Things I Want to See in Starfield That No Man's Sky Got Right.

Things I Want to See in Starfield That No Man's Sky Got Right.

By  Bennett Perry - 25th Jan 2023

What can Starfield learn from No Man’s Sky to make the former a fully-realised space epic?

Things I Want to See in Starfield That No Man's Sky Got Right.

With Microsoft announcing a major showcase of titles, eager eyes will be glued to their screen on the 25th of January. I, for one, will be looking out for more news on Starfield. After delaying release in Q4 last year, the anticipated new IP from Bethesda,will present new developments as well as a release date this year – I hope. From what is known about Starfield via teasers and the E3 showcase, any new addition would be a cherry on the cake. But from what I have seen of Starfield, it could take some mechanics and pointers from 2016's No Man’s Sky.

If you do not know, No Man’s Sky is a gigantic space game with one of the largest maps regarding the multitude of explorable, procedurally generated planets. While negatively panned in the beginning (for good reason), it went through a rigorous makeover, slowly redeeming itself with promised features, and becoming a juggernaut of a game – as well as a cautionary tale about over-hyping.

There are traits that make No Man’s Sky and Starfield stand out as their own powerhouses, however, implementing five of No Man’s Sky’s traits into Starfield could give the latter a little more dynamism.

Money makes the world go around.

What is a better incentive to do a task than money? The large majority of open-world games have a financial system; mostly in the form of buy-and-sell items from traders with a universal currency, but only a few have a fully functioning market. No Man’s Sky’s market is simple enough to understand while rewarding players who manipulate it to gain more revenue.

All discovered systems have their own separate industry as well as specific components they have for sale through trade terminals. Components depend on the star system’s particular economic type; trading, manufacturing, scientific, and technology being the most common markets with stars indicating how wealthy the market is. There are no limits to what and how much can be sold, however an algorithm as well as the amount of bulk items bought and sold affect the value of said item.

These are represented in percentages listed alongside the item. It is like the old adage, ‘buy low, sell high.’ As we know Starfield will give the player the opportunity to build trade and mining operations, a market system like No Man’s Sky has the potential to force the player to run several types of industries to capitalise on an intergalactic level.

Don’t fence me in!

Bethesda has stated Starfield has over a thousand planets to explore, though, the exact amount you can ‘explore’ might fluctuate depending on size and content. The freedom of No Man’s Sky — as well as the space within it (no pun intended) — lets the player experience a different story with each playthrough. But there is an argument to be said about quality over quantity.

The boundlessness of No Man’s Sky — not just with every planet but in endless space itself — makes the game one of the best galactic playgrounds. Now I will not go into the ‘do whatever you want, go wherever you want’ spiel; but what I will say is the only gameplay shown regarding space flight looks limited to dog-fight and selecting planets via a star-map.

While there is a possibility that there will be more space (no pun intended… again) to delve into — including a chance to fly between planets — travelling, landing, and studying planets are all done without loading screens. As both games have procedurally generated planets, it would be stupid not to let the player explore all of it without invisible walls. If Starfield can do what No Man’s Sky can do, the cities of Starfield could be accessible directly from orbit or from the surface rather than a menu.

No Stone Unturned

Discovery is the name of the game when it comes to space exploration, and both developers know this. Bethesda definitely has the advantage as No Man’s Sky is an old game developed by a much smaller team when compared to Bethesda’s development team. That’s why they should have more undiscovered ruins or derelict spaceships to discover, especially as Todd Howard said that Starfield has the most hand-made assets to date in their games.

Within a few years and several updates, No Man’s Sky repeatedly added new and exciting things to find, expanding the game’s life for both veteran and new players. From digging up buried cargo from a downed freighter, communing with talking stones at shrines,  finding outposts to trade in, there is plenty to do. And these are only a handful of things you can do on-planet. In space, you can buy coordinates for derelict ships or just stumble into them by chance. When I replayed No Man’s Sky for this article, I ran into new things like a floating ark that is used to hide something away from an aggressive AI.

I had never come across something like that in my years of playing. And that is the type of awe I want Starfield to have, that I’ll never get to see everything in one playthrough. I know it can be done as Skyrim was the same back in 2011.

Up for the challenge

Similar to the point before, keeping us busy will be Starfield’s greatest strength but what would also be a smart move is to give players a set of optional challenges; something similar to No Man’s Sky’s expedition missions. While Starfield will not have multiplayer, community challenges and events from No Man’s Sky can be implemented through updates and/or DLC.

The introduction of Community Expeditions in No Man’s Sky gave players more to do with friends, but in this instance, also solo. The expeditions also added to the lore of the game by putting the players into scenarios and challenges, rewarding milestones and aesthetic rewards that can be used, as well as a one-time crossover with Bioware’s Mass Effect that rewarded the player a flyable, miniature reconstruction of the SR1 Normandy ship. The expeditions also demonstrated new features; for instance, the late additions of gigantic worms inspired by the sandworms from the sci-fi series Dune.

Really, any goal-based challenges will enrich the experience as well as give players something to do once the main campaign is completed, but the way Hello Games worked to keep No Man’s Sky still relevant may help Starfield in the future.

And last but not least.

When the going gets tough…

Everyone who has played No Man’s Sky has had to battle the elements of hazardous planets at some point. Whether poisonous or volcanic, the first hour of the game plants you smack-bang on the surface of a planet without a working ship or shelter. Like the equivalent of learning how to swim by being thrown into the lake, inexperienced players learn the hard way to micromanage their needs; learning the basic game mechanics and how to survive off the land.

When No Man’s Sky first released, most players complained about the repetitive gameplay of having to replenish resources. While rectified later on in the “NEXT update: (version 1.5) by minimising the number of materials needed for fuel, I felt that they had it right the first time. To survive and continue through the game, you have to make the right choices, especially in permadeath mode.

The best parts of No Man’s Sky are when you are faced with serious opposition. Getting stuck on a planet where the lifeforms, environment, and the AI (called Sentinels) will kill you on sight can happen to any player, no matter their level or abilities, which compliments the quieter, more relaxed parts of the game. Whether waiting out a storm by staying in a comfortable base or braving it and getting arse-whooped because you forgot your fuel in the ship, Starfield has the opportunity to take those difficult moments on board.

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