When exploring the 18 quintillion planets in No Man’s Sky, you might come across the expectations of its blood-thirsty fans. Since the announcement of Hello Games’ juggernaut two hundred years ago, the whole ethos, idea and content of the game has seen to be driven by the fans expectations themselves. So really, if the game “fails” – be it critically (most likely the case if deemed a failure) or commercially (unlikely being backed by shiny Sony dollars)… well, so what?
Rather than listening to what Sean Murray and his team had to say about their own game, some fans just took their imaginations, strapped them to a rocket like Sid from Toy Story and sent them hurtling upwards on a vertical indefinite trajectory.
One of the prominent questions jabbed at Murray and Hello Games with the force of Mike Tyson was: “what do you actually do in the game?” Well, you only had to wait and they would have told you. It was clear that Hello Games were growing increasingly frustrated by this question, and even released separate trailers on their YouTube channel based on each pillar of gameplay: Explore, Trade, Fight, Survive. They were simply keeping some details about the gameplay under tight control because what’s wrong with building excitement? Well, according to the internet, everything.
There’s a strange feeling that most of the detractors of No Man’s Sky probably won’t even play the game. They just like to moan about things when they get delayed and send the developers the occasional death threat. Yeah, an actual threat along the lines of “you delayed my fun so I’m going to buy an AK-47 and a train ticket to Guildford.” Luckily these were only threats and the people of Surrey went on their merry way.
Even with the launch of No Man’s Sky just hours away, it’s hard to even imagine a consensus on its reception. Good for a few hours and then boring? The most incredible example of player autonomy ever made? A hollow mess that’ll have you breaking your 65daysofstatic CD collection? Who knows? I don’t – sorry if you came here for answers.
But what we do know is that if No Man’s Sky does turn out to be a 6/10, forgotten-by-Christmas video games, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a video game and they’ll be plenty more of them in the future. The train of build-up to the game just never stopped at another station along the way; it carried on at full-speed towards launch day. If it’s a disappointing vehicle when it arrives, it may be based on the wild expectations you had for it rather than the game itself.
Hello Games are clearly a passionate team; a nice bunch of dudes by all accounts. They seem to truly want the best experience for the player and the huge recently announced day-one update is testament to this. This game has been their lives for the past four or five years and they obviously want it to make a serious impact in the gaming industry.
It may be the case that a day one patch of such size should be celebrated. Hello Games could be signalling a new era of video game development, one that doesn’t rely on static and unchanging models but one that favours fluidity and a malleable gameplay experience. Hello Games could have presented us with a game that is an embodiment of the gift that keeps giving.
Nevertheless, whatever reception Hello Games received this week when No Man’s Sky launches, just take ten deep breaths and remember the words of Bill Hicks: “it’s just a ride.” Video games are a ride. They send us on journeys that go up and down and side to side and that’s all they are. Yes, they’re for us, the gamers, but we also must chill out when it comes to expectations.
It’s better to understand the ethos of No Man’s Sky this week when we play it ourselves. Don’t start the game with a vision in mind; just let Hello Games show you theirs.