In the time I’ve spent with No Man’s Sky, I have discovered 20+ alien words, have reached “Partner” status with an alien race, have discovered three Monoliths, have gained an Atlas Pass, have gone through six weapons, and have purchased a new starship. I have crafted warp cells, suit upgrades, mining upgrades, and grenades that let me excavate terrain. I have been in battles with starships that I’ve barely escaped, forcing me to land on the nearest planet in the hopes that I could find materials to repair my shields and refuel my pulse drive. I have discovered minerals and fauna, bipeds, and quadrupeds. I’ve had to fight plants. I’ve carved into large formations of gold and nickel to survive toxic weatherstorms. I’ve made an underwater expedition, despite radioactivity, to find ancient ruins—I discovered these ruins by breaking into a space station and using both my wits and translated alien text to solve a puzzle. I’ve hijacked countless systems to help me find colonial outposts on planets beaming with life and lush fauna. I’ve disabled countless security systems just to get upgrade plans. I’ve become a merchant, selling unearthed treasures at space stations, playing the intergalactic stock market, and have sold the alien relics that I’ve discovered.
So yes, maybe you do have to make your own fun in this game; there’s barely a story, and the driving force of what’s at the center of the universe isn’t very compelling. But I’m having a damn good time playing the game how I want to play it and living out my childhood fantasies of being a space pirate who travels to different planets and encounters alien life—my fantasy of being Han Solo, essentially. Not only did the game live up to the expectations I had, but based on the 12-15 hours I’ve already put into it in only two days, it’s exceeded them.
On April 29th, 1986, three days after the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the government decided to evacuate the nearby city of Pripyat. At the time, Pripyat, which had only been founded 16 years earlier for workers at the plant, was home to nearly 50,000 people. The residents were told they would only be evacuated for a short time, however, despite efforts to clean up the radiation, it has remained unsuitable for human life.
Today, Pripyat stands as a modern day Pompeii, frozen in time by a catastrophic disaster. It is a city of radioactive ruins, slowly being reclaimed by the forest it had displaced. Cold war era posters still adorn the walls of public buildings while children’s’ notebooks remain on their school desks. The Ukrainian government has forbade visitors from entering any of the buildings due to their structural instability, but as my friend and I booked a private tour, our guide was willing to take us into several structures, including two schools, a kindergarten, the palace of culture, the gymnasium, a 16 story apartment building, and the city hospital.
Because the buildings were sealed following the disaster, radiation levels inside the buildings are negligible. Outside, however, countless hotspots remain. At one point, armed with a Geiger counter, I came across beta radiation 220X the level considered suitable for human life. It was exciting…until I considered the implications. Shortly thereafter, we left the ruins and returned to the modern world.