Where’s the ‘No Mans Sky’ We Were Sold On?

Where’s the NMS we were sold on? Here’s a big list of things that are missing from the game, complete with source links for everything and quotes. Also, an unpleasant revelation concerning how the game is being advertised. (LONG post)


So it’s been a week, and it seems like people are realizing that there’s a bunch of stuff we were told would be in the game, but isn’t. There have been posts and comments here and there talking about it, and giving examples. A few days ago, I decided to dive into the information repository myself, collect as much as I could manage, and put it all in one place. This is mostly a response to the prevailing notion that we hyped ourselves into believing something that wasn’t true from the get go. Some definitely have, and we all know the reputation this game’s community has gotten. But really, many of us were just going on what we’d been told, and we’d been told a lot of things that didn’t end up being true.

I broke everything down into categories. Beside each missing feature there’s links to the YouTube video it’s talked about/shown in, and all links are to the relevant time in the video. Bolded links lead to information from just four months ago. Besides that, I’ve pulled a relevant quote that sums up the subject, and when none was available (usually because it’s from a trailer,) I’ve added a short comment. Beneath the categories is extra info, and a comment trying to put things into the context of the game we have. There is more than all of this, I know, but this is what I could find. All information linked is either from the horse’s mouth, or official marketing material.

EDIT::: Simplified version here, if you don’t care about the lesser details or my rambling context-giving down below. From my comment reply to/u/Mr_Dr0ne :

I got ya, luckily I still have the formatted post. I threw out everything I could find, that was my intention, but my lack of brevity will always be one of my shortcomings. The big momma issues simplified are:

  • The loss of planetary physics, which were said to govern many different systems, seemingly in a cascading effect from the top down: | 1234
  • The retooling of ships to make them all functionally identical, rather than having different classes for different playstyles, essentially homogenizing ship play into a single playstyle: 123
  • The reworking of factions from something with broader significance, into the very simplistic system we have now: 12
  • Resource distribution following none of the rules that were spoken of, instead resource variety is more shallow than we’d been lead to believe, so distribution was seemingly homogenized regardless of planet-based factors (likely an effect of the loss of planetary physics)1234 || This also had a knock-on effect for trading, which was trivialized by the ease in which most resources could be found: 123, and also crafting, which went from something Sean hoped would be community drive a la Minecraft (likely because there were far more resources originally, a la Minecraft, there’s more evidence of this than just the crafting,) to something that could only be done through recipes the game must teach you before you can actually use: 1

Those are the big ones that effect large swaths of the game, and Sean was talking about them all only four months ago. This is where all the real complexity Sean had spent years talking about was, and all of it was cut from the game, seemingly during the last delay.

Edit 2:: I’m being told that the butterflies do in fact exist, though are rare. Also, that animals do attack one another. I’m going to edit in clarifications for both. Guys, I’m having a balls-hard time keeping track of things, and my computer is absolutely crawling.

Please, if you have a screenshot of something, or know I’m dead wrong about something, send me a private message with it! I can’t keep up, and that would make it much easier for me to amend information in. I can’t keep up with the comments, but I’d like to credit people with the corrections!

Edit 3:: Instances of “desert planet” changed to “sand planet” to reflect the exact thing I’m referencing. I know there are rocky planets with cacti and the like, but so far nothing like the large sandy dune planets like the one show with the giant snake-worm thing. Again, if someone has a pic, please PM it to me!

Edit 4: I’m editing in the basic change to the ship scanner bit I was wrong about. Still hoping someone could send me a screenshot so I can add that too! PM me if you’ve got one!

Edit 5:: I can’t believe I forgot the satellite dishes on the tops of some buildings. There are moving bits on some buildings, just not the kinds of moving parts you see in the footage from a few months ago. Adding screenshots via /u/ShilkaLive.

Edit 6:: Rivers are in, just not super common. Editing in screenshot via/u/TheWonderfulJunkMan

This might be a good time for some popcorn. This is gonna be a long one.

Misc. Space Gameplay and Elements

Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Landing on Asteroids 1 “Yeah, at the moment you can land on asteroids.”
Destroying Space Stations And Fleets 12 “Maybe you take out a space station, or a fleet, or you know, something like that…”
Giant Fleets of Ships 123 These are examples much larger fleets than found in the game.
Large Freighters Actually Moving 1 An example of a freighter flying around, as opposed to just sitting there as a static object.
Scanning Planets From Orbit Edit:: This is indeed in the game. Leaving it here for posterity. 1 “I can do a scan.”

There ended up being no landing on asteroids. There’s no way to destroy freighters or space stations, and “fleets” in the game are compried of maybe three or so ships. Freighters also do not move at all, despite their engines always being on. All of these things make the game much more static and lifeless than we were shown. Edit:: This is indeed in the game. Leaving it here for posterity. Scanning from orbit isn’t possible, and it’s been something a lot of people have been talking about. The scan in the clip covers a much larger area than anything we have in the game, as ship scans currently only find one location on one planet for some reason.

NPCs and NPC Interactions

Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Faction Affiliations w/ Significance 1 “Different races have different attributes […] and depending on how I’m playing, I might want to kinda make an allegiance with one or [an]other”
Trade Ships Docking w/ Freighters 1 I’m yet to see this actually happen in-game.
Large-Scale, Joinable Space Battles Between Factions. 1 “Like here, we’re at the battle between two warring factions. I could join in, I could take sides.”
NPC Ships Launching From The Ground 1 Shows an NPC ship lauching from something other than a dock, implying they can land anywhere.
In-Atmosphere Freighters w/ Battling 12 Freighters traveling through a planet’s atmosphere, also being attacked.

Extra NPC Affiliations Bit –

“If you’re playing the game for exploration’s sake, you might want to focus on that race. But if you’re playing the game and all you want to do is kill things, there are more military-based races, so you might want to try and become friends with them.”Source

Extra NPC Interaction Bit –

“Having said that, being No Man’s Sky, there is a procedural element to your interactions. The AI you talk to will know the name of the planet you’re on and will reference it. They’ll reference wanting certain things based on the environment they’re in. They’ll know if it’s cold, or hot, or whatever. You’ll see a reasonable amount of variety — it’s not just pre-baked dialogue.” Source

Faction affiliations have been completely trivialized from what we were shown, and seem to have been pared down to almost no significance within the last few months. Sean talked a lot about how you could have a significant standing with factions that would meaningfully effect the game world. This is not the case, the serve nearly no purpose at all from what I can tell. They open up a few options for things like shield and health recharges, neither of which you would ever actually need them to do for multiple reasons. You can also farm words from their languages at a certain point, but it hardly seems like HG meant for this. You can max out faction rep in your first play session, and there are only three ranks for each. Losing rank seems very hard to do, even if you’re trying to do it.

Maybe the worst of all is that there are no faction battles to join. Factions don’t seem to have any interactions with each other at all, let alone have giant space battles. This is a huge bummer, it looked like so much fun. Factions you’re friendly with won’t even help you if you’re being shot by pirates right next to them! It seems like the whole faction element was almost completely removed from the game, and it was something Sean was talking about just four months ago.

Planets, Stars, and the Cosmos

Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Ringed Planets 1 “Yeah, we haven’t shown that yet, but yeah. if it’s in sci-fi and sci-fi book covers, we kinda need to do it.”
Sand PlanetsEdited from “Desert planets” to clarify 1 2 3 4 5 6 Sand planets were shown right up until a few months ago. They do not seem to be in the game, for as common as they are in the trailers.
Planets Rotating and Orbiting Around a Sun 1 2 3 4 See below.
The Technical Possibility of Flying Between Star Systems Manually 1 GI: “Could you potentially fly to new solar systems?” SM: “Yes, but nobody’s actually done it yet…”

Extra Rotations + Orbits Bit –

“The physics of every other game—it’s faked,” the chief architect Sean Murray explained. “When you’re on a planet, you’re surrounded by a skybox—a cube that someone has painted stars or clouds onto. If there is a day to night cycle, it happens because they are slowly transitioning between a series of different boxes.”

“With us,” Murray continued, “when you’re on a planet, you can see as far as the curvature of that planet. If you walked for years, you could walk all the way around it, arriving back exactly where you started. Our day to night cycle is happening because the planet is rotating on its axis as it spins around the sun. There is real physics to that. We have people that will fly down from a space station onto a planet and when they fly back up, the station isn’t there anymore; the planet has rotated. People have filed that as a bug.” Source

Comments: (EDIT:: Desert planets edited to Sand planets to clarify)
No ringed planets, and no sand planets. Ringed planets were only talked about, but sand planets were on display multiple times. Considering planets look very samey in the game, who knows how much variety has been cut. There seems to only be typical out-of-bounds void outside of solar systems, so there’s no way to travel out of them to other systems manually. If you go far enough out, things start bugging out, and your game will crash eventually.

Planets do not rotate on their axis, moons do not orbit their planets, and planets do not orbit a sun. There isn’t even a sun, it’s just decoration on the sky box. This may be the largest cut element, “solar systems” in the game are only static planets hanging in space. Whether or not you land on the dark or light side of a planet doesn’t matter. This may have more wide-ranging effects than just aesthetics, as there were many things said to be governed by the planetary simulation. Planets closest to the “sun” are just as likely to be frozen as the ones furthest away, for instance, which may have messed with all the systems that relied on there being a meaningful distinction there, considering all of those things either seem completely borked, or removed outright (more on that further down.) In terms of player experience, the loss of the simulation meant the loss of dynamic solar systems, which meant everything became little more than a shiny diorama. This is another thing that Sean was talking about just four months ago.

Ships and Flight

Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Actual Ship Classes And Differentiation 123 Hard to pull a quote here that represents the full bredth of this one.
Naming Ships 1 “Ships are actually a discovery just like everything else, and you can name your discoveries”
More Natural Flight Characteristics 1 Ship flying more like a ship than in the actual game

You cannot scan or name ships, and despite there being footage of somewhat-complex flight, flight in the game is relegated to almost-autopilot in atmospheres, and sluggish flying-through-pudding in space.

But the big one here is that ships are all functionally identical except for inventory slots, all other differences are cosmetic alone. Your trader ship is as good at dogfighting as your fighter, your science ship makes for a fine trader, so on and so forth. Things like speed and handling can not be upgraded, and are the same for the first ship you fly and the 48-slot beast you late-game in. What upgrades do exist are linear progressions for your twoguns, your shields, and your warp drive. Sean said this is a space game, and there’s nearly zero complexity or depth in the most important tool for spacefaring. Just four months ago, this did not seem to be the case.

Trade, Resources and Crafting

Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Resources Depending On Distance From Sun, Environmental Factors 1234 “You’ll learn planets that are further from the sun have certain types of resources, planets that are closer have certain types of resources, or planets that have certain environments.”
The Ability To Play The Game Solely As A Trade or Solely in Space 123 “But you can also […] just not gather resources. Perhaps you’re the type of person who just never wants to do that because it seems a bit laborious, or you just don’t like visiting planets and you just want to play a space game, so you can do that if you want, just going from space station to space station…”
Crafting That Has Complexity 1 “When we release the game, we’re not telling people ‘here are all the formulas,’ we’re just letting players loose, and a little bit like minecraft people can figure out those rules themselves…”
Find Elements By Checking Galactic Map 1 “If you’re searching for an element, a great tool there is the galactic map. The first thing that’s incredibly helpful [is] if someone has been to that system before, in visiting it, they’ll discover it, and then if they choose to, they will upload that information, and now anyone who goes to that system […] is going to know more about that system”

Here’s where things seem to have gone very wrong. All the complexity and depth in trade, resources and crafting seems to have been cut from the game, and replaced with incredibly simplistic systems with almost no depth whatsoever in the last few months. Let me go over it bit by bit, because there’s a lot.

Positions of planets does not affect resources therein, neither does weather, or type of planet, or anything. If those things exist in some small way, they’re so subtle as to not even be worth mentioning. All planets have mostly the same resources, with only rarer resources being mostly split up onto different planets. But there are only maybe 4 of that kind of element anyway. Maybe your planet with gold doesn’t have emeril or aluminium (sometimes they have all 3 of those,) but it has everything else. You don’t need to go to an icy planet as a sure-fire way to find plutonium like Sean says in one of those videos, plutonium is everywhere in abundance! The exotic elements have almost no uses outside of selling, and elements like gold and emeril only have a few more uses than those ones.

I really don’t know if it’s even possible to play the game without landing, but even if you can get everything you need from a store (which doesn’t sell much of anything in large enough quantities to be of much use) and from robbing freighters, the idea that you could play this game as a trader is a joke. Trading is a paper-thin mechanic, and there’s next to nothing to do with money anyway even if you are landing on planets. Trading between systems also seems completely implausible, considering finding your way back and forth to systems you’ve been to is frustrating to say the least.

Crafting is another thing that Sean has vastly overstated. If you can only craft the things the game has specifically taught you how to craft, how can there be some big community push to figure out how to craft them? Hell, much of the stuff you craft is only used to craft other things the game has to teach you how to craft before you can craft. And why is that? Why is it that you have to use Element 1 and Element 2 to craft A, use A to craft B, use B to craft C, and use C to craft warp fuel? Why does it take such a convoluted process?

There’s evidence in the newer demo videos of more elements in the game. I think there were supposed to be a ton more elements, enough to warrant the complexity in all these systems, but they got cut. When the whole system was simplified, it became a matter of replacing them with what they had left, but had to be balanced for difficulty and that’s why recharging your warp drive involves a four-step process. Everything about the complexity Sean talked about would require there to be more than just a handful of elements, and Sean was talking about all this stuff in April. This whole aspect seems like a complete mess, and I wonder if it has to do with the simulation being canned.


Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Animals and Plants That Eat Meat — THIS SEEMS TO BE IN 12 GI – “Do the animals eat each other? SM – “Yeah, they do.”
Bugs I’VE SEEN THE PICS, DEFINITELY IN THE GAME 12 Butterflies flying around. Doesn’t seem like a big thing on its own, but it’s something that adds life to an environment.
Large Creatures Affecting the Landscape 12 Creatures having an effect on their environment.
Creatures Doing Things They Don’t Do in the Game 12 The first is flying eels flying low, the second is large creatures seemingly bathing in water.

Extra Animal AI Complexity Bit –

“There is a list of objects that animals are aware of,” Artificial Intelligence programmer Charlie Tangora explained. “Certain animals have an affinity for some objects over others which is part of giving them personality and individual style. They have friends and best friends too. It’s just a label on a bit of code—but another creature of the same type nearby is potentially their friend. They ask their friends telepathically where they’re going so they can coordinate.”

There was a lot of talk about all the things animals were capable of in this game, and it seems like none of it actually made it into the game we were sold. I’ve never seen one of those plants attack an animal, and I’ve never seen animals attack, let alone eat eachother. They don’t seem to be capable of much beyond squealing, running/walking, and pantomiming eating or something. Aggressive animals just rush you until you kill them, that whole “shoot the ground and scare it away” thing doesn’t seem to work, in my experience. They just don’t seem to do a damn thing, and you’ll clip right through them if you try to walk into one. Their animations are also really clunky depending on how large they are. As far as creatures following some kind of ruleset for what kind of creature can be on what kind of planet, there doesn’t seem to be any. You’ll even get what sounds like the same distant-sounding animal calls on planets completely devoid of life. We probably all know that call, it’s that whale-like vocalization, and it seems to be the same one used for every planet.

They also clip right through trees and foliage as though they don’t even care they’re walking straight through a tree, so they certainly don’t cause the leaves and branches to shake like in that one vid. You don’t just happen upon some large land creature having a drink whole in the water, maybe because rivers were scrapped…

Planetary Surface Features

Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Rivers Edit 6:: These are in, h/t to/u/TheWonderfulJunkMan 1 1224 Link 4 contains gameplay with a river.
Large Structures 1234 Larger structures than are currently in the game.
Crashed Freighters 1 A freighter crashed on the surface of a planet, surrounded by sentinels.
Structures With Moving Parts Edit 5:: This is actually in the game, just not in the way shown. 1 2 12 Some portals seem to have had the same spinning metal ring as the Space Anomoly ship.
Portals 1 The structures have been found, but not activated.

Rivers can be seen in at least one video, and they were talked about a lot. There are barely even any lakes in the game, and the ones I’ve found were pretty small. Overall, most planets have zero water on them, even though they have obvious precipitation.

There are also no large structures like we were shown, nor any buildings with moving parts. The planets are populated with small, identical buildings with no dynamic features. There are also no crashed freighters to explore.


The big one here is that the portals we have found are dead, and we don’t know if they can be activated. But ask yourself, if every planet has most of the elements you need, and finding the ones any planet doesn’t have is as easy as searching the surrounding planets, what function would the portals even serve? This is another huge hint that there was once a larger table of elements to feed the more complex features the game once had. If maxing your ship, suit and multitool can be done on your starter planet, and planets closer to the center don’t have resources any more rare than outer planets, why would you ever need a portal like the ones they talked about? They would serve no purpose, that’s why I believe they’re just static objects now. Maybe HG thought no one would find them if they weren’t marked by scans, and that’s why they didn’t bother removing them.


Feature/Element Source(s) Relevant Quote/Comment
Sentinels in Large Packs 1 Gameplay showing sentinels in larger numbers than found in the game.
Maintaining Wanted Level Indoors 1 Footage of a wanted level not being cleared by entering a structure.
Ambient Walker Sentinels 1 Walker sentinel just out in the environment, and awakening in front of the player.

Sentinels only ever seem to come 3-4 at a time at most, certainly not in large packs like seen in that clip. Walkers aren’t just chilling out in the environment either, they spawn when you get a full wanted bar. But none of them pose any real risk anyway. Dog sentinels and walkers only come one at a time, and you really have to go out of your way to even get a walker to spawn most of the time because it’s so easy to take out sentinels before they call for backup. You want to know how easy it is to kill sentinels? Hit a sentinel with your mining beam just once, then aim off into space 10-20 feet to the side of it. Watch as your beam flies off into space, but blows up the sentinels anyway. Seriously, try it, their hit box becomes the size of a starship.

Even so, you can just melee jump a few times and escape a wanted level pretty easily, or pop into any structure, which deactivates them. This wasn’t the case four months ago.


Foo Bar text
Being Able To See and Play With Other Players 1 There are more examples of Sean talking about it, including one soon after the linked bit, but people have focused on this one, so we’ve all seen it by now.
Beacons Marking Points of Interest With Waypoints 1 A beacon marking points of interest across a wide area.
Useful Marking with Binoculars 1 Binoculars actually useful for marking buildings and such.
Hacking Reinforced Doors 1 “Well normally what you would do is you would hack it, that would be the best way.”
Radio Chatter 12 Radio chatter from inside your starship.
Translucent Glass On Starships 1 Glass windshield on starship rather than just black paint.

Obviously, we all know about the multiplayer stuff. There’s no confirmation that player-instances even exist.

Beacons in that video mark points of interest on a large swath of the planet. In the game, they zoom out, but don’t mark anything. You also don’t need them to upload discoveries. i think this is another tip that a lot of things were removed. Why would you need to mark all this stuff in such a large area when it’s the exact same stuff that’s in every area? Marking things with those binoculars in that other video looks to be a ton more useful than what we ended up with, which is a green glow that often matches the background, and a tiny white dot that sometimes mark things on the other side of the planet because it’s buggy as hell.

Being able to hack reinforced doors is talked about, but in the game, the only way to get in is to blow them up.

Radio chatter and glass windscreens aren’t much, but they’d add some much-needed liveliness to the game.

For all Sean said about how complex these systems were, how did they actually end up? They all fell well short of what was advertised.

Pillar Why Does It Fall Short of What Was Advertised?
Explore Planets are less diverse than we’d been told, and with less features. They also don’t seem to become appreciably more interesting as you move towards the center, if at all. The pool of resources is shallow, and they’re spread more or less homogeneously among planets. There are no objects on planets that you will not have seen in an hour or two on your first planet, and no objects in space that can be found through exploration. Explore should be renamed Sightsee, as that’s more or less what you’re doing when exploring because you quickly run out of significant things to discover.
Fight Ship combat was trivialized by the removal of classes and ship attributes. Large scale space battles were cut as well, and you cannot destroy space stations or freighters as we’d been told. You will fight sentinels and pirates alone, all of which fly ships which are functionally identical to your own. Ground combat occurs with only a few sentinels at a time, and poses no challenge. Fights are easily won, escaped from, or avoided entirely.
Trade Trading offers few benefits outside of selling valuable items to upgrade to better equipment. There are few items you’d actually ever want to buy from a trader, and few things to sell that are worth using an inventory slot on instead of a gold/emeril stack. Grinding for elements/rare items to sell is as far as most will ever go, and money quickly becomes useless in the game. You probably can’t play as a space trader exclusively, and trading between systems doesn’t seem worth the hassle even if you can. Trading with factions is a non-consideration as you will max out in rep for everyone very quickly. There simply isn’t enough elements in the game to support deep trade, as there’s little to actually need, and little worth actually selling.
Survive Everything you need for basic survival is bountiful on every planet. Sentinels pose no risk. The only thing that poses any particular risk is extreme planets, and there’s zero incentive to even really visit those as they’ve got nothing you couldn’t easily find elsewhere, not that the risk they pose isn’t easily mitigated and/or dealt with.

Considering how much is missing from the game, we have every reason to question whether or not any of the complex systems we were told would be in the game are actually there. Do the planets get any more exotic as you move to the center at all? Are those “significant” player-made disruptions to the game world actually being saved globally? Is there anything besides names being saved globally at all if there are no fleets to destroy, and you can’t destroy space stations? Do any of the things they talked about that govern things on a large scale exist? If they said nothing about the game-changing loss of planetary physics, are there less noticeable things that we haven’t been told are gone?
As you can see, the game we were told we’d get is a far more feature-rich, complex and dynamic game than the one we actually got. What we got was a static, lifeless and paper thin experience by comparison. I encourage anyone interested in this to spend some time watching the old trailers and demos to more fully grasp just how different the game is from the one they’d been selling us on for all those years.

There’s more and it ain’t pretty, in my opinion.

Clearly Sean was showing off a very different game four months ago. That footage is incredibly misleading, as it talks about many aspects of the game that no longer exist. Watching the IGN First from April bummed me the hell out, because that game looked amazing, and the game we got seems less like 1.03 and more like 0.5.03. It didn’t make me mad, I didn’t feel like I’d be straight-up lied to, only maybe unintentionally misled. Then just as I was wrapping this post up, I found the real kicker that pissed me all the way off.Maybe others have realized this, but I didn’t until last night:

The most recent promo material from July, the four pillars videos released just a month before launch, are all using new footage from that same old build of the game that very clearly does not represent the one people can buy. That footage is still being used to sell this game even now, and it’s no better than what Sega did with Aliens: Colonial Marines.

I feel utterly bamboozled now, possibly even hoodwinked. It’s one thing for footage from four months ago to be unrepresentative — development is a process, and things change. But a month old, when obviously the game had been significantly altered by then? To continue to use misleading footage in the commercials knowing the game had changed drastically? That’s being intentionally misleading. It makes you wonder: if they’re using footage they know to be misleading now, did they know it was misleading four months ago when they were making a big press push using that same build? As corny and melodramatic as it was last week, I think it’s fair to wonder if we’ve been legitimately lied to at this point.

If nothing more, we deserve some answers. No more vague nonsense, but real answers.

It’s mostly intact from the Archive. Everything is recreated without change to content, some formatting such as headings have been altered to work with Non-Fiction Gaming‘s layout.

We don’t really have an opinion either way currently as only some of the writers have played No Man’s Sky at the time of posting. This is certainly not a ‘Call to Action’ or anything, make up your own damn minds.

Feel free to comment below, but as always, keep it civil.

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