After months of hype, No Man’s Sky has finally made it to everyone’s gaming system of choice. Despite massive levels of pre-release excitement, the reactions for the game were divisive, with a massive split in audience opinion. Many players found the game to be exactly the casual space-faring exploration game they signed up for, but a significant segment of disappointed detractors decried what they saw as broken promises and accused developer Hello Games of a bait and switch, pointing to many advertised features that were missing from the final game. In fact, the complaints over disappointment in the game got so serious that many major retailers are offering refunds to their customers.
Regardless of where you fall on the final game, No Man’s Sky has a lot of opportunity for improvement, and there are some changes - simple and fundemental - that would go a long way toward winning back the haters and continuing to satisfy those that already love it. Here’s 20 Things No Man's Sky Needs To Change To Keep Us Playing.
One of the most heavily touted features of No Man’s Sky was the diversity players would find in visiting new planets and solar systems. To a small extent, this diversity was delivered in variations in the levels and type of flora, fauna, available minerals, intelligent life, and sentinel presence on each planet, but most of these differences unfortunately seem to be merely cosmetic on top of planets that are ultimately incredibly similar.
The differences between planets shouldn’t just be in the way they look and the types of life you find, but should also change the way the player plays the game. Differing gravities on every planet would make the way you explore the surface more dynamic, varying wind speeds could affect atmospheric flight, and varied climate zones (instead of having every planet be just a single climate) would also encourage players to explore more of each rock they land on. As it stands now, there’s not much reason to travel beyond your initial landing zone. If you’ve seen one area of a planet, you’ve seen the whole thing.
Beyond the surface conditions, a lot more can be done to add spice to these planets, such as moons and bigger asteroids that players can land on and explore/mine. Rings, denser asteroid fields, and meteor showers would also change up flight in outer atmospheres. There’s even some real drastic additions, such as worlds that have suffered a cataclysmic collision or other planet-wide catastrophe. Imagine a planet that’s missing half of its mass, or suffers from a constant barrage of meteor collisions.
Adding this type of diversity to the planets in No Man’s Sky would break up the monotony of travelling from planet to planet, giving players far richer environmental challenges, and giving everyone a lot more to explore along the way.
As a game about space exploration, the spaceship is one of the biggest focal points of No Man’s Sky -- and also one of the biggest letdowns. After hunting down and repairing a few new ships, it’s disappointing to finally get behind the cockpit to discover that they’re really not all that different from each other.
To be fair, the three classes of ship (fighter, trader, and explorer) do present incremental differences from each other, but the differences are far more apparent on paper than in practice. Any speed, combat, or armor benefits are fairly negligible, especially when many of those things can be changed by upgrades.
The differences between ship classes need to be more drastic, and it would also make sense for technology restrictions to exist for each one, or make upgrades require a different number of inventory slots depending on how well the upgrade fits the ship's design. For example, weapons upgrades take up more inventory slots on a trader than they do on a fighter, or advanced scanners take up fewer slots on an explorer than a trader.
Ship aesthetics are also a disappointment. The ability to change paint jobs and other cosmetic elements is notably lacking, as is the ability to give your ship a name outside of the model designation. When the game lets you name almost everything you discover, it’s weird that you can’t name your ship “Millenium Falcon” or “Serenity.”
No Man’s Sky is designed to be a sort of nomadic experience for players as they explore/wander the galaxy, but allowing players to settle down a little would really open up the game’s potential. The inability to stockpile or transport more items than those that fit in one’s available inventory slots is a major handicap considering the vastness of the No Man's Sky universe.
Granting players the ability to build or acquire planetary bases and/or space stations in which they can store additional ships, items, and resources -- and possibly even open shop as their very own trading post -- would add a brand new facet to the game by allowing players to locate a planet or system where they’d like to settle down and build a small trading empire. Being able to return “home” to change ships or deposit valuable resources would allow players to build something larger and more lasting than the game does now, where the only footprint players can leave behind is whatever they name one of their discoveries.
When checking out solar systems in the star map, players can glean a few details such as system class and number of planets, but that’s not very informative if the player is looking for something specific. And upon arrival, there’s no real way to easily distinguish which planet to head to first. If the systems in the game were structured like actual solar systems, this might be a little easier to determine.
Planets should all orbit a central star, and the distance from said star should influence environment and resources. This way, upon arriving in any system, players can know that the planets farther away from the center star will have resources common in icy environments, planets closer to the center star will have resources more common to hot or radioactive environments, and planets that are a moderate distance are more likely to have high levels of flora, fauna, and more trading posts and other signs of intelligent life.
No Man’s Sky’s creature generation system may frequently turn out laughable results, but it’s still pretty impressive that the game is able to produce such a variety of fauna, no matter how impractical or pathetic some species appear to be. The biggest problem is… they just hang around. Sometimes some of them head butt you. The creatures in the game are fairly inconsequential to the gameplay, aside from providing you with something to scan and name.
There's a lot of ways Hello Games could enhance this aspect of the game. Allowing players to build fences and herd animals into an enclosure will make it easier for players to feed their captured animals in order to harvest the rare minerals they produce in larger quantities -- a feature that is almost useless in its current state due to the low quantity of "output" from most species. The creature generator could even be utilized to allow players to capture and breed animals, creating new species to scan or produce specific resources.
Then there’s hunting and killing animals. Currently there’s no real benefit to killing animals. Changing this so that special items or resources can be harnessed from hunting certain species makes their presence more relevant, making them more than just additional scenery.
For a game about travelling through space, the actual space travel is surprisingly bland and pointless. In its current state, it would almost be more entertaining to cut space out entirely and just have players jump directly from planet to planet. Fortunately, there are changes that can be made to make outer space more relevant and engaging.
There are currently 3 things to do in outer space: mine asteroids, visit space stations/Atlas stations, and engage in space combat. Unfortunately, mining is rarely necessary, space stations don’t offer much that isn’t available from planetary trading posts, and the flight controls are too limited to make space combat very engaging.
Fortunately, all 3 of these elements can be improved. Asteroid mining merely needs to be a little more complex. If asteroids came in a larger variety of size and shape, with some even big enough to land on, mining might be more interesting than simply blasting space rocks. Space stations should be destructible (for those that are into destroying civilian outposts) and allow players to stash items in storage lockers. And space combat could be made far more interesting by improving flight controls and making shooting down enemy ships completely salvageable or recoverable, increasing the incentive to engage in dogfights.
With 4 factions, each with unique culture, aesthetic, and language, No Man’s Sky’s faction system appears to be in-depth on the surface, but many players were disappointed once they started playing only to find that the factions are incredibly simplistic and have minimal impact on the rest of the game.
The biggest issue with factions is that it’s too easy to max out your status with each of them, yet that status doesn’t give much of a benefit. It should take longer to develop status within each faction, but some tasks should also come at the cost of reputation with another faction, forcing players to either focus on only one faction or navigate diplomacy between each faction.
Giving bigger incentives to join a particular faction will also drastically improve the system. This can be manifested in discounts at specific space stations, ship or equipment bonuses, or any perks of achieving a high relationship status with a particular group.
For how prevalent NPCs are in No Man’s Sky, you’d think they’d be more relevant to the game. As they are now, it would make more sense if they were replaced with AI holograms, abandoned robots, interactive data archives, or some other sort of static information. Like the factions they belong to, the NPCs don’t offer any additional complexity to the game, and interactions with them tend to be overly simplistic.
NPCs could easily be far more relevant and add a new facet to the game if they made more complex demands from the player. They could ask players to eliminate nearby sentinels, scan local flora or fauna, kill aggressive creatures, collect specific resources, or any other number of mini missions. In return, they would also give better rewards, making interactions with them more enticing than the shield recharges or language assistance they currently provide. As it stands, NPCs are less important to the process of exploring a planet than beacons are, so they should either be fewer and farther between, or they should actually resemble intelligent life.
No Man’s Sky has what appears to be a complex crafting system, but it’s implemented in a way that seems to simply be complicated solely for the sake of being complicated. Items can be crafted after the recipe is learned, but many recipes are several layers deep, and each time the item is crafted, every single item needs to be manually crafted one at a time to reach the final product.
Streamlining the selection of resources down to a more condensed variety of elements would greatly enhance the crafting process. For example, each item is derived from certain combination of basic elements (currently: oxides, silicates, isotopes, neutral, and precious), where the same combination of element types results in production of the same item, but the quality of the item is determined by the quality of element used. This would result in a system where players are actually encouraged to experiment with elemental combinations.
In addition to crafting being overly complex, it’s unnecessarily tedious. It’s understandable for blueprints to be required and for each step in the process to mandate that the player manually assemble each component, but it doesn’t make sense for it to require the complete process to be followed each and every time that item is crafted. This becomes especially tedious for items that are crafted on a regular basis, like Warp Fuel.
There are two ways to improve this. The first is implementing crafting shortcuts, which is pretty self explanatory: once an item is crafted, it can be crafted again from an established template with a single button press, provided all necessary ingredients are in inventory. The second way mostly benefits high use items, like Bypass Chips. Bypass chips are rarely used just one at a time, yet they must be crafted one at a time. Using the existing crafting process, but allowing crafting to be done in batches, would make those high use items far less tedious to produce, making the entire crafting process far less frustrating.
Hello Games claims there are multiple ways to play the game, one of which is as a trader. With such a diversity of resources and frequent access to trading posts, there is definitely a great foundation to enable play as a trader, but the in-game economics appear to be static, allowing traders to basically just spam trading posts for unlimited units.
The fix to this one is incredibly straighforward, and has been present in most games with an economic system for decades. The value of each item merely needs to be based on rarity, and it should adjust dynamically. For example, plutonium can be sold at a premium at a particular trader, but the value gradually decreases as more plutonium is sold until the sale is no longer beneficial. This effect can also be designed to have a residual effect to nearby systems along a trading route, requiring players to be more diverse in their play-through instead of merely exploiting a fixed economy.
For a game that depends so much on flight, the flying mechanics in No Man’s Sky are surprisingly rigid. Inner atmospheric flight seems severely handicapped in an effort to stop players from crashing, and space flight also seems to be lacking in maneuverability -- even in fighter class ships. This system doesn’t just make flying feel clumsy, but makes it undesirable altogether. It causes many players to resort to flight as a necessary evil when it should be enjoyable on its own.
If the goal is to avoid making flight too frustrating by allowing crashes, this goal can still be accomplished with a smaller buffer. As it is now, skimming the surface of a planet, or just exploration in general, is impractical from a ship. Flying low or circling an area is so difficult that the game will typically force players to land to examine an area up close when a cursory flyover would have been sufficient if it was possible.
As one of the larger elements of the game, Sentinels seem surprisingly out of place, functioning as little more than slightly more aggressive animals. Considering the Sentinels play a large part in the lore of the game -- particularly for the Vy-keen -- it only makes sense to add more gameplay focused on Sentinels.
The biggest way to make them more relevant is to allow players to work toward eliminating the Sentinel presence on each planet. This could be done by outright killing hundreds of sentinels, destroying a number of facilities to take down their infrastructure, or destroying a central base/production facility.
While this would add a major new facet to the game, it makes a lot of sense, as it would add more player ownership over the planets they discover and name. It could also be tied into the faction system, which (if reworked as already mentioned) could give players major faction bonuses from the dominant faction on any liberated planet.
One of the more irritating aspects of the game is the fact that it’s not very easy to keep track of where you’ve been. Sure, you can name almost anything you come across, but there’s no means by which to differentiate any locations you’ve visited unless you give your planets names like “This Is The One With All The Chrysonite.” Discoveries should include a notes section so players can keep their own log (maybe even visible to other explorers) so they can review which planets are rich in which resources and any other useful or quirky information.
In addition to being able to keep notes, players should have the ability to add custom waypoints, or at least have means of keeping track of specific planetary locations, such as latitude and longitude. As it is now, discovering resource rich areas or downed ships requires players to park their ship and use their ship to find their way back. But what if you need to go sell your resources or collect a specific resource that isn’t available near a crashed ship? If you don’t have a photographic memory for the planet’s topography, you’ll be hard pressed to ever find your way back.
Some planets can be beautiful, but outside of the basic quests to gather materials, there seems to be very little to actually explore. Sure, there’s sometimes fun (or terrifying) flora and fauna, but most planets are severely lacking in interesting geologic formations, complex caves and caverns, or anything else worth exploring. It seems like the only reason to explore is to locate additional resources, adding to the repetitive and monotonous nature of the game.
The previously mentioned planetary diversity and climate zones could improve this, but the planet generation process needs to create more natural landmarks. Minecraft is really good at this in its world generation, and many players find a lot more fulfillment in exploring the world, or finding vast networks of interconnecting caverns, in that game. Sure, the end goal in No Man's Sky is always going to be resource collection or some other similar objective, but that doesn’t mean the process of resource collection can’t be a little more varied and engaging.
No Man’s Sky is marketed as a game where players can make their own way in the galaxy -- not just in terms of selecting their own route from A to B, but also in how they generate an income. The problem is, every “profession” still requires players to spend a lot of time collecting resources. Sure, as a trader you can exploit the broken trading system to your heart’s content, but that’s really just spamming an exploit, not actually trading.
The key to diversifying the professions lies not only in fixing broken economic/trading system, but also in creating more variety in side tasks/quests, increasing rewards for side quests, and providing a means for players to track resource values in nearby systems. There’s also not much of a benefit to space combat. Shooting down other ships doesn’t yield much in return for your effort, dashing the hopes of would-be space pirates everywhere. Simply increasing the rewards in this area would drastically change the dynamic of the game.
While No Man’s Sky doesn’t have traditional cutscenes, most significant moments (and many not so significant moments) are highlighted by these sort of cinematic vignettes where the HUD fades away, some music plays, and some text congratulating you for your success is displayed across the screen: “Journey Milestone Accomplished."
The problem is, these cinematic moments restrict certain player actions without stopping events in the game. Besides being a frustrating interruption the 500th time you activate a beacon, it’s also incredibly irritating if it pops up in the middle of a sentinel fight (which they do on occasion).
This might be more of a nitpick than everything else on this list, but it also has the easiest fix. The thinking behind the cinematic effect makes sense. It’s a beautiful game, and marking your travels with moments like these is cool. They simply need to be fixed so they aren’t so intrusive to gameplay and never happen during any sort of combat.
This one might be a bit of a stretch, but the addition of a multiplayer function to No Man’s Sky would drastically improve the quality of the game. The game is supposed to be persistent across all instances, so all players are already hypothetically already playing in the same universe -- it’s just next to impossible for players to actually meet up.
It apparently isn’t impossible for two players to be in the same place on the same planet, but any sort of cooperative play is strictly out of bounds at this point. Even if meeting up continues to be next to impossible, simply adding the hope of being able to actually be able to play alongside a friend (if you can manage to find each other in this massive, massive universe) would potentially inspire hours and hours of co-op gameplay for more ambitious gamers looking to explore the universe with a buddy in tow.
One great component of No Man’s Sky is the abundance of destructible environments. While there’s a lot of opportunity for improvement in this regard (as mentioned already), it's nice that most objects can be destroyed, and cave walls and the ground can be blasted away as you explore each planet -- even if it doesn’t all actually yield resources.
The destructible environments only apply to the natural elements of each planet -- man-made objects like buildings and downed ships don’t count. Sure, you can salvage some of the upgrades on a downed ship, but the resources that yields hardly make it worthwhile. If a player goes through the effort of tracking down a ship only to find it isn’t worth exchanging it for their current ride, there should still be a reward for the effort. Being able to completely dismantle the discovery for some rarer resources will make seeking these lost vessels all the more exciting.
The same applies to buildings. Sure, destroying and salvaging occupied buildings could come at a huge cost to your reputation with the associated faction, but that would only provide a much needed nuance to the faction system, as well as incite the fury of the Sentinels.
No Man’s Sky was never billed as a game with a major climax. While the goal is to get to the center of the galaxy or follow the Atlas Path, that wasn’t ever really the point. The real attraction was always marketed as charting new planets, finding unique creatures, gathering resources, crafting, and just general exploration. The problem is, when all of those things aren’t fulfilling in and of themselves, the end game needs to make the tedious and repetitive tasks conducted to get there worthwhile. This might be one of No Man Sky’s biggest failings.
Many players were let down to find that getting to the end of the Atlas Path provided no exciting conclusion to their journey. The Atlas claims that a new star is generated by your efforts, but you aren’t sent to explore it, you aren’t provided the coordinates, and you aren’t even asked to name it. Supposedly, that star is where a new player will start their journey, but the effects of completing this journey are completely unfulfilling for most players.
Getting to the center of the galaxy also fails to deliver any sort of grand reward. Players simply find that they are booted back to the edge of a new galaxy and asked to repeat their journey again -- only to find the same "reward" at the end in each successive completion.
If Hello Games wants gamers to continue playing and recommend that others do the same, the completion of these objectives needs to be more fulfilling. Provide a new technology, a special multi-tool, a unique ship, or something, anything other than the lackluster finale causing many players to shelve the game, finding no value in additional playthroughs.
At the end of the day, No Man's Sky provides a phenomenal foundation for what could become a great game. Many people have found complete satisfaction with the current feature set, but something more is needed to bring back the game's detractors, and these suggestions would be a great start. What do you think of the game? Do you like any of these improvements? Would you like to see any other features added? Let us hear about it in the comments!