Since launch day, it feels like everything that could have gone wrong for No Man’s Sky has.
The unstoppable hype train was derailed, crumbling under the weight of its own expectations. With its release earlier this month, the game became another in a long line of anticipated releases that come nowhere near close to being worth the wait. The name may be new, but the song in dance from gamers remains the same: notice and point out each and every flaw, compare them to comments made during development, complain on the internet, get refunds, remind everybody to never pre-order. It’s a process that’s become all too familiar in gaming, one that, along with games that don’t seem to work on launch day, seem to become a standard for the industry.
Ironically, No Man’s Sky didn’t have any launch issues that affected its stability. I wonder if that would have been true if the game released with everything people were expecting.
All of this could have been prevented, though. No Man’s Sky could be playable for PS4 and PC owners in its current stripped down state and the outcry over the game could be vastly reduced. How? Early Access.
For all of their troubles, Sean Murray and his team at Hello Games appear to want to improve the released game. They had a vision for No Man’s Sky and would probably like to see that vision fully realized. Unless, of course, this was their intended vision, but that would go against everything we saw and heard from them leading up to release. I’m not going to talk about that, though; I don’t think Sean Murray is a liar. I also don’t think he’s well versed in public relations. He promised the entire galaxy. Literally. Despite the fact that there’s a popular saying that goes “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll end up among the stars,” that’s not even close to being applicable here. Falling up short with No Man’s Sky means the game feels like an extremely niche sci-fi adventure instead of the innovative galactic exploration experience we all wanted.
Not exactly what that saying means in any way.
Imagine, instead of the game released with the promises of updates, that Hello Games goes “we really want to get No Man’s Sky into your hands, but we also want to make sure it meets our expectations. Therefore, we’ve released the Early Access of the game, allowing you to get a taste of what’s in store for you while also giving us valuable feedback as we continue to develop the game.” Honestly, how hard would that have been? Think how much better would things have gone if people looked at the current state of No Man’s Sky and went “oh, they’re still working on it, so this isn’t the final product.” Instead, the PC community is relying on mods to salvage what’s possible and the PlayStation 4 owners are left in the dust, hoping and waiting for Hello Games to release content updates and improvements.
No Man’s Sky can be an amazing experience at times. Sean Murray and his team should be applauded for taking the gigantic risk they did. For the love of all things holy, though, take advantage of some of the tools at your disposal. Maybe they were pressured by Sony to get the game out the door sooner rather than later. Maybe they just couldn’t pull of what they were talking about. Regardless, if there are Early Access tools available, take advantage of them. The alternative certainly hasn’t been better.