No Mans Sky has managed to be one of the bestselling games of 2016 with over 700,00 copies sold, while also having the much less impressive statistic of a 90% drop off in play figures within only a month or two. From a Steam perspective, No Man’s Sky is barely in the top 100 games list now with only around 3000 active players.
I have to be honest I haven’t picked up No Man’s Sky for a few weeks. With all the new games coming out and No Mans Sky’s overall feel it just couldn’t stand up to the competition. It’s not to say I won’t go back to NMS, but there are a few things that will have to change before I do.
So what exactly would it take for me to come back to No Man Sky?
When I first heard of No Mans Sky, I had an image of exploring unknown universes and planets in the way that Star Trek Voyager did. Not knowing what you’d end up discovering. I wanted to investigate everything that space had to offer, I didn’t want a fairly standard set of randomised planets I wanted the full Star Trek experience. I wanted spacial anomalies, gas giants, black holes, and all the other weird and wonderful things space (well sci-fi) has to offer. There will be an element of procedural generation in the game, but only having standard planets and space stations to explore is very hollow.
More Civilised Races
5 quintillion planets and how many civilized races on them? 4 not including humans which presumably is the race of the playable character in No Mans Sky. That’s a pretty shitty percentage. Why not have procedurally generated civilised races as well, at least to be able to trade with, talk to, help or destroy. It should also go without saying that civilisations should also be a little different. Where ever you go, the same buildings, or ruined buildings exist. In 5 quintillion planets everyone has the same style building. Add in procedurally generated variety to the buildings and races (à la Spore).
The combat in NMS is kinda pointless. Either you’re being set upon be a few hungry surface animals that are more an irritant than a danger, or you’re been blasted to pieces by Space Pirates with no chance of survival. Combat can be a more integral part of the game. Maybe you could explore underground warrens or ruined temples filled with dangerous animals or go on hunting trips to bag the biggest prey and get some rare items. I’m not suggesting that it should become a first person shooter but they do need to look at what Combat was hoping to achieve.
Crafting is in No Man’s Sky, but not to a great extent. Sure you can build mods for your multi-tool, spacesuit and spaceship but it’s not exactly a fun or really meaningful experience. There’s no real drive to create better things. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Star Trek has influenced the types of things I would expect in a game that promotes exploration as its key point. I’d like to be able to find new and interesting technologies, metals and plans that you can use to really change your experience. Not just little tweaks to existing stats. I’m imagining a game where you explore and discover different races’ technology, and rare and wonderful elements. Over time, you learn to use all the technology and skills from the different races to really craft things of consequence to yourself.
Another notch on my nerd-belt apart from Star Trek is my love of RPG games, and a tiny smattering of skill progression in No Mans Sky wouldn’t go amiss. The moment you start the game from the moment you ultimately give up playing, the player doesn’t change or improve. His technology does, or at least should but no matter how many planets you explore or miles traveled the player character is fundamentally the same as he was at the start. I’d like to see you getting better at doing things. When you mine ore your mining skill increases so you can extract more ore per second. If you spend a lot of time learning languages then your language skill improves and there’s an increased chance of learning an additional word or finding a clue to a ruin somewhere.
Some of these changes may be pretty hard to introduce, and in some cases you may disagree completely. Especially if you’re not an RPG-playing, Star Trek nerd like myself. So what would bring you back to No Mans Sky, if anything? Or do you think the game is too far gone now, and there isn’t anything that could bring you back. Let me know in the comments.