The internet has been abuzz for the past forever, it seems, in anticipation of Hello Games beautiful new No Man’s Sky. Developed by only a small indie team led by Sean Murray, the concept of exploring nearly limitless amounts of planets in a sprawling universe is an incredibly exciting idea. Especially when the universe you explore is filled to the brim with hundreds of thousands of other players, seeing the planets they found, monsters they named, and pairing up to go explore- wait, they actually lied about that…
In a Reddit thread, mere hours after the game’s release, two players TheGalacticCat and Psytokat have already managed to locate each other in-game. Having landed in a star system discovered by Psytokat, they messaged and coordinated a meetup together, and both of them even livestreamed it on Twitch.
Meeting on the same planet, the same space station, and even in front of the same NPC, they were unable to see one another in-game. Not even was their no sign of the other players existence, the game’s day and night cycle was client side, so it was night in one players game and day in the others. Placing down a flag saying “Meet here” was able to be seen, though not the other player himself. One player’s connection to PS+ wavered, though eventually he did confirm that he was in fact connected to Sony’s server.
The clearly intentful vagueness of No Man’s Sky’s marketing implies that this is not a mistake, and the game is in fact a single player experience. This shouldn’t actually come as a surprise, as it is listed on Steam as “single player” and the back of the box even states “single player.” This is how the game has been portrayed to the public; save for many interviews with the game’s lead developer Sean Murray.
Throughout the game’s nearly five year long development cycle, they were hounded by the gaming media relentlessly, as the concept of a persistent online world might just be lightning in a bottle. Everyone wanted to know what to expect. To preserve the mystery of the game, every interview has been increasingly ambiguous. Early publicity stated that you will be able to directly engage with other players, not only in cooperation but competitively as well. “The only way for you to know what you look like is for somebody else [..] to see you.” Not only does this make it seem like a possibility, but also something every player would encounter. By November 2015 however, Sean stated “we really, like, very careful to downplay any multiplayer aspects and in some I just feel like saying there is none, forget about multiplayer.”
What’s important to remember is that No Man’s Sky is developed by an indie development studio. For all intents and purposes, this should be an indie game. The difference being, this was backed by Sony and had the eyes of the world on them, expecting them to succeed. After already unveiling their vision of the game, and it’s multiplayer aspects. Rather than continuing to delay the game to complete their vision or merely concede that the multiplayer aspects had to be cut, Hello Games stuck to their guns and insisted their was interactivity to be found in these grand starry skies even after the game was in people’s hands.
So where does this leave the consumer? At the moment it seems like there are only three possibilites.
- Sean Murray and the Hello Games team lied. There is no multiplayer in No Man’s Sky, and continuing to state their was “next to zero” chance of meeting another player was deliberately keeping this information from their audience.
- It was a server error, and the two players could not see each other because of this. The No Man’s Sky Twitter posted about having substantial “server issues,” though made no comment on this in relation to player-to-player netcode.
- Multiplayer is still in the vision, and is kept out of the initial release to be added at a later date. This would explain the physical copy stating “single player” but in that case is this truly the “finished” version?
A short while ago, the team tweeted about “Two players finding each other on a stream in the first day” as if it were an impressive accomplishment. The fact that they do not acknowledge the players being unable to interact VERY heavily implies this is not a glitch, and everything is working as intended. So I’m going to say #1 is most likely here. Personally I am interested to see how else the team responds to this controversy.
If you were in fact looking for a single player experience, then No Man’s Sky is available for purchase and play on PS4 right now; the PC release coming on August 12th. Stay tuned here at n3rdabl3 for any new updates on the situation as they come.