IGN was able to pin down Sean Murray of Hello Games, and test drive his highly ambitious space sim No Man's Sky. This 18 minutes of gameplay finally, finally gives us a brief look at the nuts and bolts of the game, what it's like to play it minute to minute.
I have to admit, Murray's mercurial coyness and vague language have gotten really annoying, especially considering that if No Man's Sky is what he insinuates it is, it will change gaming. Think how Minecraft reshaped the gaming landscape (no pun intended) and then multiply that on the scale of, well, the universe. But Sean Murray and Hello Games have been so imprecise in their descriptions and so reticent to show off their creation for the past two years that it's still hard to get a feel for the game.
It could be an endless universe of galaxies to explore, or it could be procedurally generated blandness. I admit, there are some things in this video that make me worried. The animals all behave similarly and make the same irritating noise and the two planets shown in the demo look generally the same aside from some terrain differences. Minuscule variation like this does not a universe make--it's just a play on the old "endless combinations!" marketing bait and switch.
This is particularly troubling considering the crazy variety we see here in our own solar system, much less the whole Milky Way. Will No Man's Sky have ice-sheathed ocean moons like Europa? What about volcanic hellscapes like Io or Venus? Will there be majestic gas giants like Saturn or will we just get the same mountainous dinosaur-filled biome we've seen in all the trailers? I want planets with frigid hydrocarbon lakes, planets that spin on their side, chaotic trinary star systems, black holes, pulsars and supernovas that wipe out entire solar systems in an instant.
The universe is a pretty insane, dangerous place, and that's even without the guarantee of intelligent life. As Q said in Star Trek, "It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
I want to believe No Man's Sky will give me this variety, but if the best they can show me after two years is the same generic scifi idea of the universe and a pissed off alien goat chasing me around, then I think we have some problems.