It’s been a week since the survival/crafting/exploration extravaganza No Man’s Sky was released on PS4, and boy has a lot happened since. Hype trains are a dime a dozen these days, but the locomotive for No Man’s Sky was a particularly populated one. Since it was announced at Sony’s E3 press conference all those years ago, the excitement for Hello Games’ big break has been almost inescapable.
With that wave finally crashing, there’s been a real mixture of different reactions; varying from orgasmic delight, to intense disappointment. Critical reviews were mostly positive, but it’s the response from the general public that really seems to have stirred things up. As of writing, Metacritic’s user score for the game is muddling around the 4.9 mark, with reviews bemoaning how ‘boring’ the actual experience is, and the overwhelming feeling of being misled permeating the entire forum.
The negative response isn’t wholly surprising. Any game with this amount of hype is bound to disappoint someone (no matter how good it may or may not be). The problem with anything that generates a high level of anticipation is that it can never truly live up to people’s expectations. This goes double for video games, as the medium is capable of housing such a variety of different genres and experiences, that it’s even more difficult to please everyone.
Now, No Man’s Sky was never going to be the greatest game to everyone, and it should never have been expected to be. Some of the best games are often the ones that know their audience, and subsequently cater to them; ala Dark Souls style. I still count Resident Evil 6 as one of the biggest and blandest gaming disasters, simply for attempting to be everything, which only made it into nothing worth bothering with.
As soon as No Man’s Sky was announced, a significant number of people seemed to make the mistake of projecting what they wanted straight out of the gate. Instead of being what No Man’s Sky actually was, it became what people wanted it to be; whether that was an explorative space adventure, or flight simulation, or just the greatest game they would ever play.
I’m not having a go at everyone who was excited for No Man’s Sky (I am having a go at those toxic individuals who thought it was okay to threaten people’s lives), though Hello Games, Sony and several publications all played a significant role in feeding people’s unrealistic expectations. In fact, many have (rightfully) accused Hello Games MD Sean Murray of making some pretty ambitious claims about features that don’t seem to have made it into the final product. But being bitterly disappointed, and potentially even furious, at No Man’s Sky, for not being God’s gift to gaming is a tad harsh.
Now I haven’t played the game. I was never really interested in it to start off with. Despite owning a PS4, I couldn’t really give a rat’s fart whether the game is any good or not. The idea of No Man’s Sky; a vast crafting and exploration space game, simply does not appeal to me. And this is fine.
I’m not angry because it isn’t exactly what I want out of a space game. I’ve got explorative space games that I like, such as Mass Effect. I’ve even got randomly generated survival games that I like, such as Don’t Starve. I’m not bothered that I can’t like No Man’s Sky.
To the people who are angry at No Man’s Sky for not being exactly what they wanted, I’m sorry that you find it disappointing, but sometimes games don’t live up to our immense expectations. I’m sure that there are plenty of other games out there for you to enjoy instead of insulting people who actually liked the game.
To those people who feel like they’ve been misled by the preview material, the game’s creators and publishers; I can only offer this advice: be more cautious with what you buy. If you’re considering buying a game, especially a game with as much hype and potentially misleading material as No Man’s Sky has, read up on it as much as you can. If you’re not sure, then try avoid buying the game at launch. I’m all for consumer rights, and I hate misleading cinematic bullshit trailers as much as the next person. But buying a game outright is as important an investment as any.
Now people are more than welcome to have their own opinions. Write as many negative reviews on Metacritic as you want, and feel free to debate with others on how boring No Man’s Sky is. If you’re having as much trouble running the game as some people are, then you have every right to complain. But hurling abuse at people who enjoy praising and talking about the game is just dumb. Don’t do it. Trust me; your time is better spent elsewhere.
Now, I’m off to imagine how The Last Guardian is going to be the next Citizen Kane of gaming…