The Day One Conundrum: No Man’s Sky Update and New Release Purchases

day one conundrum

Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

Grumpy Joe and I are good friends. We may jab at each other in podcasts and in real life, but we respect each other’s points of view. He sees me as the grizzled gaming veteran; I see him as indicative of the new gaming generation. The respect is begrudging but real.

Still, Grumpy Joe has a major beef with me. And he is wrong. And it’s because of No Man’s Sky.

His major point of contention with me is that I don’t embrace new games as readily as he does. Right now, he’s neck deep in Lawbreakers, Cliff Bleszinski’s newest passion project. I played it some during the betas and skipped the launch. My verdict: it’s a decent game, but let’s wait and see.

It’s my default posture when a game comes out. I wait for the launch hype to die down, I see if the game sings to me, and I’ll jump in when I feel the time is right.

Meanwhile, I’m neck deep in Diablo III for the PS4. Season 11 is in full swing, and I’m working to get as many rewards as I can before I hit the brick wall of reality. I sneak in sessions while I work from home, and any free time I can dedicate to gaming is spent there. Well, either there or on one of the hundreds of retro and near-recent games at my disposal. I’m not worried about playing the new game of the week. I’ll get to it eventually. Shit, I haven’t even torn the shrink wrap off my copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition for Christ’s sake! I’ll get there eventually!

That mentality is 1000% contrary to Grumpy Joe. He buys in on Day One because he wants to strike while the iron is hot. There, he does have a point of sorts. Launch day is when the most amount of people are going to try the game. With the massive focus on multiplayer content in today’s games, the best time to jump in and play a game is when the most amount of people are available to join in on the experience.

Thing is, I don’t generally give a shit about multiplayer. Usually, I stick with single-player content and graduate to multiplayer slowly. Part of that is due to my history. Growing up, the only multiplayer options I had was local, restricted to the number of players that could cram into one TV. The only extended multiplayer gaming I had was with World of Warcraft, and even then I favored grinding for mats and doing story-related quests. I raided with my guild on the appointed days, then spent the rest of the week farming mounts and getting achievements.

(I’m an achievement whore. Get over it!)

The other part is historical as well. In my experience, games that are heavily focused on multiplayer almost always have issues at launch. Even Grumpy Joe’s beloved Lawbreakers had serious server issues when it launched for the PS4, his preferred platform. He lamented these very issues at launch. But he still jumped in at launch, despite knowing better. And he gritted his teeth and dealt with the issues until they were resolved.

Of course, he’ll still defend his point of view. I’ll paraphrase his main complaint succinctly.

“All I want”, he’s said more than a few times, is to “play a new game with my friends. I like playing games when they’re new, and I like to play with friends. What’s wrong with that?”

Well, Grumpy Joe, I have three words for you that will explain EXACTLY what is wrong with that.

No Man’s Sky.

That “promise everything” game that has been lambasted in the last year for their overpromising hype recently released a new update. Titled “Atlas Rises”, the update adds basic multiplayer in addition to a host of other new features. The features they added shouldn’t be new; they were promised on Day One. But they’re new now, nearly a year after the game’s initial release.

No Man’s Sky encapsulates everything I despise about new game releases nowadays. All big new releases are filled with tons of hype. Few games meet or exceed the hype on release. Fewer still manage to reach the heights of their original hype at all. And most of them have issues that a more patient gamer may deal with but I won’t.

I’m old. I may die soon. Do you really think I want to spend my remaining time in this mortal coil dealing with bugs and server issues?

Next time Grumpy Joe laments how I don’t wanna join him on the new release bandwagon, I’ll throw No Man’s Sky at his face. I’ll ask him one simple question: “If you bought in to No Man’s Sky when it came out, how happy would you be to play it?” Okay, he didn’t get that game on Day One, but he’d be saltier than a typical dinner at P.F. Chang’s if he had. I’ll also point out that it took the game almost a year to fulfill many of its initial promises.

When he balks at the mention of the game and says something to the effect of, “not all games are like that”, I’ll agree. Then I’ll hit him with these facts:

  • Street Fighter V has not reached its levels of promise even after more than a year after release. It’s still a barebones fighting game geared towards hardcore online fighters and little else. At least No Man’s Sky has tried. And when they tried, they didn’t force players to go through more hoops than the first level of Superman 64!
  • Rainbow Six: Siege also launched as a hot mess and needed time to get better. And it’s a great game now. But still, the game slammed microtransactions down players’ throats, expecting them to plunk down extra cash for some of the better things. Funny thing: the game was incomplete; the cash shop was fully operational. All of No Man’s Sky’s updates have thus far been free. Late, but free.
  • Blizzard’s Diablo III is a game I rabidly play now. But this is well after its 2012 release, and it’s not on the PC. I was there Day One on PC with my son, and had to deal with the numerous connection issues, as well as the ill-advised Real World Auction House that absolutely BROKE the game. My son is young and could persevere; I’m old and can’t deal with shit. I bought it when it was ported to the PS3, and only because Cousin Jose jumped in along with me. The PS3 and Xbox 360 releases launched a full year later and were stripped of many of the features the PC release had. It wasn’t until 2016, four years later, that the PS4 and Xbox One enjoyed (nearly) the same content PC users did.
  • Another Blizzard game, Overwatch, has been an absolute treat to play on all platforms. Except during launch, when the servers coughed up a lung. It wouldn’t be a big deal except this is fucking Blizzard!!!!! Do you mean to tell me that after World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, and Diablo III, the fine folks at Blizzard STILL don’t know how to have servers available and bulletproof at launch???

This is the reality of gaming nowadays. The game that is purchased at launch is often buggy, broken, and feature-incomplete. Just like No Man’s Sky.

Not all games are like this. There were no launch issues for Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands that I can recall. That’s a good thing. Too bad they couldn’t do the same for Watch Dogs 2, For Honor, and The Division.

Meanwhile, No Man’s Sky has evolved into a semblance of the game that was promised at launch. It’s taken nearly a year, and it’s not entirely there. But at least Hello Games has stayed committed to the game and pushed out updates, free of charge, for the game.

No Man’s Sky is the best worst-case scenario we can hope for nowadays. At least it wasn’t like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which was so incomplete at launch, it required a Day One patch that added EVERYTHING ELSE THAT WASN’T THE FUCKING TUTORIAL! At least it wasn’t like EA’s rebooted SimCity or Diablo III, which demanded an always-on internet connection and punished players for that with the inability to PLAY THE FUCKING GAME!!!

The lesson I take away from this is simple: it’s not a good idea to buy a game on launch day. Give it time and wait for it to become more robust. I follow that tenet even when I’m emotionally attached to a game.

Marvel vs Capcom Infinite will hit North American shores on September 19th, 2017. My brother from another mother, Punisher, has it on pre-order. I may not even buy it. After the sour taste that Street Fighter V and Street Fighter x Tekken left in my mouth, I’m waiting for Capcom to give me a reason to buy into a gaming series I have LOVED since its inception as X-Men: Children of the Atom in the arcades. Oh yeah, the X-Men aren’t going to be in this game. I love the X-Men. So Capcom is going to have to try REAL HARD to convince me.

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom pops on January 19th, 2018. The original game is one of my favorite RPGs on the PS3. Cousin Jose and I are dying to play the sequel. He’s pre-ordering the Premium Edition so he can pair the included steelbook with the one he procured from E3 2017. He’s an avid collector, as I am. I’ll just have to accept the fact that he’ll have two collector’s items I won’t have. I sure as shit ain’t buying the game at launch. AND I LOVED THE ORIGINAL!

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has been delayed to 2018. Grumpy Joe and I are both salivating at a chance to play the game. He may buy it on launch day. I’ll wait at least a month. If he does buy it at launch, he’ll chide me because I didn’t get it at launch. He’ll also lament not being able to play the game with me.

Grumpy Joe have a major beef with me. And I respect him, just like I respect Cousin Jose and Punisher. But they’re wrong.

Nowadays, it doesn’t pay to buy a game at launch. Wait for the launch, wait more for all the bugs to be ironed out. Maybe then the game is something you would want to play. Hopefully, it doesn’t take as long as No Man’s Sky did.

He has been playing video games for longer than he would like to admit, and is passionate about all retro games and systems. He also goes to bars with an NES controller hoping that entering the Konami code will give him thirty chances with the drunk chick at the bar. His interests include vodka, old-school games, women, vodka, and women gamers who drink vodka.

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