Red Dead Redemption 2.
Destiny 2: Forsaken, Warmind and Curse of Osiris.
Assassin's Creed III Remastered.
Assassin’s Creed III: Tyranny of King Washington.
Far Cry 5.
What Remains of Edith Finch.
Mass Effect 1.
Grand Theft Auto V.
Dishonoured: Death of the Outsider.
Infamous: Second Son.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Remastered.
Assassin's Creed Liberation Remastered.
Borderlands 2 (Handsome Collection).
Borderlands 2: Captain Scarlett & Her Pirate's Booty DLC.
Final Fantasy 15.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.
No Man's Sky. I platinumed No Man’s Sky and I think I’ve completed it? I say “think” because the game pretended to give me a choice during its climax but then said, “don’t worry, we’ll still be here when you make the right choice.” It was at this point that I finally said, “I’m done” and peaced out for good.
It felt wrong getting the platinum trophy long before beating the campaign as most games at least require you to finish the critical path first but that, in itself, exposes the true colours of No Man’s Sky: In gameplay terms, there’s no “end” and therefore there’s no point. It's a game that is designed to keep you compulsively playing without a satisfying sense of completion. It’s a checklist of chores that constantly refreshes in order to create more checklists of chores.
In story terms, it tries to justify this loop with fortune cookie messages like, “life doesn’t necessarily end with death” and “it’s the journey that matters” or some nonsense like that. But when your core gameplay is built on only chores and checklists you best believe it is very much the completion that matters! Chores are not inherently “fun” per se so what makes them worth it is that sense of accomplishment when they’re successfully completed, never to be worried about again.
It was irresponsible for reviewers to enthusiastically recommend this game after the Next update without leaving some sort of disclaimer that this is very much an acquired taste. Yes, Hello Games supposedly improved upon the launch version (I say ‘supposedly’ as I didn't buy it at launch) but that doesn't necessarily mean that No Man’s Sky in it’s finalised form is great either. It’s average. It's not terrible but it's not great. It’s a chill game that’s nice to play when you want to take your mind off things with it’s endless loop of mining, recharging, crafting and building. If you like that sort of thing then this is perhaps the most perfect example of it and I can see why it has such a strong fanbase (the online community in general seem really pleasant).
For me personally, those elements work best within a wider context. In Fallout 4, for instance, the base building is awesome but that’s because it sits nicely within a good game loop. You go out to explore/ discover, meet cool new NPCs, complete quests lines with compelling stories, engage in heart pounding combat all the while creating your build and acquiring awesome new weapons, modding these weapons and levelling up to become stronger than you were when you first set out… and THEN you come home after a day of adventuring, using the trash the way you’ve picked up along the way to continue working on your base. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.
No Man’s Sky doesn’t have that. Even the much touted discovery aspect is incredibly weak because once you’ve seen one planet you’ve seen them all. The Artemis quest line did have an emotionally resonating conclusion and I did like that my actions were judged at the end but those moments of 'story' are few and far between.
Once I realised what type of game this is i.e. a chillax, self-medicating base building simulator, I started to ease into it and became less frustrated. I understood that it didn’t necessarily need a “point”. As far as distracting time-sinks go, No Man’s Sky does the job.
However, sometimes the mundane tasks became obstructive when I really just wanted to get on with the mission at hand. For instance, at one point you take command of a freighter which introduces you to a new mechanic where you can send ships on missions to acquire various useful items. I was excited at the prospect of this, as it seemed very different from anything else I did in the game thus far, plus I enjoy staff management simulators.
Sadly, my glee was short lived because halfway through the second voyage – despite the fact that the ship I sent was strong enough to handle it – the mission went awry and the ship took significant damage. I recalled it, not wanting to take unnecessary risks with my crew but in that moment I knew, even without checking, that a damaged ship meant I’d have to repair it with various resources before sending it out. Once again, the true motive of a newly introduced gameplay mechanic was exposed. I wasn’t interested in yet another run of back and forth menu fiddling so I never touched the freighter missions ever again.
Still, the game is very pretty at times and it is a technical accomplishment with its minimal loading screens even though it does have some unnerving bugs and the occasional crashing when warping. This is a must-buy for those who like a chill experience just doing mundane tasks for the sake of it, for those who are fond of routine and repetition without end. However, for those looking for some sort of epic space odyssey - like all the new trailers would still have you believe - this isn’t it, and I really wish reviewers would make that abundantly clear before mindlessly blurting out, “it’s good now!”