The expectations for No Man’s Sky were so astronomically high, that the game had very little chance of coming even close to meeting them. It turned out to be the equivalent of a lukewarm bath, not unpleasant, but it did very little to keep you from leaving. The Forge update has added a couple of hooks, such as base building, the ability to recruit a team and also huge freighters that can be bought; even so, the game still seems to be missing essential sections that could make it an amazing experience.
The first time I played No Man’s Sky, everything seemed fresh. You awake from a downed space ship with no knowledge of your surroundings. You explore, mine resources and repair your faithful vessel. Leaving the planets atmosphere and seeing the gigantic orb of 100% explorable land behind you does stir up awe and wonder, the same goes for the first time you meet a fellow sentient being, it comes as a real shock after exploring empty lands single-handed. Then there are gigantic structures in space, trade posts and Atlas anomalies, almost everything you experience for the first time in No Man’s Sky is beautiful, but with the core rinse, wash, repeat style, these events have diminishing returns, and everything soon becomes routine and boring.
The additions to the Forge update sparked a little interest, but again, these too became old pretty quick. You can build only one base, own one freighter and pilot one ship, so if you find a planet with more abundant resources, or a ship with a few extra inventory slots, you will readily trade in your old wares without hesitation. This lack of connection with your items is just one of the games problems, but with nothing connecting you to the universe, the game can’t set its hooks in you. Why not be able to build more than one base like Fallout 4, or own multiple vehicles and customize your favorites like GTA4? There are many missed opportunities in the game that seem painfully obvious.
Furthermore, whilst there are several alien species throughout the universe, each of which have a variety of appearances, it becomes obvious very quickly one species deals in money, another in information and the last in battle-prowess. You can almost guess what any NPC is going to say before you even engage in conversation. Even the laziest of sandbox games will have at least one companion you connect with, but with No Man’s Sky you feel alone, surrounded by oddly generic sounding characters.
No Man’s Sky is a commendably gigantic game and the wonder of exploration may keep you entertained for a good few hours, but the proceedings become so routine that you can almost see the code keeping everything going, which rips you out of the game and makes it near impossible to get back in. If you see it second hand in a bargain bin, it may keep you entertained for a weekend, but it is not worth its regular price tag.