Who would've thought one of E3's biggest games last month would come from a 10-person team that fought the odds with a devastating flood that destroyed their office? Hello Games has clearly seen better days from that event earlier this year, but that hasn't stopped the team's ambition with No Man's Sky, a game that will no doubt be a PlayStation 4 darling when it arrives next year.
Originally announced last year during Spike's VGX Awards, No Man's Sky is a far cry from Hello Games' prior efforts in the Joe Danger series. Rather than sticking with a side-scrolling format, this open-world adventure lets you explore as far as the eye can see, traveling from planet to planet just to see what the next one offers.
The game doesn't follow the usual gaming conventions, as you don't abide by a series of pre-set missions or goals that need to be completed. Instead, you're allowed to venture at your own free will, either working on your own or flying alongside others in online play, exploring the vast universe.
For example, one planet could easily offer what appears to be prehistoric life with a twist. Instead of flying around a typical Earth environment, you're instead taking in the sights of pastel orange plant life, including towering trees and grass that spread across the land. Another planet may offer something completely different, with UFOs that fire pulsating blue lasers onto the planet surface, scaring away the bunny/armadillo-like animal life and forcing you to counteract and pursue them, perhaps to discover an even bigger mystery somewhere within this universe.
Hello Games founder Sean Murray, along with the other members of his team, vowed to make a game that stood out from usual exploration-based adventures, one in which the player could define the rule that No Man's Sky was based around, instead of "hey, let's fly from point A to point B to unlock this objective." As a result, there's always something new to discover.
There are certain things you'll want to do to improve your performance, such as trying to figure out how to get off a planet surface, as well as how to upgrade your gear. You'll be able to do this a number of ways, whether digging up resources Minecraft-style, or taking an occupation that varies from top-skill bounty hunting to low-level freight security guard work. Each new venture offers something different, and players can tackle these objectives however they see fit.
As for equipment, although all the tools haven't been revealed just yet, you will have access to a jetpack on some planets. By utilizing this, you'll be able to expand your jumping ability, thus being able to reach new areas that you otherwise may not be able to access on foot.
In space, you can also try out different spaceships, with the option to buy ones that are offered through various space stations. They vary in performance, depending on their size and speed, but they always offer something diverse the first time you coast into the stratosphere, either by pursuing a foe or simply jetting off just for the heck of it.
Perhaps the most jarring element in the game is the transition from typical space travel to arriving on a planet surface. What would take a moment or two to load happens almost instantaneously within No Man's Sky, as the surface of the planet zooms in and you can see what it has to offer zooming past a few clouds. Considering Hello Games doesn't dabble too often in full-blown 3D environments, this was a real pleasure to see. You can get a hint of that in the video above.
The more you proceed – either on your own or cooperatively with friends – the more of the universe opens up, and the more opportunities you have for your characters. Again, you won't do this through missions, but rather chances to enhance your characters in a number of ways. There's no word how this will affect your character's behavior later in the game, but it's interesting to see how you can change their will with a handful of decisions made in the game. Imagine becoming a bad-ass bounty hunter along the same lines of Boba Fett.
No Man's Sky still has a ways to go in development, but Hello Games blazed a potentially new trail with this game, one that PS4 owners are sure to enjoy. We'll provide strategic planet-exploring tips for you once the game surfaces sometime next year.