I have something of a long and storied history with starting No Man’s Sky: I’ve just done it for the third time in six years this past week. My first time with the game, I played on launch week (it may have actually even been launch day, back in 2016). I was beyond excited for the game, having seen its original trailer back at E3 2014 (way back when I was actually at an E3, watching with my teammates from Polygon in LA). A space exploration game with near-infinite planets to traverse, explore, craft in? Yes, please!
I put about 30 hours into my initial playthrough, but I did tire of the early game’s somewhat sterile presentation. Sterile isn’t the correct word, really: the game, even in its earliest release state, was teeming with possibilities and weird life forms, but it all did feel a bit random and, for want of a better word… easy to bounce off of. There simply weren’t enough hooks for me to really get stuck on and excited about. I even made a goofy video for an earlier version of this website about how making the game a wild version of Pokemon Snap with some of its ridiculous procedurally-generated critters would have been a more fun experience.
So, I fell off.
I dived back in a few years later, after one of the massive updates that gave the game a tremendous visual overhaul and many new systems to interact with, including construction. I had a very pleasant few hours, but bounced off again. I will say, I was impressed — even in that small timeframe — by how much more stuff there was to do (how many more hooks, in my previous framing), and I don’t even remember why I fell off. I was probably just too busy!
Now, in this past week, I’ve dedicated some time to getting in again. I used a lot of my colleague Nerium’s advice this time around and actually started in an Expedition (I actually chose to forgo the tutorial segment, since, well, I’ve done it twice before, albeit in wildly different iterations of the game!). I won’t lie, so much was new that I got stuck a few times all over again, and I didn’t do much of the expedition content itself. Rather, I mostly fucked around, did a lot of mining, and teleported to other players’ bases for hours, just marveling, again, at how much more there is to DO in the game than there used to be. My hat is truly off to Hello Games for continually iterating on the base game to this extent.
I do have a freighter now! And a fleet! And I took Nerium’s advice to get those puppies off on missions right away. Skipping the tutorial does mean it took me a lot longer than it probably should have to get used to inventory management again, and definitely longer than it should have to get any handle whatsoever on using refiners. I’m in a weird limbo where I am super familiar with some of the game’s systems, and just a clueless baby bird with others. Again, Nerium’s tips guide has been invaluable for me. While I play the game, I have their guide out next to me on my iPad, and I sort of picture them as my personal guide to the friendly skies. Thank you, Nere!
I can feel myself falling for the game, with “I’ll just look at one more base” syndrome. Last night I sat down to play for 90 or so minutes, and looked up at the three hour mark. I’m still having issues finding a few of the resources I need, and lord knows my flight and combat skills need some work. But, six years in, and on my third attempt, I think I have a long, prosperous Sky career ahead of me.