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HomeVideo GamesNo Man’s Sky Windows port launched today, is a mess

No Man’s Sky Windows port launched today, is a mess

Three days after its PlayStation 4 launch, the space-exploration game No Man’s Sky is now live for Windows PC gamers (via either Steam or GoG). But if you’ve been anywhere near PC gaming for the past few years, you won’t be surprised to find out that combining “small development team,” “video game that promises 18 quintillion planets,” and “worldwide simultaneous launch on all kinds of PCs” is a dangerous mix.

The game’s Steam reviews, which have surpassed 5,700 as of press time, are sampling out as “mostly negative,” with frequent complaints about framerate hitches and total system crashes. Though Steam’s reports must be considered anecdotal, more than a few trustworthy voices are piping up online to report issues with No Man’s Sky, despite using systems that far exceed the game’s minimum spec, which calls for older cards like the GTX 480 and Radeon 7870. Even users with high-end solutions like the GTX 1080 or two GTX 980Ti cards in SLI mode are reporting major stutters—on a game that runs on a comparatively so-so PS4 console with a mostly consistent 30 FPS refresh.

We’re seeing inconsistent framerates, in spite of both computers in question having fully updated drivers on Windows 10. The game’s PC version defaults to a 30 FPS cap, which can be disabled in the normal options menus. But with this setting turned on, the game can’t help but hitch down to an apparent 20 FPS on a regular basis, not to mention throw up frequent display hitches of half a second at a time. Removing that framerate cap can get play up to a smooth 60 frames per second, and we enjoyed more consistent framerates without the cap. But even those framerates can bounce down to 30 or less at random intervals. The game also suffers from freezing hitches, even without apparent spikes in visible geometry like creatures or spaceships.

Developer Hello Games chief Sean Murray took to Twitter to ask users to check their video cards’ drivers and make sure their video cards are compatible with OpenGL 4.5. Otherwise, he offered little recourse beyond “we’ll try to resolve ASAP” for affected users. A patch was already uploaded within minutes of the game’s 1pm EDT launch on Friday, but Ars’ tests came after that patch went live.

Beyond these rendering-engine issues, we’ve noticed some surprising sloppiness in how NMS treats PC gamers. While the game supports total button remapping on either keyboard-and-mouse or gamepad, its on-screen prompts don’t update accordingly. For example, harvesting a resource always brings up a prompt saying what button triggers the action. But if you remap that button (on keyboards, it defaults as E), the prompt will either remove the button hint entirely or continue asking that you press the E key. (Those remaps do not apply to the “rename your discoveries” interface, by the way. So if you like uploading custom names for your creatures and planets, we hope you like the default button assignments.)

The game’s floating-menu interface was apparently built with joysticks in mind, which PC gamers have been finding out the hard way. Mouse scroll wheels cannot be turned on to scroll between menus or through text, and players are also forced to hold-to-confirm every menu interaction in the game. If you’d hoped that using a mouse would simplify the game’s constant use of menus and loot-sorting, you may be disappointed.

Oh, and don’t try alt-tabbing out of the game. That’s a guaranteed crash.


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