The multi-faceted universe of No Man’s Sky – preview
Los Angeles – Talk about No Man’s Sky it is not easy, the meat on the fire is a lot and even Sean Murray of Hello Games is missing a few pieces during the presentation, or so it would seem. We can not understand if there is or if there is, as we would say, since on the one hand it seems the typical indie ended up almost by chance talking about his game from one of the most coveted rooms of E3, but on the other his character works so well that one almost suspects he is rotten.
In any case, the time for conjectures is not there, it takes very little and we are walking on a colorful and procedurally generated planet while Murray explains what all those written on the screen mean. The interface is clean and conveys information smoothly: you immediately understand where the name of the planet we are on is, what is the life bar, what we can do with the tools we have, and so the only unknown is in reality 5 icons at the top right.
The doubts are quickly dispelled, it is a wanted level that works practically like that of GTA. It still does not have a name and the British developer invites us to find a catchy one to avoid having to refer to the Rockstar title every time.
The procedural generation amazes every time with the variety of alien landscapes it manages to create.
While we think about it, we discover how the scanner works, a kind of radar that analyzes the life forms that surround us and cards them to insert them into what Murray calls “space pokédex”, so as to allow us to load them on the central servers once we reach the upload point (and if we are the first to happen on the planet we can also give it a name). There are several scattered around the planet, and any resource or data collected must be loaded to dispel the risk of losing it with death.
But how, it comes to say, it seemed that the exploration of worlds was an after all peaceful activity, how is it that you risk death? Even players who want to embark on the seemingly quiet career of the explorer will have to deal with alien creatures or space pirates, but the threats are not over.
Any activity that disturbs in some way the ecosystem that is being explored (destroying rocks to obtain minerals, or killing ferocious beasts that try to put a spoke in the wheel, to name two examples), will contribute to the increase of the aforementioned wanted level, activating the response of what appears to be a kind of immune system.
First the spacecraft arrive, then more and more, and then at four points out of five there are also walkers who look like AT-ST from Star Wars, putting a strain on the equipment of the unfortunate. Yes, because there is no lack of an armor, weapon and ship editing system that on paper seems capable of guaranteeing an almost infinite variety of objects.
Using the collected materials (or exploiting the patterns found around the world) we will be able to modify our equipment or our space shuttle to obtain more and more possibilities. The weapon we use, for example, is actually a multifunctional tool used to scan the territory and extract materials from the rock, but also to destroy the ground (which deforms under the blows of our grenades) or defeat enemies.
The combat system actually did not convince us that much, it must be said that we did not play in the first person, but the impression is that it is not particularly deep or that at least the mechanics are not particularly refined. It is not easy to judge by a few minutes, but the suspicion that the details of No Man’s Sky are less interesting than the whole when taken individually continues to make its way when taking off towards space: no one expected Elite: Dangerous, but again the impression is that even the space guidance system is not as refined as hoped.
We cannot express ourselves instead on the economy of the game, only hinted at by Murray during the presentation (who among other things reveals that he does not understand how someone can have fun trading materials by flying from one planet to another) and that in any case should guarantee a sufficient level of diversification thanks also to a system of resources that seemed rather profound.
We fight, trade, explore and personalize, but then what? Although Murray says that it is certainly not the end of the game, he explains that many could feel satisfied once they reach the center of the galaxy, a point far from the origin of the players (who instead start from the borders) and not so simply approachable.
The whole of No Man’s Sky fascinates, but there are some doubts to dispel about the mechanics of the individual sections.
Each star jump costs fuel, one of the most expensive goods in the game, and the hyperspace jump engine needs to be upgraded to avoid having to stop at each planet. No estimate has been made on the time needed to get to the destination, but the impression is that we will still be inclined to get lost at least a little in the Hello Games universe by trying.
No Man’s Sky fascinates with the almost visionary phrases of its creator and a convincing aesthetic style, but leaves us perplexed when it comes to evaluating the purely technical aspect and above all the cleanliness of the individual components of the gameplay. Wanting to turn a blind eye to the eye-catching pop-up of creatures and geometries, the dancing frame-rate and the dirt of the details, it is the impression that it is a large container of impact on the whole but weak in particular to be the master.
The contents are not lacking, the world seems intriguing (even if Murray explains that for the demos they made sure to have very few “dead” planets, actually common in the game) and the atmosphere convinces. Now all that remains is to hope to be able to get our hands on it as soon as possible to (hopefully) dispel the doubts that came to us seeing him in Los Angeles, perhaps wearing a Project Morpheus since Murray, questioned about virtual reality, replies cryptically: “I like a lot of VR, if I had asked myself as a child for an opinion on the future I would have replied talking about helmets and procedural universes, but for now we are focused on what you see here at the fair on PS4. “
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