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No Man’s Sky Is (Almost) The Only Space Sim That Isn’t A Disappointment

While No Man’s Sky prides itself on being a space sim for the masses, it also has many other elements to make it more than just a space game.

While No Man’s Sky may have been a disappointment at launch six years ago, it has managed to grow and evolve, releasing over a dozen major updates in that time and rivaling the competition as one of the best space sims on the market. The space genre has been growing at a rapid pace over the past couple decades, with popular games rising through the ranks such as Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen, The Outer Worlds, EVERSPACE 2, and EVE Online to name a few, all of which have accumulated massive player counts over the years and become staples within the genre. While these games excel at providing expansive worlds and detailed mechanics, they tend to lack content in other areas that No Man’s Sky includes on top of its space-based gameplay elements, especially with No Man’s Sky‘s RPG elements in the Outlaws update that released last month.

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The space genre has grown to encompass many sci-fi tropes, from spaceships and aliens to the mysteries of the universe. While many of the genre’s most popular games include these elements, No Man’s Sky includes them in a seamless way that incorporates them all into a singular gameplay whole in its overarching story. Games like Elite Dangerous include quests between warring factions and charting the galaxy to find rare resources, but the player perspective is primarily fixed to the inside of a ship or a rover, making it difficult to fully experience new planets if the player can’t get out and walk around on most of them. This problem also exists in games like EVE Online and EVERSPACE 2, where the spaceship essentially acts as the player character, with no way to leave it.


Related: Everything No Man’s Sky Outlaws Update Adds To The Game

With each title taking its own approach to the genre, with games like The Outer Worlds differing from No Man’s Sky in terms of its execution and style, No Man’s Sky is able to appeal to the largest audience because it includes gameplay elements for more types of players, such as survival segments, base-building, and settlement management. The Outer Worlds is tailored towards more of an action-adventure story experience, but it has limitations due to being a single-player title without any live-service elements – and a sequel already in development – making it a harder sell for players that want an experience that continues growing over the years. No Man’s Sky still has a ways to go to become an entirely self-sustaining space sim, but the progress that has been made over the past six years has helped shape it into one of the best, most no-brainer choices for players wanting to dive deep into the space genre.


No Man’s Sky Provides Its New Content Free Of Charge

Many of the biggest games in the space genre offer paid DLC, but No Man’s Sky offered content updates and additions in over a dozen major updates since its release, all free of charge. Although No Man’s Sky has never lowered its price tag, every update for the game has always come free to all players that own the title, which means every player can experience new content together. This type of approach makes players more likely to return to the game because of new content that is available to them while also incentivizing people that are looking to buy in to an experience and get in on a consistent update cycle. This approach may not be economically viable for every company, but by offering new content free of charge to all players, No Man’s Sky has been able to create a foundation within the genre and continuously grow in player count every year.


While No Man’s Sky offers all of its content to every player, even including a visual overhaul in recent No Man’s Sky updates, many other games in the space genre have not followed suit. Games like The Outer Worlds and Elite Dangerous have paid DLC expansions, dividing the player base and offering new content only to those who pay for it, though The Outer Worlds could be forgiven due to it being available on Xbox Game Pass at a very low price. Other space games like EVE Online require a monthly subscription to gain access to the entirety of the game and its features, locking certain aspects of the game behind a paywall. In Star Citizen, players can buy and sell spaceships for real money on its own virtual market, and considering that particular game has been in development for over a decade and still hasn’t left alpha, buying in-game items when it is still years away from completion seems like a gamble for anyone without a significant surplus of disposable income.


No Man’s Sky Taps Into Multiple Genres

With No Man’s Sky updates and games like Minecraft that offer content for free, underlying systems are usually built upon multiple gameplay loops that appeal to many different types of players. While games like EVE Online may appeal to those that are keen on spaceship statistics and galaxy-wide conflicts, No Man’s Sky has elements that attract players from many backgrounds, tapping into the survival, sandbox, space, and city management genres. On top of these inclusions, No Man’s Sky also has more subtle additions that benefit things like player direction and dialogue choices, dabbling in RPG-styled conversation and character customization. By including elements from all of these genres, No Man’s Sky is able to branch out into other markets and expand its reach to more groups of players looking to explore an infinite universe.

Related: No Man’s Sky’s Next-Gen Update Makes Planets Feel Truly Unique

To add another layer, besides No Man’s Sky partnering with Mass Effect and other franchises, the game also includes a vast building system that consists of hundreds of different building components and attachments, allowing players to construct whatever type of home they want on any planet they want. Base-building not only provides the player with a place they can settle down at, but also gives them questing opportunities, with NPCs moving into player-built bases with unique questlines to help improve base security and equipment integrity. The settlement system works in a similar way, but that questline sees the player managing a pre-built colony and tending to citizen quarrels rather than expanding on it with complete freedom.


No Man’s Sky has come a long way since its rough launch six years ago and has solidified its position with its consistent free update cycle and its appeal to multiple genres. While there are still some issues, such as when players run out of fuel in No Man’s Sky, it will continue to expand for years to come and potentially veer off into more genres, continuing to vie for a top spot among the most popular games in the space genre. No Man’s Sky‘s Outlaws update released earlier last month, and introduced a new questline, more player cosmetics, and a unique ship-class to an already seemingly infinite universe.

Next: How No Man’s Sky Has Changed Over The Last Five Years

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