No Man’s Sky: My Personal Challenge Mode

No Man’s Sky is a really fun game, but as I played through the main quest lines on Normal Mode, I discovered there are some aspects of the game that trivialize its challenges. The most notable of these issues are the teleporters on space stations and in player created bases – the first time I used one and I saw that my ship had magically followed me though the teleporter too, I literally said out loud, “awe, that’s a little cheaty, isn’t it?”. What follows is thus a few self imposed limitations that help make the game feel more like what I had hoped it would be.

1. Play in Survival Mode
I’ve never liked the concept of perma-death in computer games, but the death penalties in Survival Mode strike a good balance between punishment and a fun challenge. Starting out is definitely harder and one’s you’re over that hump, things like extreme weather are still a major concern (where as on normal, I was jaunting around in a radioactive super storm collecting crystals like it was a beautiful summer’s day). The biggest difference I have found is that the terrain manipulator chews through its charge much more quickly than on normal mode, meaning it takes more resources to mine the same amount (thereby increasing the usefulness of automated harvesters!).

2. No Cheating Death
One can cheat the death penalty by frequently dropping a save-game machine and creating a manual save point that they can go back to should they die. It’s totally fine to do this if the death was caused by a bug, a power outage, if your arm fell off and you had to be rushed to the hospital, etc. but to do it as a way to avoid the consequences of foolishness is just plain old cheating.

3. No Cheating the Randomness
Rather than just playing the game, some folks cheat by constantly reloading their saved game to force new ships or multi-tools to spawn until the one they want finally spawns for them. I don’t see the fun in that type of behavior. For me, the mystery of what’s next and making due with what I have are large parts of what I find so compelling about the game play experience. As my daughter’s friend said on cupcake day, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”. 🙂

4. No Base/Station Teleporter Use
Update: I hadn’t considered the problem of doing the quest to go to the center of the galaxy while still enjoying the fun base building aspect of the game. With that in mind, it makes sense to have a single portal at my “cool awesome base” that I can go back to whenever I’d like, so that’s the only use I will make of the teleporter system.

Being able to teleport to and from any space station you have visited, as well as any base you made and bothered to create a portal at, completely trivializes space travel and makes the game waaaay too easy. Add to that the fact that your ship (and it’s cargo contents) magically travel with you too, and you’ve got a game play system that takes convenience a tad too far. I’m just going to go ahead and pretend it’s not there, because I definitely didn’t expect it to exist anyway (and using it on my first play in Normal Mode quickly made me realize it’s ridiculously over powered).

5. Inventory and Technology Limitations
I was straight up shocked when I read on the wiki that one can unlock 48 high capacity cargo slots. That’s insane! Sure, some people groan and whine about inventory management in games, but the truth is that inventory limitations encourage the player to make decisions and compromises that can later put the player into situations where they are forced to overcome adversity and it’s rising to those challenges that makes games (and life!) so rewarding. If you’re able to tote around the solution to everything, then you’re robbing yourself of the chance to find joy in creative success. With that in mind, here are my personal limitations on inventory and technology:

  • 36 General Inventory slots (48 max)
  • 16 High Capacity Cargo slots (48 max)
  • 12 Technology slots (14 max)

I considered limiting myself to only using pistol type multi-tools, due to their 10 technology slots (compared to the 24 of rifles), but that would be pretty boring. I already have a 10 slot A class pistol that I have fully loaded to my liking, so yeah, it would be pretty boring to leave it like that forever. Who knows when I will find something else I like better!

Similarly to multi-tools, I am not placing any limitations on myself for ships, freighters, frigates, and upgrades, as that would just limit my ability to have fun; Adhering to the intended randomness of the game is both a good throttle on “power creep” and an excellent incentive to keep exploring. Indeed, I was super excited when the crashed ship I found as part of the story was an S class shuttle! How cool is that, eh? I had just upgraded from the starter ship to an A class shuttle that I also really liked, so I will just keep using the A class model while I poke away at fixing the S class.

Apart from the above points, I’m just going to take it easy in general, enjoying the experience at a casual pace without trying to “min/max” or otherwise subvert the challenges and rob myself of the experience.

Advertisements