Usually before I go to bed, for an hour or so. Idly poking around planets, finding stuff to beef up my weapon or suit or ship, chatting with aliens. Except for I’ve decided to head for the center of the galaxy, so maybe I’ll be “done” soon, whatever that means. This is mostly to pass along tips and share pix.
It’s an easy game · Seriously. Yes there are skills you need to learn, and you’ll die a few times until you learn them. But dying is penalty-free, because you can meander back to your grave and recover your stuff. Well, unless you can’t — maybe it’s on a wildly toxic planet, or you died in an underwater cave. But even then, you can usually recover your status reasonably easily.
That’s why it’s good before bed: Low stress, pretty pixels, occasional flashes of wonder.
Land travel · You can get add-ons to increase your stamina (how long you can run) and jetpack efficiency. I recommend making this a priority, because they’ll make it so much easier to get anything else you want, planet-side. The basic technique goes like this: You go into run mode, then when your stamina is getting low (and ideally on an up-hill) you hit the jetpack, which keeps you moving forward at a running speed. By the time your jet’s empty, your stamina will be back.
The jetpack investment also pays off in time, the time you don’t spend climbing down into canyons and back up the other side. With +5 or so in enhancements, there are very few gaps you can’t fly across.
Your ship and your suit · Many have pointed out that a lot of NMS is about inventory management. Increasing your ship inventory is difficult and time-consuming, and at the end of the day really not worth it; my own ship doesn’t even have 30 slots. But I don’t care, because I maxed out my suit, and that leaves me enough room for basically everything I need, even while carrying around ten Atlas Stones.
Buying a good ship costs tens of millions; to swap up to one is hours of grinding back and forth planetside. I never had more than 4 million in money, mostly from gold and this one planet full of venom sacs, and I got my suit maxed out pretty quick.
Which weapons? · On the ground, you have a boltcaster, a mining beam, and a “plasma launcher”, where by “plasma” they mean “grenade”. Throw away the boltcaster. Load up on mining mods to speed up those necessary harvesting tasks, but don’t use it as a weapon. Those grenades are all you need. They blow anything away, and with super-satisfying sound and visuals too. Well, almost anything; I once got a planet so pissed at me that they sent a huge Imperial Walker thing and yeah, he took a few grenades and still stomped me.
The other thing about the plasma launcher is that you can dig right through mountains with it. Or, more important, back out of that cave you got lost in.
Atlas · I took the Atlas Path and that was the only place I found myself visiting Some Other Man’s Sky. In particular someone named OMGkristy had been to almost every planet along the path; oddly, this bothered me.
But you get to meet Nada and Polo, who have a fun albeit limited repertoire, and the Atlas Interface stations are cool, and when I get bored with the game, I will be able to birth a new star, as one does.
Pirates · The transition between they-get-you-every-time and you-usually-blow-them-away was pretty abrupt for me. I recommend ignoring the Photon Cannon and just using the beam weapon; it has auto-aim. Until you get a fast-cooldown mod or two you have to feather intensely because overheat. These days, when they attack me in open space they’re dead meat. The distress-signal freighter fights are more intense and fun, and I lost the last one I was in because the freighter turned against me; I assume I must have shot it accidentally while blazing away at the pirates? When both sides in a fight are against you, well sayonara.
Anyhow, the visuals are great and apparently the pirates are Orcs whom one can shoot without moral qualms about how their spouses and children are gonna make the rent; the best kind of adversary.
Here’s another write-up by a person around my age, who points out that the game succeeds brilliantly at replicating the feel of classic twentieth-century SciFi paperback covers, and maybe that’s enough.
Finally, this game is a huge platform with lots of room to drop in new content and game-play and surprises. I’ll probably give it up soon but come back to visit in a few months.
News supply · Once a day, I glance at /r/NoMansSkyTheGame, and find out if there’s anything new that might improve the evening’s sojourn. Whatever you think of Reddit, it works.
The controversy · But also, it stinks. Something like 50% of all NMS online discourse is “They promised us more! I want my money back! Still playing? You’re a lame excuse for a human, hope you die neener neener!”
Well, I didn’t read much aside from that New Yorker story before starting, and I sure got my money’s worth. Yeah, there are lots of places where the game is kind of sketched in, but still, there’s a lot of there there. Among which I’ll mention: The alien-races narrative, the flight mechanics, the learn-the-words game, the Atlas-Interface sounds, the fantastic plants, the ludicrous animals, the fractal landscapes, the cool way pirates flame out when you get ’em, and the starship designs (my own is has a strong Millennium-Falcon influence, with a droid socketed on one wing).
Which aliens? · I think we can all agree that the Vy’Keen are pretty well Space Fascist Scum. The Gek apparently have an unfortunate history of starting galactic wars but hey, let’s not be fussy, they’re sort of adorable. And while the Korvax seem to be post-Singularity intelligences downloaded into cybernetic hosts, I still kinda like them. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right; but I do dream of stroking that reptilian Gek skin; and their goggle-things are to die for.
Fave planet · It’s in Star System “T. Bray System 00032” and it’s called “T. Bray 00042 freezy”. [I’ll pause while you admire my mad naming skillz.] “00042 freezy” is a severe challenge, notably including temperatures that regularly drop to -90°C and make your shield bar drift down visibly. But there’s a grand reward: Chrysonite outcrops growing bright-blue everywhere. The number of useful recipes that include Chrysonite is just not to be believed.
That was the only time in this game, so far, that I was hunched over the controller moving lizard-fast, cursing wasted seconds working around a mountain, glancing nervously at my shield-recharger supply, scanning the landscape feverishly for zinc plants. There are a few, but not quite enough; go in charged up.
But mostly, it’s just those landscapes, and flying planet-to-planet.