The Solitude of No Man’s Sky

The Solitude of No Man’s Sky

NMS header image


It seems wherever you turn in the gaming community, whether it’s or Gameinformer you keep bumping in to one game time after time: No Man’s Sky.  No Man’s Sky is a game being developed by a small team of thirteen people, led by Sean Murray co-founder of Hello Games. It is one of the most ambitious games in recent memory, taking one’s childhood dream of being an astronaut, discovering alien worlds, and making it a reality.

When the game was first announced in 2013 at the VGX awards, I thought, “Wait. Space travel? Crazy exploration? Dinosaurs?! Sign me up!” But the game appears to be much more than this. Until recently, Hello Games has kept tight lips on just what makes the game so special. As they’ve incrementally revealed information, it’s begun to take shape. The game achieves creating a universe that is on scale with our own, filling itself with star systems, planets, and even life on those planets! If you can see it on the galactic map you can go, there. And I can’t wait to get out into that infinite, quiet, nothingness.

No Man’s Sky is just that; quiet, and not just because you’re in space. Sean Murray has himself stated that the chances of encountering another player are slim to none. Sure the player will, if they play long enough, come across something another player may have left behind, or a planet they might have named. But it will be awhile before even this happens. They even ensure this by having every player start off on a different planet in completely random corners of the universe. The universe is just too big for multiplayer, which is why it was a conscious design choice to keep it single-player.

NMS galactic map

This element of the game has a lot of people worried, thinking this isolation will lead to stagnant play and, ultimately, a boring game. Yet this is exactly why I’m excited for this game being able to have solitude in such a vast universe, knowing it is my own, and just sometimes seeing the ghost of a player long gone.

The game wants the player to think about how expansive and awesome this universe is, and I do use awesome in its purest definition. This is a simulation of our universe and it’s giving players the opportunity to enjoy their time with it in solitude, to be who they want to be. This should spawn true creativity, and play can then blossom. Being able to walk away from the game and not only think about what was achieved but also what it means on a personal level.

This is a chance to wander into the wild yonder. To be the lone explorer discovering alien worlds. Finding peace in putting along through empty space. Because as one of my favorite Sci-Fi authors Alastair Reynolds said, “space is mostly nothing” And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Space ship in space

I see myself turning on No Man’s Sky so I can relax. I don’t have to worry about the stress of trying to find other players to play with or even other players interfering with my play time. Whatever I may do with my time in No Man’s Sky, I’m thankful I will be able to spend the majority of it in solitude. Just me, the hum of my ship and the silence of space. For it allows me the opportunity to be with myself in the present moment and I can’t say that about a lot of games.