I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring the great unknown of No Man’s Sky since it launched (get it? “Launched”!). While this game has seen the widest range of public opinion of any video game of recent memory, I’m not going to spend my time with this article covering any of that. I’m not going to explain any of the games mechanics or direction, and I’m not going to give it a review. Instead I am going to tell you about one of my recent play sessions and narrate why I think No Man’s Sky is one of the more interesting adventures I’ve been on in a long while.
My starship floats in the quiet of space as I break warp, entering the fourth star system on my travels. The system, which I log in my chart as “Kristy’s Cloud” (named after my wife) is staged with pink nebulous clouds which serve as a beautiful backdrop to a fleet of cold, metallic star freighters. I drift for a few moments taking in the setting, the freighters hang in space above me like a big black curtain and it’s only when I look through them that I see a space station, and beyond it a grey hulking planet.
I first chart course for the space station to make trade on the resourced materials from my previous journey. As I approach the station an array of neon streaks of light signal the heavy traffic to this waypoint among the stars. At the face of each point of light there is a starship, and in each starship a traveler. Each of these ships comes from places unknown and soon they will depart back into the vastness of space on adventures of their own. My ship docks inside among the alien travelers and I exit into the port, watching as ship after ship take turns arriving and departing. After a moment I find the droid trade unit and collect payment for the cache of supplies which I found on my previous planetary excursion.
After collecting my credits I enter my starship and set sights on a new discovery. I depart the station and point myself towards a new, and undiscovered planet. The rocky globe fills the entirety of my cockpit viewport as I engage a planetary scan of its surface. Heat and light singe my hull as I enter the atmosphere, my craft rumbling as the darkness of space bleeds away into a pale blue hue. I have arrived. The sounds of my entry fade away and the gentle hum of my craft cuts through the air. I check my readings of this world to discover there is no flora or fauna, native wildlife is all but non-existent. However this dismal first observation gives way to an incredible revelation that this world houses an absolute mass of natural, mineable resources. Shimmering rocks cover the horizon as I see endless supplies of plutonium and aluminum. This planet will be bountiful.
I land my craft at the side of a mountain range and mark this world in my log as “Wayward Point”. Before me, carved in the mountain side is the mouth of a cave, the walls of which glow red with plutonium deposits. I jump into its maw, using the thrusters of my jet pack to save my fall. I land amidst a swarm of colors, the stalactites and crystals which decorate this cave give off a glow that masks the danger which may or may not lie in its depths. The pull of resource acquisition is too strong and I begin my descent into the heart of this mountain. I march forward with my multi-tool in hand, carving the aluminum from the walls with my mining laser. Fear of depleting my life support and mining laser supplies is non-existent as I am literally surrounded by the fuel I need to sustain my mission, so I continue my quest. It is not until I begin to recognize points of interest that I realize I am walking in circles, and not only that, but the multitude of paths present me with the reality that I am lost in this glowing cave with miles of solid mountain rock overhead.
It is a strange and sinking feeling. I am provided enough resources to sustain me for an extended period of time in the depths of this cave, so I am in no immediate danger, the feeling of captivity that I have however is inescapable. My bearings are thrown, a single marker on my visor reading show me the general direction of my craft, but there is no map or waypoint marker directing me how to reach it. I have but one choice, to put my starship marker straight ahead of me and use it as a general heading to make it back to the entrance of this cave. My trip back is long yet fruitful, I continue to mine precious resources on my way back to my ship. I climb steep rocky slopes and crawl through narrow pathways on my way forward. Half an hour passes in the dark before I finally see the orange sunrise cutting through the mouth of the cave, signaling my freedom. I let out a sigh of relief and watch for a moment as the light of day calms me.
I use my jet pack to launch myself out into that light. My boots make impact on the rocky ground next to my waiting starship and I quickly board the vessel. Igniting my thrusters, I lift off and launch a scan of the planet’s surface. A multitude of beacons light up in the interior of my craft, one signaling a nearby trading post. I chart my course and engage my pulse engines which hurl me at high speed over the jagged hills below. I’m feeling so good with my bounty of aluminum that I execute a perfect barrel-roll as I cruise at high speeds and low altitude. I approach the trading post and land on one of many landing pads. I exit my ship and descend the stairs as the sounds of approaching space crafts echo through the canyon.
I am met at the bottom of the stairs by a massive beast of an alien. His heavily armored frame towers over me as he sizes me up. In my hand he sees my multi-tool and gestures towards it with a grunt. I am presented the option of throwing up my defenses and refusing his request or I can hand over my most valuable tool in hopes that he doesn’t use it against me. I decide to put my trust in this new planet and I offer my multi-tool to the stranger. He grunts in approval and takes the multi-tool from me, a moment passes before the stranger pulls out a heavily upgraded multi-tool and presents it to me in good will. My faith pays off and I thank the creature for his offering. I tuck the multi-tool away and say goodbye with a grin on my face. Wayward Point has proven to be a generous planet.
I have one final stop for the day, I approach the droid trade merchant and unload my cache of aluminum from my mining adventure in the cave. The allotment of credits that I am presented with for my trade is staggering. I check my balance of funds and begin to imagine what further adventures these credits will fund. I turn and face the landing pads of the trade depot as a fleet of starships approach. Perhaps one of these adventurers is willing to sell me their ship? A new enhanced vessel could carry me further into the stars. A new adventure is about to begin.