No Man’s Sky VR: Hope or Hype

No Man's Sky VR - Hope or Hype?

Interest in virtual reality has been on a steady decline for some time. There’s no question that a lack of that “must have” VR app or a virtual experience with genuine replayability has been at the heart of this slump. We’ve been dazzled by new and very promising looking Standalone headsets and other hardware set for release in 2019 but until recently, the content consumers can readily enjoy in VR has turned out to be lackluster at best. Will a recent surge of promising PS VR titles turn the tide? Will No Man’s Sky VR live up to the hype and usher in a new era of virtual users? There’s a very good chance it will.

No Man's Sky - Hello Games
No Man’s Sky | Hello Games

No Man’s Sky VR

Let’s be honest; there are only so many virtual roller coasters you can go on and most VR games we’ve seen are light on content, to say the least. Unless you’ve discovered the depraved glory of VR porn, the headset you spent all your money on back in 2017 is probably gathering dust on your desk. That’s okay because there’s still hope and it might come from the PS VR. No Man’s Sky Beyond is the next big update for the title and it’s planned for release in Summer of 2019. For those who are unfamiliar with No Man’s Sky, this is the little game that dreamed big and thanks to the perseverance of Hello Games, has become a beloved cult classic. As a player, you’re marooned in a massive galaxy and how you write your epic sci-fi opera from there is completely up to you.

Exploration Class Spacecraft - No Man's Sky
Explorer Class Spacecraft | No Man’s Sky

The No Man’s Sky experience is focused on exploration but if you want to micromanage fleets of intergalactic merchant ships, dabble in stellar cartography or become a mercenary for hire, well that’s your call Space Cowboy! The hype surrounding No Man’s Sky was absolutely intense prior to the game’s original launch in August 2016.

No Man’s Sky Gameplay | Hello Games

Developers and media alike praised the concept, design and the virtually limitless opportunity for discovery. Unfortunately, the game failed to live up to early expectations and the fate of this procedurally-generated universe became uncertain.

Space Station - No Man's Sky
Space Station | No Man’s Sky

After a series of successful updates, the folks at Hello Games added a ton of new content to the game and successfully sparked renewed interest in their creation. Giving players a different perspective and a new way to enjoy the wonders of the No Man’s Sky universe was the next obvious step. Unlike other studios producing VR game content, No Man’s Sky VR is the full game, not a light-weight port or empty shell of the original.

Discussing Intergalactic Trade Disputes - No Man's Sky
Discussing Intergalactic Trade Disputes

PS VR Players will enjoy the same depth they’d get outside of virtual reality and interact with others playing with or without a VR headset. Grab your PS VR because you’ll be skipping around scanning and naming plants, minerals, and critters all over the place… Scientific nomenclature is fun!

Colossus Exocraft - No Man's Sky
Colossus Exocraft | No Man’s Sky

The game’s mechanics and art style are a perfect match for current gen VR headsets like the PS VR. The PS Move controls adapt easily to a title that has already proven itself on leading game consoles. The unique visuals and splendor found around every corner make you want to explore this universe and have spawned a whole community of players actively sharing screenshots like vacation photos. The whole thing has a retro super-science kinda’ look and we simply can’t think of a better venue for spending time in VR.

No Man’s Sky Beyond Update

No Man’s Sky Beyond introduces an array of new features and elements to the core game. In addition to making the game VR-ready for PS VR users, online multiplayer is about to open up in a whole new way. Up until the most recent update, players can join others in their galactic adventures but the experience often felt limited. This next update will make the online experience more robust and in line with multiplayer options in other AAA titles.

Gathering Resources - No Man's Sky
Gathering Resources | No Man’s Sky

Gallivanting around the cosmos in virtual reality is the real meat and potatoes of the Beyond update. No Man’s Sky is absolutely perfect for VR as the vast majority of the gameplay translates to virtual reality so damned well. During your adventures, you’ll fly an array of spaceships, be able to land on any planet or moon you come across, traverse the landscape for resources and even interact with a plethora of animals, companions and other forms of life.

While playing in third-person for any of it is often the default option in No Man’s Sky, the game works extremely well from a first-person perspective. Piloting spacecraft, your Exocraft or simply blasting around in a jetpack feels and looks great in any view.

Nomad Exocraft - No Man's Sky
Nomad Exocraft | No Man’s Sky

Jumping into your spaceship to actually look down and see your joystick and throttle controls is an amazing thing. Using these controls to then liftoff and take to the skies and then right out of the atmosphere is a feeling that’s hard to recreate. The beauty of No Man’s Sky is the way the developers made a procedurally-generated universe feel alive, vibrant and with near seamless travel and exploration.

Hauler Class Spacecraft - No Man's Sky
Hauler Class Spacecraft | No Man’s Sky

Once you’re strapped in a VR headset, the impressive scale of each planet, rock outcrop, and stalk of alien vegetation can be fully appreciated. Some menu options and the base building functions can feel a little clunky and unforgiving at times but we’re optimistic the PS VR controls can adapt and overcome.

Gek Merchant - No Man's Sky
Gek Merchant | No Man’s Sky

After sinking many, many an hour into the game, we suggest playing in Survival mode to get that authentic, “in space, no one can hear you scream” feeling. There are moments in No Man’s Sky when your Rocket Robin Hood skills fail you and panic sets in. If you’ve left your copy of The Hitchhikers’ Guide at the last Space Station, you could find yourself carelessly running out of oxygen or another valuable resource. Experiencing this same sense of unknown, adventure and dread in VR sounds absolutely delightful in an oddly masochistic sort of way.

Above and Beyond

The future is looking promising for Hello Games and for VR gaming. We really need to commend the good folks at Hello Games for sticking with it and really doing everything they could to add value to the game. All this hard work and dedication is probably the best recent example of a developer going above and beyond to satisfy their fans. Our thanks go to Sean Murray and everyone involved. Congrats on your success… You’ve come a long way since Joe Danger.

Thumbs Up! - No Man's Sky
Thumbs Up!

No Man’s Sky and by extension, the Beyond update might be the ideal candidate to fuel interest in virtual reality but the game isn’t exactly for everyone. This could simply be the beginning of deeper and more satisfying virtual entertainment and we’re looking forward to it. We’ll hold our final judgment after the release of No Man’s Sky Beyond, but for the time being, we’re very excited with just a taste.

My God, it’s full of stars.

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One Thought to “No Man’s Sky VR: Hope or Hype”

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