I have a very mixed relationship with sandbox games in general – I love the idea of just going off and doing my own thing (and I frequently do in other types of open world games), but I am also likely to get bored or frustrated with too little direction. For me, the ideal is to have Things I Am Supposed To Do with no penalty for just not doing them.
So when No Man’s Sky came to XBox Game Pass on PC, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to satiate my curiosity. I really expected to bounce off of it in 30 minutes or less. What ended up happening was that I played for two straight hours, and decided that it was something I definitely would play.
Obviously, it wasn’t a game I played back when everyone hated it, and I since I had mostly talked myself into not liking it, I didn’t follow the updates too closely. There is more tutorial here than I was expecting – every time I think “This is it, I’m going to be on my own now.” the game teaches me about something else. Even better, there’s a thin thread of story behind everything you do, so it doesn’t feel like an endless tutorial, and at any point, you can just wander off and do whatever thing you might be interested in.
So far, I’m really enjoying just scanning random things on whatever planet I end up on. I’m not as into the constant need to manage my ridiculously limited personal inventory and flying my spaceship, but with more play time, one is getting easier while the other is getting more annoying. There is a full on creative mode I haven’t tried out yet, but I’m unsure if that will actually do what I want it to anyway.
Minor irritations aside, I find myself looking forward to each new story beat, and each new planet. Although I’ve had to deal with a couple of combat scenarios, so far there hasn’t been anything I couldn’t handle (even if I did handle some of it by going really fast in another direction). I can see spending hundreds of hours just seeing what’s around the next corner, uploading data on everything I come across, and steadfastly avoiding any multiplayer components.