No Man's Sky Review

Dean Abdou

Let's not beat around the bush here, when No Man’s Sky first came out on PlayStation 4 it was a bit of a mess, but not because it was extremely broken or buggy or anything like that. No, it was quite simply because the vision delivered to gamers by Hello Games was not the vision they got with the final release. Even judged on its own merits, No Man’s Sky had a content problem, in that it didn’t really have much. Sure, it had a huge galaxy, but it was a very lonely universe that soon got old quickly. It was a case of overpromised and underdelivered. Fast forward the clock and several substantial updates later, the game is finally making its way to Xbox One and now we have something quite different to the original.

If you dabbled in the PS4 version back in the day then you’ll instantly recognise that one key change to come from the NEXT update: the game is now playable in third-person, which adds a new dynamic, giving you a wider view of your surroundings. But if this isn’t for you then the good news is that you can switch to first person at any point. Same goes for piloting your starship, in that you can switch between first and third-person at any time, although we found third-person a lot more difficult when it came to flying due to the fact that the camera can be a little bit too finicky. You get much better control of your ship in first-person.

Behold! A land of luscious pink grass!

The camera changes aren’t all that’s been introduced to the game, you now have base building; the graphics have been updated with One X users getting the option to switch between quality and performance; and probably one of the biggest additions is the ability to play online with a group of friends. Online play has been something that fans have wanted since day one, but we’ll delve into how that turned out a little later.

First things first, let's talk about the first few hours of No Man’s Sky NEXT. To be blunt, it’s a bit frustrating, but this is all dependant on which random planet you first spawn on. For me, I spawned on a radioactive planet which made doing all the tutorial tasks so much harder. I found myself dying a couple of times when trying to traverse the planet to complete the tutorial missions. Thankfully, the game does take pity on you so if there’s an instance in which you’ve had to travel miles to obtain a certain piece of tech and you die, don’t be too disheartened as the game will help out.

During this initial tutorial stage you also get introduced to the mining and crafting side of things, which is all pretty self-explanatory. Your mining tool can help you get all sorts of minerals, which will set you up for your adventure ahead. As long as you make sure you have carbon on you for your mining tool, then you’re pretty golden to get many of the resources that you’ll need.

After you’ve repaired your ship and taken off you’ve basically completed the prologue of NMS and you’re technically free to roam about in space. One of the many beauties of No Man’s Sky is that even though there is the main questline – which is chock full of mystery and intrigue – you can straight up jump into just exploring, discovering new worlds and finding new emergent stories to play. Sadly, if you want to really get your exploration on then you’ll actually need to stick with the main questline just a tad longer so that you can unlock the blueprints for warp cells – which lets you hop from galaxy to galaxy – and other fancy tech. Honestly though, the universe is your oyster here so players are encouraged to just take their own path.

Whatever path you do take, you’ll always be taking it with your little starship that you’ve spent time fixing – and even upgrading, or straight up buying a new one – but there is also the option to bag yourself a massive freight ship. These tend to cost tens of millions of units so it’s not something you’d get early on in-game. But that’s the joy of No Man’s Sky being a procedurally generated game, it’s completely unpredictable what you’ll find on your travels and for me, I was lucky enough to be flying around when a freight ship dropped out of warp, under attack. Upon saving the ship, I greeted the NPC captain only for him to tell me that he’s basically sick and tired of his captaincy, and consequently he handed over control of his ship to me. This is just one of many surprises that the game can throw at you. Some players have reported that this has happened to them after jumping three or four times between galaxies while others haven’t quite been so lucky.

Although a freight ship is technically a base, you do also have the option to build a proper base (or bases) on whichever planet you may visit or discover. This is something that you also learn in the early tutorial stage of the game, but as I said earlier my spawn planet was a radioactive nightmare so there was no way I would stay there. After bouncing from galaxy to galaxy I eventually stumbled upon a beautiful tropical planet, the perfect place for my new base of operations. Again, due to the open-endedness of NMS Next, your base can just be something super simple for you to just go to every now and then to relax, or a sprawling metropolis – well, that depends on how good you actually are.

If you opt for the mini-metropolis of sorts you can set up your base to have all your necessary specialist terminals at hand, so that you can craft new formulas of all sorts without the need for searching out a space station. Once your base is staffed up each one will ask you to take on various tasks for them so that you can get your base fully functional. The benefits of a base though is astronomical, you’ll reach a point where you can have machinery mining the planet for you and this makes harvesting resources that much easier. If you don’t mind sinking a good few hours into getting all of this up and running, then you’re all good. Although it can be quite time consuming, the benefits speak for themselves. Fortunately, the game makes base building a little more interesting by throwing in a nice little narrative to keep players interested.

Playing solo can have all sorts of benefits in No Man’s Sky, in that you don’t have to deal with pond scum like Rich Walker, but with the NEXT update you no longer have to journey through this massive universe alone. If you want you can start a completely fresh character with a friend or you can bring over everything from a previous save and hop into their galaxy. With online multiplayer you can basically do everything just with a buddy or three – you can have 16 players in an online instance as well! Build bases together, take on missions together, explore galaxies together. No Man’s Sky is genuinely a massive game, so the discoveries you can make and the worlds you can travel to can last you a literal lifetime.

If you're lucky, and work hard enough, you too can own a freighter.

Unfortunately, No Man’s Sky NEXT isn’t perfect. While having everything procedurally generated offers huge variety in what you’ll discover, it also means that some textures are a little low in detail. That said, No Man’s Sky can still be a visually stunning game, especially when it comes to vistas, just don’t expect much when you get up close and personal with those textures. Photo mode allows players to capture stunning images of planets from a distance, ships in hyperspace and what not, which is truly a great addition to the game. So what the game lacks in close-up beauty, it certainly makes up for it in the wider universe.

The flaws don’t stop with the procedurally generated stuff. Depending on which console you play on and the mode that you have it set to, you’ll find more often than not that the game can suffer from some terrible drops in frames. This doesn’t come as a surprise when you bear in mind what the game has to load in, but it can be a little annoying from time to time, especially in situations where you’ve got a lot going on.

Along with the odd few bugs in the game, like warping inside of a freight ship, being flung across the map when jumping from objects etc., NMS is not quite as perfect as one would have hoped, especially after so many updates, but perfection is all but subjective and the NEXT update certainly does brings it much closer to Hello Games’ original vision.

Some would say that it’s too little too late for No Man’s Sky and to an extent they’re right, but as the age old saying goes: better late than never. All that can be said though is that No Man’s Sky is certainly a much better game now than it was this time last year and it’s something that you could easily sink many, many hours into, if you’re okay with a bit of a grind.

No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky NEXT is certainly a massive step-up from what it was two years ago. With the addition of online multiplayer, base-building and some graphical tweaks it offers quite a bit to keep players busy for hours on end. While it does have a few flaws, No Man's Sky is still a unique and enjoyable game.

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The soundtrack to NMS is enjoyable to listen to for the first few hours, but then it gets pretty repetitive to the point where it's nicer to just mute the telly and whack on some Spotify playlists.


Admiring planets and the stars from a distance can truly be breathtaking, especially when playing in 4K with quality mode on. With that said, it falls flat when you're on a planet’s surface looking around at the scenery.


The controls for the most part are pretty straightforward and easy to pick up but there are instances when it can be a little too finicky such as flying a ship in third-person or trying to pulse jump to a certain location.


With NMS’s procedurally generated galaxies and worlds, you’ll always having something new to discover, especially with various different stories dotted about in the universe. The addition of online multiplayer makes the game even more enjoyable because you can just piss about with a buddy and fight back against space pirates.


The achievements are pretty sub-standard, lacking in creativity which is a shame given how open-world NMS is. On top of that, the Gamerscore values are uneven which can be extremely frustrating especially if you enjoy seeing a nice clean, even score on your profile.

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