No Man’s Sky has been out for a week now, and the Internet has devoured the game to a degree the developers never predicted. It’s a huge hit—although, as expected, the game has been divisive because the real game we can play now is quite different than the super-hyped version of No Man’s Sky we imagined. For one thing, a lot of earnest and eager fans expected the game to be some kind of a Minecraft killer. It was probably never to be in the first place, but one thing’s for sure—No Man’s Sky isn’t a Minecraft killer. And that’s for a pretty obvious reason. The games just aren’t that much alike.
Why No Man’s Sky Isn’t A Minecraft Killer
O, the halcyon days of 2015, when the hype about No Man’s Sky reached its maximum levels compared to the amount of actual information we had. Absent much detail about the gameplay in No Man’s Sky, players and lazy journalists projected every little thing onto the game, from imagining it was a massive multiplayer game of space alliance building like EvE Online to dreaming up a game where we all could build massive planetside installations of our own design, a sort of Minecraft set on infinite earths.
Of course, it turns out No Man’s Sky isn’t anything like that. For one thing, it doesn’t have base-building, one of the core components of Minecraft (although the feature is coming in a future patch). For another, while you can tear down many of the environments in No Man’s Sky, you can’t put them back together like you can in Minecraft. NMS has loads of destructible environments, but not only is there no base-building… there isn’t much building at all.
After all, No Man’s Sky is a game about moving continuously… not about standing in one place and slowly building up a world. And while No Man’s Sky does have a developed crafting system, what you create is about helping you move forward faster and more safely—not about helping you build a cooler and better base.
When it comes down to it, No Man’s Sky isn’t a Minecraft killer because it doesn’t really compete with Minecraft. The games set out to do very different things. Tons of indie games do pursue similar angles as Minecraft, and are far more in its purview: Don’t Starve, Terraria, Starbound, Stardew Valley and even Super Mario Maker and Fallout 4 are closer to Minecraft’s wheelhouse. No Man’s Sky, on the other hand, does a great job at what Sean Murray and Hello Games always said it would do. It has its problems—some of them big ones—but it’s a stunning science fiction visual epic sandbox. Minecraft is an open world base-building adventure sandbox. They just aren’t even in the same realm.