Every now and then, a game releases that asks its gamers to do more than simply play it; the game wants you to think a bit. The world is a little more complex than our own, the story isn’t told in a contemporary fashion, or maybe the game’s mechanics are slightly obscured. Such games depend on Day One adopters, First-Wave Gamers as I like to call them, to unveil what lies beneath the surface and decode the game’s greater mysteries.
In recent memory, only a few games come to mind that ask for these pioneers: Minecraft, Bloodborne, The Witness, among many others that have come and gone. These game remain stunning experiences, but when they began they carried an air that is now practically nonexistent. The world, lore, tips, tricks, exploits, etc. were unknown. For those awaiting No Man’s Sky’s imminent release, it should come as no surprise that the coming weeks will likely be filled with posts about experiences and surprises to be found in its deepest reaches, regardless of critical reception. Many have levied the mystery surrounding this game against it. For others, that same mystery has built a feverish excitement for the world of discovery waiting to be uncovered.
When a game such as No Man’s Sky is developed, it’s not without intent that its content remains behind a wall of obscurity. By Hello Games’ own admission, much of the title’s draw will be its sense of discovery. The universe’s diverse wildlife and rarest resources may well keep gamers entertained on a mechanical level, but the real discovery lies in its lore, its cultures, and ultimately your character’s place in that. But much like the games previously mentioned, it’s unlikely that No Man’s Sky is going to spoon-feed this information to us.
These games aren’t always so easy to understand on the surface. You may be a wiz-kid, but if No Man’s Sky is as expansive as we’re led to believe, you may never be able to discover all of its secrets alone. Although rarely cohesively implemented into the game proper, communities often form around these games in the wild interwebs, in forums, the comments sections of wiki’s, and even by word of mouth. Sharing our individual, vague discoveries with one another may be the only way we can begin to connect the dots and build a greater understanding of the game’s deepest secrets.
But that discovery comes at a cost, $59.99 to be exact. If you want to venture into the deepest, undiscovered worlds and be a part of that community, it’s very likely you will need to come in sooner rather than later. As big as No Man’s Sky is, it won’t take long to find the answers to our most burning questions. “What does that obelisk’s cryptic message mean in the grand scheme of the galaxy?” In about a month, that answer will be a quick Google search away. Certainly, there are those out there who don’t rightly care. “Give me a huge universe to explore and baddies to fight.” No Man’s Sky might still be their game. Still, there’s no disputing that much of this experience will be found on the ground floor, in the opening days, amongst everyone else who is ready to unravel the answers of the universe.
Every one of us has some sense of curiosity and adventure, and No Man’s Sky (or the hype built around it) feeds on that. Most people buying this game have little-to-no idea what it’s going to entail, and that seems to be mostly by design. Without wonder, No Man’s Sky might just be another space simulator, and that descriptor is hardly worthy of being considered a singular experience. Instead, it promises to take us almost literally to another dimension, but one with which not one of us is familiar and everyone must band together to fully understand.
In the end, No Man’s Sky’s greatness may be measured by its ability to connect with individual gamers on a basic gameplay level rather than its aim to become something more significant as detailed here. It’s entirely possible that this game is not at all as it seems and we have all been led astray by this article’s suppositions or some grand marketing ploys. Please note that I in no way intend to encourage you to go out and buy any game on Day One without first informing yourself of its content and quality. But after the stir has begun and before the dust settles, it may be worth your time and money to dive into No Man’s Sky early, even if only to decide whether you’re the type of gamer who wants be part of a potentially momentous experience, because eventually the game’s luster will fade and so will that opportunity.
Jordan Loeffler is Editor in Chief for MONG who plans to unravel the mysteries of the universe on Day One. You can also follow him on IGN and on Twitter.