No Man’s Sky has been out for about a week, and two of PSVG’s finest have been sinking numerous hours into exploring the galaxy. How do their experiences compare?

Starting Planet

Seth: My starting planet had a Polish-sounding name: Yekhalymosky, and is located in the Euclid Galaxy. I didn’t realize, at first, how to change the planet’s name. I have no clue what I would have gone with, but it wouldn’t have stayed the same. The early game spurs you on to find supplies for repairing your ship, so that’s what I went with. Within seconds of searching for Iron, my first Sentinel attack was upon me. I tried running away, but eventually had to turn and face my attacker.

I survived — I’ve actually only died four times, each in space combat — and continued about exploring Yekhalymosky. It was a pretty planet, as you can see here, and had plenty of flora and fauna. Going into No Man’s Sky, I thought I’d explore the mess out of my first planet. However, the allure of space led me to take off and fly as quickly as I could.

Kyle: Ok, so Seth remembers a lot more about his first planet than I do. I immediately renamed my first planet to Oleander (my favorite band) because that is what awesome people do, right? I accidentally called the universe Oleander as well, because I had no idea what I was doing. I tried to rename either one of them, but no matter how much I tried I just could not make it work. Nonetheless, I began exploring, and the planet was stunning. I set about attempting to rebuild my ship, exploring the planet, and interacting with the wildlife. I must say, feeding the animals is one of my favorite things to do, and I try to do it on every planet I can.

Unlike Seth, I have been fortunate and avoided death completely so far, but I also have not attempted space combat yet. Why? I do not want to die. Honestly, I really am trying hard to play this game without dying. The fact that you cannot see your character is interesting (I wonder if this will ever pay off in any way) but I am also less interested in taking risks as I place myself in the role of this explorer.

Favorite Planet

Seth: So far, I’ve found my favorite planet after about 12 or 13 jumps. In a star system that I dubbed the PlayStation Universe, I randomly picked a planet to name after Naughty Dog. The locations inside have been named after Naughty Dog games, and the animals after characters. If you ever find that planet, keep a look out for some nasty little creatures name Atoq. I will admit that I didn’t scan all of the animals on the planet. There was a pterodactyl-looking thing that I just couldn’t scan or shoot down, despite spending about 20 minutes tracking them down.

Kyle: I honestly cannot remember where I found my favorite planet. It was either in the first or second system I was in, and I named it Fern Gully, because, well, it was kinda like Fern Gully. The planet was very green, but the level of toxicity was also very low. This meant I could do a lot on the planet without having to worry about recharging my systems. The survival aspect of the game was something I was not expecting. I knew that there would be some harsh planets, but I did not put together that basically every planet would be harsh in some way (at least almost every planet I have been on has). So, Fern Gully was a nice little respite for me.

Flora/Fauna

Seth: The animals thus far have been pretty normal from planet to planet. I keep waiting to find one of those giant brontosaurus-like things from the trailers. I have stumbled across a stegosaurus-looking animal that my wife named Spike. The creepiest things I’ve come across were these eel-like things floating high above the ground. I forgot to take a picture of them, though. Generally, the animals all act about the same. I haven’t seen anything too huge (other than a giant catfish-like thing that was bigger than my ship), and I’ve easily dispatched any predators.

Kyle: My favorite part about the animals is I have found a lot of smaller ones that act like dogs, and I spend 20 minutes chasing them trying to feed them! I have not found any of the nightmare creatures that others have, but I did find one creature that looked like a straight up dinosaur. Not huge, but still a dinosaur. The plants have been a bit disappointing. I appreciate them because they are an easy way to get a lot of credits but uploading their discoveries, but I feel like they have been pretty similar from planet to planet.

Ship

Seth: I love the ship designs in the game, but I briefly thought I’d be stranded in my starting preorder ship. I redeemed the preorder ship on my second planet, mostly because I wanted the message to stop flashing. This means that I don’t have the blueprint for how to build a hyperdrive, though I can fuel them. The first bigger ship I tried to buy didn’t have a hyperdrive installed, so I didn’t buy it. Just as I was debating whether to start over — 12 hours in — I found a larger ship with 21 inventory slots and a hyperdrive included. I’m still waiting to buy one of the ships that looks kind of like a Firefly (as in, Serenity/Joss Whedon…you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t familiar with Firefly, right?)

Kyle: I also preordered the game and have the preorder ship, but unlike Seth, was fortunate to stumble upon a hyperdrive blueprint early in the game. I have not purchased a new ship yet (this is what I am currently saving up for) because I constantly feel like I do not have enough storage. The inventory management aspect of the game has been a bit more cumbersome than I was expecting, and I can never decide what to do with all the resources I get. I am hoping a bit larger ship with a few more inventory slots will help out a bit.

Tool/Weapon

Seth: I’ve not dived into the minutiae of upgrading the multitool. I’ve bought a couple larger tools, but haven’t done anything major with them. I like that it’s simple to use and switch between modes.

Kyle: I dig the multitool. I have purchased one new one, but I have all of the expansion slots filled up on it. I have only gotten into a few scuffles with the small Dinklagebot looking sentries and while I do not want to tangle with the larger ones from the trailers, I am trying to be prepared if that happens.

Aliens

Seth: I’ve met three of the races so far: Gek, Korvax and Vy’Keen. I think the Korvax have my favorite design. One of my favorite parts of the game is unlocking the different words and talking with the aliens. I’m getting far enough along that I’m seeing differences between them. I do think it would be cool to see them actually moving around, maybe building cities on some of the planets, but I like it in general.

I’ve also enjoyed the trading. It’s a great feeling, when you’ve got a ship full of Plutonium, and you find a trader willing to pay double the market value for it.

Kyle: I have only interacted with the Gek and Korvax thus far, but this is my favorite part of the game so far. I love the small interactions with the aliens, leveraging what I have learned about them to improve my standing with them, and learning more words of their language. When I am on planets I typically am looking for any way to learn more words and build my standing with the different aliens. This is currently the biggest carrot for me and keeps bringing me back to the game.

Combat

Seth: I am terrible at First-Person Shooting combat, and at flight combat. Luckily, No Man’s Sky doesn’t concentrate too heavily on either of these. It’s only at about 14 hours in that I’ve shot down my first bogey. Still, the flying is satisfying and easy enough to aim. The game does an alright job of telling you where the attacks are coming from.

Kyle: I have pretty much avoided combat at all costs so far. I have taken out a couple small sentries and that is it. I do want to get more into combat, but as I said before, I have this compelling desire to not die while I am playing. So, eventually I will do this more, but currently, I am avoiding it.

Exploring

Seth: This is the meat of the game. At its best, No Man’s Sky is gorgeous. I can vividly remember the first time I shot up into space and saw another planet looming in front of me; the cave that give off a mysterious glow; the wonderful vistas; finding my first Atlas Station. I like that I can be wholly immersed in exploration — trying to track down a final animal on a planet, or find a monolith — or it can be something I’m doing in the background. I’ve done a lot of exploring on a second TV while we’ve been watching the Olympics.

I’ve hit planets that have been major duds, with no flora or fauna. I think I was in three consecutive star systems that were largely barren. And that’s okay. The only negative I can think of with 18 quintillion planets, and the 20-plus I’ve seen so far, is that they can seem to blend together. After playing a game like Uncharted, with a strict linear path, I have vivid memories of set pieces, and can recall many different sights. In a single two-hour play session of No Man’s Sky, I might “discover” 20 animal species on two or three different planets, plus dozens of plants and so-forth.

Kyle: I agree with almost everything Seth has said here. I have not explored as much as he has, but the scope of this game is just mind blowing. When I compare three planets I went to (see the screenshot above) it is amazing to me the scale difference between them. I only explored a tiny section of the smallest planet, and I was on it for a couple hours. I barely scratched the surface of the largest one. It has helped me be ok with missing things because there is no way you can explore every nook and cranny of every planet. I am not a completionist, but if I were, I imagine this game would be too daunting to ever play.

Surviving

Seth: Next to exploring, I’d say that surviving it the next largest tenet of No Man’s Sky. It’s not too difficult to survive, as long as you are aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your meters. Though, I’ll confess to not being entirely sure of the difference between some of the life meters.

Kyle: While I have not had a huge issue with surviving yet, it plays a bigger role in the game than I expected. I feel like I regularly have something I need to do to in order to recharge some meter. While I do not mind this, it is rather distracting to get regular warnings about life support being low, etc. Granted, without the warning I would probably forget about it and die, but damn does it happen a lot.

Current Feeling

Seth: I have no clue how close I am to the center of the universe right now. I think I’ve been playing for at least 14 hours, and I’ve mostly followed the Atlas path. The really neat thing about No Man’s Sky is that my 14 hours could be vastly different from yours. While I’ve hopped around star systems every hour, or so, you could easily spend upwards of five hours on a single planet. When I first started the game, I was running everywhere and trying to do everything, without a plan.

My exosuit and ship quickly got overburdened, and it became a chore to organize through things. As I’ve expanded my inventories and learned more about the economy, the problem has been somewhat alleviated. It also has helped to define specific goals. If I decide how I’m going to spend my time ahead of time, the session goes better — whether it’s build warp cells, mine for gold or try to find every animal on a planet. I’ve also learned to not get discouraged when I can’t find something — such as the final, flying animal on the planet. Instead of wasting hours trying to shoot the animal down, I just hopped into my ship and moved on to the next world waiting to be explored.

Kyle: Overall, I am enjoying No Man’s Sky. The critical reception to it is a bit surprising and while I did not expect it to be outstanding, I thought it would be a bit higher than it is. I get some flack on occasion for saying “this game is not for everyone” because no game is for everyone, but I say it often because different games have different hooks, and you have to find the ones that are right for you. There is a clear gameplay hook/loop in No Man’s Sky, but if you do not enjoy the loop, I cannot imagine there is enough else in the game for you to want to play it. So far, I am enjoying the resource gathering, improving muy suit/tool/ship, progressing closer to the center of the universe path. Everything else about this game, while cool, will probably not sustain you if you do not enjoy that loop. It is for me so far. How long will it work? We will have to wait and see.