a planet and scoping out the best places to land was kind of fun. But that’s where it ends. To me No Man’s Sky is nothing more than a technological marvel and a good first impression.  So where does that leave me?

A potential edit

Just like how my imagination overhyped No Man’s Sky; I’m going to use it to imagine a better parallel version of the game. Instead of going for the feeling of infinite, I think Hello Games should’ve shot for just one solar system. Get rid of the planet sized planets concept too, imagine there were eight planets and each were roughly half the size of say a Grand Theft Auto game, still impressive right? Now fill those planets with important and interesting people who give you intergalactic sidequests and cool optional loot. And of course, add online. I think with these changes we’d have the 10/10 game we were all looking for and not the 5/10 we all got.

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We’re people

The biggest thing Hello Games forgot is that we are human. Not only does that explain our insane expectations, but it also explains why the number of players dropped over 60% within a few days of launch. There is no such thing as infinite entertainment for humans. We get bored of watching the same movie too many times, that’s why we strategically plan out our next viewings of our favorite TV shows. Hell, some people even get bored of one another, just think about divorce. How were we expected to play an infinite video game? Infinitely?

The silver lining

It may be hypocritical since my copy of the game is still collecting dust on my shelf, but No Man’s Sky can still be a decent game to play. I imagine it being the perfect game when you don’t want to actually focus on a video game and just keep exploring.

Even though they certainly bent the truth a little bit, Hello Game’s dedication is there. There are constant patches, mostly small but some huge which add a couple of the long lost features that were promised to us.

The time where No Man’s Sky overtook the gaming world is over. It’s time to wash away the biases we may have towards the game and look at it for what it currently is. If we just kept our expectations in check I think we all would’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky just a little bit more.

 

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3 thoughts on “No Man’s Sky and the Power of Expectations

  1. This was great! NMS was definitely a perfect story of hype and disappointment, but it does feel like now things have settled a bit. With the most recent patch, it does look like Hello Games is working around the clock to make their game better, and I hope that one day they can deliver on the promises they’ve made 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle people should learn to curb their expectations. It’s human nature however to get carried away by hype and trailers.

    No Man Sky wasn’t terrible, but it gets dull after a few hours. Hello Games is trying to add more content so fair play to them. They didn’t just take the cash and run. Given all the stuff that was promised I however doubt that patches will appease the critics.

    Liked by 1 person

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