Artwork from Hello Games’ forthcoming ‘No Man’s Sky,’ via playstation.com
If Kotaku is to be believed, and we’ve no reason to not believe the report in question, the incredibly hyped space-faring epic No Man’s Sky from Hello Games will not be released, as expected, at the end of June. The countless procedurally generated star systems of the game, enough to fill 585 billion years of play before you’d feel confident of having seen absolutely everything it can produce (good luck with that), are supposedly on hold until July, or even August. But as the work of a small, independent team, that’s completely forgivable. And, mostly, gamers have been accepting of the longer wait.
Reactions on Kotaku’s Facebook page, where I first spied the news through misty morning eyes, inevitably incorporate some cheesed-off consumers absolutely livid that their best-laid plans for a summertime of interstellar immersion have been dashed—supposedly. But there’s plenty of good will too, and refreshing patience. “Let them take all the time they need to perfect the game,” writes one poster, “[as it’s] better to delay and fix problems than release it with a ton of bugs.” Another comments: “Take your time, devs. Make it a masterpiece.”
A screenshot from ‘Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithfulness’
Of course, until either Hello Games, or No Man’s Sky‘s distributors Sony Interactive Entertainment (for PS4) and iam8bit (PC), confirm that the game is indeed moving backward in the release schedule, this is effectively only speculation. Kotaku’s report is based on an anonymous but “reliable source,” and a Gamestop employee’s claim that NMS‘s marketing materials have had the June 21 date (its US release) covered by a “coming soon” label. But, if the game does shift a few months, I don’t see that as a bad thing whatsoever. PlayStation 4 owners have been spoiled so far in 2016, and I bet that a whole bunch of those with NMS pre-orders placed have a fair few untouched greats in their backlog.
Before I refresh your memories as to what’s been, let’s take a paragraph to highlight what’s yet to come out, which could fill this now potentially vacant space in your gaming future. Assuming you like your sci-fi, PS4 users can take a swim in the JRPG-styled Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithfulness (trailer), featuring a Final Fantasy–style real-time battle system. The tri-Ace developed adventure’s already been warmly received in Japan—it’s out in the US and UK at the end of June and beginning of July respectively. Another sci-fi-themed title out in June for PS4 is The Technomancerfrom French studio Spiders, a more action-based RPG set on Mars, 200 years after mankind has waged war over water resources. Sounds bleak, and honestly what I’ve seen of it so far is just that: Check out how grayly generic this gameplay trailer is. More striking of aesthetic and similarly future-set, albeit very much on Earth, is the free-running gymnastics of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, out on June 9. But again, my own first impression wasn’t exactly amazing.
Of course, you could fill your time between today and No Man’s Sky‘s release, whenever that may be, by playing more hours of Overwatch than are probably healthy. (I’m already finding that’s easily done.) Over 9 million people took part in the May open beta for Blizzard’s newly in the wild team-based shooter, adding up to 81 million hours of play logged. It’s already quite the big deal, and having categorically destroyed the chances of its closest-in-the-calendar genre rival, Gearbox’s Battleborn, making it as a genuinely competitive online shooter with MOBA genes, Overwatch seems set to continue as the premier game of its ilk across 2016. And most likely beyond, because Blizzard is an absolute juggernaut when it comes to this sort of thing, and you’re safest by simply staying out of its lane. Make a different game, guys. This scene’s taken.
But if online multiplayer shootybangs with scientist gorillas and robotic monks aren’t your thing, now’s a great time to catch up on what you’ve missed in 2016 so far—which you should, as there’s been no shortage of bona-fide gems across the first five months of the year. Sticking strictly to PS4-available games, given that NMS isn’t ever likely to ever be ported over to Xbox, we’ve seen The Witness, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Firewatch, and Ratchet & Clank all rate highly with reviewers and sell in impressive numbers. (Click each title to read more on the game in question.) Speaking non-exclusively, I expect that a great many gamers are yet to see the deepest time-sinks of 2015 through to their conclusions, be that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (game of the year on VICE), Fallout 4 ,or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
A screenshot from ‘Ratchet & Clank’
Alternatively, look to your PlayStation Plus collection. I know most of you have one on your PS4 dashboard, all these games just sitting inert in there, yet to be downloaded, waiting for a little love. So, offer some their way. May’s free-to-play (after the PS+ fee, obviously) games included Tropico 5, a construction-cum-government sim set across four distinct historical eras, from pre-WWI colonial times to the present day; and spaceship lovers should look to March’s lineup of titles, as Galak-Z is quite the compelling blast-around, a roguelike-ish shoot ’em up set amid asteroids and industrial-looking manmade environments. Your ship can transform, too, from a standard vessel into a sword-wielding mech. (And sword-wielding mechs are cool.) And if shitting-it is your default position of play, April’s Zombi—a GamePad-free version of the Wii U’s intensely unsettling survival horror ZombiU, should fill your pants without a problem.
Basically, there’s loads to be trying out. So don’t mourn the delay, and start playing something awesome. Me? I’ll be on that Rocket League. Still. Forever, and ever. Come find me in Beckwith Park. Bring your own balls.