No Man's Sky (pre-2018)
No Man's Sky is a survival game developed and published by Hello Games for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows, and was released in August 2016.
The game is said to be able to produce over 18.6 quintillion different planets to explore.
Note: Most of the issues were fixed with updates.
- The game was released at full price $60 despite the game having close to no content whatsoever at launch.
- False advertising: In many interviews Sean Murray, the lead developer, was asked about features would be included in the game and he said yes to almost everything. The trailers and displayed gameplay from development builds were equally misleading, containing features that never made it into the final game.
- An exhaustive list of features claimed or shown but not present in the final game can be found here.
- The game was even investigated for false advertising claims just like Aliens: Colonial Marines. While the game was being investigated for false advertisement claims, it was talked about in a Newsbeat story on the BBC.
- The marketing also focused on how unique this game supposedly was, however a game released in 1993 already did everything that No Man's Sky promised.
- It should be noted that Murray is a developer, and has little to no experience in PR. His mistake of promising large amounts of features that Hello Games had no time to entirely incorperate only served to hype up the audience and raise their expetations even further. Higher expetations, in turn, lead to greater disappointment.
- Hello Games did not help their case by going completely silent on social media for months after the game's release, leading to many speculating that the game had been abandoned or even that it had always been a scam. While it turned out that they were working on the 1.1 "Foundation Update" that ultimately released in late November 2016, this long period of silence did almost as much damage to the game as the hype had.
- Quantity over Quality. The entire game is sold on how big its world is instead of what you can do in that world. While the game can produce 18.6 quintillion planets through procedural algorithms, those quickly exhaust the available assets and become repetitive and similar. Once you get past the lie of a giant universe to explore, you realize that this is just another survival crafting game.
- This is because it takes surprisingly few variables to produce a huge number of outcomes: the most obvious example would be that with the threefold-repetition stalemate rule, there are still more possible games of chess than there are atoms in the universe.
- The advertising essentially claimed that this entire massive universe had been pre-made, but it actually just denotes the number of possible states the procedural model can generate. Far from having a vast, fixed universe to explore, the game actually only bothers to remember the last five or so star systems you visited.
- Gameplay becomes boring and tedious quickly after you leave the first planet. Soon the game boils down to mining resources to go to another planet, occasionally getting enough resources to craft something that makes you slightly better at mining resources.
- Sometimes the game would crash no matter what console it was played it on. The PS4 version had the most crashes.
- It took over a year to make multiplayer possible (despite Murray claiming it was in the base game and players could meet each other, with some handwaving about how "the universe" was so vast they probably never would) and even then the multiplayer is lackluster.
- Mediocre space combat.
- Dreadful inventory management.
- Frequent crashes in early versions.
- Zero plot or true objectives. Update 1.3 added a mission system and according to the devs it had 30 hours of story content, however, this story mode is nothing but fetch quests with a narrative about how the entire game is just a simulation in the mind of an AI or some other nonsense.
- The interface requires you to hold a button for seconds to do any action in the game, and there is no option to make it so you can merely click or press a button to do actions in the game.
- Alien species you find in planets do nothing but stand in the same place and talk to the player.
- Reaching the galactic core does nothing but restart the game in a "new galaxy" (which is generated using the exact same procedural algorithm as the old one), causing you to lose technological progress made up to that point.
- Many solid models in the game such as Ore and Stone are missing. Only textures exist and they disappear when you get close to them.
- If you start the game in a hostile or dangerous planet, leaving it might prove too difficult.
- The game begins after you have crashed your ship. This is literally impossible in the game due to the condescendingly hand-holdy flight controls that automatically steer you away from scary things.
- Because of the procedural generation, the "Survival Mode" added in the 1.1 patch was an extremely frustrating exercise in being screwed over by random number generators, often producing planets so hostile it was effectively game over to land on them.
- While the art style is really great, the actual graphics on launch looked outdated and bland for 2016 standards, looking more like a launch title game even though it's on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. This has improved since then.
- Some kudos should be given to Hello Games in that they at least continued to improve the game and eventually making it good, instead of pocketing the money they've earned off the overhyped gaming community and ditching it entirely, or making the game worse by adding monetization or even more bugs and glitches like Fallout 76.
- It can be an oddly relaxing game to play at times, if one doesn't mind the price tag.
- The soundtrack is nice. An example of this is Debutance by 65daysofstatic (which can be heard in the game's trailer and the Beyond update trailer).
- The designs of the creatures and enemy robots you encounter are pretty good to look at and are varied.
- The art design is gorgeous to look at and it takes references from science fiction films from the 1980's and earlier.
- Some of the newly added features reduce the tediousness of the game even if just slightly, for example, you can now summon your ship instead of having to backtrack constantly to find it again.
- The game has mod support on the PC version of the game, with a lot of cool mods such as the Fantasy mod.
- It has added game modes, such as Creative and Survival.
- A great number of the bugs and glitches have been patched.
- Full multiplayer was added to the game and you can meet other people just like how they orignally promised.
- As of now, the game's graphical quality has improved greatly and looks a lot better than when it launched.
- They've added a lot of new planets and underwater biomes along with new creatures.
- They added in VR into the game and unlike other games you don't have to buy a different version.
Initially, the game was highly anticipated and overhyped by gamers, to the point that when the game was delayed the developers received death threats. It was one of the most hyped indie games ever, and after some delays, it was released worldwide in August 2016. While the game was fairly well received by pretentious critics, gamers were strongly disappointed and angered by all of the missing features that were advertised. Many compared this situation to what happened with Aliens: Colonial Marines. As of this writing, the game has a "mostly negative" rating on Steam, with many of the user reviews being extremely negative. It was widely listed on many Disappointing/Worst Games of 2016 lists because of these fake promises.
Several reviews have pointed out that the game feels more like a beta proof-of-concept or an engine test rather than a finished product and that 10-15$ should've been a more reasonable price.
Angry Joe gave a 5/10 score (mentioning its the most painful 5/10 he's ever had to give), explaining that the first couple hours are enjoyable and that the game had a solid foundation and potential, but nothing more because then you realize there's nothing to do. He also ranked it at number 2 on his Worst Games of 2016 video, behind Ghostbusters (2016).
Due to Steam's refund policy that doesn't refund any games played for over 2 hours, many users were very angry and felt like they got cash-grabbed because they spent 3-4 hours at the enjoyable first planet before later finding out that the rest of the game is repetitive and boring. Later, Steam offered No Man's Sky refunds regardless of playtime. This is the first game that Steam has offered a special refund policy for a game.
The developers kept internet silence over the release and the missing features. Neither Hello Games nor Sean Murray tweeted anything for over a month after the game was released. After a month of internet silence, Hello Games had released a major update for the game called "The Foundation Update" which allows players to create bases and experience new modes for the game like Survival mode which is just a hard mode that provides limited resources and drains health quicker than usual. However, it wasn't enough to bring back the 90% of players that have abandoned the game.
On March of 2017 Hello Games released a second major update called the "Pathfinder Update" which adds more advanced graphics for the PlayStation 4 Pro console, planetary vehicles, base sharing, and also a permanent death mode where you lose your progress if you die.
In July of 2018, a new update known as No Man's Sky Next was released, adding more graphical features, unlimited base building, command of freighter armadas, and full multiplayer for the first time. However, this wasn't the case for GOG players. GOG players didn't get the multiplayer, and since Hello Games didn't tell them about this, many GOG players got so mad that an extended refund system had to be added for the GOG version since GOG users found out that they couldn't play with others.