As you may have noticed from the lack of blogposts, I’m having a bit of summer downtime. And inbetween long bouts of sitting in front of the Olympics (go Team GB!) I’ve spent the last week exploring the universe in No Man’s Sky.

No Man’s Sky is a new game for PC and PS4. In it you take the role of a nameless space traveller, zooming around the universe. The game is huge, there are over 18 quintillion planets are possible in the game. Yes quintillion. That’s a brain-melting number.

Each one of these planets is procedurally generated using a special set of rules which determines temperature, wildlife etc. Some planets have lots of life, others are quite barren. Planets have day/night cycles and storms that pass though and change the weather conditions. It’s up to your explorer to survive, using mined minerals to patch up and power your exosuit and spaceship.

Everywhere on the planet can be explored – whether it’s on foot or in your spaceship. Planets have tunnels and caves, oceans and mountains. It’s truly impressive how cool every single planet I’ve landed on looks.

Even more impressive is that the game has been put together by a tiny team of 15 developers at Hello Games in Guilford. Amazing work!

No Man's Sky Screenshot

I’ve found myself happily pootling about different planets. The scenery is amazing. Some planets are rather hostile places to live. Others are stunningly beautiful and full of life. Some are both stunning and deadly!

No Man's Sky Screenshot

The game definitely could be used in the classroom as a creative sandbox. There’s no building, unlike Minecraft, but what you do get is an amazing series of planets to explore.

The game is rated PEGI 7. There’s some space combat, but very little violence apart from that. It’s not your usual shoot-em up game. So it could be used with KS2 children and up. Hook up a PS4 (or PC) to the interactive whiteboard and explore some of these worlds as stimulus for writing.

Or you could take a series of screenshots and use as as creative writing prompts or story starters. What might it be like to spend a day here? What kind of aliens might you meet?

It’s also interesting that you never see yourself in the game. There’s no avatar to represent who the explorer is. This again leaves things open to interpretation. The children can put themselves in the role, or they can invent a space explorer of their own.

Many planets have animals, plants and rocks to discover and catalogue. Perhaps you could use them to think about habitats and classification.

No Man's Sky Screenshot

It’s hard to go too long in the game without wanting to take another screenshot. It’s like being in holiday!

No Man's Sky Screenshot

There are a few issues with the game interface right now, hopefully they’ll be solved in future patches. I’d like to see a planet map of the planet I’m on so I can see where I have and haven’t explored, and some of the waypoints seem dodgy. The galaxy map is a bit fiddly and I’d like a better way of seeing all the recipes I’ve acquired. Landing your ship can also be annoying – sometimes it misses a perfectly good landing pad and sets down right next to it, other times it puts you at the top of a tall column of rock and you break your neck getting out of your ship!

It’s running fine on my PC which is a bit of hefty games-rig, but some players have been having issues. May want to wait a while, one for updates and two for the game to drop in price a bit. See if you can get it in a future Steam sale perhaps?

If you like exploring space – and want an open sandbox game to lose yourself in, then this is highly recommended.

To quote Blade Runner:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

So yeah. It’s been fun so far. Anyone else playing?

 

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