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E3 2014 Must Buy: No Man’s Sky
E3 is three days of gaming euphoria, cranked up to 11 with the knob ripped off – a regrettable decision once these three days end and someone has to reattach that knob and crank it down before people start keeling over from exploded hearts. One decision I don’t believe I’ll be regretting, though, is getting aboard the hype train for No Man’s Sky.
If that video doesn’t get your warp drive revving, then you might want to get everything checked at your nearest interstellar Pep Boys. No Man’s Sky is being developed by Hello Games for both PC and next-gen consoles and, if you couldn’t tell, is another game set in space.
No, that label is a disservice to No Man’s Sky. The game doesn’t just take place in space, it features seamless transitions from space to the surface of any of various procedurally-generated planets you can happen across. That idea, right there, is why No Man’s Sky is a must buy for this guy. Rhyming notwithstanding.
There is something technically thrilling about the ability to dip down from the stars to cut through mountains and valleys on a planet’s surface. Take another look at the trailer at the bottom right corner around the 1:30 mark. Did you see that? That was pop-in, usually a mark of slow rendering, a stigma against a game’s design. Here, it’s a badge of veracity; it says that what we see in that video is actual gameplay footage, unless Hello Games seriously put in the effort to falsify sluggish terrain-loading in their pre-rendered trailer.
If the video is real, then No Man’s Sky looks this good: exotic flora and fauna that smacks of a lovely bright art style that just suits this sort of sci-fi setting. Which works out doubly well when you consider how the game will be played.
Hello Games is billing No Man’s Sky as more of an expanding story driven by gameplay rather than an explicitly told tale. A sandbox filled with procedural objects, from the heavenly bodies to the admittedly massive creatures that trample the ground around you. Hello Games is hesitant to compare No Man’s Sky to Minecraft though that seems like the most apt comparison for now. Instead of being about plopping down cuboidal voxels, the gameplay seems more intent on stringing out your need for wanderlust like some kind of exploration junkie. With a galaxy (maybe even a whole universe) to discover, an overdose is becoming more and more likely.
That is why I need to have No Man’s Sky in my life. If nothing else, I want to roam the cosmos with a small crew and document every organism that I decide not to exterminate or subjugate.