The juxtaposition of the futility of actions against a galaxy that refused to bend or buckle, with the endless strive toward something bigger, better and new, was the central narrative of the ludology in No Man’s Sky. More than being simply emblematic of unrealised ambitions, the expansive landscapes that rendered the player ineffectual in the grander scheme was an exercise in perspective that embodied the tenet of the game’s title.
Though later credited to a server issue and sadly no longer in the game, one outstanding example of this futility was that at one point in August, the game would reset the character’s progress, in a marvellous realisation of this powerful theme. Brilliant!
Even across a singular planet, the impact of the player, singular, was pithless. The reduction in foliage in a small alcove or across a plane left no clear impact, and whatever minor impacts were made to the mineral resources of a planet, the odds that the comparable grains might be missed when removed from the beach reduces the player’s position to that of a wanderer, aimlessly coursing toward an uncertain future.
While the brilliance of the subversive implementation of the game was not lost on distinguished intellectuals and experienced critics, the nuance of having the theme bleed through every janky animal, absent feature or unexpected crash failed to appeal to most players who sought instant gratification through stable and complete gameplay.
In starting to broach the non-existent yet perceived gap between No Man’s Sky’s state of being and its potential, Hello Games have shown that they do not understand their own genius. Their now-released Foundation Update brings new features to the game, and has reinvigorated the erstwhile player-base with renewed interest.
Touted now as merely the first of many free updates that they intend to release, it spells considerable disaster for the game that has so perfectly captured the essence of a counter-culture much needed in the face of gamer entitlement and the immutable march of the sightless pre-order. At this rate it wouldn’t surprise if Hello Games indulged the baser wants of gamers on Xbox One with a depraved offering of a more realised form of its most infamous title.
One can only hope that Hello Games understands that by fixing their creation, they are also destroying it. Perhaps that is the most subversive action of all.