This morning was an absolutely glorious morning, in part because of a massive cold front that blew through over night. It is suddenly 70 degrees outside with a lovely breeze, rather than the usual over 100 degree madness that has been happening for weeks. As a result we decided to get up and walk over to daylight donuts for breakfast and then take it into the backyard and eat it on the patio. After the generally shit week that I had, I needed this little bit of respite to maybe start to recover. It is not that anything really went wrong… just the stress of entirely too much maximum level adulting. The week was one with several adulting raid bosses, and the progress made on them were mixed. However I am now happy to chill out on the sofa with a cat precariously balanced between my arms trying to find a way to snuggle while I type. So far it is working but I have a feeling at some point she will wander off because my hands are engaged in something other than serious petting action. Other than all of this… yesterday a game was released that I had been waiting anxiously for since it was first announced at E3 during the Sony PS4 reveal show, or at least I think that was when I first saw it. No Man’s Sky promised to be the space exploration game for me. Elite Dangerous looks awesome, but it is entirely too fiddly for my tastes. I don’t want to have to care about learning to pilot a ship through the vast expanses of space, or learning how to dogfight when there is no “up”. I just want a Star Trek away mission simulator that lets me wander around the cosmos and land on interesting new planets to explore. No Man’s Sky seems to be exactly that, but before I get into the good parts I need to talk about the bad.
Lots of folks are having trouble playing this game on the PC now that it has been released. I am not sure what happened during the process of the launch but the “minimum” listed specs seem to have been thrown completely out the window. I know Tamrielo has already returned his copy through steam because on his pretty hoss machine it simply would not give him more than 10 fps. First lets go over the minimum specs that were released for the game.
- OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions)
- Processor: Intel Core i3
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: nVidia GTX 480, AMD Radeon 7870
- Storage: 10 GB available space
I’ve played it on two of my machines… first on my Laptop
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: 4th Gen Intel Core i7
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: nVidia GTX 960m
On this machine I had to bump it down to 720p/medium to get stable framerates in the range of 30 fps, with the occasional dip into 15 territory. However nVidia experience claims that this machine does not meet the minimum requirements to play the game, whereas instead every single category above technically outstrips what the suggested minimums are.
My upstairs gaming machine has the following specs…
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: AMD fx-6300 3.5 ghz
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: nVidia GTX 980
As one would expect the beefier graphics card means that I am getting significantly better performance, but not massively so. I am running the game at 1080p/medium and I get severe dips from the 60fps to 30fps and it is extremely erratic. What this feels like to me… is a game that was rushed to make last minute changes and is extremely poorly optimized for the PC. From the sound of it… everyone that chose to get the PS4 copy seems to be just happily playing away. Those of us on the PC are trying to find that precarious line where the performance to pretty balance is reasonable. The biggest confusion point that I am seeing thought is having a big badass system doesn’t necessarily make a difference. It is almost totally random who can and cannot run this game. As a result I highly suggest you purchase the game through steam, that way if for whatever reason it does not work for you… you can return it to get a full refund. I believe GOG does the same thing, but I have never actually returned a game there so I am not sure how fast or easy that process is. Essentially this is definitely a “buyer beware” title… and if you simply want to play it without much fussing then I suggest you check out the PlayStation 4 copy.
Now that all of that is out of the way…. the game is really pretty and feels like you are exploring alien worlds. It has this feeling of minecraft, starbound and elite all throw together in the a mixer and some weird hybrid came out of the process. The key thing that stood in the way of me playing Elite or Star Citizen… is that my player fantasy has nothing to do with flying a ship. I could give a shit about actually flying anything… and would be perfectly happy just taking “taxis” between planets. What I want is the exploration of new and interesting places, and that is the fantasy that NMS hones in on. There are going to be folks that complain that this title is entirely too “walking sim” for them, but the couple of planets have all been filled with rich and interesting environments for me to explore. Right now my biggest problem is the lack of inventory, and lack of understanding how to increase said inventory. There is just so much I don’t know how to do, and so many items I pick up that I don’t have a clue what they are even for. What is the most interesting to me is the fact that when you encounter an alien race, you don’t know how to communicate. You learn language through finding these knowledge stones, and each of them teaches you a single word in another language. Now I have yet to see what actually happens when you know some words… because I absolutely lost faction with a race by patting them on the head.
The coolest moment so far has to be when I finally repaired my ship, and decided to lift off of the planet and out into space. I watched as the horizon got darker and darker until all of the sudden I broke through the atmosphere and could see the stars around me. Similarly awesome was the moment when I realized that landing on this planet… I had to be super careful about my angle of entry. If you come in too straight you absolutely start to burn up in the atmosphere damaging your shields in the process. So that mean’t I had to skim along carefully descending slowly enough to avoid taking damage, but that also meant that this was no means a quick process. There are consequences of pushing off planet, and I burned through all of my fuel on the first planet using my ship to explore. Each time you thrust off the surface it takes resources, ones that you cannot easily replenish without significant time spent exploring… which in itself costs resources because the environments are usually hostile and stress your life support systems to where they need recharging as well. There however is a central loop that I find enjoyable of exploring and gathering and exploring and gathering. In fact last night I absolutely lost two hours of time playing this game. Not that I was aware that I spent time… but I thought I had maybe spent fifteen minutes playing, until I looked up and realized that two hours had passed. So if the issues of the launch can get ironed out, I have a feeling that this is going to go down as one of those Minecraft like experiences that just keeps building upon itself.
So final advice is… pick it up definitely. However if you have a Playstation 4, you might lean towards that for your purchase. Otherwise definitely purchase it through a provider that is going to allow you to return the game on PC if for whatever reason it does not like your machine.