Dead Space: No Man’s Sky & The Missing Multiplayer

From the feel and functionality of space travel down to the game’s gorgeous sci-fi stylings, there’s an awful lot Hello Games has managed to nail with No Man’s Sky. Despite never stepping foot on its intergalactic hype train, I could still see from a distance why so many people were losing their minds.

Space sims aren’t exactly new yet ones that are both intriguing and accessible seem very hard to come by. As much as I love the thought of playing EVE Online, Star Citizen, or Elite: Dangerous, the time and dedication (not to mention computing hardware) required are obstacles I’ll never be able to overcome.

For someone in my position – and I know there are plenty of you out there – No Man’s Sky offers a partial solution. With over 18 quintillion unique planets to explore, there’s an infinite feeling galaxy for players to get lost in, exploring every nook and cranny while sharing their discoveries.

There’s a certain joy to be had in finding a new species of animal, mineral, or fauna, and then beaming that information up to the galactic archives. The thought that, in time, someone, somewhere will eventually gun down one of those dinosaur/bear looking creatures you named after your nan’s dog is strangely pleasing.

Sadly, if you’re coming into No Man’s Sky expecting a full suite of multiplayer features then you’re setting yourself up for quite the fall. From what was said about the project very early on, No Man’s Sky had us envision this sprawling, space-themed sandbox, populated by millions of explorers. That prospect alone is what interested me the most – the thought of making contact with another player despite almost impossible odds.

However, as we’ve since discovered, the game offers no conventional multiplayer whatsoever. Although we all share the same universe, we each exist in our own instances. You and I could be standing in the exact some point in this sweeping galaxy of stars and, still, won’t be able to interact (or even see) with one another. It comes as a bit of a blow but, then again, what did we expect? With players constantly weaving their way through space, it makes my brain hurts just thinking of the technical wizardry needed to create an online space where they could all seamlessly coexist.

That said, I can’t help but feel that multiplayer is what No Man’s Sky needs to give it that edge, no matter how Hello Games somehow manages to wrestle it in there. Having invested some ten or twelve hours, that initial sense of wonderment crossed with isolation is slowly starting to grate.

One of the reasons why I bit the bullet and pre-ordered with only a matter days before release was my disappointment at other games in the survival genre. From Rust, Landmark, and Life Is Feudal, to the recent 7 Days To Die, they all slowly descend into a monotonous grind for materials.

Compared to these games, No Man’s Sky has way more tricks up its sleeve. Though it currently lacks base building, the endless sprawl of planets and the means by which you travel between them helps to fight that looming grindfest. Eventually, as you feel yourself easing into that groove of familiarity, it becomes unavoidable. Hats off to Hello Games, they’ve gone well out of their way to create plenty of distractions yet, when push comes to shove, No Man’s Sky slowly morphs into a space-themed Supermarket Sweep – sans Dale Winton, of course.

On the plus side, there are plans to take the game in new directions. Writing in the review notes, Sean Murray says, “If I have one wish, it’s that enough people like the game to allow us to continue to work on it. There is so much more, so many ideas that we wish we could explore in No Man’s Sky, From multiplayer to building to land vehicles and everything in between. For as long as the community will allow us, we will support the game with free updates.”

From what’s been said it may sound as though I’m having a bad time with the game when, in truth, I’m honestly not. Although slightly disheartened by the familiar form No Man’s Sky eventually takes, there’s some brilliant execution and I’ll no doubt continue my spacefaring adventure for many weeks (and months, hopefully) to come.

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Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.

5 Comments

  1. I for one am actually glad there is no multiplayer. I knew that would have been the case from the information being revealed closer to launch and i am not disappointed. I would much rather deal with the AI blowing me to bits IF I decided to tackle space battles rather than some knobhead doing it while I’m just trying to get to point B or look for resources. If this game made it so that you could warp to planets and find actual live players I don’t believe I would be as interested.

  2. “No Man’s Sky slowly morphs into a space-themed Supermarket Sweep” – quote of the day

  3. I played my first 3 hours last night and spent another half hour naming everything i’d found. Loving it so far.
    I wasn’t expecting multiplayer after it was repeatedly said that the chances of meeting another player were tiny, so for me the whole “multiplayer lies” controversy that’s being bandied about elsewhere is hilarious.

  4. I’ve not been following the game much since the initial reveal because I knew I was buying it and I didn’t want to get wrapped up in the hype. Before reading this, I didn’t realise that you’d never cross paths with random players. I just assumed this was one of the main features of the game. It’s no biggie. I’m not a fan on Multiplayer in general but that would have been a cool feature. Kinda like how you ran into random players in Journey. Although most of the time when I met another player in Journey I’d just fly circles around them a few times, ping pang poon, sit down for a moment and be on my merry way.

    • Well you sort of bump into them in that the worlds they have discovered can pop up with all their funky names etc. It’s not multiplayer, but they do exist.

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