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No Man's Sky: Everything You Need to Know

After years of waiting, the highly anticipated space sim No Man's Sky is finally out. You can explore strange, new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly — well, you get the idea.

In case you're hearing the buzz about it for the first time, or just wanted to know what you're getting into before you dive in, here are a few salient facts about the game. Tom's Guide is also working on a full review, which we'll post for a deeper dive into the big, digital universe.

What Is No Man's Sky?

No Man's Sky is an expansive, open-ended space simulation game from Australian developer Hello Games. The game is out now for $60 on PlayStation 4. A PC version is launching on Aug. 12 for the same price, which will give Hello Games time to hammer out a few lingering bugs.

How Do You Play?

No Man's Sky doesn't confine itself to a single planet, solar system or even galaxy — there's a whole universe out there. You start on a random planet somewhere in the vastness of the cosmos, and from there, you have one job: Customize a ship and planet-hop in order to gather resources and reach the center of the universe.

Or, you could just tool around in your spaceship, seeking out new planets, other players and interesting landmarks to enhance your experience. You can engage in ship-to-ship combat, trade with other explorers or catalog bizarre alien species. The universe is fundamentally limitless (or perhaps "finite but unbounded," like our own), and completing the game's main objective doesn't end the experience. No Man's Sky is all about the thrill of finding something new, and you could theoretically keep finding new things for a long time to come.

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Why Should I Play No Man's Sky?

If gaming for you is all about time versus money spent, No Man's Sky is one of the better deals out there. Completing the main objective takes dozens of hours (from early reports; it can take longer or shorter, depending on what kind of planets and resources you find), and the side content can keep you invested theoretically forever. If finding the next big thing and sharing it with an enthusiastic online community sounds like your idea of a good time, No Man's Sky is well worth a look.

Why Shouldn't I Play No Man's Sky?

If you thought No Man's Sky would be an even bigger, better version of Mass Effect or Star Trek Online, you're probably better off waiting for the next entries in those franchises. While the game has an objective, there's no real story. It is all emergent gameplay and narrative, with no deeper meaning or purpose than what you ascribe to it yourself. There are no quests, no heroes, no villains, and, aside from reaching the center of the universe, no logical stopping point. If you find sandbox games aimless rather than exciting, No Man's Sky probably won't convince you otherwise.

What's All the Hubbub About No Man's Sky?

You may have heard that No Man's Sky is causing a bit of a ruckus in the gaming sphere, and it's not just the typical hype surrounding the release of a new game. Basically, review copies of the game have been hard for the media to come by, and even then, Hello Games advised writers to wait for the Day One patch, which would fix a lot of major issues that made it into the shipped version of the game.

To make matters even more confusing, many retailers broke the game's street date, and sent everyday users home with a copy of the game that, by most accounts, was not ready to play. This also created a bizarre situation in which average folks on Twitch could start streaming the (still quite buggy) game and commenting on it six ways to Sunday, while the press had to sit around and twiddle its thumbs.

It has been a complicated scenario, to say the least.

Now that the game is officially out and the Day One patch is available to download, everything should iron itself out. We'll be able to evaluate the game's quality in the way Hello Games intended. There's a larger conversation to be had on the relationship between amateur streamers, professional press, game developers and publishers, but for now, let's just focus on the game.

Is No Man's Sky Any Good?

We're evaluating that right now! Stay tuned for a livestream on our Facebook page on Aug. 9 around 5 p.m. ET, and a full review within the week.