After what feels like 18 quintillion years of hype, yesterday finally saw the release of No Man’s Sky, a procedurally-generated space-exploration sim that allows you to traverse a unique (and near-infinite) universe. After a day of constant play, I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the game, but that hasn’t stopped me from finding a wealth of weird and wonderful phenomena. Here are my ten favourite discoveries so far…
New Glasgow is amazing
You begin No Man’s Sky marooned on a random planet on the outer reaches of the galaxy, with your first task being to repair your ship and get on your way. This is fairly easily done – unless you don’t actually want to leave. That’s how I felt about what I called New Glasgow, a temperate jungle paradise full of mind-boggling geological wonders, whose lush turquoise grasslands were home to friendly herbivores like the Ketgobbler, the Spiny Walloper, and the graceful, awe-inspiring Begbiesaur. I must have wandered for hours, and when the time finally came to set out for the stars, I did so with a heavy heart. Perhaps one day I’ll return…
You have to see the sunrise on Baal’s Scrote
After spending many happy sols on the superabundant utopia of New Glasgow, you might expect its nearest celestial neighbour to be similarly inviting. No such luck. Baal’s Scrote is a world beset by extreme weather conditions, and I spent most of my time there sheltering in caves, or scrabbling for minerals to keep my hazard protection suit up and running. Yet despite its unforgiving climate and the relative paucity of life, Baal’s Scrote is not entirely without its charms – the planet’s proximity to its star made for some pretty spectacular sunrises.
The Choadstools of Psilocybus are an unfortunate species
Life found a way through the toxic atmosphere and alkaline rains of Psilocybus, but on closer inspection, perhaps it shouldn’t have bothered. If biology is a procedurally-generated lottery in No Man’s Sky, then the Choadstools were clearly dealt a losing ticket.
You learn new languages
You’ll encounter various alien races in No Man’s Sky, but to understand anything they’re saying you’ll have to learn their languages, one word at a time, by seeking out monoliths, ruins and knowledge stones. This sounds like a drag, but it’s actually one of the game’s biggest engines for exploration – the search for these structures will take you everywhere from seabeds to mountaintops, and without spoiling too much, the in-game benefits are worth it. After my first day, I’d learned roughly 100 words of Vy`keen, the native tongue of a reptoid warrior race, who’ve now become my interstellar bros.
The Brexit Nebula is an unforgiving place
From a distance, the Brexit Nebula might seem alluring, a vast, emerald-hued cosmic cloud which lights up the night skies from the surface of its planetary bodies – the Aurora Brexitalis, as I took to calling it. The planets themselves, however, turned out to be little more than frozen wastelands, and the trade routes through the nebula are swarming with space-pirates who made quick work of my pathetically underpowered craft – which meant respawning in a space station, flying literally millions of miles to retrieve my lost loot, only to be blasted out of the sky all over again. Fuck you, Brexiteers.
The planet Terra Thatcher is a barren wasteland
“If there’s a bright centre to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from,” Luke Skywalker once grumbled about his home planet of Tatooine. Clearly, he’d never been to Terra Thatcher. During the day, temperatures on the Brexit Nebula’s largest planet reach a high of -45°C, while at night, they can plunge as low as -92°C. Though I did find evidence of a long-departed alien civilisation in the Cameronian foothills, nothing actually lives on Terra Thatcher – of all the worlds I’ve visited so far, this was the first truly barren one. In fact, barring a few scattered Vy`keen research outposts, Terra Thatcher’s only inhabitants are the sentinels, a spacefaring drone police force whose sole purpose on the planet is killing anyone who tries to mine its natural resources.
There’s a planet that looks like Prince’s version of the afterlife
After finally managing to warp out of the Brexit Nebula in one piece, I resolved to significantly beef up my ship’s defences before venturing into space again. By chance, I landed on a mountainous, purple-tinted world absolutely teeming with flora and fauna – everything from Funkenstoats to Concupisaurs to Velustoraptors – that looked less like the procedurally-generated product of a mathematical algorithim, and more like Prince’s vision of the afterlife. What’s more, its lavender hills and valleys contained more gold than I could carry off-world with me – it took me all of half an hour to become a millionaire, and that lucre went towards buying a swanky new space-freighter.
You have to perform great feats of ingenuity
My next stop after Principa Valhalla was Yermaw, whose verdant azure meadows, skyscraping rock monoliths and vast, interconnected network of biodiverse lakes immediately caught my eye. Yermaw, however, can be a harsh mistress. Seeking refuge from a particularly violent storm, I temporarily abandoned my exploration of the surface in favour of harvesting aluminium deposits from a labyrinthine underground cavern. Twenty minutes later, I was hopelessly lost and all-but resigned to death – until I remembered that I could use my multi-tool to blast through the rock and tunnel my way to the surface, Shawshank Redemption-style.
All planets do not have equal gravity
In a galaxy of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets, it’s not uncommon to stumble across the odd gravitational anomaly in No Man’s Sky, such as boulders inexplicably suspended in mid-air, or donut-shaped mineral deposits hovering 30 feet above the ground. Thus far, however, nothing I’ve found can compete with the scale (or the majesty) of Sagan Prime’s gravity isles, a planet-wide, physics-defying archipelago to take the breath away.
This guy farted at me
I mean, look at him. We met on the wintry Brexit world of Neoliberus. I fed him some carbon, and he farted with joy. I named him BoJo, and I’m going back for him someday.