Do you remember that awful waste of time known as VGX 2013? Terrible event, but it's where No Man's Sky from independent gaming studio Hello Games was formally introduced to the world. Here were my impressions of it from that event:
“So this game is just scenery porn?Continuing that theme, after we saw it at Sony's E3 2014, I described it as “pretty” in the post-E3 wrap-up.
(dat ain't Star Fox)
"No Man's Sky"
Ain't Fox McCloud's sky either.
So is this indie guy just pissing money?
He already sold his house.”
Here is what the developer describes it as:
“At launch though, it’s an infinite procedural sci-fi-space-survival-sandbox unlike anything you have ever played before. [...] It’s a weird game, it’s a niche game and it’s a very very chill game.” [Emphasis theirs.]Chill? This game is one of the most hyped up indie games ever. A GQ headline read, “Why No Man's Sky Is the Most Hyped Game of the Last 3 Years”. Part of that might be sensationalist, but it's not that far off.
|See Poll 5751 from GameFAQs in early January 2015. No Man's Sky beat out KoopaTV favourites Splatoon and Tom Clancy's The Division.|
The hype continued all the way to July 2016:
|No Man's Sky easily won a third of GameFAQs voters' hearts, which is impressive in a poll with ten games. Comparably impressive with Donald Trump's primary run.|
If it wasn't still hyped, it would've easily fallen to sub-Metroid Prime: Federation Force levels.
Uh... so obviously it didn't meet that hype, or else this article wouldn't exist. Take a look at its Metacritic:
|DAT USER SCORE. Also, the Metascore isn't good either.|
As for GameFAQs polling:
|Well, that fell apart in less than two weeks.|
So... what the hell happened?
For one, look at that Metacritic genre. “Action.” No Man's Sky doesn't have much of that. As I wrote about a year ago, No Man's Sky is the ultimate engineered extreme in the continuum of closely-designed, structured experiences versus completely open, engineered sandboxes.
People generally don't like extremes, which is a reality that saddens me as a right-wing extremist. No Man's Sky is considered boring by people who actually like doing things. It's absolutely possible to like a game for the purpose of exploring big game worlds — and in terms of possible number of locations, then No Man's Sky is quantitatively the best. There are more procedurally-generated planets than you can explore in your lifetime.
If you want exploration with a PURPOSE, like the randomly-generated dungeons of a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game (or other such story-driven Rogue-like), that's not something you'll get out of No Man's Sky. There's a goal (the centre of the universe!) and a lot of resources you can pick up, and progression in terms of your ship and stuff.
However, that's not really why the game was made, and they're more like things that are there to try to appeal to people who don't exist at that exploratory engineered extreme. Unfortunately, it falls flat. To be specific, they're deemed incredibly repetitive by players.
|You can buy this stuff if you want, and you can pick up stuff off the planets. That's really all you do.|
(Image credit: The official launch trailer.)
It doesn't help that people held their expectations absurdly high, and Hello Games never tried to set those expectations that high. Despite the developers’ carefully-created marketing scheme, fans made up features they wanted and now are demanding refunds from Sony and Valve's Steam service because No Man's Sky didn't have those features, like player vs. player multiplayer. I've seen people liken the game to a tech demo.
Well, if it's a tech demo, it's one of the most impressive tech demos ever made. I'll give it that credit. I still think it's pretty.
Going back to the heading for this article, which is actually a quote by RawkHawk2010: “Has there ever been a game fall from grace faster and more dramatically than No Man's Sky?” (Something about that question strikes me as grammatically incorrect...)
Fast? This might top the list, since the game was so well-veiled prior to release that public opinion of it dropped the weekend it was released. Drama? I'd argue Mighty No. 9 was the most dramatic fall from grace of any game. (You thought the Metacritic score screenshot for No Man's Sky was bad? Look at the screenshot from the hyperlinked Mighty No. 9 article! And everything Mighty No. 9 was supposed to represent.)
What would YOU argue? The comments section is yours.
Ludwig has never played No Man's Sky and never will. All of his remarks in this article are based on hearsay and he makes only some guarantees to their accuracy — all the ones not relating directly to the game. He did recently prevent Kamek from purchasing the game, resulting in Kamek purchasing Overwatch instead. You can also comment about whether or not that was a good decision.