Port Report: No Man's Sky (PC)

Oh Gods, Why?

After being hyped up since literally the beginning of human existence, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky has finally launched on PC. It was a rocky road rife with delays and scepticism, but at least it’s here and it works now, right?

Wrong. The PC version of No Man’s Sky is at best shoddy, and at worst utterly broken. No matter which way you slice it, this is shameful.

 

Isn’t the most lacklustre one I’ve ever seen, but it isn’t exactly brimming with choice either

The options menu is probably the most “alright” thing about it. Full key rebinding and controller support are available, and the graphics options are serviceable. It features full FOV for both the on-foot and in-ship cameras, borderless windowed mode, multiple detail settings for textures and landscapes, anti-aliasing, and anisotropic filtering. There’s even support for 4K resolutions for the lucky, ultra-HD-blessed few.

On the downside, the anti-aliasing options are limited, with only a couple of different types of it on offer (FXAA, SSAA x4, or nothing). You’ll be far better off turning off AA in-game entirely and just using your graphics card’s configuration program instead. As far as options menus go this isn’t the most lacklustre one I’ve ever seen, but it isn’t exactly brimming with choice either. It’s enough.

 

While the options aren’t terrible, the UI to access them is a nightmare. It’s slow and unresponsive, mostly due to the bizarre requirement to hold the left-mouse button down when selecting things, rather than the simple click basically any other program in the history of Windows uses. Trying to quickly change options, move inventory items, and access vital information becomes a lengthy affair when it’s required you hold the mouse down for an entire second to do anything. It’s such a small and seemingly insignificant thing, but it makes navigating the menus a major pain in the arse.

 

Performance is currently a big problem with the port for a whole lot of people. There have been widespread issues with crashing, audio cutting out, and poor frame rates regardless of hardware setup, operating system, or drivers installed. While there is bound to be some hidden cause, right now it seems entirely random as to who gets the game working and who doesn’t.

 

Luckily for me and unhelpfully to anybody else, I’ve not had any of the problems others have. With everything but anisotropic filtering on their highest and the anti-aliasing set to FXAA, I’ve been able to maintain a steady 60FPS at almost all times. The only areas where my framerate appears to drop is during the transition from space to a planet’s atmosphere, where everything is loading in. The fact I notice significant stuttering during this time while installed on an NVMe SSD is concerning, but it doesn’t interfere with play itself.

 

Widespread issues with crashing, audio cutting out, and poor frame rates

My largest issue with No Man’s Sky’s PC port are the visuals. Even on the highest settings, textures are muddy and blurry (especially of destructible objects like asteroids or monoliths), even when travelling planets on-foot. There’s also serious problems with detail pop-in. I haven’t seen it quite as bad as this for a long time. Asteroids and terrain blink into existence far too close to the camera, while everything else quickly fades in with a really, really ugly grainy effect. Considering how quickly the worlds can be navigated, these problems No Man’s Sky a very unpleasant game to look at, which, for a game about exploring a beautiful universe full of whimsy, is a big problem.

 

All in all, the No Man’s Sky PC port is incredibly disappointing. The game’s been in the works for years, and the PC version was held back a few days longer than its console counter-parts, and yet there are still significant problems. If you’re lucky to get the thing even running, you can expect drab visuals, limited settings, and the UI from hell.

As for the game itself, you can read Laura’s thoughts on it here. I’ve spent less time with the game than her, but at the moment I am flipping wildly between the wonder of exploration and the utter boredom of floating in space for 10 minutes if I want to get anywhere. Unique and interesting planets don’t happen often enough, with most of the time spent on simple pallet swaps of the world before. I’m eager to go back and see if it eventually clicks, but right now I’m just not feeling it.

A copy of this game was purchased by Let’s Play Video Games for the purposes of this port report.

Developer/Publisher: Hello Games

Minimum requirements: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions), Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 480, AMD Radeon 7870

Test Rig: Windows 10 64-bit, Intel Core i7 4790k, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 980. Latest Nvidia drivers installed. Game run off a Toshiba OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD. Performance tested at maximum detail settings, and anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering lowered.

Joe is LPVG’s resident hardware nerd. If it’s overpriced and has gaudy RGB lighting, he’s probably drooling over it. He loves platformers, MMOs, RPGs, hack ‘n slashers and FPS, with his favourite games being Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Oblivion and Dead Space. Don’t ask him about his unhealthily large Monsters Inc memorabilia collection. Seriously, just don’t ask…

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