No Man’s Sky is an almost impossibly huge game, an entire virtual universe filled with 18 quintillion planets, each one different from the next thanks to the powers of procedural generation. Instead of a typical review, I’m going to be writing regular dispatches from No Man’s Sky, giving a firsthand account of what the experience is like, and what you can expect if you choose to dive in. You can follow along right here. Spoilers below.
I’ve been spending too much time in the sky.
I realize this as I make my third hyperdrive jump in a matter of minutes, quickly speeding to a new star system while ignoring all of the planets that pass by my window. My quest to find Atlas — a mysterious being (or beings) that promise to reveal to me the secrets of the universe — has made me impatient. The journey has been long, and I’m trying to make up for lost time, all of those hours I spent dawdling, cataloging wildlife or mining for resources.
I’ve primarily spent my time recently in my newly acquired ship, bouncing from one Atlas interface to the next. When I look through my camera roll, all of the recent images are viewed from the cockpit of a spaceship. There aren’t any colorful landscapes or strange alien creatures. Just space. So much space.
After visiting my fifth Atlas interface to date — this one a huge, blackened eyeball that kept repeating the word "beyond" — I decide to get back to my explorer roots.
I land my craft on a temperate planet full of exotic plants, but with little animal life on its surface. It storms frequently here, but it’s a simple rain, nothing dangerous about it. In many ways this place is boring. There’s little here to help further me on my journey to the center of the galaxy, little in the way of useful resources outside of the ever-present plutonium, which I use to fuel my ship. I don’t stumble across any vast deposits of gold or other money-making resources. I don’t meet any fascinating alien beings outside of a handful of traders.
Instead, I just wander. And it’s… nice.
This planet may not be useful, but it sure is beautiful. Red grass and trees combine with purple-and-green rocks to create a Willy Wonka effect, like I’m walking through some kind of magical, never-ending garden. There are plentiful shallow beaches, and giant rock formations that create naturally formed sightseeing spots. They’re so high up that you can get a good sense of everything around you, along with a close-up glimpse of some of the high-flying birds. Even the constant rain is nice: a soft, subtle soundtrack to my indiscriminate exploration. I spend an hour here doing little more than snapping photos.
I do the same on the next planet I land on, though this one is nearly the exact opposite, a harsh world filled with life, albeit most of it pretty angry. Tiny warthog-like creatures constantly batter me in the knees when I’m not paying attention, while bug-eating crabs keep snapping at me for no reason whatsoever. Even the air is harsh, a dangerous toxic brew that slowly deteriorates my health. But still, the world is beautiful in its own way. Long, twisted rocks cover the surface like the roots of a tree, and at night the sky turns a brilliant, hazy pink. When I’m not being bothered by strangely aggressive alien creatures, I just soak in the view.
When I first started on my journey, the thrill of discovery is what pushed me forward. The idea that no matter what planet I was on, I could find something amazing, something that nobody else had ever seen before. When that thrill waned, it was replaced by a drive to follow the path of Atlas, and discover some kind of hidden meaning in all of this. That drive is still there, but it can also be tiring. Traveling the galaxy requires a lot of busy work. I’ve spent hours fiddling with menus, crafting new technologies, and scouring caves for precious resources. Finding a nice, quiet planet, where you can simply walk around at your leisure, is incredibly peaceful. Sometimes you just need a break.
The secrets of the universe can wait.