Playthrough: Sharing the Skies

Box Art

Welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s playthrough of No Man’s Sky, released by HelloGames on the Sony PlayStation 4 in North America on 9 August 2016 and in Europe on 10 August 2016, and then world-wide on Microsoft Windows on 12 August 2016. Since then, further releases for XBox One (July 2018), XBox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 (November 2020), and Nintendo Switch (October 2022) have followed, with future 2022 releases planned for Apple iOS and iPadOS devices.

No Man’s Sky was a highly-anticipated next-generation survival action-adventure title originally teased in 2013. Developed by a small team with very ambitious goals, the original launch received mixed reviews and audience reception for failing to deliver on what had been promised during the development cycle. However, in the intervening years, HelloGames has continued a very active and dedicated development which has taken the game beyond the original promises for its content, delivered through a series of entirely free patches that add features and narrative elements. Moreover, the game continues to be ported to an increasing array of devices, broadening its appeal and reach. Consequently, the game’s reception is now very favourable, and each successsive patch has been welcomed by the playerbase as being substantial and significant in terms of expanding and improving the game.

Lush grasslands are just one of the many landscapes to experience.

Although the game is described by Wikipedia as a ‘survival action-adventure’ game, No Man’s Sky features sandbox elements which are its dominant feature. The degree to which the game is a ‘survival’ or ‘sandbox’ title is largely up to the player, with options available at start to select a ‘creative’ mode which focuses entirely on challenge-light base-building and exploration, or to have a ‘normal’ game experience in which the player must be cautious about disrupting enemy sentries, aggressive flora and fauna, and space pirates, to say nothing of an environment that can be harsh and life-threatening. There is also a ‘hardcore’ mode in which the challenge is significantly increased in terms of stronger foes and harsher environments, and character death is permanent. The game allows a degree of combining these features, although multiplayer must be between players with the same game settings. Note, however, that cooperative multiplayer is not available on the Nintendo Switch at launch, although other platforms do support it.

The ability to construct bases is just one of the game’s sandbox elements.

The game is divided into several types of experience, which include planetary exploration (on foot, in vehicles, or in one’s personal spaceship) and space exploration (in one’s personal spaceship). Different types of resources are found on different planets, each of which is fractally generated and can be discovered by the player. The planets are then uploaded to the HelloGames servers, where they linked together in a virtual universe and shared with all players, who may encounter planets discovered by others. Planets and systems can be named by those who discover them, permanently establishing an adventurer’s legacy. There are also in-game credits paid for discoveries not only of planets and systems, but of the individual animals and plants (which can be scanned) that are discovered on each planet. When a player is ready to move on, the use of Hyperspace will allow transport from one system to those nearby, although wormholes and black holes also exist, and may allow for more exotic forms of travel.

Travel over the landscape at night can be harrowing and spectacular.

Planets are patrolled by sentries, a type of eco-zealot robot that monitors planets for destructive conduct. Some planets have peaceable sentries that seldom attack, but others have very aggressive sentries that will simply attack players on sight. The sentries can be eluded or destroyed, but typically they summon assistance in increasing levels of force if resisted. Animals and plants, too, can be aggressive. So, caution is advised. Planets may experience storms that cause hot, cold, toxic, or radioactive threats to the player. So the player can upgrade their equipment in order better to survive the environment, including adding rockets to their suit, upgrading their weapons and mining tools, and more. Storage upgrades are essential both on the player’s backpack and in the personal starship. And the ship can be upgraded in terms of armament, engines, mining, and more. In short, the game is replete with upgrades for buildings, players, and ships, and only sustained and long-term exploration will uncover the many options to be found in No Man’s Sky.

Space travel is essential for exploration and mining operations.

Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you believe that No Man’s Sky has finally redeemed the promises made during its development? Do you prefer a creative sandbox experience or a more survival-focused action-adventure game? Do you find the open-ended exploration liberating or confusing? What sorts of changes or additions would you like to see made to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments for our podcast discussions.

Spaceports feature as a vibrant hub for adventurers.

The aim in this playthrough is to continue to play, explore, and share experiences until 11 November 2022. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! Our playthrough is intended to encourage anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the genre. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone‘s staff members and readers in Sharing the Skies: a No Man’s Sky playthrough!

3 comments

  1. I love this game and have put tons of time into it on the PS4. Looking forward to getting into it on the Switch!

  2. Finally home and able to play games!

    I played some NMS today on Switch on ‘Normal’ mode. Some thoughts:

    – Normal mode is ridiculously easy if one is used to playing on Permadeath mode. My hazard suit lasts forever! My life support hardly drains at all!

    – After a couple minutes of playing, I didn’t notice the graphics being any lower quality than on the PS4, but I did notice how small the viewable radius for terrain and objects is. Things are popping into view 2 yards away. That part is really bad!

    – I see that there is now a “community” mode, which is a sort of rotating, time-limited challenge. I want to try it out, but there isn’t one taking place right now.

    – My oldest son absolutely loved watching me play. I think he’ll really enjoy creative mode.

  3. Our next playthrough begins in a week! Thank you for playing-along in this cozy, laid-back, take-it-easy event!

    Now, it’s TIME TO GET SERIOUS.

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