Maybe they were trying to find negative things to say, because they felt they had to.
Commendably, while there's no hand-holding in terms of what you're meant to do, what you're able to do, and what you should do... the interface, the menus, the crafting and inventory systems, aren't too overwhelming. They're easy enough to get.
That, over the next few hours, provided the most palpable thrills for me; the feeling that wherever I went... I was leaving footprints in virgin snow. It made me feel like a pioneer. It made the game unique to me.
There is a possibility that this could wear off, that it could become repetitive and tiresome, that there isn't enough variety in terms of what there is to see... but right now, in these first four or so hours, there's no sign of that happening.
Yes, you need to find stuff to survive - to fuel your ship, to upgrade your mining tool/weapon, and keep you alive, and the environments and sentinels can be hostile... but it's overshadowed by the exploring.
Learning alien languages, and being the first to discover places. More than anything... it's an explore 'em up. It speaks to what I most love about video games. In that respect, it's exactly the game I hoped it'd be.
I suspect that it could become a different sort of game going forwards, as I start to power up my ship and weapons. For now though... it lets me be an intergalactic Christopher Columbus.
The game is rationing out my momentum - it's making me search for items I need to make my ship powerful enough to jump to the next star system etc. - but it's not doing it so slowly as to become frustrating or dull.
Plus, I've done my fair share of trading, with two very different alien races. And much to my surprise... I don't hate the trading element.
I feared No Man's Sky would simply be a new version of Elite... but the whole thing feels much friendlier and more accessible than Elite has ever been.
The trading isn't tedious. The combat and flight feels more arcade-like. In fact, overall, it is an incredibly friendly game. Which is an odd thing to say about a game where most of what you encounter is in some way deadly.
In the first system, I was worried that the planets might all be a little too same-y - that there wouldn't be enough variation. But in the second system the worlds started to show me more variety.
Yes, they're still quite jelly mould-ish, in terms of geology - but cosmetically they're just different enough to keep my interest. And thus far the exploring of those worlds is a long way from getting old.
There's a nice feeling of there being a deeper lore and mythos to the universe that, so far, has stayed the right side of pretentious.
Unfortunately, I need to repair the damaged ship before I can take off. This means more mining, more resource gathering - potentially more trading to gather what I need.
Yes, it could be repetitive, but No Man's Sky seems brilliantly balanced, in terms of what it gives you early on, and what it holds back. It feels generous, without giving away all its secrets. The pacing is - I feel - close to perfect.
Overall then... I've genuinely loved my first four-and-a-bit hours.
I do have some reservations, but even having just scratched the surface of what's on offer, it's clear what an astonishing achievement this is.
If it continues in this vein, I suspect it's going to be one of those games which develops a life of its own in ways that its creators could never have predicted. So far... I'm willing to tentatively suggest that the hype was justified.
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