A Switch version of the expansive space adventure No Man’s Sky has been begged for, joked about and generally banded around for a few years now. Even those who really wanted it were surprised when it was actually officially announced, though, because it seemed like such an impossible task. But, well, here it is and it’s most impressive.
I really don’t need to trawl through the history of Hello Games historic game, it’s been done many times and if you’re really still in the dark about it, there is a very good youtube video covering everything. Needless to say, it’s gone through plenty of ups and downs and come out the other side as something of a redemption story for the developers (and rightly so). I was one of those who preordered the game on the Playstation 4, played it at launch and actually enjoyed it, in spite of the unfinished feel and severe lack of ‘promised’ content. But I could never have predicted the game that it has become, arguably far more than was originally expected and the reason that I’ve wasted this paragraph wittering on about it is that it really does underline how impressive the Switch port actually is, in both terms of scope and how well it actually runs on Nintendo’s low end hardware.
No Man’s Sky has become a fascinating space exploration and survival game that allows you to visit a vast number of procedurally generated planets with different wildlife, weather, plants and settlements. There are toxic, hot and cold planets as well as other hazards to keep you on your toes as you investigate each world and even the space in between them is peppered with pirates who will try to blast you out of the sky. Base building, ship expanding, and farming can distract you for hours and there are even vehicles and ridable animals as an alternative way to roam the planets’ surfaces. A story has been gradually formed from the bare bones of the original release to become a much more fleshed out experience here, though it still requires a lot of digging and waypoint following to see it through and wandering off on another tangent is par for the course because there is so much else to do.
The relaxed game mode, new to the Waypoint update that came out alongside this version, is a fantastic addition for those who want a bit of a slower pace with less danger and more chance to take things at their own pace. Every other mode, from survival to standard is also present here but multiplayer is the one area that has been cut completely, unsurprising given the way Nintendo’s online systems work on Switch.
Let’s be honest for a minute, though. The Switch was never going to handle the whole console and PC experience wholesale and some sacrifices are made to get it running. Graphics are paired back in terms of detail when you’re examining large objects, draw distance isn’t as deep and blurring is used to great effect to hide everything else. If you’ve played the other versions there are some easy to notice areas such as flying over the landscape where things have really been dialled back but they don’t affect gameplay and if you’re coming to No Man’s Sky fresh then you really won’t notice.
Due to the cutbacks the game, thankfully, runs pretty smoothly even with a lot going on and there are only occasional glimpses of objects disappearing if things get too much, preferable to a large drop in fps. But this is still pretty much the full experience on a handheld and one that comes highly recommended.