Since its launch, No Man’s Sky has always been about one thing: exploring its procedurally generated worlds, and discovering the secrets each planet has to offer. With a bevy of updates and patches, it has never been a better time to delve into the endless reaches of space than right now. But even with the steady flow of content and overall performance improvements that No Man’s Sky has seen since its rocky launch, there’s always been one feature that players have clamored for since the beginning, VR.
Now that we’re finally getting the long-anticipated feature, is it any good? I’m delighted to report, that yes, it’s exactly what I imagined these last couple of years. While there are a few moments of clunkiness, as with most VR experiences, No Man’s Sky seemed to be able to make the leap the virtual world better than most games.
In the 30 or so minutes I was given with VR, I was completely blown away by what I was shown.
Again, No Man’s Sky has always been about exploration for me, and in the 30 or so minutes I was given with VR, I was completely blown away by what I was shown. Instantly, the size and scale of the various plants and rocks, and even my ship left me absolutely floored. The flora, in particular, is what immediately stood out. The galactic vegetation was already sprawling, but now, it seemed almost skyscraper-sized. What were once fairly big rocks now stood as mountains in front of me. And that’s where it hit me: I’ve always felt compelled to explore new planets, but now I wanted to see absolutely everything.
My hands-on demo, guided by Hello Games’ Sean Murray, was more of a quick tour of how each mechanic has changed. If you’re familiar with the VR headsets that are currently available, you’ll feel right at home. Reaching behind my back to grip and then pull out my multi-tool felt good, and the shooting felt even better. Right away, I ran up to an array of rocks and started wildly blasting them. About halfway through my wild shooting, I decided to turn my gun sideways, kill shot style, and was delighted to see my on-screen weapon do the same. With my left hand, I was instructed to grip the controller to melee resources. Not only did it seem to work great, but I also instinctively started melee-ing rocks while still blasting them with the multi-tool to harvest even faster, to which I was told that no one at their development studio had yet to try. And much to my satisfaction, it totally worked. It’s options like these that I can’t wait to explore further.
In front of me were the flight controls I had dreamt about since launch.
I was then instructed by Sean to enter space. As I walked up to my ship, which again towered above me, I entered the cockpit and gleefully noticed many differences. For one, you can completely look around the cabin and take in all of the minor details that were once hidden in the traditional version. But all of the details were overshadowed by what I saw next. In front of me were the flight controls I had dreamt about since launch. Hello could’ve taken an easier way out and just assigned buttons to pilot your vessel. Instead, we’re treated to a flight stick and thruster, not unlike controls featured in a game like Star Trek Bridge Commander.
I gripped the ship’s thruster with my left controller and slightly pushed forward, and with a force of momentum that actually startled me, my ship was lifted off into the air. I skimmed the planet for a good 15 seconds, frankly afraid to touch anything else, before I was instructed to grip the flight stick and slowly start to pull back. Nothing prepared me for the moment my ship started speeding away from the surface I once stood on. After a bit of atmospheric turbulence, it smoothed out, I pulled back on my thruster, and there I was, in space.
I can’t really describe how it felt. Teetering just above the planet’s surface, it didn’t feel like No Man’s Sky anymore. It felt lonely, exciting, and honestly a little scary. That’s No Man’s Sky VR in a nutshell. Taking something you once knew and experiencing it in a completely different light. The somewhat clunky menu system fell by the wayside. All I wanted to do was fly and explore. At the end of my demo, I was informed that this isn’t just a VR version of No Man’s Sky. This was No Man’s Sky. My 70-hour save was completely playable in VR. I would be able to play with friends who weren’t in VR, while I was. Well done, Hello Games.
Mark Medina is the most beloved cast member on Unlocked, our weekly Xbox show. Talk shooters with him on Twitter at @Mark_Medina.
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