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    No Man’s Sky When bigger means better, Preview

    THAT’S HOW many planets there are in No Man’s Sky. Developer Hello Games says that means that, even if a planet was discovered every second, we’d still be playing No Man’s Sky for 585 billion years before we visit every last one. To say No Man’s Sky is big, then, would be something of an understatement.

    Of course, the fact that it’s a huge game isn’t necessarily a good thing in and of itself. Indeed, far too many game developers are in thrall to the idea that bigger is always better, bragging as they do about how vast and bloated their  latest game is, seemingly oblivious to the fact that there’s often something to be said for taking a more focused approach. We’re going to give No Man’s Sky a pass for making a fuss about its colossal scale, though.

    Why? Because in this case, we don’t think the motivation for trying to communicate the scale of the game’s universe arises out of some misplaced sense of braggadocio. Rather, Hello Games is making a big deal out of the size of the game because it is fundamental to the experience it wants you to have when you play it.This is a game about exploration, about the joy of discovery and the sense of wonder that it can elicit.

    True, there are already many games that evoke those kinds of feelings, but No Man’s Sky’s sheer scale gives it something unique. Whatever pleasure you might gain from ‘discovering’ something in any other game, whether in single-player, or as part of a shared world, you’re perfectly aware that many other players have been there before. In No Man’s Sky, that won’t be the case. In this game, you really are a pioneer that will see places no human has ever set eyes on(with the game being procedurally generated, that includes the developers). That is what makes the game stand out and that is what makes us want to play it.

    Another reason Hello Games is so keen to emphasise the scale of the game is that they want to play down its multiplayer element. Yes, No Man’s Sky takes place in a shared universe, but this is not an MMO; the vast nature of the game’s universe means that coming into contact with other players will be rare. We’re fine with that, because as you take off from the planet on which you alone will start the game and start exploring the universe, the knowledge that you may be light years away from another human player should help foster the sense that  you’re a lone, adventuring pioneer with a universe of infi nite possibilities ahead of you. When you do come into contact with another player, the rarity of the event should only make that moment more special.  We get No Man’s Sky in macrocosm, then, understand why it’s important that the game is so huge. It’s detail that we’re a little short on. We’ve known for some time that you will be able to collect resources, trade, upgrade equipment and engage in combat both on land and in space. One new little titbit has been let slip, though.

     No Man’s Sky will contain AI factions that will respond to you in different ways depending on how you interact with them. The developer has suggested that it is trying to keep this system as natural as possible you won’t get a big flashing notification on the HUD telling you that you’re best mates with some faction or other after completing some predefined goals.

    But, if you consistently attack a particular faction, they’re going to become hostile. Conversely, if you help a group out, they are going to be friendly towards you and this could provide you with some perks. Those wingmen that we saw in No Man’s Sky’s E3 trailer, for example, were AI companions.   

    Despite that new bit of information, a lack of detail means we're diluting our excitement about the game by pointing out that we don’t yet know how it actually plays. The concept is brilliant and the technology that supports it impressive. Now we just need to get our hands on it to see if it can live up to the promise.

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