Joseph Anderson Vs No Man’s Sky

I STRONGLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THE VIDEO BEFORE READING THE SCRIPT. THIS IS POSTED EARLY SO PEOPLE CAN READ ALONG IMMEDIATELY IF THEY LIKE TO DO THAT.

 

Part One – 99 Problems

I try to go into games knowing as little as possible. I like surprises. And I’ve learned that having ANY sort of expectation about something can ruin the experience. No Man’s Sky had so much hype surrounding it that it was near impossible to avoid hearing some stuff about it leading up to release. Nevertheless I somehow managed to go in knowing very little about it.

This doesn’t put me in a unique situation. But it is an uncommon one. See, I launched this game knowing that it was a procedurally generated galaxy/universe, full of quintillions of planets. I knew that you could fly between them and seamlessly travel from planet, through its atmosphere, and into space. And that was it. I knew nothing else.

The reason I think this is important to say is that a lot of the negative reception about this game is from a hype train that worked itself so out of control, that it went off the rails and still managed to keep plowing forward without slowing down. Expectations weren’t met. The lead developer, Sean Murray, apparently lied about dozens of things that were meant to be in the game that are now missing. Much to the disappointment of what feels like quintillions of players.

I didn’t have those expectations. I had no hype. And I can tell you that, even without that disappointment, this game is hot garbage. This game was such a chore to play that I really, genuinely wonder sometimes if it was some weird flu-induced nightmare dream that I was forced to live through for the 50 hours that I played it for this video. It’s so bad that I can’t ignore this deep instinctual need for rationalization inside of me that is screaming that it must be INTENTIONAL. That this game was INTENTIONALLY made to be this terrible, for some screwed up art project or something—some big scheme that’s still hiding behind a tattered, grimy curtain that Sean Murray will soon peel back and exclaim “See! The dangers of hype! I taught you all a lesson! I made you believe and took your money!”

To call No Man’s Sky a finished game would be an insult to developers everywhere who actually care about what they make. But to say that it’s an Early Access game would be just as bad. It’s like an Earliest Access game. It’s like playing Ocarina of Time without any of the dungeons, story, or equipment. There’s a larger void in the player’s own experience than the endless space that surrounds you.

And look I understand that some of you might be disappointed with ME right now. Because I’ve built a reputation (or, almost) for someone who sticks with a game, sees it to the end, and then keeps a levelhead about examining it afterwards. And I swear this IS me with as much of a levelhead as I can manage. The things I’ve said to my wife and friends while playing this game would probably make half of you unsub on the spot. Unless you enjoy rapid fire swearing and a lot of finger stabbing at the computer screen. Just like I probably made an ass out of myself on twitter with similar complaining.

The BIGGEST reason that I don’t feel awful about saying all these things is the game’s price. If this was a 10 dollar indie experiment then I would be positive about it. That the game has that functional transition from planet to space, to yet another planet, along with effectively infinite systems full of other planets to go and see, is worth a few bucks and an hour or two of your time. But this was a full price, Triple-A development tier purchase. That means it needs to have something more. It needs to have a game. And it doesn’t.

So let’s answer the question that I kept seeing posted everywhere leading up to the game’s release, even though I was actively avoiding news on the game.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN NO MAN’S SKY?

I’ve been to hundreds of planets spread over more than a hundred systems. So I can objectively answer this question with: you go to planets and hope they look pretty. If they do, you stay for a while and look around. If they don’t, you leave and fly to the next one and hope it looks pretty. That’s it. That’s the game.

The thing is though, you might not realize that at first. Because there are aliens to meet and speak to. There are resources to mine and hoard. You can craft some things. Discover blueprints for tech upgrades. Scan wildlife on the planets—you can catalogue and name discovered alien animals and plants yourself!

But the more you play the more you realize there isn’t a point to any of this. Farming resources for crafting should lead to something. But it doesn’t. You can save up money to buy a new ship, but aside from looks they’re all identical. The only difference between each one is the amount of inventory slots they provide. Which clumps in with all of the other upgrades to result in this almost Catch-22 statement:

You find and collect things in No Man’s Sky in order to make it easier for you to find and collect things in No Man’s Sky.

Exo-suit upgrades? They make it so you can survive longer in harsh environments and move faster in order to collect things. What do you use those collected things on? To make the upgrades so you can survive longer and move faster.

Multi-Tool upgrades? Well they make it so your mining beam can be used more efficiently to suck up resource nodes, which you then use to make your mining beam be more efficient at sucking up resource nodes.

Starship Upgrades? Well they….

You get the idea. And it may sound like I’m exaggerating but I’m really, truly not. There are no big, interesting discoveries anywhere in the game. There are no cool events. No complicated ruins or randomly generated dungeons. There ARE alien settlements on planets, but they’re all the same pre-made collection of buildings that have one alien in it. Never two. Only one. They have some text-based challenge for you—usually a guessing game of choosing the right answer or resource to give them. And that’s it.

Every planet is essentially the same, with some slight variations that make it appear different at first. The only thing that can really stick out between them are the visuals. Which is why I say that’s the only thing there is to do. Unless you want to try to complete the endgame goal of reaching the center of the galaxy… which is used as bait, dangled above the player, to provide some direction. We’ll talk about that at the end.

Getting back to the planets though—some of them will have alien animals on them. Some won’t. Some will have water. The plant life will look different. Some planets have environments that deal damage to you—some more extreme than others—but that’s where the variety ends. ALL of them have the same core layout of rolling hills into highland and lowland. Some might be more severe than others. Some might have some islands floating inexplicably in the air. Some might have a higher sea level. But those are tweaks added to the hills and valleys you’ll be seeing over and over. Just the color of the ground and the sky will be different each time.

The caves on every planet look the same. There will always be robotic drones around. They might be passive or hostile but they’ll always be there. There will always be some sort of alien presence—those same bases will be around. You’re never, ever the first one to explore a world. Some alien race in the game has ALWAYS been there so far ahead of you that they’ve plopped down infrastructure and are inhabiting the planet. And there are crashed escape pods from what feels like thousands of ships, like there’s this constant interstellar war being waged in every system that conveniently ends right before you arrive.

In space it’s the same thing. Every system has a space station owned by one of the three major civilizations. This station always has the same basic layout with a trading area so you can sell some of your stuff no matter which civilization owns it. There will always be big, lifeless capital trading ships warping around outside. Because each star system is really just a copy of the first one you start in. In a way you never really leave your starting location. It just gets tweaked a little as you go on.

I can say the same thing for the resources you’ll be collecting, which is where we can address the lack of any real gameplay in No Man’s Sky. The best way to illustrate how ridiculous it is, is with another example in space. Your ship has a medium range booster to make it so you can blast your way through the long distances between planets. Like every other tool in the game, it requires some sort of resource to be functional. The two main types you’ll be using constantly are:

Yellow – Oxides – Iron, Zinc, and Titanium. These are used to power environmental protection and your ship’s shields.

And:

Red – Isotopes – Carbon, Plutonium, and Thamium9. These power your life support. Your mining beam multi-tool. And, in the case of your ship’s boosters, Thamium9 is the only valid type that it’ll accept. You cannot travel between planets if you run out. A bit of that Thamium9 is used up for every second that your booster is active.

So if you’re thinking along with this, you see the problem right? The distance between planets is understandably and rightfully vast. What happens if you run out of Thamium9 in the middle of a boost? You’d be dead. Lost. Stuck. It’s gameover.

Nope. Because asteroids are the best source of Thamium9. And they spawn in a field around you in space. No matter where you are. Right next to a planet? Trying to boost to get to the system’s star? In between two planets? Next to a moon? Outside the station? Humming the Firefly theme? There are always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, an unlimited supply of asteroids around you so you can never run out. It’s something that you have to babysit. Oh I ran out, better mine some up real quick. Okay done. Back on the boost.

And this keeps going with the rest of the game. There’s carbon and plutonium on every planet. Because otherwise it’d be possible to run out of fuel to use your mining beam and the life support that keeps you alive. Or the launch thruster that gets your ship get off the ground. There’s always a source of oxides too. Even on barren planets, that are meant to be devoid of life—information that the game itself tells you when you arrive—will have some sort of vegetation so you can’t run out of this stuff.

So what’s the point of it then? Why even bother if it’s not something that you’re meant to think about and plan for. It’s a chore that you have to do constantly. Refuel your multi-tool. Refuel your life support. Refuel a separate part of your multi-tool that shoots bullets instead of the mining beam. Refuel your launch thrusters. It’s busy work that makes it look like you have something to do. It’s not real.

What makes this even worse is that there’s no quick way to do it. It’s something that, if you play the game for a significant amount, you will be doing hundreds maybe even thousands of times if you add up all of the separate things. And there’s no quick way to assign resources or a reload button. You have to open your inventory each time. Select the thing you want to refuel. Then select the fuel itself. Just imagine how easy it would be to assign a hotkey to pull up the menu instead. Imagine how obvious it is, for the multi-tool at least, to have the reload button function as a key you can pre-assign to use any plutonium you have to recharge your mining beam. But no, the game makes you open your inventory and tab to that page. Every time. Interrupting what morsel of gameplay that the game has.

And this is the best way I can begin to show the quintillions of little issues like this that make me the paranoid conspiracy guy that I mentioned at the start—the one that wonders if the game is INTENTIONALLY bad. Because this is where the game starts to look like a parody. Like it was developed with every mechanic they could think of twisted in a way to make it annoying instead of interesting. On purpose.

Every time you meet an alien the game does this letterboxing effect that you can’t skip. You can’t do normal functions while this is happening. And it occurs. Every. Time. You Meet. An Alien. And you will meet HUNDREDS of aliens. You’re meant to speak to these guys and the game won’t let you until it’s finished doing this effect. Then, when it finally passes, there’s no way to speed up their dialogue. You have to sit and wait for every alien you meet.

This is bad enough but the aliens don’t speak English. So most of the time the game is making you sit through gobbledygook that you can’t even read. It’s so slow. So tiring. Something as simple and common as speaking to NPCs is a chore that I wanted to avoid more than anything.

You can find words to translate the alien languages. But instead of this being a task that leads to a level of comprehension—like, say, you learn 50 words and now your character can kind of grasp the basics so they can see a really simplified version of what the alien is trying to tell you—it’s a literal one-to-one conversion instead. With each random word you know replacing the nonsense placeholder you see. This is so extreme that even after learning hundreds of words in the Gek language, most of the speech was still an unreadable line of jabberwocky growls.

The concession the game tries to make is with another tediously presented text box next to the conversation that describes what’s happening. So you can sort of try to infer what the alien wants. But it’s not always clear. It often makes no sense either. One time I walked into the trader room on a space station and the alien there had some sort of explosive tied around his legs that I was meant to defuse. To be clear this, like every other event like it in the game, isn’t actually happening. It’s a text-based adventure style prompt instead. After dealing with it the alien was still there like nothing happened. They make no sense and they have no consequences. They’re like little jokes.

You can say the same thing for these infested alien bases you can find on some planets. Which are the same buildings you always see, only now they’re full of tentacles and alien growth or something. These don’t have any larger meaning other than being a letdown. There’s always a computer terminal you can read. Often this was the exact same piece of text repeated in bases that are dozens of systems apart. Sometimes there were hostile tentacle monsters inside on the ceiling that you can’t fight, because the game is so poorly tested that it thinks because I’m inside that I’m automatically in a safe area. The game doesn’t want you to shoot friendly aliens so you can’t draw your multi-tool inside because that’s the only place you ever encounter them. So I couldn’t fight this enemy without dancing in and out of the door so I could draw it for a second, fire off a blast, and then do it again after the game forced me to lower my weapon.

I can keep going. Something as fundamental to the game as the mining beam is broken. For a reason that I will never understand, it has a heat system that means you can’t hold the button down indefinitely. This is ON TOP of the refueling you have to do in order to keep it charged. A bar fills up. You need to stop firing it and let the bar deplete so it doesn’t overheat. Then you do it all over again.

Except it’s broken. If you release the fire button and then immediately fire again, it skips over the cooling period and starts the bar from zero like the weapon magically cooled itself in a quarter of a second. This is quite possibly the most basic, core mechanic in the entire game except for walking around. And it’s broken. I’m glad that it’s broken because it speeds up mining. But if this is intentional why does the heat system exist at all? It also makes the gun part of the tool useless because you never have to stop and reload the mining beam in the same way during a fight.

Combat is basically holding down the fire button because of that. You keep yourself aimed at the generous hitboxes of the enemy robots until they blow up. There’s no finesse to any of it. It’s about shield and damage upgrades instead, or just humping cover to avoid laser beams. If you do get hit by the larger sentinels, your character has a seizure as they take damage which is so excessive that, again, I have to think it’s intentionally awful.

Ship combat isn’t any better. Sometimes an aim assist will show up so your cannons can lock on to enemy fighters. Sometimes it won’t appear at all. Mining lasers are, again, far better THAN THE GUNS because they lock-on to such an extent that there’s no challenge to it. It’s boring. The only tense moments are hoping your inventory doesn’t lag when you open it up to refuel your shields in the middle of a battle. If you’re carrying enough oxides you can never lose any of these encounters.

Not that it would matter, because death is pretty much meaningless. You respawn in the system’s space station with a copy of your destroyed ship. You fly back to your corpse and can pick up all your things. One part of the ship will be damaged. You repair it and that’s it. This isn’t contextualized either so there’s no explanation for why you suddenly have a copy of this ship you just got blown up. Forcing a reload, since the game auto-saves so frequently, probably would have been better.

Unfortunately I can still keep going. The game has Journey Milestones that are essentially a list of Things You Will Be Doing Anyway. Like, really, one of these is how many steps your character takes. This is the closest thing the game has to a list of goals, and it’s like they used achievements as a supplementation for actual gameplay. How many sentinels you kill. How many units you acquire. How many times you warp to a new system.

The only one of these that requires effort is scanning every lifeform on a planet. And this might be the worse thing you could possibly do in the game. Like the planets, most of the aliens look similar to all the others you’ll find. Some planets systems apart will have identical life. There were some exceptions but most of them were what you’re seeing in the video right now.

Scanning these is almost enjoyable. But tracking down all of them to qualify for the journey milestone was a massive chore. The problem is two-fold: first, there’s no leniency to it. There are say 10 animals on a planet. You need to find all 10. There aren’t 11 and you have to find MOST of them, so if you’re having trouble finding the final one there’s some wiggle room so you don’t waste your time. No you have to find all of them.

In two instances it took me over three hours to find the last animal. Partly because I’m stubborn and wanted to track the thing down. But mostly because I didn’t want to give up and lose all of the animals I already scanned for the milestone. Now this is clearly my own fault and I should have just left, but…

This piece of criticism veers close to how buggy the game is. If you’ve been watching the video instead of listening to it then you’ve likely seen how much pop-in the game has as it loads in areas. Transitions to planets. Resource nodes while you fly around. Landmarks. This is really bad because if you fly around at normal speed, you might fly OVER places of interest before they load in, giving you the impression that there was nothing there. Sometimes I had to slow my ship to a crawl as I flew to give the game time to load pillars of materials so I could land and gather them. That’s how bad the pop-in is.

The same goes for animals. More often than not, when you land there will be no creatures around your ship for a few seconds or even a full minute. You’ll scan and see nothing around you. Then you’ll walk for a bit and turn around and it’s like a whole circus of alien critters danced out of their hiding places when you weren’t looking. This means that tracking down the final animal or two is even more difficult because you want to move through places quickly since it’s apparently a rare critter, but you can’t do it TOO quickly because you might be moving on before the thing has a chance to spawn.

And god, what else? The journey milestone notification does the same thing meeting an alien does. You’re in the middle of doing stuff and suddenly the DUNNNN DAAAAAHHH DUNNNN music will play, MILESTONE ACCOMPLISHED will fill up your screen sandwiched between the letterboxing. And you are being interrupted from playing the game. Because you walked enough steps to trigger it.

I maxed out all these milestones as I played because I think that someone in my position should finish most of what a game has before they can criticize it. Even if I’m not enjoying it. But I couldn’t do this one here, because something as important as the core milestones is bugged.

Surviving in harsh environments requires you to survive for the duration in ONE environment. Not an accumulated time over many different harsh environments like all of the other milestones have. So I spent a lot of time early in my playthrough on a planet with radiation. I got a few of these milestones and then I left because I had nothing else to do. I think I was on that planet searching for wildlife for about two hours. So now, if I want to increase that milestone past that point, I have to first spend another two hours on another planet to get back to that point and then remain on there for who knows how many more hours and yeah… that’s clearly bugged. I mean how does that get past testing? How? It’s one of the milestones.

How did the auto-pilot on the ship make it into the game? You can’t crash in No Man’s Sky. The game won’t let you. It auto-corrects your flying on planets so you’re always hovering a set distance above the highest point on the ground. This can bug and launch you suddenly into space sometimes. Or, in the case here, I was under attack by enemy fighters and the autopilot wouldn’t let me aim down far enough so I could shoot back. Alright. Think about that! The enemy ships could fly low. I wasn’t allowed. So they just kept flying around and shooting me until I gave up and landed the ship so I could try shooting them myself with my little multi-tool. At which point they despawned immediately as soon as I left the ship. Because… well I don’t know.

Same for ground enemies. They won’t attack you in the ship. So you can just keep jumping in and out for free shield recharges.

When storms appear on planets the effect can be pretty cool. Especially all the rain. It looks really good. But if you go back to your ship and start flying around the storm suddenly vanishes. Then when you land it reappears again.

Resource nodes will pop back into existence after you’ve mined them. You walk away and they reappear in the distance. Then you’ll go back and they’ll vanish again when you’re close. There’s another visual layer on the planet for when it’s showing things at a distance that isn’t effected by any change you make on the closest layer.

This enemy is capable of firing a laser through its own body in order to damage you, because it didn’t have any AI put into it to make it turn and aim. This is the second most common enemy in the game.

Some alien bases spawn underwater and are inaccessible. They don’t have doors. The second planet I ever went to was so bugged it was like all of the landmarks and bases had been shifted a few meters out of the generated alignment, so they were jutting out of the ground and mountains and the like. Again, inaccessible.

Schematics are acquired from certain sources. Combat ones typically come from killing sentinels. Ship ones come from crashed ships. Craftables come from manufacturing centers. Very quickly you’ll learn that these are assigned randomly, which means you can get the same blueprint over and over, accompanied by a message saying you already know it. Every time. With a short pause that you need to press a key to skip.

So after a while you’ll be doing all of these things for the final few blueprints—of which you have no idea of knowing when you’ve found them all—and continually being told you already have the one it gives you over and over until you get lucky and get a new one. Why can old ones spawn at all? Why not give money instead? Why not make it so you always get one you don’t know if you’re not done? It’s ludicrous. I didn’t want to waste my time looting or talking to NPCs because of this.

And look I’m sorry but I can just keep going. The game runs like crap. Considering the scale of the star systems it generates I can forgive the pop-in when you enter a planet’s atmosphere but on the ground it’s terrible. It crashed constantly. Other times the framerate would tank into the low single digits and I would have to restart. Weirdly I found that things were worse when I was inside bases on planets rather than outside. Any time there were lighting effects from crashed pods was bad too. Or large bodies of water.

The other thing that kills the game is that there’s no sense of progression. When you make a warp drive you can jump to different star systems, with some vague goals of either following something named Atlas, or siding with some aliens named Nada and Polo—all of which the game constantly assumed that I knew something about, when in reality it was the first time I was hearing about them. It’s like some story or dialogue moment was left out of the final release of the game. Who the hell are Nada and Polo?

The only moment of progress that I found was after I made about 10 or so jumps toward the center of the galaxy. I also upgraded my warp drive in order to access different classes of stars. This is color based—so normal ones look yellow or orange. There were green and blue ones too. Now some people seem to think that these different star systems have different features—more exotic locations, more aggressive animals, rare resources, etc. This was not my experience. The star systems all felt about the same. Maybe there were slightly more resources in the green and blue stars. Maybe.

The progression came after a few more jumps. Like I had crossed some threshold. The game starts you about 175 thousand lightyears from the center of the galaxy. And after I jumped enough to shave a few thousand off that number, I noticed that there were more extreme planets added to the possible ones.

So a planet wouldn’t just be cold. It would have extreme warnings and snow storms. A planet wouldn’t be a little hot, it would have sandstorms and drain my suit’s protection quickly.

In a handful of cases there would be rare resources in the form of these weird spawning creatures or plants that I could harvest. Or more exotic animals like flying worms, or larger herbivores. I’ve went back and watched some of the game’s trailers now that I’m done with the game and, while there’s nothing that comes close to what was shown in those videos, the game does get a little more strange after you’ve played for a bit.

But this was the only change. As I got closer to the galactic center, there were no other moments of progress like this. There was only this one instance of it ticking over after the game acknowledged that I must have played enough to get this far and I’m ready for the more extreme conditions… except…

This is the final thing I’ll say before I get into the last section. And it’s one of the biggest missteps that the game makes if you accept it for what it is, instead of what it COULD have been. See the game as it is now is clearly about exploration and seeing these wacky planets that can sometimes be quite beautiful. This snowy world was genuinely interesting to me. As was another standout planet that was the only place I found that EVERYTHING on it wanted me dead. Everything I found was hostile. My suit’s protection was used up quickly from the intense radiation. I actually had to play a bit cautiously and use caves for shelter in order to explore.

But! It didn’t matter. There were upgrades I could have crafted to make this easier. They’re all essentially the same thing—some sort of protective weave that takes up an inventory slot. One protects against cold. Another against heat. Etc, etc. I think the idea is that you craft each one when you arrive on these planets and then dismantle them when you leave. But they’re pointless for one key reason: whenever you land, you can never wander too far from your ship.

This is the fatal error the game has for what little gameplay it offers today—seeing those beautiful planets. Because every step you take away from your ship is one that you’ll eventually have to make again when you need to return to it to leave. There are some settlements that have technology you can use to summon your ship to your location, but there’s never any guarantee that you will find them, especially on the more hostile worlds.

Going back into your ship shields you from any extreme conditions. And it also allows you to recharge your environmental protection for free. So you can never get this experience of being lost while you wander some wonderful alien planet, unless you want to inflict 5, 10, 20 or more minutes of walking back to your ship at the end of it. So why even bother making the protection tech either, especially since when it runs out it damages your shields pretty slowly. It’s really not that big of a deal. You’re staying close to your ship anyway.

Even on welcoming planets you spend so much time going to your ship. Taking off. Watching the animation. Waiting for it to be done. Looking for a good place to land—sometimes not being able to see it because it won’t let you angle your ship down or fly low. Then you land. Maybe it’s cool looking. Maybe it’s not. You have to wait some more for the landing animation. Then you take off. Oh now your ship’s launch thrusters are out of plutonium. Better refuel it. Launch again. It’s so monotonous. You’re given this whole planet to explore, but you can only do so in a minute or two length circles around your ship’s leash or else you’ll pay for it later.

And even on these visually enticing planets: why bother? Those rare materials aren’t used for anything interesting. Just stat bonuses. Collecting things to make it easier to collect things. No real goal. No real purpose. And you can admire most of the beauty of a rare, cool planet just as much from the safety of your ship. There’s no reason to get lost. There’s no reason to wander.

There’s no reason to do anything.

 

 

Part Two – Journey to the Center

I make a commitment to finish each game that I play for the channel. Even if that isn’t important to all of my viewers—it IS important to me that I see the game to the end.

So when I started my journey to the center of the galaxy, which is signified on the starmap here as a glowing presence way in the distance, I had this moment that a deep ball of dread gathered in my stomach and made a nest.

The game told me that the amount of lightyears between me and the center was close to two hundred thousand. That number was meaningless because I didn’t know how far my ship could travel with each jump between star systems. So I started my journey and I saw that the number had barely moved with my first jump. It hadn’t even knocked a thousand lightyears off that distance.

You can craft upgraded versions of the warp drive to make it so you can travel farther distances with each jump. The final two engines are quite expensive to make but they were part of the game’s progression so I got it done—after hunting for hours for the right blueprints—and then set to work. For each jump you need a warp cell. These require you to go to planets and gather up a fair amount of resources. The way I was doing it meant I spent an hour or two gathering up enough materials to make a whole bunch of cells so I could jump continually from star system to star system in a row…

…because the game doesn’t let you combine warp cells. It still sets a maximum distance per jump even if you have the fuel. So you need to sit through all the loading, loading, loading, as you jump. Warp. Arrive at the system. See the message. Go back to the starmap. Select system. Jump. Warp. Loading…

And the ball of dread grew larger after I completed a series of jumps and had barely made a dent in this number to the center. This was going to take a long, long time.

Immediately the urge came to quit. I had already completed the other progression path in the game—to find the 10 Atlas stations and get all the stones he had to give me. There was a prompt in the final one to create a star out of all of the stones. I was afraid this meant the game would end so I declined, thinking I could have another chance to decide later. And the game never brought it up again so I couldn’t do it. All that was left was to get to the center.

The final feature I haven’t mentioned yet are the black holes. These are another way to get closer to the center of the galaxy. You find these on the starmap—they’re marked to show they’re different. You warp to them and then you go through them. It spits you to a random part of the galaxy but it’s always roughly 1,000 lightyears closer to the center.

So that’s faster but it’s still pretty slow. We’re talking close to 100 blackholes to go through depending on how lucky you get when you’re shot through the otherside. Seems like the intended way to go, right?

Except there’s a catch. A random piece of your ship breaks whenever you use a blackhole. Because the game needs to give you a final middlefinger as you journey to its endgame. This could be something as simple as your mining laser or your shields—really cheap and easy to fix. Or it could be one of those hi-tech engines that require you to search multiple planets for enough materials to repair them before you can properly warp again.

See the problem here? You’re rolling the dice with each blackhole. And oh boy did I roll poorly a lot while I did this.

It wasn’t enough that I had to sit through all of this loading. Entering a black hole takes time. Then it does its fancy animation as you warp through. Then you load the next system. Sit through its introduction. Then you go hunting for the next blackhole to warp to…

And then you run out of warp cells. So you spend anywhere from one to two hours gathering up all the materials to craft another batch. You make enough for 10, 20, 30, or 40 jumps. You find your blackhole. You go through, and your warp drive breaks immediately. And you’re back down to the next set of planets again—not to see the sights or look at aliens—but to hunt for gold and emeril to repair your engines.

Then the next blackhole breaks that same engine again. Instead of your mining laser that you could repair with just 10 measly iron that you have effectively infinite amounts of.

I did this for at least 15 hours. I can’t even remember how long it took me to get from 150,000 lightyears or so down to 70,000. And I kept at it. Kept repairing engines. Kept making warp cells. Kept finding black holes.

And at 66,000 light years the game crashed right after my warp drive broke for the 12h time. And I couldn’t take it anymore. The game broke me. I tweeted this out and I gave up. For the first time since making the channel I couldn’t make myself finish the game.

So you might be wondering why on Earth I would torture myself trying to begin with. Why waste so much time? Because I wanted to confirm the ending for myself. That terrible, letdown of an ending that people have said is waiting at the center of the galaxy. And I wanted to confirm that the planets don’t get more wacky and exotic the closer you get to the center—which was another rumor that people said to explain why so many of the planets people were seeing were so bland. The good stuff was waiting for the endgame!

That’s why I tried so hard. That’s why I kept pushing. And that’s why it was so disappointing to have to send out that tweet at 50 hours played.

Well…

Turns out I’m even more stubborn than I realized because here’s what that same steam stat looks like today.

It was the very next morning that I was back at it. I refused to let the game beat me. I went back in. I thought up a new strategy—to get a new ship and fill it up with as much cheap, disposable technology as I possibly could so that there was a higher chance of THAT breaking instead of my warp drives with each blackhole. I had 66,000 lightyears to go. And I did it. Every single bit.

More blackholes.

More warp cells.

More warp drives breaking even with all the extra stuff as a buffer.

More repairs.

More black holes.

More loading.

More waiting.

And the planets never got any better. There was never another change that introduced new stuff. There was nothing good waiting at the center.

The brutal truth of No Man’s Sky is that there are games that do everything it does better. Do you want to explore an alien world? Then play Subnautica. Do you want to fight for your life in a harsh environment, barely surviving as you gather resources? Then play The Long Dark. Do you want to play a colorful, fun survival game with a randomly generated world and weird, creative looking monsters? Then play Don’t Starve.

And the wonderful thing is, No Man’s Sky is so expensive that you can buy all three of these games for less money!

As for reaching the center of the galaxy—the end of my journey confirmed what everyone was saying. There’s no grand surprise. No wonderful twist or message waiting for you. There’s no gorgeously detailed planet that’s your reward. You’re not even allowed to make it to the actual center.

Instead the game pulls away and sends you soaring through all of the stars you just traveled through. Music plays—and it’s good music. Just like the rest of the game’s soundtrack. It feels like it’s building to something. And then this happens.

It’s a new galaxy. A new start. New game plus. With the same rules. More of the same. You wake up after crashing on a planet just like the first time you started the game, implying that it’s all some grand, pointless cycle.

But this wasn’t the true piece of condensed crap that was waiting for me at the end. There was one last thing that proved to me how much I had just wasted my time. The game, thinking it was a new start, began its unskippable introduction. You can’t control your character at all as this plays. But it happens in realtime. Your exo-suit is initializing before you have control. And it just so happened that, this time, my starting planet had hostile sentinels on it.

So as this intro played out, a robot drone flew by and scanned me. And decided I needed to be killed. And I couldn’t move because the game was still doing its long intro. It didn’t care that I was being murdered. It maintained its lazy, scenic drift at the crash site around me as my shields went down, down, down.

Then, before giving me control, it did the letterbox effect again since this was a new planet. It lingered. Then passed. And, for one brief second, I was able to move before the final laser shot came out of the sentinel and killed me.

I turned the game off. And I will never play it ever again.

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