My E3 Winner – No Man’s Sky

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E3 has seen a flurry of announcements, as it always does. Last year, gaming’s biggest stage saw the battle of the hardware, with Sony and Microsoft battling it out to see who had the best console ahead of their holiday 2013 release. However, what good is a console without great games to play on it? So, this year, it is all about the games. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are all using this week to convince us that their system has the catalogue that make it worth taking the plunge and purchasing their next-gen console.

Who has won this battle? It is tough to say and is probably going to be a source of contention and debate among gamers for the next several weeks. Really, it is about personal preference more than anything else, so I try to focus on the individual games that have gotten me really excited since their E3 coverage. Chief among these is No Man’s Sky, and with good reason.

We’ve already briefly touched on No Man’s Sky here, but seriously. Space combat plus a vast, unexplored universe plus freaking alien-dinosaurs. It just hits every sci-fi geek button for me.

I don't know where you are, but I will find you... and I will ride you.

I don’t know where you are, but I will find you… and I will ride you.

What Hello Games, the developer bringing this ambitious game to life for us, is trying to do is admirable. No Man’s Sky sports a huge, randomly generated universe, filled with huge varieties of life. Players will start on entirely random planets, meaning that no two game experiences will be the same. Company founder Sean Murray came on stage during Sony’s press conference earlier this week to describe the game as “without limits” and containing an “infinite” number of brightly coloured worlds to explore either on your own or alongside other players.

It sounds like Minecraft, only on an interstellar level and with the power of next generation gaming consoles behind it and the space battles of Star Wars thrown in.

Imagine sitting down with friends to describe your first foray into No Man’s Sky. You are bubbling with school boy excitement to describe the giant sauropod-type creatures you flew over as you exited a cave and saw a lush jungle teeming with life all around you. One friend describes an ocean-covered world where they saw whales and other seafaring creatures migrating back and forth across it and perhaps the first steps of land-based life stepping out of the water. Still, that one friend with the worst luck talks about the desert planet with the giant worms that made a tasty snack of his beautiful ship.

It sounds like a grand experiment, something that is nearly unachievable. During the E3 press conference, Murray went on to describe the game’s scale. According to him, that mountain you see in the distance as you fly over the planet is a place you can go if you fly long enough. So is that moon in the sky. So are the stars, light years away, shining brightly at night. Everything you see is available to you to explore.

Of course, there is a long way to go before the 2015 release of No Man’s Sky, so there are a few things that may or may not change between now and then. The game is described by Murray as an “anti-MMO”, where you are intentionally spread out from other players in the universe and come together later by randomly running into each other. Though much has been made of the exploration portion of the game, I have to wonder what sort of combat will be available. Will we see something akin to Elite Dangerous, with ship-to-ship engagements a very real possibility while exploring the far reaches of space? Will the alien life forms pose a real threat to our brave explorers?

Can I customize my crew? If so, meet my brave explorers!

Can I customize my crew? If so, meet my brave explorers!

These are questions and issues for future announcements. For now, I am simply content to admire the beautiful world the No Man’s Sky trailer presents to me and to wonder at the worlds that will be available to me in just a year.

No Man’s Sky will land on PS4 first, with a PC version shortly after, though this is a game that I can imagine making its way to Microsoft’s next gen console as well. While it probably isn’t the system seller that other major announcements at E3 have been (Uncharted 4, guys!), it is one of those games that will be a must have for anyone who wants to recite Kirk’s opening to Star Trek every time they boot up their console.

About Trent Cannon
An American trying to infiltrate and understand English society, Trent is a writer of novels and player of games. He has a serious addiction to JRPGs, the weirder the better, and anything that keeps him distracted from work.