Each game of No Man's Sky begins both exactly the same and completely different for each person. New players always wake up on a strange, unknown planet with nothing but a space suit and displaced spaceships waiting for repairs with guidance to follow an identical set of instructions to get started – it's the same, but different.
You see, No Man's Sky is built on the top of Hello Games' ambitious procedure generation system that creates billions of planets over millions of star systems and simulates plants, animals, terrain, alien species, economies and more in the entire universe as a whole. Initially released three years ago, No Man & # 39; s Sky has evolved over the years and dramatically improved until now, Beyond Update, which is officially 2.0 for the non-VR version. With this update comes an updated multiplayer experience, lots of new game mechanics like taming creatures and expanded base building, and most importantly, complete VR support. At least the 1
The assumption alone for No Man & # 39; s Sky is almost too good to be true, especially when you add VR support to the mix, which is probably why it took over three years after launch to get to this one. point. This is a game where you can explore a huge, massive planet full of unique flora and fauna, go mining, dig caves, explore underwater, terraform, build bases and reveal ancient relics – then take off and fly to another planet or solar system and do it again without ever hitting a charging screen. It is remarkable. And seeing everything from the inside of a VR headset is a rare kind of escapism that I haven't seen run this well before.
I am genuinely jealous of someone who can donate a VR headset for the first time and experience a game like this as their introduction to the medium. There is so much to do and see that it will probably get a taste for future experiences. Even though I could be considered a VR veteran at this time, it still caught me by surprise how amazing the sense of scale was or the illusion of presence as I stood on my starting plane, stranded and alone. It's the difference between wanting to finish the lesson so you can get to the real game and finding the resources needed to continue to survive. It's a connected universe that feels much bigger than just one game.
Truth be told No Man & # 39; s Sky is a bit like several games stuck in one package. There is a main story about aliens, ancient civilizations and solving mysteries, but it is far from everything. This is basically "it's not the destination that matters, it's the journey" is boiled down to a video game. The experience feels so ingrained in No Man's Sky's DNA that players can rename everything they discover from planets and solar systems to animals and flora.
With that ambition But to allow No Man & # 39; s Sky to offer a little of everything, it is a reservation that none of the individual pieces are as refined or as deep as they could be. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's as big as a sea and as deep as a pool, but there are whiffs of that view all the time. For example, combat is about only legs as it gets – especially on foot. You point and shoot your mining jet for rudimentary attacks early, or point and shoot your bolt and other weapons that you will eventually unlock later in the game. There is no state-based progression system of any kind, no abilities you unlock, it's just very basic. Obviously, you can install new technology on your exosuit and ship to get that kind of gradual progression, but it's rarely battle-focused.
Other aspects such as ship and exocraft controls feel very beautiful and fluid in VR at first, with some real twists. UI navigation is most intuitive with lots of holographic menus that you tap to make choices, but it gets boring after a few dozen hours. Quick gesture commands instead of hot keys could have helped a lot. And targeting icons when using Analysis Visor, something that was already difficult to do in non-VR sometimes, is almost impossible in VR. The lack of a crosshair makes it just painfully frustrating to choose exactly what you want to notice on the horizon when icons are cluttered together.
Hello Games has stopped just to establish this as a true MMO, but most of the pieces are here. The entire universe is persistent and players can see your bases on your planets and find things you have named in real time. If you are on the same planet as another player at the same time, you will probably see them even if you are not in a "group" together. But you can absolutely connect with friends and go out and explore together or visit the new social hub Space Anomaly which includes a Nexus full of team players.
Hopefully, networking issues will be resolved soon, as it will make it difficult to enjoy much of the new functionality. When playing in a group of friends, there is a strange problem of desynchronization that pops up where you can see their icon and hear each other as if you are on the same planet but can't see each other. As if in a separate but identical dimension. Avatars freeze in place and stop moving and force a reload as well. Not to mention the many bugs that still exist as containers that suddenly won't let you interact, your ship spins in circles instead of landing at Space Anomaly or objects and terrain that are cut through your base sporadically.
There are many moving parts here and many of these parts are still broken, especially in VR.
The Nexus missions in the new Space Anomaly hub offer great replayable variation with good rewards as well. For example, chasing down a package of space pirates as a group can net over 200,000 units. Some missions even encourage you to establish colonies and outposts on planets or tame creatures.
This is an incredibly dense and complex game. I have logged in about 40 hours since the VR update was released, some of which has been outside of VR to compare things, and I still feel that I have barely scratched the surface. I still have some basic building self study assignment left incomplete in my log as I continue to get sidetrack with other activities.
No Man's Sky is about leads like this one. You can do one of a thousand things that may seem trivial or boring at first, and then realize that you spent six hours digging holes and replenishing resources for your next base building expedition. I've been flying around in space, chasing pirates and blowing up asteroids for valuable minerals for hours while listening to podcasts and music while inside the headset, as an intergalactic shower hunter. I also sat in my cockpit while sour rain poured down with closed eyes, relaxing, while listening to the drops bounce off the glass.
When playing No Man & # 39; s Sky in VR, it is easy to not only get lost in finding purpose and direction with what to do next in this almost endless procedural sandbox, but also get lost mentally ; to lose yourself and forget the reality. It is an overwhelming and captivating feeling that reinforces everything else that the game does so well.
There are so many things to do and see that it is difficult to summarize my thoughts and experiences, let alone formulate the breadth of everything.
As for VR ports, No Man's Sky is the head and shoulders above its peers when it comes to pure functionality. The performance issues aside, they have done tremendous work to make the game run and feel "right" in a headset. Everything from inventory interactions, terra-forming planets, vehicle driving, flying ships, firearms, building bases and more is completely changed to fully support VR motion controllers. I would even go so far as to say that building bases, terrain manipulation and mining resources feel better than it does in non-VR mode because of the spatial awareness and 3D presence offered in a headsets.  One of the most intuitive parts of it all is the wrist-based menu system that lets you point at the wrist to pull up holograms of components to build or even a small hologram on your ship before calling it. Reaching out with your hands and pointing feels very natural, albeit a bit clumsy for some things. It would be nice if there was a single gesture or button that opened your layer because you spend so much time looking at it instead of having to twist your wrist and laser point at the right place each time first.