December 3, 2021

No Man’s Sky – The Positives

Toxic Sunrise - Jason Smith

If you have been paying attention to any of the media surrounding the latest open-universe space game, No Man’s Sky, you’ve surely noticed that it has been rather negative. Many things promised by the game’s developer, Hello Games, weren’t exactly delivered as the community had expected. The biggest and most recent of these controversies came about when two players actually found each other in game. This is something the Hello Games has mentioned would be an astronomically rare occurrence, though not impossible. The fact that it happened so soon wasn’t the issue – as probabilities don’t always predict outcomes – but the players were unable to see or interact with each other at all! This was a complete let down and something that Hello Games hasn’t fully addressed yet.

But as the title states, I’m here to talk about the positives that you can take away from the game. Please note that the last one is going to be a big ol’ fat spoiler. But don’t fret, you’ll have to click it to see it, so no worries there.

Here are my top three positive things from No Man’s Sky.

Learning An Alien Language

Throughout the game, you’ll encounter several species of intelligent alien life. My absolute favorite, the Korvax, seem to be computer intelligences loaded into their humanoid bodies. You never see their face because they – presumably – don’t have one. In any case, when you interact with these aliens you see what they say in lines of gibberish because naturally you don’t understand their language. Part of the game is learning their language, and that takes a few forms.

Each space station and trade post has an alien NPC that you can speak with. After their initial bout of conversation, you can ask them to teach you a word. Now, if you are a rank or two above neutral with their faction, you’re given another option as well and the “teach me a word” option goes away after selecting it. However, you can select the alternate option and then the teaching option returns. You can repeat this process several times (forever?).

In addition, scattered amongst the planets are relics of each species. Interacting with one of these relics teaches you a word for free, no questions asked. And finally, many of the structures found on planets can have a special terminal that will supply you with a word as well.

Over time, you’ll learn enough words that you understand most or all of what these aliens are saying to you. A very cool prospect!

Planetary Photography

This is going to get a little existential, but one of my biggest regrets in life is that I wasn’t born in a time where I could experience different planets (and my human hubris is showing, assuming that humans will survive long enough to do so). Combined with being a hobbyist photographer, and the life of a planetary photographer sounds pretty awesome to me. Enter No Man’s Sky!

You may have read about this somewhere else as I certainly did, but I could go days at a time capturing images of these imaginary planets. It is the closest thing that I will ever get to actually taking photographs of alien worlds and that really inspires me. Now, I would love it if Hello Games actually built this functionality into the game and let me take photos of exotic locales with no waypoints popping up all over the screen. The featured image is one such shot of green tinted world’s sunset. I hope to capture sunsets and sunrises from many more planets in the near future.

Spoiler Alert!

I warn you, click below only if you don’t care, haven’t read about, or haven’t experienced the end of the game. You’ve been warned!

Warning: Thar Be Spoilers Ahead, Matey!
A Simulation of a Simulation of a Simulation of a…

There is really only one actual goal to No Man’s Sky and this is traveling to the center of the galaxy. It seems that you can either travel toward the center on your own, somewhat aided by two aliens who have your best interests at heart, or you can follow the path of the Atlas, which if I’ve read correctly takes you to the same place.

When you finally reach that center, you’re presented with some pretty unique and awesome mood music and a visual that seems to show you traveling away from the center of the galaxy, out of the galaxy itself, and finally toward another galaxy. Once that is all over, the screen dims and returns with a familiar scene: You are again stranded on an alien planet, but this time you know where you came from.

There are some theories of what this is. Perhaps you physically have traveled to a whole other galaxy? Not my thinking, as I’ve read elsewhere about a whole different theory and it sort of blows my mind.

There is this popular theory floating around physics right now that humanity – in fact our whole universe – is one big simulation. Elon Musk himself posits that there is a 1 in Billions chance that we are “base reality”. And when you think of the concept that a simulated universe could progress to the point where a simulated civilization could begin simulating realities you can fall into a rabbit hole that pretty much all but points to this concept as being hard to disprove (you know, outside of hard evidence of course).

No Man’s Sky goes to that level, think about it. You are playing a game, where the character is experiencing a simulated universe in a way that leads him to discover that he/she is simulated, and that simulation repeats over and over and over. How lonely does it make you feel that this one character is the only one truly aware that this is the case?

I’ll be honest, this guy explains it way better than I do.

And there you have it, those are the three reasons that I am still even playing No Man’s Sky. I could write a whole other article about what I find wrong or lacking with the game, but for those looking for a reason to play it, I hope these three facets fit the bill.



If it’s a thing and it’s nerdy, this guy wants to do it. Self-taught and self-proclaimed photographer, programmer, and musician, self-described as lazy, indulgent, and pedantic. Give him a task and he’ll do it, except for maritals. Only his wife gets the maritals.

Find Jason on twitter at @jasonkylesmith and on instagram at jasonksmith84

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