Is No Man’s Sky Single Player or Multi Player?

Probably the single biggest question asked about No Man’s Sky is whether the game is a single- or multiplayer experience.  There is no doubt that multiplayer is a massive and undeniable force in gaming and arguably dominates the playing experience for a significant portion of the gaming community nowadays. Whether or not No Man’s Sky is considered a multiplayer game, remains a question we’d love to answer.

Multiplayer, nowadays mandatory?

Gone are the days of games primarily being a single player experience, with a possible multi player element added on as an enhancement;  Now many games are developed that can ONLY be played in multiplayer (i.e. Star Wars: Battlefront). Even where multiplayer is not mandatory, there has been a definite reversal where a single player experience is almost an afterthought, especially where the big AAA titles are concerned. More and more developers are requiring a permanent online connection, even when one may have no interest in multiplayer at all.

The case with No Man’s Sky

So where does No Man’s Sky sit within this landscape? Well, the confusion for many people is the definition of multiplayer, and how this is generally interpreted, and is something Sean Murray is at pains to draw people’s attention to in numerous interviews.

For many, multiplayer symbolises meeting up with a group of friends (possibly in a guild/clan/corporation) and playing the game in each others (online) company. If you’re playing World of Warcraft, you may team up and explore a dungeon together. In Eve Online you may be in a corporation with friends roaming in Null-sec. If you’re a Call of Duty/Battlefield 4 aficionado, it may entail mass fire-fights and capturing enemy targets with your team.

In No Man’s Sky you will be able to do none of these things with your friends. Your friends will exist in the universe with you so by definition, the game is multiplayer. You will be able to see player discoveries and if you land on a planet where another player has been previously you will be able to see who named it etc. However, each person will start on their own planet on the edge of an unfathomably large starting galaxy. The scale of the game will simply make the chances of meeting up with anyone in real-time, let alone friends, unbelievably remote. It is for this reason Hello Games have not pushed this as a traditional multiplayer game. Indeed, they have gone out of their way many times to say that íf you are looking for an MMO type of experience, then No Man’s Sky is not the game for that at least when the game initially launches.

Conclusion

That said, if you do come across another player, No Man’s Sky will treat that as a significant event and the player will be aware of it. Hello Games have not revealed how though. Sean Murray has often pointed to the PS3/PS4 game Journey as an example of a non-traditional multiplayer game that has inspired No Man’s Sky. In Journey you may come across another player in your instance of the game but there is no direct way to communicate with that player and it is not until the end credits that you even get to discover their name. Essentially you become a silent partner to your companion, experiencing the wonders of the game together, but alone.

Ultimately, No man’s Sky, could be summarised as a singleplayer game in a multiplayer universe. Those looking to meet up with friends to explore the universe will be disappointed, and are likely to be much more satisfied with Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen in that regard.