I haven’t played No Man’s Sky and don’t exactly plan to. Not because of the negativity surrounding this game right now but because I simply never got on its hype train and kinda figured that actually playing the game might not be that fun after all.

The hype surrounding this game was so big and I never quite understood it. What was so special about it?

It’s big

If I try to not overthink this and just go with my first thought, this is what comes to mind: it’s big. I remember hearing in pretty much all interviews and promo pieces that it has a huge world to explore. Was it what people were excited about?

Being big really does nothing to me. When I started playing Star Wars Galaxies I thought the planets were big and explored them all by going to each corners of the maps and I found… nothing. There were no vehicles at first so I walked and walked and walked hoping to find something exciting or hidden that never came.

When I played Dragon Age 3 I bored myself going from quest to quest in its “big” world. There was nothing rewarding about it and almost gave up on the game even if I’m a huge fan of this type of Bioware games. Many people were bitching that Dragon Age 2 felt too small but it was actually perfect for me as the story was moving at a much more interesting pace.

So a game pitched to me as “big” really leaves me cold. Sure, in NMS you find different environments and creatures which I’m sure is nice for the first 2 hours but past that I’m pretty sure you start seeing patterns and then don’t even notice the “new” stuff you discover as you’re busy grinding your way through mining.

The “missing” features

I don’t really care about these as honestly I don’t see what they would really change. Seeing other players? What would you do exactly with them? It’s a solo survival/exploration game. Atmospheric flight? What would that achieve exactly beside just another way to quickly check the new planet you found before moving on to the next one and then the next one and the next one and so on.

It looks good and marketing was great

That’s why I think the hype was so strong. Not because of the game itself but because of the way the idea was sold. I admit that seeing for the first time space travel leading to a planet and then landing on said planet was quite neat. It makes amazing clips to show but what marketing cleverly hide is that you will be doing this a lot so it’s really nothing special after the first few times. The “game loop” was kept hidden because it is frankly nothing special and it seems to bore many people.

I’m not saying that marketing should have been handled differently as obviously it worked pretty well. I’m just surprised that many people still fall for this. It’s like seeing the trailer for Batman V Superman which shows most of the so expected fight scene and then being outraged you had to wait for so long during the movie to get there and see exactly everything you saw in the trailer.

When many people are so reluctant to buy a small indie game at full-price but still preorder a $60 game they haven’t really seen in action, you know marketing was great.

It will take years to reach the center of the galaxy

Well, more just a few hours but okay, I can see that as fascinating but it’s the same problem as the game being “big”. I can see how some people take this as a challenge but for most people you’re basically saying that they will never experience it so why get excited about it? Specially that reaching the center of the galaxy turns out to be pretty boring in fact.

Big game made by an indie studio!

Right… The word “indie” is used in so many contexts that you can’t get a clear idea of what it means exactly now. I for example don’t relate much to Hello Games as our realities are so different. I mean sure, have Sony handles marketing for my next game and I’ll sure put forward that I’m indie too to hide that big company giving me support no other indie dev can dream about…

Heck, for March of the Living I had a publisher and while I had a lot of freedom I still wasn’t completely independent so I’m having a hard time feeling anything when hearing that Hello Games is “indie” when they had a deal with Sony… I can appreciate the work done from a small team but then it’s the same challenge for all small teams or solo devs. The difference being that everyone else has to handle marketing on their own…