5 Reasons Why No Man's Sky Is Probably Going to Be a Big Disappointment

No Man’s Sky isn’t the masterpiece everyone thinks it’ll be.

The faster the hype train is going, the worse the crash will be when people find out it actually sucks. Much is the destiny of No Man’s Sky, the upcoming sci-fi space explorer and adventure game from British developer Hello Games.

The game was teased back in December 2013 and has subsequently seen a plethora of marketing material and coverage by many major outlets. They seem to be suckling on the teat of the game, salivating at the mere sight of its procedurally generated goodness and neat art style, much to the delight of gamers who think No Man’s Sky is going to be the best video game ever made ever. It’s not.

1: Procedural generation

The game’s procedural generation is touted as a high point. In some games procedural generation works to improve the experience and add much-needed variation where it wouldn’t exist otherwise, though almost total reliance on it makes for a game that seems never ending, but will probably get boring fast.

“Exploration is seeing things that no-one else has ever seen before. Every creature, geological formation, plant and spaceship is unique,” is one of the features that it boasted on the game’s official website.

“Unique” is a poor term to describe what we’ll see in the game. Sure, everything might technically be unique, but just because this spaceship has a slightly shifted shade of blue on its hull doesn’t mean it’s really any different from the hundreds of other variants of the same model, with only minor alterations made to be able to claim it’s unique.

The world of No Man’s Sky won’t seem so fantastical once you realise that all procedural generation means is that creatures which inhabit one planet will look marginally different to the ones on the last one you visited, except the water’s pink here, not green. You get the idea, I think.

Unless you’re a colour enthusiast, the variation will stop seeming so great and you’ll start to notice the patterns in how it generates diversity in the game. You’ll be pretty sure you saw the same alien animal on the planet you were on 10 minutes ago, except this one is 50% bigger, has fur instead of scales, and has a very sharp horn on its head.

Isn’t procedural generation just the greatest?

2: Story? What story?

Story and characters are often a key part of any modern video game. They’re the reason many are now considered art and offer something that’s a whole lot deeper than “shoot bad guys until they die”.

Everything we’ve seen and heard of No Man’s Sky indicates we won’t see any kind of actual story or real characters in the game, unless Game Director Sean Murray takes time away from seeing the Matrix to craft something deeper than maths and clever algorithms.

It isn’t Minecraft in Space; it can’t get away with having no discernible story or three dimensional characters inhabit it. We want stories in our games, a reason to push on and see its completion. To my knowledge, No Man’s Sky won’t offer any incentive of the sort and that’s going to be a big letdown for those who want a game that keeps them hooked after the initial few hours of enjoyment.

3: Exploration and mining resources won’t stay fun for long

It’s clear a major—if not the whole—aspect of its gameplay will revolve around exploring the world of No Man’s Sky in your starship, visiting various planetary bodies, mining its resources and fighting off whatever hostile forces you’re faced with.

That’s great and all, but it’s not going to be all that fun when that’s all you do, day in, day out. One could argue that titles like Minecraft could be described as this, though Minecraft lets you create, too.

Unless you have a serious passion for virtual exploration and mining endeavours, it’s hard to see how such gameplay could possibly sustain players’ interest long enough for it to be a worthwhile purchase or to see anyone care enough about it weeks or months after its initial release date.

4: It’s nice, but I wouldn’t want to live there

As I’ve said before, the world of No Man’s Sky will be almost entirely procedurally generated. In layman’s terms this means that a computer chooses where to place things like rocks, trees, plants, lakes and more, shaping the land in a unique way that won’t be repeated elsewhere.

The reason the game is even possible with the comparatively small team at developer Hello Games is because the environments you’ll explore won’t have been crafted by a human hand. Humans will, of course, have designed all the things you see in the world, though the actual level design will have been created by maths and algorithms. The game’s design teams give it a few basic rules so that it doesn’t just create something that makes you feel like you’re having a really bad acid trip. This ensures the basic laws of physics apply, such as the ground being below the sky, terrain formations actually making some kind of sense and making sure too similar things aren’t clustered close together. In the words of Grant Duncan, an artist working on the title: “If you're going to create a universe for people to explore, you've got to make it believable.”

Yes, and that’s all fine and dandy, until you realise that the game is leaving traditional world design behind. No Man’s Sky will be unique, though a computer can’t intelligently create a beautiful and memorable virtual world. Nothing will ever repeat, but it will do so at the cost of offering a place that feels like it has been designed in a purposeful way and with due care and attention.

You won’t remember the details of No Man’s Sky’s world. It’s galaxy-sized, larger than anything we’ve ever seen in any video game before it; that’s a fine achievement and one the team behind the title should be proud of. Sadly, it doesn’t make for a compelling world to explore that enthralls you with its mere existence.

Hello Games won’t be hanging up any awards for best level design in their office anytime soon.

5: Pixel peeping

The world of No Man’s Sky is stunning, I’m not going to lie. The art style that has been chosen for the game is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a video game before. In that respect, it is truly unique—no sarcasm or sly jabs at procedural generation here.

That being said, things don’t look great up-close. Planets will look amazing as you’re approaching in your super awesome, procedurally generated starship, though delusions of grandeur will evaporate when you reach the surface and realise the world isn’t as pretty as you thought.

Graphics don’t make a game, but this article isn’t about critiquing No Man’s Sky; it’s about looking at things from the point of view of fans eager to get their hands on the game. The hype surrounding it has been immense, and I mean immense. Running on Sony’s current-gen console, the PlayStation 4, and PC, most people aren’t going to be blown away by the game’s graphical prowess.

Final thoughts

No Man’s Sky has got to be the most hyped game of recent years, if not ever. Developer Hello Games’ fancy promo clips showing off its expansive landscapes, unique world, style and gameplay aren’t going to help it when it finally hits shelves and people realise that the expectation is far superior to the reality.

This isn’t the first time hype for a game has gone awry, either. Visions of the infamous Dead Island trailer come to mind and how, for all its awesomeness, developer Techland weren’t able to deliver on the promise and hype generated around what could have been and what gamers expected.

More recently, Bungie’s Destiny was so hyped that everyone thought it was going to be the next best first-person shooter coming from the devs that made the acclaimed Halo series of video games. Sadly, this wasn’t the case, though many still enjoy Destiny as a good FPS, but not as a masterpiece it was once thought to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I doubt No Man’s Sky is going to be a bad game by any means, but it’s not going to be the greatest gaming achievement of all time by any stretch of the imagination. Some aspects of the game are to be praised, of course, given the small team behind the title. However, the package as a whole is likely to be a huge letdown for gamers hyped to play it. What is being shown off by the devs is the highlights, something akin to the climatic sequences seen in first-person shooters.

The reality? You’ll probably just be exploring lifeless, boring planets, with only the native wildlife to talk to, like you’re Tom Hanks in Cast Away. No Man’s Sky will surely keep you enthralled for the first few hours, but will soon offer very little stimulation to keep you from slapping a far more enjoyable video game into your disc tray or starting up a digital download.

The more they’re hyped, the harder they’ll fall. And No Man’s Sky is going to fall face first into a big pool of mud while the Internet is going to collectively post sad face emoticons and spamming Sean Murray’s inbox with hate mail.


Daniel Price is a freelance video game journalist. He’s a major survival horror genre lover, XCOM fanatic and tea enthusiast.

Published Aug. 4th 2017
  • Sharkman_5465
    All the people hating ferociously on this article are the very same who will be sending hate mail.
  • caboose223
    So this guy is shredding this game he probably doesn't know anything about. If you hate this game so much, or think it will suck so bad, its simple..... dont buy it.
  • Eisenanal
    This article is a train wreck all in itself. Reading though it and taking notice of how the author is talking tells me that this article is an attack on the game itself not just constructive criticism. No thought was put into this article on how it is going to be a disappointment. This is a bare bone argument, the author has more than likely not done his/her research on the topic before presenting it to the public. The sci-fi game industry and open world category is currently booming to meet the expectations of consumers. On current gen consoles such as the Xbox One and the PS4 games of these types will not be able to run on them due to lack of processing power and storage. These games are better preforming on PC. Minecraft for example, which is what some people relate to No Man's Sky, has a set area for the player to build and explore with console versions. On the other hand the PC version is infinite until the computer cannot take any more which could be easily fixed through upgrading. With the price of a console you as a consumer could buy a decently fit computer that could run the desired games. With the games hype people are expecting it to be a huge failure. No Man's Sky is one of the pioneers of the gaming industry with the price at 59.99$ being in the "AAA" sections of games. The hype was never intended, the game was advertised as any other game with showing its features and major points. The hype was put on by the people that want the game. Its setbacks proved to produce more hype than decrease it. Again, this was never intended by Hello Games. What really is confusing is the authors standpoint on the "Story." Every game has a story, even if it doesn't end past the story there is still one flaw. Every single game with a story ends suddenly. Skyrim for example, the story was a very long and fun experience but after it ended what will you do? The addition of DLC added another portion of the story but that eventually ended. The more popular games such as the Black Ops franchise expect to be left on a cliffhanger or just to switch to multiplayer. With No Man's Sky there is no story. There is no need for a story in this game is you write your own. You can be more than just an explorer or a trader. You could make your way to the center of the galaxy and many players will choose to do that and just stop. The section "It's nice, but I wouldn't want to live there" is exactly what someone with no thought on sci-fi games would say. The author expects No Man's Sky to be something right out of fiction with no science. The game works on the laws of physics and uses them to produce a correct planet and galaxy. I wouldn't want to land on a planet and find that there is floating trees and wizards running around making black holes. I want to see something that actually makes sense not something completely idiotic. With the art style of the game I was blown away. Seeing the game actually takes notice of the power of what you are playing on is stunning. The planets are made so it will produce an low resolution looking planet at first. The game requires you to actually fly around a planet to load it so it will not overload your system and cause the game to preform poorly. If the author would actually take time and do some easy research, the interviews and developers actually point this out. The whole article was a sloppy mess. No one but who the developers choose can play the game and seeing this website puts a bad name on Hello Games, it does not look like a copy will be coming any time soon. The timing on the article could not be worse. New hopeful players looking to buy No Man's Sky will see this train wreck of an article and lower their expectations. I understand I am reading this article 3 months from when it was published but it is better to wait before throwing your opinion to the public.
  • Drewzkeet
    Poorly written. Invest in your education.
  • Prusch
    The article should be "5 ignorant and stupid reasons why no no mans sky is probably going to be a big disappoinment..to the author.". Really, wtf I just read? When you write about something, you should KNOW about it or at least search about it. You don´t even know how the game works, what people are expecting, how far the game can go.

    First of all, you are a dick. Call people suckers it just shows you are a ignorant kid.

    1) Procedural Generation: It was used to help 12 people to create this huge game. NO ONE could create an universe this big developing each pixel of it. And NO, it´s not only colours that will change. I agree that maybe after sometime things will get similar. But the REAL WORLD it´s similar, earth at some point gets similar places, and the universe too! But they´re working hard for more than 3 years to give the game variety. Just because the things you saw were not so varied, doesnt mean that everything will be the same. Each planet will be unique. You´ll need to have a LONG JOURNEY to see your first alien creature and living things, so, it´s not like you´re going to see several animals and creatures and a varied planet each time you travel to a new planet. Thins will be boring mostly, just as our universe. But at sometime you´ll start to discover things and be excited for it.

    STORY: You are a fucking sucker if you still need someone to say to you: go there, bring me 10 blue flowers, come here, kill this guy. NMS is art, is a complete universe that you will join and make your own journey. You just...are not smart enough to get it.

    OK I´m just tired to write to you, jus´t stay far away from NMS. You will never get it.
  • Daniel_6714
    This is a bit presumptious, don't you think? Personally, I believe No Man's Sky WILL be the best game to come out of 2016 and even the last 10-15 years. For such an idiotic review... Geez... You sure seem like you did your homework. Your main jab trying to poke fun at "procedurally generated" and your second focusing on something you have no clue about. You cannot say that No Man's Sky has no 3 dimensional characters or that there is no story line simply because the developers have chosen to try to keep some aspects of the game a secret. In the end, you have never played it. I doubt you have watched anything beyond IGN's cover story of it and it feels like you think you have something to gain in your continued assertions that the game will flop. Stick to games you actually know
  • KonstantinMKD
    The vast majority of the negative arguments you got for this article are baseless: they bash on you for not liking/not being hyped for the game as much as they are, and than deciding to put your views in an article!
    You are certainly entitled to not appreciating any given game as much as others!
    Also, your standpoint that proceduraly generated uniqueness isn't a synonym for memorability cannot be more accurate IMHO. Furthermore, I fully agree with the statement that there is a trend of overhyping upcoming titles, who really offer nothing to back up the tons of attention directed their way. In short, what we're dealing with in this case (with No Man's Sky) is not unlike a similar case of overhyping an average upcoming title, which we all had the privilege to witness a mere couple of years ago.
    Of course, I'm referring to Watch Dogs, that colossal disappointment that failed to live up to even 10% of the expectation, pumped-up sky high thanks to sites like IGN and Gamespot... So, only 2-3 years later, we are facing an eerily similar case with NMS... That's mainstream gaming for you...
    So, please don't abide to the pressure of the negative comments from this supposed "critics". and keep on publishing your thoughts in a form of well written, well conceived articles like this one.
  • Mike_1306
    It's not minecraft in space but o how i wish it was.... No crafting or building ? Exploring aimlessly is only so fun for so long... Sure you may have the goal to get to the middle but after awhile wont it just seem like work? There's some cool and unique things with it i can admit and im sure it will be fun but for how long? Come on...
  • John_2166
    I can't believe someone would pay for this article. Your reasons are based on things you yourself admit you like the look of, then decide you're too pessimistic to accept for what it's described as. This article seriously sounds like sponsored content for elite dangerous or one of those story based procedural space games.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    Put down the pitch forks everyone haha.
  • Mizzurawar
    So here we sit, 6 months from supposed release and nobody at game skinny has played this title but it's already fail central? You sound like a bratty child saying that if you can't have it your way then you'll just sit and pout? Come on man, I know you have to contribute to this world somehow but this vomit you spew is just sad.
    Take a second to step outside this tiny little box you've created for yourself and open your mind to something a little new and promising. Hold your judgement until you've spent some time. Then whine all you want.
    No story? There is no handholding story to force you forward like many games. You are dropped onto a planet and told to make do. So now we have some survival elements which many find they can create their own story. Also elements of history of cultures or tech can be found when exploring ruins, crashed ships etc. so instead of expecting a long drawn out story someone created and likely people skip through anyway ala WOW (skips all story cuz it's just too much story).
    So you can't build a base. This is not designed to be Minecraft you so often reference. So many places to go you won't have patience to build a base everywhere you go. Think of it has touring around the universe in an RV. You live in your ship I guess.
    Look man I'm super stoked about this game and I can't wait to drop in. I play all types of games because I keep an open mind about different ways of playing content. I never beat Skyrim because I was too busy exploring for months and years on end and I still enjoy it. I modded the hell out of it because I tire of the same old experiences that major companies try to feed us. By the way, your profile says you like to play FPS games? How many times did you complete story mode for any of those games then replay it again? Hand crafted stories never change and its always the same. Time to write your own story in No Mans Sky 😏.
  • Johny depp
    I disagree with mainly #2. Do you know how many times Sean was seen on YouTube explaning that this game wasn't meant for a story. You are literally taking one of the key points of the game and turning it against the game itself. If people wanted a game with story mode then why would they buy the game in the first place. This game is supposed to be something different. If you want the same style over and over then had that. But don't go trying to psych everyone else out to keep playing the same.boring games with stupid reasons like this.
  • GameSkinny Staff
    I have to agree with #3 on this list, that's my biggest concern. I'm sure it'll be a great, novel game - and likely a huge technical wonder that really shows off what the PS4 can do.... but I worry that too much focus is being placed on the technical aspects that the game itself might not be any fun. The history of console exclusives is littered with technically impressive showpieces that failed to deliver a gripping game.
  • Jim Layhe
    All i gotta say is... What was the point of Noby Noby Boy?
  • Sarge_6299
    Wow. I have 2 nephews who have been playing every version of CoD each weekend since the first game come out. I don't play it myself because I never see any storyline elements or well-rounded, 3 dimensional character NPCs in their gameplay, so it must be a total fail as far as videogame titles go, like those over-hyped Skyrim/Fallout games were.
  • Mike_1306
    are competitive and are action filled... Sure its the same shoot him then shoot the next guy but the competitive side is what it's about... Don't be silly
  • Lodi _4874
    You give an extensive opinion, for someone who has never played the game.
  • Dylan_9344
    Bahaha most hyped game ever? WTF you smoking? Plus your really reaching for ideas why this game might suck. Don't get me wrong, I doubt it'll be amazing. But still, that whole procedural rant was so offbase, nutjob.

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