Why No Man's Sky will change the way you game forever

For everything we actually know about the genre-busting No Man's Sky, there are about a hundred things we don't know. We've seen the demos, we've read the hands-on micro-reviews, and we've scoured the Internet for any hint of what this whole thing might be, but still, No Man's Sky is shrouded in more mystery than our impatient little hearts can handle. After the developers suddenly delayed the game's release roughly a month before it was supposed to come out, players are only left to speculate: what does No Man's Sky mean for the world of gaming? Will it have a tremendous impact on how games are created and played, or will it just fulfill a small niche of gamers who don't need headshots to feel all tingly? Here's why we think No Man's Sky is going to change gaming forever.

A truly open world

We hear about "open world gaming" all of the time, but every game world has boundaries, whether it's a conveniently placed mountain, or a skyscraper with doors that just can't be breached. No matter what open world you play in, you're surrounded by invisible walls. And it's true, even No Man's Sky will have boundaries…except the algorithms ruling the game have placed them so far away that you'll probably never even reach them. That's the magic of procedural generation: things only exist when and where they need to. They're there in theory. And mathematically, the world has to be finite, but this infinity simulator is the closest thing to limitless space that anyone on Earth will ever touch. Far Cry doesn't look so big anymore, huh? 

You make the game

No Man's Sky has no true goal—as far as we know. Sure, you can try to upgrade your ship enough times to reach the center of the universe before you're 90, but you can also choose to meander on a journey of scientific exploration, naming more animals than anyone else. You can also hunt and grind for resources and resell them at the game's trading posts. You may be the the sole explorer who's discovered a planet so rich with a rare resource that you may never want to leave. You may also be the game's resident jerk and hunt down other players to kill (if you ever actually encounter them…more on that in a bit). But please don't. No matter what you do, the game is yours to play however you choose. This game's lack of limitations makes everything else look like a shooter on rails.

But are limitations what actually makes a game fun? We'll find out.

Gotta catch 'em all

One of the best parts of any game is its diversity of animals, monsters, and enemies… even if all three of those things are out to get you. No Man's Sky promises to deliver a unique ecosystem on every planet you visit, and each biome will give life to a unique array of creatures—if it can support life at all. In your lifetime, you will never get to see every creature in this game, so completists, you're gonna have a bad time. Still, there's nothing stopping you from trying to find as many as possible, giving them names based on your own taxonomic system, and moving on. It's like Pokemon, except on some kind of space-heroin. It's gonna blow your mind. And if you absolutely have to name something "blastoise," make sure it's an exploding turtle.

Alone together

Even though everyone will be playing in the same universe, the game's programmers have stated that it's all so vast that you may never encounter another person. Because of this weirdly realistic disunity, there's really no set team goal within the game. While games like Overwatch, Battlefront, and The Division all emphasize squad-based missions, No Man's Sky allows you to be a solo explorer, but still in a world where other players can cause small ripple effects across the galaxy. Will a discovery in one area cause players to congregate? If players never meet, will their only unity be found on message boards and in social media? Or maybe squadrons will form by themselves. We just don't know how any of this will happen yet…and that's the most exciting part of all.

Jerk-free zone

No Man's Sky seems to be attracting a different kind of gamer, which might be a good thing. Instead of the competitive Street Fighters, or the kids who get angry because you're not using your character type right in Battleborn, this seems like a more zen experience. Which isn't to say that some overlap in player types won't exist, but No Man's Sky seems to place destruction on the back burner, while exploration and community will be at the forefront. There may be a few players out there who will seek pyrrhic victories by griefing others, but it seems unlikely that they'll last long in the atmosphere of No Man's Sky.

Twitchable

Watching people play games is about to take on a whole new meaning. Most livestreams of games consist of players repeating the same stages, actions, and events that millions of other players have already done. While this has value for plenty of reasons, streams rarely show anything truly new, simply because games have their limitations. However, every player in No Man's Sky will conceivably have a different experience, making every stream a show that reveals new things about the collective universe. Why watch someone raid the same dungeon for the fiftieth time when you can be seeing a planet that you may never reach in your lifetime… or a planet with a resource you've been looking for? Stay tuned…