Say what you will about this year’s revamped VGX event – with its odd couple hosting, old school editing and Nintendo-based trolling — the fact remains that on a night supposedly dedicated to increasingly sidelined awards, the show produced only one standout winner. No Man’s Sky, the latest effort from Joe Danger developer Hello Games, appeared out of the murky depths of anonymity to soar well clear of its console competition. Where the likes of Tomb Raider, Titanfall and The Division showed up content to rev their engines, No Man’s Sky hit lightspeed straight out of the gate and refused to look back.
Developed by a tiny team of four, based in Surrey, Southern England, the expansive exploration sim combines elements of first-person gunplay, aerial dog fighting and old-school sci-fi mystique to create a truly unique title. Since the unveil a few more in-depth previews have released, offering more details on the ambitious game.
Having already touched upon a number of influences during the VGX extravaganza, developers Sean Murray and David Ream have been sitting down with Polygon this week, to offer a more fleshed out account of the upcoming space opera.
“We want the future to be cool again”, argues Ream. Unlike the majority of modern science fiction with its grim, gritty visions of tomorrow, No Man’s Sky has more in common with the genre as it existed back in the 1960s, when notions of outer space travel enjoyed an almost limitless, exotic and dangerous reputation. One look at the game in action reveals the inspiration of these dusty, much-loved tomes, as well as their pulpy-looking book covers.
Murray goes on to reiterate and expand upon some of the themes covered in his brief VGX interview, stating that every constellation – including associated planets, moons and so forth – is created procedurally, with each containing a viable, ‘living’ ecosystem. By discovering new locations, players effectively chart the galaxy, allowing others to drop in and check out a new world and its associated resources. The developer also hints that players can have a marked effect on these landscapes, with buildings, battles and terraforming efforts likely, but not yet confirmed.
Like real space travel, Murray argues that progress in No Man’s Sky requires a great deal of “intelligence, imagination and co-operation,” as the game casually shepherds players towards the center of the universe. As for potential platforms, Hello Games’ is remaining tight-lipped about just where the exciting title might end up, stating only that:
“Next-gen is empowering us […] the new consoles are really good. But most of the games we have seen feel like experiences you could have had with the last generation. They have next-gen graphics but we are more interested in creating next-gen gameplay.”
It’s fitting that a title revolving around space-aged pioneers should be doing so much to push boundaries, expelling outdated conceptions of gameplay as well as the limits of small-scale development. With the first wave of 8th generation titles doing little more than beefing up the 7th-gen stock, Hello Games is attempting something truly unusual: to expand our horizons in the most literal and figurative senses.
Can Hello Games’ expansive premise inspire more large-scale indie efforts? What part of the No Man’s Sky experience are you most looking forward to: pioneer gun battles, aerial dogfights, or exploring the cosmos? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest No Man’s Sky news, right here on Game Rant.
No Man’s Sky has yet to receive a prospective release date and/or platform(s).
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.