Yes, I occasionally play other games. No Man’s Sky has been an obsession for a while, but I took a break to play Sniper Elite 4 for a bit, and there are occasions where I play other games (I just typically don’t stream them). But I returned from a trip on June 30 to see that the PS4 had already downloaded the preordered Elite: Dangerous, so I’ve been playing that since.
Mind you, this doesn’t mean I’ve put NMS down, even “for the time being.” Tonight’s stream will likely be a return to the universe of No Man’s Sky, but I do feel the itch to go back to the galaxy of Elite: Dangerous. This review will of course involve many a comparison between the two.
But how do they compare?
Not much at all in my opinion. They scratch different itches. They are very different games.
No Man’s Sky was designed as a solitary planetary exploration game. As such, the flight mechanics are quite simplistic and the designs of the solar systems are such that travel between planets doesn’t take a lot of time. Landing on a planet isn’t especially time consuming. The style of the graphics is patterned after the early science fiction novels, with bright colors and fantastical designs. It uses procedural generation for almost everything.
Okay, admittedly that’s a cheap shot and an oversimplification, perhaps borne out of the stings felt from attacks on NMS.
Giving E:D a bit more credit, it’s more of a space simulator than NMS. The science of the game is a bit harder (in other words, more realistic), meaning flight control (without some computer assistance involved) can be tricky (but also freeing, since what’s capable when it comes to space physics is more open to you than in other games). This also means that you can’t land on every planet, and when you intend to land on a planet, it isn’t always a quick thing – you have to get into orbit, get yourself into the right position, and then enter the atmosphere. Do any of that wrong, it’s possible that your ship will be taking damage (or potentially crashing). Finally, the planets (the ones you can land on) so far all look the same to me, so there’s no real reason to go to most of the planets anyway – unless a mission takes you there.
And you can’t get out and walk around (only drive in a wheeled vehicle).
There’s no “pause” in E:D – if you switch to a different screen (or even go into the options menu), time (and your ship) keep moving. My personal practice is to find a landing pad to save and exit there … and if some of the comments I’ve seen are anything to go by, do not put your PS4 into “rest” mode while in the middle of the game. This messes with time and can cause an unnecessary loss of ship. Exit (and close) the game first.
There are both “Solo” and “Open” game modes, and you can switch between them. They both require an online connection since your actions in both can impact the game for other players. One of the things that’s always bugged me about NMS is that if I sell a crapton of something I’ve harvested/made, it should impact the prices for those resources at least on a local level. On E:D, it does.
“Open” mode, though, is massively multiplayer. Depending on where you are in the galaxy, you may or may not actually run into someone (I have not yet). But if you do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be friendly at all. In fact, there are groups of pirate players, so you can be sure that if you’re doing the trading thing, they might just try to take your cargo.
I’ve said that to really enjoy NMS, you have to be at least a little self directed. This is even more evident in E:D. Yes, there are missions, but while there is an overarching goal in NMS, there doesn’t appear to be one in E:D.
Which one is better?
The perfect game, for me anyway, is probably somewhere in the middle – I like the idea of being able to explore a planet, be the first one to set foot on it, name it, and all that. I like being able to get out and walk around. But I also admit that the graphics style of E:D is a bit more appealing, and while the more realistic physics is nice, it can be overly annoying or troublesome depending on what you’re trying to do. I would love planet rotation and orbits in NMS. I would prefer a PvE option over PvP (though I admit there are those out there that would prefer PvP, and would support that as an optional game mode) but have no problem with the games being single player (or having that as an option).