No Man’s Sky Review – Should You Buy?

No Man's Sky Review

No Man’s Sky, the long anticipated space exploration game, released recently on both PS4 and PC. The gaming community hyped it up since its first announcement. But did it live up to expectations?

I have invested around 25 or so hours into the game so far since its launch. I wasn’t particularly over-excited for No Man’s Sky. It looked enjoyable, and I love space games. However, I was also satisfied with my repertoire of available space exploration games as it was. With that in mind, I cautiously watched from the sidelines, avoiding too many spoilers, and looked forward to the game coming out so I could try it for myself. It’s safe to say I didn’t buy into the hype too much.

That said, I do very much enjoy No Man’s Sky. I also have a lot of criticisms for it. It is not without its flaws, and at the moment it seems that the gaming community is divided: either they love the game and think its perfect as it is, or they hate it and scorn Sean Murray for his somewhat misleading statements leading up to the game’s release. I fall a little in the middle.

Here is my No Man’s Sky review after spending a substantial amount of time in game, exploring three systems and numerous planets (both inhabited and completely empty.)

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Elite Dangerous Mayhem Event

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Elite: Dangerous fans, you’ll know that there’s a little event going on right now called CQC Mayhem, or alternatively just Mayhem for short. This event is packed full of challenges, streams, and most importantly MAYHEM! Cough. I’m sorry, that was cheesy.

Anyway, all of these activities are taking place on the 1.4 stress test server, and to celebrate I will be streaming some CQC this evening with three immensely talented pilots and streamers: KateClick, G33kGrrly_Gaming and RheaAyase (the latter of which is a total beast in combat and definitely one to look out for!) Make sure you’re following all of them on Twitch for amazing Elite: Dangerous gameplay and also a wide variety of other games too.

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Currently Playing (Blaugust #20)

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I read Jewel’s post on being a Crazy Game Lady this morning, and it kinda struck home for me. Up until very recently, I never had a gaming “home”. While I had a few games I played consistently, when it came to things like MMOs, I would hop from one to the next. I never reached level cap in any of the MMOs I played for a long time.

I have played almost every major MMO release since my early teenage years, and stuck to none of them. I’ve dabbled in WoW, dipped my toe in Final Fantasy XI (that one stuck a little more than most!), played Aion for a while and eventually pushed to the max level in RIFT before dropping it like a hot potato because its end-game didn’t appeal to me and my time schedule.

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Gaming To-Do List (Blaugust #11)

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Following in the footsteps of Jaeda at Dragons & Whimsy, Ysharros at Stylish Corpse and a few other video game bloggers, I thought it was about time I started my own gaming to-do list. I’m somewhat using the rules laid out by Izlain in his post The Gamer To-Do List. You can read his suggested guidelines over on his blog!

First of all, why would I do this? Like a few of my fellow gamers, I have a Stack of Shame (on Steam and elsewhere) the size of a skyscraper at this point and it’s ever growing, and I have a few too many unfinished games piling up on the backburner, not to mention games I own but have never even installed.

Instead of feeling excited that I have so many options, I feel, well…stressed. I know that’s absolutely ridiculous, but I get so overwhelmed with a long list of games that instead of just picking one and playing it, I stare at my list and end up doing something else instead. Or, in some cases, doing nothing.

So for me, organisation can sometimes help! When I’m on my time off, I often even write myself a list of games I want to play so that I don’t get distracted or waylaid. With that in mind, here are some things I want to achieve in my video games of choice so that I can feel accomplished and make some progress on my gaming to-do list!

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Screenshot of the Week #5 (Blaugust #9)

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I always do a Screenshot of the Week on a Sunday (read: when I remember), and I didn’t want that to be any different with Blaugust. Even though I forgot last week. Shut up.

But this week’s Screenshot of the Week is, of course, from Elite: Dangerous, which I have loved for a while but had taken a break from. It’s a screenshot taken to show off my pretty new HUD colours since I deleted my last one by mistake, and wanted to make it a more blue-toned purple anyway, and at the precise moment I took the screenshot to share, I happened to also capture a beautiful “sunrise” moment on the planet in front of me.

This game continues to astound me with its beauty every day, and at the same time remind me that this is our universe. That our universe, our very galaxy, is gorgeous.

Thank you for that, Frontier Developments.

Getting Started in Elite Dangerous (Blaugust #6)

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In my recent post about Returning to Elite Dangerous, Ysharros of Stylish Corpse told me something that has become quite familiar to hear when talking about Elite — the first few hours are tough, and she chose to give up rather than continue trying. To be specific, she described the first few hours as, “like an aunt-knit sweater that’s both itchy and 4 sizes too small – it’s just not comfortable.” So she asked me what it was like in my first few hours and how I overcame that.

Now, I played Frontier First Encounters, also known as Elite III many years ago. Flight was completely different, and while it was sandboxy, it felt a lot more…”contained”, I suppose. I also played EVE for about four years on and off. I am familiar with steep learning curves, but even so when I first jumped into Elite: Dangerous I was very intimidated, for one reason and one reason only.

I couldn’t fly.

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Returning to Elite: Dangerous (Blaugust #4)

psycheplays_blaugust15-day4_elite-dangerous-bounty-huntingI have neglected my time in Elite: Dangerous lately, I am loathe to admit. I got a little frustrated with Voice Attack as it has issues with my weird accent, and I was taking that out on the game (shame on me, I know.)

But the game is truly beautiful, especially for a space geek such as myself with aspirations to be a space cowboy and/or pirate. Yes, I may have seen one too many sci-fi movies and TV shows or read one too many trashy space opera novels, but what can I say? Elite: Dangerous has allowed me to, at least in some way, indulge in my fantasy of exploring the skies and beyond.

Bounty hunting gets my heart racing and the blood pumping through my veins in a way that few games have had me feel in recent years. I end up whooping at the screen when I start to blow an enemy to bits, only to follow it up a few minutes later with intense screeching while I try to haul ass away from the torrent of lasers and/or projectiles flying my way.

I also find I get very…engaged. You know when your mum or dad tried to play video games back when you were young, and they would try to throw themselves bodily around corners in racing games, or jump in real life with Mario when hopping over a gap? Yeah, I do that in this game. I find myself hurling my upper body around while gripping my joystick and throttle, hoping to escape certain death (and thankfully usually managing it, until I crash into the side of a station while getting cocky at winning a race with my fiancé, ahem…)

All in all, I’m really excited to get myself back into space. I just don’t know where to start! I’ve begun my upgrading my Viper, and trying out my new guns in some combat zones and trawling for bounties, but my heart lies in exploration. Right now, I am using my Viper to build up funds to build a decent exploration ship with all the fixings, and get myself checking out some of the beauties of our universe. You can check out some of the results of my last exploration trip (some time ago, admittedly) in my video of a visit to the Acrux system.

Because after all, that is the beauty of this game. This is our galaxy. It’s all that we know about the Milky Way, plus our best estimate as to what else is there. If we know about it, it’s in the game. And I think that’s incredibly exciting.

 

Elite Jumps Into Modern Gaming (Elite: Dangerous Review)

Elite: Dangerous Review - Exploration can be incredibly rewarding when you find beautiful systems like Acrux.

Elite: Dangerous makes me feel incredibly small. With a realistic rendition of our very own galaxy, 400 billion stars each potentially with a system full of planets to see and scan, it would take over 12,000 years for one person to visit every single system if they only stayed in each for literally one second. Feeling small is an understatement; I feel positively tiny.

I have never encountered a game in my years of gaming that has made me feel like this before. I played Frontier: First Encounters — also known as Elite III — about 10 years ago, but even then I only darted between a few familiar star systems to deliver medicine and make money off other people’s plight. I didn’t really think about how big that game was; I just shot pirates and delivered my cargo, hoping I didn’t pop on the way. Most of the games I’ve played and truly enjoyed have felt pretty big, but I’ve felt like a massive part of them, and I’ve known I will explore every inch of the game within time. I will finish every achievement, complete every quest, tie off the storyline in a neat little bow and be done with it. Even the biggest games I’ve played, even the most open, have had some sort of finality after a while.

Elite: Dangerous Review - I know I will never see it all, so I want to spend my time wisely.

Not this one. I am very conscious of the fact that I will never explore every little nook and cranny of the Milky Way. I am reminded often that I have to decide where to spend my time, because I can’t see it all. And that’s surprisingly nice, for a change. There is so much for me to do that, instead of being overwhelmed or confused, I find myself cramming all of my time into doing the things I enjoy the most, and seeing the things I wish I was able to see in real life. Just the other day, I posted a video of the Acrux system, a stunningly beautiful system full of stars that glittered with a myriad colours as I scanned each and every one. That is something I will never achieve in my lifetime, but Elite: Dangerous has made that possible for me.

Elite: Dangerous Review - I still feel small, but like my decisions and actions matter.

And yet, where space makes me feel pleasantly insignificant, like no matter what I do it ultimately doesn’t matter (and that’s reassuring!), I feel like everything I do in E:D has an impact. I can help overthrow galactic governments. I can hunt down interstellar terrorists and pirates, and make people’s lives that little bit easier. I can actually see the changes I am causing, even if they’re small, on the balance of power in any given star system or region of space. While the game is a sandbox, there are still some hefty decisions commanders will need to take on their journey through the ‘verse. Will you side with the extravagant and powerful Empire, who wiped out an entire species in order to set up their new home planet? Or will you prefer to stick with the corporate and arguably corrupt Federation? Alternatively, will you fight alongside me with the Alliance?

Or if you wish to steer clear of politics and blowing people up, you can always explore the vastness of our galaxy, alone or with friends, and do some interstellar sightseeing. When all is said and done, how will you become Elite?

You can buy Elite: Dangerous now for £39.99 / €49.99 / $59.99.

Game Review: 7 Days to Die

Game Review: 7 Days to Die

Survival horror games are a genre I’ve been enjoying for years, with a focus recently on fairly nasty multiplayer such as DayZ. I picked up 7 Days to Die in this year’s Steam summer sales as a refreshing change of pace from constantly fighting with other people to try and focus more on the survival aspects of the games. I’d been interested for a while but it’s still in Early Access, and you all know how I feel about Early Access games! So I wasn’t willing to pick it up at full price.

However, this is one game that I’ve discovered doesn’t live up to the usual Early Access problems. While I still reel at the term and the idea behind it, I have had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to survive and haven’t noticed too many issues that I normally encounter with an Early Access game. Most of my first night was spent running from one undead dog who just wouldn’t give up no matter what I did, and eventually building a house with traps around the outside that I kept walking into and injuring myself. Yeah, I’m that guy.

The game is very sandboxy, in that you can go anywhere on the map and build whatever defences you want to protect yourself. You can grow food such as corn or blueberries, hunt animals for food and skins for crafting, and craft tools and weapons, or even build houses and fortresses. 7 Days to Die features both singleplayer and multiplayer modes, with multiplayer being as large or small scale as you want. I spent most of the weekend playing with just myself and my fiancé, meaning we didn’t have to worry about people who were just out to break your defences down for fun. While that certainly has its place, I wasn’t in the mood, and it was nice to be able to switch off.

Game Review: 7 Days to Die

One of my favourite features, however, is that you can add someone to your friends list. Something so simple, but such a vast quality of life improvement for a game that benefits greatly from collaboration. This allows you to see each other on the map if both players accept, and makes it easier to team up to fight the zombie hordes together, or indeed other players if you decide to play on a larger multiplayer server.

It isn’t a horror as such, but it is quite frightening to be running around at night and realise that those shambling zombies you avoided so easily in the daytime? Yeah, they get a new lease of life (or unlife?) during the night or in dark areas, meaning they’re significantly faster and much more dangerous as a result! They also will break anything, including walls, windows, rooves, the floor — literally anything to get at you and your delicious brains. You will start to smell if you carry around fresh food as well, particularly if it’s on your toolbelt, making it much harder to hide even underground or in a structure, so it’s worth storing food safely to avoid being attacked. The game forces you to be inventive with your creations to make sure you reduce the chances of your house being destroyed, or you being killed.

Like Rust, placing a sleeping bag or bed will create a respawn point for you, which makes the game significantly easier with regards to sticking with friends or near your house, where all of your gear has been stored in storage chests and gun lockers. Aeroplanes will fly overhead and drop supply drops from time to time, with bottled water or food, or even weapons if you’re lucky.

Game Review: 7 Days to Die

7 Days to Die is fun but not without its downsides, however. Combat is still a little buggy, and while running away from a zombie I would dodge in to smack it in the face and would somehow hit — wait for it — a blade of grass which would soak all of my damage, meaning the zombie clocked me one on the head and I died. Most unfortunate! Also, zombie dogs can and will climb ladders to attack you viciously when you least expect it. I have died several times when there was nothing nearby, and I wasn’t bleeding out. It seems that a zombie hit me when I was on low health but there were no zombies in my near vicinity, so I’m not sure how that happened.

The audio is also a little buggy, with zombies screaming equally loudly regardless of how far away they are. This makes it pretty difficult to tell exactly where zombies are, which is somewhat interesting but mostly just frustrating for someone who relies on directional sound to figure out when someone is sneaking up on them.

I would still recommend the game if you enjoy games like Minecraft or Rust for their survival and building aspects, but if you’re on the fence about it try to pick it up during a sale, or wait til it comes out of Early Access. Definitely a fun game though, with a lot of scope for improvement too.

Game Review: 7 Days to DieScreenshot source: Official 7 Days to Die Website

First Impressions: Starbound

I’ve just picked up the new sci-fi sandbox adventure game, Starbound and have been playing it on and off since last weekend. I was playing before the character wipe, but didn’t want to get too involved since I’d only just started. The game is still in beta, but you can pick it up for a pretty reasonable price to get beta/early access.

First Impressions: Starbound - Landing on our first planet with MC Clank, aka my fiancé.

There’s a variety of races to choose from. While they’re really unique, I’m not really a big fan of the races themselves, so my “main” character will likely be a human called Thea, named after one of the two main characters in the story I’ve been writing for…over a year, now, haha. But I ended up making a floran just to be a little bit different while I play with my fiancé’s glitch character. He was originally playing Vince, the antagonist in my story as well.

First Impressions: Starbound - We're pretty adorable, sleeping next to each other to recover our health.

The game is fun, reminiscent of Terraria in appearance and some of the gameplay, but there’s just something very pleasant about feeling like I’m exploring the universe, discovering uncharted worlds and having to fight to survive. All in all, yes, it’s a lot of fun. I feel like there’s more purpose than in previous games of a similar type, which was ultimately why I stopped playing those. I’ve managed to sink a good few hours into Starbound without really noticing it. I recommend picking it up and giving it a go if you enjoy sci-fi and sandboxy games where you can explore and build!