No Man's Sky is not the same game it was when it launched in 2016. The PlayStation 4 generation has seen the emergence of evolving software, and Hello Games' ultra-ambitious space survival adventure is a shining example of that. After enormous excitement, what we had on day one failed to live up to expectations. While the sense of wonder was there and the potential was clear, the game rang a little hollow for most. Over four years later, countless improvements and additions mean it's now something worthy of your time.
With the launch of the PS5 version, No Man's Sky has another substantial update, and it hits home how far it's come. Playing in 2020, the core experience feels much the same; you're still surviving procedurally generated planets by mining resources, upgrading equipment, and flying from one star system to the next. However, there's much more built around that for you to delve into. Since the 2016 launch, Hello Games has added character customisation, multiplayer, freighter ships, base building, optional missions, ground-based vehicles, mech suits, far more on-planet sights and events, and more varied flora and fauna. Yes, you're still travelling through an enormous galaxy, and reaching the centre is still the main story's end goal — but there's now so much more to do besides.
Almost like Minecraft, this is a game in which you get out what you put in. Wandering around on barren worlds waiting for something to happen, you're bound to get bored, but with simple goals, you're never short of things to do. The introductory stages of the game are now more direct, and do a better job of getting you acquainted with the basics. However, you're also shown things like base construction and the Anomaly — a multiplayer hub — within the first couple of hours. You're given freedom to do what you like, but at the same time, the game encourages you to explore all your options with various quest lines and objectives. If you want to see as many planets as possible and reach the galaxy's core, great; if you want to build a huge base and farm everything you'll ever need, that's viable too.
However you decide to play, the game has a complex economy with lots of resources to find. Playing the regular mode, it's definitely a slow burn as you gradually upgrade your suit, multitool, and ship. Much of your time in No Man's Sky is spent scanning planets, mining colourful crystals, and crafting better stuff. This is typical survival gameplay fare, but it can be a little tedious. Although refinements have been made to the menus over the years, working through them is still fiddly. There's a lot of information to take in.
Again, though, once you're past the early game and can reliably maintain yourself, there's plenty to be getting on with. Space stations allow you to buy and sell goods, trade with NPCs, and take on extra missions. You can go to the Anomaly and take on missions with other players. Of course, you can forge ahead with the main storyline. Everything is integrated pretty well, and there's no wrong way to play.
Alternative modes allow you to either up the challenge or eliminate it altogether. Harder difficulties include a permadeath mode, in which your save is wiped if you die. On the flip side is Creative, which gives you infinite resources to basically do whatever you like: build crazy structures, blitz across the galaxy, faff about carelessly with friends. We prefer the more balanced challenge of the regular mode, but if you want to just fly through the stars without a care, the option is there.
Granted, sometimes you do just want to take in the view. If nothing else, the game succeeds in its visuals. Inspired by old sci-fi novels, No Man's Sky is hyper-colourful and grand in scale. You won't have to play long to find an amazing view, either on the ground or in space — the locations you find are cool, and the game does a good job of showing them off.
On PS5, the game looks even better, with more detailed environments and colours that really pop in 4K HDR. It also benefits from smooth 60 frames-per-second performance, vastly reduced load times, and good use of the DualSense's adaptive triggers. Unfortunately the PS5 version cannot be played with PSVR, so you'll have to settle for the last-gen version if you want to have that experience.
A port to better hardware can only carry the game so far, though, and it still has one or two issues. Due to the procedural nature of the game, sometimes it can be difficult to find exactly what you want or need, and combat remains lacklustre. And while there is an awful lot to do, it can at times feel like there's nothing going on. You do have to find the fun yourself here, which is fine, but things can move along at a glacial pace. All that said, the game has come a very long way, and now is a great time to either jump back in for another look, or check it out for the first time.
No Man's Sky has made enormous leaps forward, and its arrival on PS5 is an opportune time to revisit this ambitious survival game. Whether you upgrade your existing game to the new version or grab it for the very first time, you'll be getting the best experience, with dozens of hours of content and a literal universe waiting to be explored. Some remaining gameplay issues mean it isn't perfect, but it has plenty to offer those who persevere.
It's absolutely beautiful on ps5. I haven't played it in over a year and there's so much more to do now that loading my game is a little overwhelming. I'm going to have to start a new game just to get a hang of the new mechanics etc. I also legit bought a psvr just for this game but the resolution is so bad it's barely playable. I'm praying they patch it for vr users as well. But then I'd stuck with having to load the PS4 version of the game.
My big question: Does the PS5 upgrade bring with it a separate trophy list? I never quite platinumed this and was considering going back but if the trophy list is separate, I won't be revisiting this world on the PS5.
@thedevilsjester No, if you transfer your save it'll give you the ps5 equivalent trophies too.
I think a word or two is due about the sound of this game. Whether it's the procedural soundtrack that dips in and out on a Breath of the Wild-type basis, which is a key ingredient of many incidents and events in the game, the distant cry of some alien race that either puts wonder or dread in the players head or the sound of another ship (and possibly another human player) whooshing past/above you (particularly great with headphones on), both the sound design and soundtrack is top notch and quite important to the overall experience.
Will replay in April when ps5 come back in stock.
@JigsawPieces that doesn't really help because you will still end up with an orphaned/incomplete trophy list for the PS4 version. Unless it works both ways.
It may just be me, but I loved this game at launch. The constant improvements are awesome as well. Unfortunately, one of my legacy Move controllers crapped out on me last night, so now I need new ones.
Started it this past weekend on PS5 after trying it on PS4 when it launched (and updated), I still can't get into it. Personally, I prefer Subnautica as a survival simulator, with the lore they created with that one world. With that being said, I hope fans of NMS are enjoying this.
@Quintumply Can you describe the Dualsense trigger and haptic feedback? How much is it used, and what is it used for?
@Quintumply Oh, and can you transfer PS5 data back to the PS4 version easily in order to use PSVR?
@SteveJaye I booted up No Mans's Sky when I got my PS5, but I was astonished at the HDR in that game. It was already bad (extreme oversaturation) on PS4, and on PS5 it was also unplayable.
I've heard mixed reports on HDR being fixed (the patch notes say it was, but users seem to not fully agree with that). Can you confirm that HDR works as intended now?
@thedevilsjester Well, it depends what bothers you. You can transfer over to the PS5 version of the game and continue where you left off, including saved games and trophies, so that's a good thing at least.
Best version yet, many improvements made. Same reviewer. Same score as launch day: https://www.pushsquare.com/reviews/ps4/no_mans_sky
Edit: Fixed link.
@Olmaz it looks great on my tv. They released a new patch a couple days ago. Not sure if it fixed HDR but it doesn't seem oversaturated to me. However I do get freezing every 5-10 minutes for a second or two. Very irritating so I'm waiting for them to fix that before I get into it again.
@Elodin we had stock today at Ebgames in Canada. Sold out quickly but it's a sign more are coming sooner then later.
@Olmaz I had that very same problem when I tried it on PS5, but not with other games. Not sure if it's a TV related issue ... I'm using a LG one ( not Oled ).
The problem with nms is I want space exploration game, not resources based gatherings game, yeah you probably can turn off the resources gathering part now but the game is made for it. I already bought the game so I still gonna try it again when I have my ps5.
After playing this in VR, I unfortunately cannot play it any other way. Even the PS4's older setup, including lower fps and blurrier visuals in the headset cannot hinder the VR experience of this game which is nothing short of mindblowing. To me, NMS is a VR exclusive and the day it can look PS5 good on a new PS5 headset is the day I buy a PS5.
My best time with this game was getting that trophy where you have to spend 20 sols on an extreme planet. I nearly died in the storms loads of times as I wandered its surface but it was a proper adventure.
@AJDarkstar @NoxAeturnus Not to get into this too much, but a lot has changed in four years, not just this game. I reviewed it back then, but I was also a far less experienced critic at the time — that's just one thing to consider. As I mention in the review, there are also still some fundamental things that aren't great despite all the updates. It's a better game than when it launched, that's for sure, but I'm reviewing it in 2020. Had I reviewed this version of the game in 2016, the score probably would be higher, but we're four years down the road. Hopefully that makes sense.
@Jaz007 Haptic feedback isn't particularly impressive, but the adaptive triggers are put to decent use. It's when firing weapons/mining lasers, there's different feels for each weapon type. Also, when you're flying your ship, the brake and accelerator will feel different depending on your current speed, and there's a nice effect when you launch.
Oh and as for transferring data from PS5 to PS4, I'm afraid I don't know. I made a point of starting a new game for this review so I didn't mess with any of that stuff. I'll try and find out for you!
But...what about the bugs?
Honestly, I love how Hello Games have gone all in to evolve the experience and I've spent a lot of time playing this.
But what I really wish is that they'd put the brakes on adding new features...and make sure what's there now just works well.
Multiplayer, which is the thing I wanted most to experience with this game is, in so many instances, just broken.
Going from the PS4 version to the PS5 version was a proper wow moment for me, it just looks, feels and plays like a different game. What used to take a minute teleporting to places now takes about 11 seconds...The triggers are pretty cool when you're launching your ship and firing a weapon.
@BowTiesAreCool The soundtrack by 65daysofstatic is fantastic and I recommend checking out their other stuff if you like it!
One of the things I really enjoyed in the game that I rarely see mentioned elsewhere is the slow learning of the language of the different alien species. You start out knowing nothing but eventually piece some words together to understand what is being said.
I thought this was such a neat idea.
If ever a game should be exempt from scoring, it's NMS. It's a very different experience for different people. No problem with the 7/10 score - but people should just understand that if it's their type of game, it'll be a very different opinion.
I enjoyed the launch experience back in the day, as what I wanted was just a chill exploration game that I could zone out with and enjoy some pretty vistas. It did outstay its welcome eventually but I was happy with what I had. The updates though are absolutely astounding, and has breathed new life into the game for me alongside the amazing PS5 visual and performance upgrades.
That's the one criticism of the review I have, that it could possibly contain a rundown of some of the major new features and showcase their potential a little bit. I think if I was coming in to the game fresh but was unsure about it, I'm not sure this would have helped me make my mind up one way or the other. But, the argument there is that there's plenty of other places to get that information too.
@Quintumply The scoring policy leans into the subjectivity of the scores, which is fine. I think of the number as a sort of "feels like to play" score. I really liked the pros/cons thing you guys added because it lets me adjust in my head what I think the score would be for me. I just thought it was strange that a game that has added so much and come so far doesn't feel markedly different all else being equal.
@JigsawPieces Its not really "continuing where you left off" for trophies though. Its cloning your trophy list, and progressing on the clone, leaving the original list to stagnate in an incomplete state. Sony needs to force developers to merge trophy lists, or allow for us to delete them from our account.
16 hours in and gave it up. This is FarmVille with extra steps. It's not a game. It's a fictional masturbatory achievement system.
@Elodin is that when they're sending out a lot more?
@MrWooWoo That is just my best estimate based on what I heard from people close to the industry. I did hear that Sony plans on shipping 16 to 18 million ps5s this year though, so hopefully more stores will be getting some so bots can't get them all.
@NoxAeturnus Yeah, that's got me confused. So is it really worth upgrading to the next gen version or not?
@Elodin I hated the argument "Scalpers" made about they're not doing anything wrong. Legally, no they're not. Morally, Hell yes they are.
@beerhonky "Fictional masturbatory achievement system" never thought I'd see those 4 words in the same sentence.
@invictus4000 I remember the moment going from regular NMS to VR & realising how much better everything worked. It wasn't just that the game worked in VR, it was more that the game needed VR to work. I read that there will be a free patch for owners of the game to play using Playstation VR2 on PS5. Looks like it's time to upgrade equipment.
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