No Man's Sky | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

No Man's Sky | Review | Switch

The initial launch of No Man’s Sky on the PS4 was a point of contention. While some had quite a bit of fun with the original version in 2016, it was hard to overlook promised features for the game that were missing. Over the years, Hello Games has worked hard to live up to the promises that were made from the outset, and now the game is in a better state than what was originally thought possible. With the game being such a technical marvel, it was thought the it would just not be possible on the Switch. But here we are. No Man’s Sky is on the Switch, it’s still fun, but does Nintendo’s hardware hold the game back? Let’s take a look. 

From the start, there are three main different modes of play for No Man’s Sky on the Switch. Of course, you can start the game in Normal or opt to play the Relaxed or Creative Modes. The latter modes offer a more casual style of play with less emphasis on gathering items and more of a focus on exploration and just getting your adventure off of the ground. Other things, such as playing with permadeath, are also on offer. Not only that, but all of the past updates that have hit the game over the years are available here as well. The only thing missing from the Nintendo Switch version at the moment is online multiplayer. It’s currently unclear if this will come to this version of the game, so if you’re looking to play online with friends, you are better off playing No Man’s Sky elsewhere. 

For the purpose of this review, I spent most of my time playing in Normal Mode on the Switch, however, I did try out Relaxed mode on my Xbox Series S. I can see how the grind of gathering materials and meticulously searching for specific elements could be a bit annoying for some. Personally, I really enjoy the gameplay loop in Normal Mode, however, having these extra options is a great way to allow more people to get into the game. 
When it boils down to it, No Man’s Sky is what you make of it when it comes to story. You can follow main story missions, side missions, talk to variety of aliens and more. Or you can just ignore everything and go exploring. There’s an endless amount of content and tons of places to see - you probably couldn’t visit them all in a literal lifetime. Simply put, the game is packed to the gill with things to do. 

No Man’s Sky will primarily have players traverse planets and the galaxy both on foot and via their trusty spaceship. You’ll be tasked with scanning animals and plant life, gathering materials and crafting. You’ll have to maintain oxygen levels, environmental hazards (heat, cold, etc) and more while on foot. While flying, you’ll have to keep an eye on your fuel, shields and the threat of pirates. There’s a lot to do when it comes to customization. You can upgrade your suit, ship and mining laser. Another element that I didn’t really get into is the ability to create a variety of buildings and bases. There’s just so much to do that it can be a bit overwhelming. 
The controls feel pretty nice overall. While I do think combat can be a bit underwhelming, it’s important to note that exploration is the main focus of the game, with fighting being more of an optional aspect of the game. With that in mind, I think it’s fine, overall. Of course, this might even go without saying, but if the gameplay loop doesn’t grab you, it’s likely that this isn’t a game for you because things don’t really change over time. On the other hand, if you dig it, there’s just a lot to go through in the game. 

Visuals, Audio & Performance
Scaled back can best describe what you get with No Man’s Sky on the Switch. That’s not to say that what was accomplished on the Switch should be scoffed at, but I still do think it would be disingenuous to overlook this aspect of the game. Textures tend to be a bit flat. There is a ton of pop-in when zooming across planets, often with assets kind of bouncing into frame. Even so, the game does run at a pretty consistent frame rate. 
Digital Foundry did a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the game when it comes to the visuals and resolution, so you should probably check that out to see what the experts think. If you can’t be bothered to check them, they basically found the following when it comes to resolution:
  • 1152 x 648 - Docked
  • 896 x 504 - Handheld
I played quite a bit in both docked and handled mode. While, yes, the Switch version of the game isn’t a looker, it is a bit tougher to notice the visual deficiencies in handheld mode. Once blown up on the big screen, you will notice them quite a bit more. Overall, it’s nice to be able to have No Man’s Sky on Nintendo’s hybrid system.

While No Man’s Sky on the Switch isn’t the place to play the game if you’re looking for visual fidelity, the version on Nintendo’s hardware is actually pretty good. The gameplay loop is fun and the mechanics are tight and easy to get used to. Playing in handheld mode is a bonus here, too, although you will notice a hit on the game when it comes to visual fidelity. Still, if you want a way to play the game on both your TV or on the go, you can’t go wrong here. 

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