PC Gamer

To get a jump start on No Man s Sky s space sandbox, some of our staff are playing the game on PS4 this week. Read more of our different opinions on the game as we continue to play.

My journey in No Man's Sky has so far been like going to a thrift store and rooting through people's discarded things looking for a hidden treasure. As my hyperspeed drive disengages and the fluctuating aurora of light before me dissipates, I take a moment to absorb my surroundings. I see three planets around a glowing yellow sun in this system. I pick the somewhat evil-looking red planet to disembark on. Entering its atmosphere, the spire of an alien obelisk juts out of the crimson dirt. Setting my ship down, I hop out and for what must be the twentieth time tonight interact with one of No Man's Sky's supposed mysteries. I collect my prize, a new word from an alien dialect, and hop back in my ship to head towards the next odd-but-not-that-odd thing on the horizon.

Space exploration games like No Man's Sky have a problem: How do you capture that 'Star Trek' feeling of launching into the great unknown in a universe that is ultimately populated by recognizable patterns? It's a tough nut to crack, and in the past few years games like No Man's Sky and Elite: Dangerous have been trying to leverage the weight of massive galaxies to do just that. With so many places to see, the the excitement of exploring shouldn't come from what you discover, but in the story of how you found it.

Deep space blues

Last year I installed Elite Dangerous for the one purpose of becoming an explorer. I had read of the incredible mission players had undertaken to map Elite's Milky Way galaxy and, being an EVE Online player with a passion for logistics and planning, felt drawn to the idea of embarking on a great journey to planets unknown.

I spent over 30 hours learning how to play Elite Dangerous and earning enough credits to afford my first exploration ship. I perused subreddits and forums to learn the basics like needing to equip a fuel scoop module so that I could use stars to refuel and avoid being stranded billions of lightyears from civilization. During all this prep time, I was anticipating my epic voyage to the Coalsack Nebula, an ominous black cloud far outside the bubble of inhabited systems. I imagined it was going to be the first of many progressively longer voyages. As I finalized my route and began my first jump, it felt like stepping into the abyss.

No Man's Sky doesn't require any investment in my journey.

That feeling didn't last. With each jump from one system to the next, with each break to skim fuel blowing like a hot breeze from the surface of a star, I began to feel less and less enchanted with my idea of what exploration meant in Elite Dangerous. Over an hour later I reached my destination, a system named Musca Dark Region CQ-Y D68, and couldn't help but look back at my 30-plus hours in Elite Dangerous as time poorly spent. That system, and the several dozen others I visited in the Coalsack Nebula before calling it quits, didn't contain anything of interest or worth. It was just a smattering of planets no different from the ones back home. If it wasn't for the map telling me otherwise, I would never have known I was 500 light years away. I logged off not even having the will to make the return trip home.

Journeys and destinations 

As I thought through that disappointment, I realized it wasn't just that my goal the Coalsack Nebula had nothing of interest for me, but also that the journey that led me there was equally as unfulfilling. The only real challenge was managing my fuel levels and making sure I didn't wind up stranded in a solar system with a star that I couldn't use to recharge a mistake that would result in self-destructing back to civilized space. But even refuelling was more of a chore than a challenge.

No Man's Sky certainly has a lot more stuff waiting for me in each solar system than Elite Dangerous. But while I've enjoyed my time with it, I can already sense a creeping lack of enthusiasm for whatever awaits me in the next system. A planet might have a unique color or landscape, it might be populated with some strange animal I've never seen before, but beyond knee-jerk curiosity, neither feels like a satisfying conclusion to the journey that brought me there.

As I land on the planet surface and begin to explore, all I'm finding are the same minerals, the same procedurally generated alien installations, and the same ruins dotting the landscape. Each one is, ostensibly, a destination worth traveling too, but as I arrive at one after the other, it feels more like hitting up the grocery store and post office on the way home from work than discovering places unknown. It feels routine and safe.

That's because, like Elite Dangerous, No Man's Sky doesn't require any investment in my journey. While warping to new systems is a more involved process than in Elite, the reality is I'm still just acquiring easy to find resources and then pushing a few buttons to blast off to a new frontier. There's no skill to navigating space or charting a course, no appreciable increase in the difficulty of harvesting the same minerals to fuel my ship. And as a result, there hasn't been that moment of triumph, of feeling like I've conquered the inhuman hostility of space. There's no sense of adventure. No Man's Sky trivializes the journey in order to focus on the reward a strange alien or a neat upgrade and in doing so makes neither feel like an achievement.

To the Mun 

Kerbal Space Program and No Man's Sky don't aspire to the same goals, but there's a lot that can be learned from the dopey little kerbals and their obsession with dying on other planets. Compared to No Man's Sky and Elite: Dangerous, Kerbal Space Program's planets are barren, waxy balls of nothing. Yet the moment I landed my first kerbal on the 'Mun' (moon), I really felt like a little green Neil Armstrong making one giant leap for kerbalkind.

While Kerbal Space Program is more obsessed with the technical mastery of engineering rather than exploring the far reaches of a galaxy, it's also been the one game that has given me that sense of adventure I so desperately want from No Man's Sky and Elite: Dangerous. Kerbal Space program cares little about what awaits me on its boring planets but invests everything in making sure that getting there is a struggle for the ages. Whether I'm correcting orbital trajectories, plotting slingshot maneuvers between planets, or panicking as I design a rescue mission to save a stranded kerbal, each one has me painfully aware of the stakes. When I completed my first successful Mun landing, I felt like I had conquered more than the millions of miles in between but my own expectations of what I thought I could achieve. I felt like an explorer.

With 1.8 quintillion planets to Kerbal's seven, No Man's Sky is desperately lacking that same tension. Unlike Kerbal, there's no anchor to ground the whole experience, no moment where I look back and see my homeworld behind me and feel awe for how hard won each and every mile I've come has been. Without that sense of scale, that understanding of the enormity of things and the challenge it'll take to overcome them, I don't feel like I'm stepping out into a vast universe. I feel like I'm flipping through an endless coffee table book it's aesthetically pleasing but ultimately unaffecting. With 1.8 quintillion planets, the question I'm beginning to ask isn't which one I should explore next, but why should I even care?

PC Gamer

It s a format break! This week, Samuel, Andy, Phil and Chris run through some of their personal picks for the PC Gamer Top 100 our annual list that definitely makes everybody happy and not mad at us. What did they vote for? Why did they vote for it? And which game lets you hold two fistfuls of iron wank?

You can get Episode 19: The Illlusive Manatee here. You can also subscribe on iTunes or keep up with new releases using our RSS feed.

Discussed: That would spoil the surprise.

This Week: Samuel Roberts, Phil Savage, Andy Kelly, Chris Thursten.

The PC Gamer UK Podcast is a weekly podcast about PC gaming. Thoughts? Feedback? Requests? Get in touch at pcgamer@futurenet.com and use the subject line Podcast , or tweet us with #pcgpodcast.

This week s music is from Mass Effect 2.

Community Announcements - KasperVld

Hello everyone!

The 1.1.3 patch is now available! We’ve taken our time over the past couple of weeks to tackle as many issues as we could in this patch and the results speak for themselves: close to 100 fixes have been logged compared to the previous version of KSP, and we even found time to hide something small in the game that we’re sure a lot of long time fans will appreciate!

Check out the full changelog at our Forums.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Joe Donnelly)

One thing I love about spaceflight simulator Kerbal Space Program [official site] is that I’m yet to find two players who’ve shared identical experiences. I’ve only ever played in short bursts myself, but mastering takeoff still heads my to do list. Others I’ve chatted with speak of grand space voyages and interesting discoveries. Heck, Adam even prefers the game as a spectator sport, which speaks volumes for its wide-reaching appeal.

Which is why it’s a surprise to learn that lead developer Felipe Falanghe has announced his departure from Kerbal Space Program after five and a half years of service.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

After more than five years on the job, Kerbal Space Program Lead Developer Felipe Falanghe is moving on. In a farewell message posted on the KSP subreddit, Falanghe praised and thanked the development team and KSP supporters, but said, I desperately need to have something new, to create more than one game in my life.

KSP has become far more than the game I imagined half a decade ago. When we first set out to take on this project, I could not have expected anything even remotely close to what it ended up becoming, he wrote. To say KSP surpassed my every expectation would be, at best, a colossal understatement.

Kerbal Space Program is now conceptually complete, Falanghe explained, but its development is not. A long-term plan for the future is in place, with enough ideas to keep us all going for years, and he emphasized that his departure won't have an impact on any of it.

I need to make one thing perfectly clear: development on KSP will continue as always. No features, upgrades, bugfixes or anything of the sort are being discontinued because of my leaving, he wrote. This I say with absolute confidence, because I have complete trust in every member of the KSP team, and I know they are fully capable of handling anything that comes their way.

Falanghe, who showed us his rig in 2014, gave no indication of what he'll get up to next, although clearly he's not looking to get out of the game-making business. So while it's sad to see him leave, the prospect of Kerbal Space Program carrying on as usual, while the guy who came up with it goes off to do something new, does have a real appeal to it. And in case there was any question as to exactly how people feel about Falanghe and his game, another redditor created a word cloud of all the comments in the thread up to that point. It's pretty great.

Community Announcements - KasperVld

Hello everyone!

We noticed a number of issues persisted through the 1.1.1 patch earlier this week. We’re releasing patch 1.1.2 to address these issues before we head off to a long overdue vacation for the next couple of weeks. Patch 1.1.2 addresses issues with the user interface and landing legs, amongst others.

Check out the full changelog on our forums.

The Patch will start downloading through your Steam client automatically.
Community Announcements - KasperVld

Hello everyone!

The 1.1.1 patch is now available! This patch will bring high priority fixes to the game. Although last week’s release of 1.1 went smoothly, there were still a few bugs left to fix. Considering we updated the game’s engine we’re all very pleased with the overall state of the game. Those of you who were around for the switch from Unity 3 to Unity 4 in version 0.18.4 will certainly remember how much impact changing the game engine can have on the game’s stability.

Check out the full changelog on our forums. The update should start downloading through your steam client automatically soon™.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Joe Donnelly)

One thing which makes Kerbal Space Program [official site] different from most, if not all, other space games is failure. In the short bursts I’ve played our Best Space Game of 2015, I’ve not saved the world or fought off alien invasions; I’ve struggled to assemble the most basic of rocket ships and have fumbled more take offs than I care to admit. My fleeting moments of success, though, have been great fun. The game’s “Turbo Charged” 1.1 update introduces a range of new features aimed to help amateurs like myself along, while also upping the challenge for those space veterans among us.

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - HarvesteR

Hello everyone!

Kerbal Space Program is “Turbo Charged” by the release of patch 1.1!

After almost a year of hard work our major update is finally here! In the package you’ll find a large boost in performance due to the upgrade to the Unity 5 game engine, 64 bit binaries for Windows and OSX that will help you mod the game to ridiculous lengths and the brand new KSPedia reference guide for all the information you need to play the game!

That’s not all though, here are some of the highlights for this patch:

All new user interface
The user interface has been rewritten from the ground up to take full advantage of Unity 5’s new integrated systems. The ‘parallel’ UI systems have been removed and the game now uses only one system, adding to the performance bonus the update already brings. Almost all interface elements have been redesigned and tweaked but have retained the familiar feel for experienced players. The most notable tweaks can be found in the map view, staging, IVA portraits and the right-click part menus.

KSPedia will be the primary source for information on just about anything in the game. New players will find the basics of building and flying explained here, and more experienced players can take in information about more advanced concepts such as docking, in-situ resource utilisation and all the information they need to plan a successful mission to the next planet or moon.

New tutorials and scenarios
The tutorials have been extended and reworked from the ground up. The new tutorials will cover topics ranging from basic and advanced construction and flight, to docking and landing on Mun. Learn how to execute the perfect gravity turn, orbit Kerbin and land the Eagle. New scenarios unlock advanced mission concepts to any player: use a spaceplane to re-enter the atmosphere and land it back on the runway at the Kerbal Space Center, return a craft without heat shield from Duna, or beat SpaceX at their own game by flying back the first stage of a rocket to the launch pad.

You can find the complete changelog here. Kerbal Space Program 1.1 is now available on the KSP Store and on Steam, and will soon be available on other third party platforms.
Product Release - Valve
Save 40% on Kerbal Space Program during this week's Midweek Madness*!

To celebrate the Turbo Charged Update, Squad is offering 40% off Kerbal Space Program.

In KSP you must build a space-worthy craft, capable of flying its crew out into space without killing them. At your disposal is a collection of parts, which must be assembled to create a functional ship. Each part has its own function and will affect the way a ship flies (or doesn't). So strap yourself in, and get ready to try some Rocket Science!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time


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