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Parents' Guide to No Man's Sky

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In collaboration with the Games Rating Authority, here’s our parent’s guide to No Man’s Sky.

1. Genre

No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game with role playing elements in which players travel through space discovering new planets, each with their own flora and fauna. Each world and its lifeforms is ‘procedurally generated’, meaning that in a shared universe of 18 quintillion planets each player will discover worlds unseen by any other player.

The game is played from a first person perspective both on foot as the player explores each planet, and within the cockpit as the player travels between worlds. There is an element of straightforward shooting combat both on the ground and in space, but the game is much more concerned with exploring and cataloging the wonders of the universe, including all the resource gathering, trading and upgrading equipment required to make that exploration possible.

No Man’s Sky takes place within a shared universe, and the names players give planets and species are logged on the main server and shared with other players, but there is no direct multiplayer interaction and players landing on the same planet cannot see each other.

No Man’s Sky is in the space trading lineage of 1980s classic Elite, and therefore an obvious parallel with Elite Dangerous, but it also has roots in gentler exploratory games like the far simpler but equally colourful Proteus.

2. PEGI Rating

In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates 7 for non-realistic violence towards fantasy characters.

The GRA expand on their PEGI details by saying that No Man’s Sky is ‘a first person, open world survival game’ in which ‘players can engage in combat with hostile alien ships.’ the GRA goes on to state that ‘these battles are typical space shooter dogfights, where laser beams are flying all over the screen’ and that ‘you do not see those inside the ships harmed.’ The GRA explains that ‘the player can also harm the non-human creatures living on the planets’ but that ‘violence depicted is unrealistic with no physical injuries or gore.’

3. Story

No Man’s Sky casts the player as The Traveller, who begins their journey on an unknown planet near a crashed spaceship. Under the guidance of a being called The Atlas, the Traveller must journey to the centre of the galaxy, cataloguing what they find along the way and reporting back to the Atlas about them in exchange for in-game currency.

4. Developer

Hello Games is best known for the Joe Dangerous series of motorcycle stunt games.

5. Format

No Man’s Sky is available for PS4 and PC, for around £30 or $60. Due to the limited interaction with other players, No Man’s Sky does not require a PS Plus account to utilise its multiplayer functions.

6. Duration

No Man’s Sky is a big game, and it could take well over 25 hours to reach the centre of the galaxy and complete a game, although that depends on player ability.

7. Themes

It can be a lonely universe out there, even if thousands of other players are exploring it too. While there are alien factions to encounter, alien animals to observe and space pirates to shoot at, ultimately the Traveller journeys alone, and this isn’t a game with a strong character component. The spirit of exploration means solitude, and you need to be able to enjoy that.

There’s also a studied amorality. Combat is primarily a defensive necessity, but you can also open fire on unthreatening creatures. While the robot sentinels that pop up whenever you mine too much of a substance are a hint towards the benefits of sustainability, ultimately this is a game where you have to take what you need to get on with your journey.

8. Why people play:

No Man’s Sky’s main selling point is the thrill of discovery, the moments of wonder that come from pointing to a random spot on the map, going to it and seeing wonderful things when you get there. It’s clever tech means that players get to see whole worlds, species and landscapes that no other player has experienced, charmingly rendered in splashes of vivid, unearthly colour.

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Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames and has written for national press and broadcast about video games and families for over 15 years. He has just published the Taming Gaming book with its Family Video Game Database.