While the massive galaxy of No Man’s Sky is unquestionably impressive, a number of technical limitations, public gaffes, and design decisions have caused some disappointment and anger to bubble up online. We now know exactly what the game is capable of, but is it worth jumping in on your platform of choice, or is a wait-and-see approach still your best bet?
Back on launch day, most reviewers hadn’t had enough time with the game to weigh in just yet, though it did become clear how well the game was performing on the PS4 (click the prior link for details). Our sister site IGN gave the PS4 version a score of 6/10, another sister site PCMag did like it and gave it 4 stars and Editors’ Choice, and the 78 reviews on Metacritic average out to 71/100 for that platform. Since then, dozens of reviews have poured in. Those aren’t bad scores, but they’re not quite what any developer wants to see.
The PC version launched a few days after the PS4 release, and it currently has a 64/100 on Metacritic based on just 5 reviews. Many outlets didn’t see fit to put it through its paces for a formal review, but if you take a look at the Steam page for No Man’s Sky, you’ll quickly see why it causes such strong reactions. Some are simply upset with technical or design issues, but many of the harshest critics feel burned by perceived inconsistencies in the consumer-facing messaging from Hello Games. Even those of us who like it seem to have some reservations — it’s complicated.
The Digital Foundry team tested out the game on a handful of different setups, and found that the GTX 1060 significantly outperforms the RX 480 on high settings at 1080p. AMD’s card sees occasional dips below 60fps, but both cards easily outperform the PS4 release in the frame rate department.
Meanwhile, the lower-end GTX 950 and RX 460 can handle medium settings at 1080p fairly well as long as you’re not dead-set on hitting 60fps. However, the budget AMD card did stumble a bit during stress points. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for some optimization patches to help close the performance gap between Nvidia and AMD.
Outside of the resolution and frame rate benefits you’d expect, the PC release is a little too similar to the PS4 version for comfort. The draw-in is still noticeable, and the configuration options are pretty limited. The FXAA anti-aliasing solution isn’t great, and the SSAA 4X alternative is only feasible for people with very beefy setups.
Digital Foundry also ended up getting a more aesthetically appealing result by using Nvidia’s toolset to force a 16x anisotropic texture filter that’s noticeably better than what the game can provide by itself. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s certainly a frustrating situation for gamers that have come to expect more from PC ports.
With all of that said, Hello Games is being aggressive with tackling technical problems. The support staff was significantly bulked up, and numerous patches have already been pushed out. Better yet, we’ve been promised some big improvements like base building, space freighters, and temporal anti-aliasing down the road. If you haven’t already bought in, it may be worth waiting just a bit longer to see how all of this plays out.