It’s always a personal thing for gamers. That’s the prize, but it’s also the problem.
As the release of No Man’s Sky creates more hype than any single game from recent past, there seems to be two factions that have already formed in the No Man’s Sky universe: those who are hyped. Psyched. Ecstatic. Thrilled by pure childlike imagination at the mere possibility of such a new, undiscovered, literal universe of stories and art. But–andrightfully so–there are also those who feel as lost, confused, and clueless toward the concept as a puppy with a Rubik’s cube. What am I really doing? Go towards the light?! I’m not quite sure I’m ready for that decision, Hello Games!
If you can’t tell already, my personal choice leans toward the boiling tea kettle-level of helplessly “hyped”. It seems insane to me that it’s been two whole years since I first saw Sean Murray’s presentation at the 2014 E3. And I think it’s safe to say that it has been a turbulent two years since then. So much has happened, and yet the mere concept of the game creeps to the forefront of our minds. I mean, we have only scratched the surface of our own universe. And now the developers at Hello Games have given us the option to explore a completely new, equally unexplored universe, through the guise of artistic entertainment.
Though I am riding the No Man’s Sky hype train, I understand the sentiment of those not quite sold on the game. Those still unsure on what your objective is when playing No Man’s Sky. When I play, what will I actually be doing? If I don’t have time to see everything, why bother to see anything at all? If we’re all in this so-called “universe” together, but I’m not likely to see anybody I know, why go?
Which is what is one of the brilliant things about No Man’s Sky. No matter which train of thought you are riding, you are right.
Will you become overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it? Psychologically maroon yourself to one planet and mine the hell out of it? Maybe… But don’t worry, you’ll move on and be completely overwhelmed by the next completely different planet. And you’ll probably become a very thrifty, resourceful trader because of it. Which is a lucrative and viable option!
Or will you join the space race to the center of the universe? A rag-tag, rolling stone that gathers only what they need to in order to boost the capacity of their jump drive! Never bound by a faction, but by whatever gets you the most units to move forward. Will you be the next Han Solo of the NMS universe? Wookie-esque sidekick to be determined.
Or maybe your years of FPS experience have put you in the faction-state-of-mind. Maybe being the main BAMF in the most powerful star fleet is how you roll! You could be the next Admiral Adama… or maybe Darth Vader. How chaotic or lawful you decide to be is up to you! Just like our lives here on this crazy place called Planet Earth.
Which brings me to another brilliant quality inherent in No Man’s Sky. It’s a fresh canvas. A completely unknown perspective.
You can’t leave your house or use your smartphone without seeing an ad, trailer, graphic, or article promoting a series of movies or shows that are the re-hashed sequel to a trilogy of movies from past generations. Or perhaps a new movie that’s a prequel to a cult classic? Or a three-part mini-series based on a book everyone already knows. Or a threequel in a prequel trilogy that will eventually have another trilogy taking place after the original trilogy. It’s enough to make you wonder if anyone comes up with anything original anymore.
That’s where No Man’s Sky comes back into my frame of mind. It’s an untapped world. An unexplored amalgam of sights, sounds, music, and language that begs to be harvested by eager imaginations around the world. The game holds the possibility to completely invade pop culture. Those of us obsessed with No Man’s Sky could become our generation’s version of the trekkie. No Man’s SkyCon anyone? Who knows what sort of ripples such an immense idea could have on our beloved nerd culture?
“But we’ve seen this before! I’ve been let down so many times! Spore made me a lot of promises back in the day, and I did NOT find being an amoeba to be all that exciting!!”
You’re right, skeptics! You’re so right it hurts my hopeful, science-fiction loving heart! The entire thing could be released and blow over in 3 months! “NMS is hack procedural generation!” “An endless playground with no variety.” “I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game, and I’m already bored!” I know, we can see the reviews in our cynical gamer mind’s eye. Because let’s face it! We’ve been hurt before! We buy our ticket to a hype train that ends up being an old-timey handcar, and our procedurely generated hearts are broken! But like falling in love, falling in hype takes the same risks of being let down by our own expectations. A game as limitless in size can veritably have just as many expectations.
So instead of fearful skeptics… Let’s just be open lovers!
Now, I’m not saying we should just metaphorically “swipe right” to every game that tickles our gamer bone. Come on, there have been way too many Sonic ‘06’s in our lives to be that optimistic. But what we can do is see things as they are, so that we can be ready for them when they change. And you can bet all the hype in the world that if this game grows as the world is projecting it will, it will change everything.
But if it doesn’t, and it becomes the butt of every rags to riches to rags joke of 2016, than we had a good laugh and things proceed as usual.
But it’s 2016! Change is everywhere you look! If 2016 was a movie, they’d be in the middle of their training montage heading for the climax right now! The political atmosphere is that of a three-ring circus. Pop culture seems to be the only form of true democracy driven by the quantified verbs “like,” “subscribe,” and “follow.” Whoever holds the public in the palm of their hand gets to put their other hand on the spotlight. And right now Sean Murray and the rest of Hello Games have their hands handsomely full.
Whether or not No Man’s Sky is worth the hype, or whether you should join the hype is redundant. You are a Traveller. In the universe of No Man’s Sky, and in that other one… The one you’re in right now. What you do, or where you go has always been up to you. The brilliance of No Man’s Sky can simply come from knowing that infinite choices have always been there right in front of us. As a fellow Traveller, I refuse to let skepticism slow the roll on my hype train. Don’t be afraid to get excited about something that you want to do or else you may never end up doing it.
Yours for the voyage,
Traveller and Internationally Certified Field Reporter Andrew Campbell