I can only imagine what it must be like for developers who sunk years into a project only to have an accidental, guilty-by-association relationship with No Man’s Sky. On the surface (no pun intended), there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that, if No Man’s Sky was as well-received as it was well-hyped. Unfortunately for those developers … it wasn’t.
Developers are aware of No Man’s Sky’s toxicity, and they all want to avoid the comparison. Two similar games were on display at PAX, and, without being asked or prompted in any way, both developers went out of their way to explain how their game isn’t like Hello Games’ controversial epic.
This indie game coming out of NovaQuark will look like No Man’s Sky to those not paying attention, and the developers like to call it a mix of Eve Online and Minecraft. Yes, it’s a space exploration game with millions of planets, where all players will be on a single server in a single universe, but at least in its ship-building mechanics, it has something entirely different from No Man’s Sky.
You cannot just find a hip in Dual Universe, nor can you buy one or trade for one. You have to gather the appropriate resources and build one from the ground up. In a way, this is a lot like the little-known indie Starmade, but done so with either a slightly bigger budget or simply the desire to have updated graphics. Indeed, Dual Universe had the most impressive lighting display at PAX West, showing how the sun will rotate around the planets and influence shadows in a way that is both realistic and beautiful.
Dual Universe, though, is at least two years away, and might not happen at all if their Kickstarter doesn’t meet its goal.
Osiris: New Dawn
Calling their game an open-universe, sci-fi MMO, Fenix Fire also made a point to differentiate themselves from No Man’s Sky. A developer told me that, unlike NMS, they “want people to know what they’re getting.”
Although Osiris: New Dawn has the look and feel of the game that shall not be named (a multi-player space exploration game with survival elements), Fenix Fire is insistent that they put the blinders on other video games and focused instead on sci-fi Movies. Anyone who’s seen The Martian will immediately recognize the similarities, from the baked potatoes you find all the way down to the cracked space suit that you have to fix with duct tape. In fact, this is as close to a video game adaptation of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi adventure as you’re going to find.
But it also has monsters, hence the Prometheus comparisons. Although the baddies teased in the trailer were mostly the ones that come out at night, there is plenty that goes bump in the daytime as well. I’m reluctant to spoil the surprise, but I think Michael Keaton might be able to tell you a thing or two about what’s lurking out in the desert.
Osiris: New Dawn will be arriving on Steam Early Access later this month.
These aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last. What was supposed to be one of the biggest hit games of the summer was certainly big, but ended up more like a dud. And it’s hard for game creators who will inadvertently be lumped in just the same when they have more to offer. Hopefully, Osiris: New Dawn and Dual Universe will turn out better and be rewarded for it.