Starfield vs No Man's Sky

starfield vs no man's sky both game's cover art with VS text


starfield vs no man's sky both game's cover art with VS text

Starfield and No Man's Sky are two games that have come to the forefront of space exploration. Both games revolve around a gameplay loop that involves exploration, space travel, and discovering unknown planets and creatures. However, only one of them can be the king of space exploration. Today, we'll look at Starfield vs No Man's Sky and see which is worth sinking time into.

Exploration

Starfield gives you around 1000 planets to explore, whereas No Man's Sky's planet cap can go up to 18 Quintillion as more and more players discover them. However, they're fairly different, to say the least.

starfield star system serpentis
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Starfield's planetary exploration features several handcrafted locations and major cities that are extremely impressive and big enough to have a game within themselves. However, the planets reliant on procedural generation are generally barren and dull. This makes exploration unrewarding, and players hate this in Starfield as sometimes the RNG events on planets feel very copy-pasted. It doesn't help that only 10% of all planets have any life.

no man's sky solar chart
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On the other hand, No Man's Sky's exploration is completely RNG-dependent, from the biomes to the resources and the creatures. Everything about a planet is RNG-dependent; you never know what you'll see on the next planet. Enough unique events, variations and wildlife are added to keep new planets interesting.

Combat

Combat is much more central to Starfield than No Man's Sky. Starfield has a large variety of weapons compared to No Man's Sky. Furthermore, combat is necessary for you to progress through the story and many major missions. Investing in combat perks, modifying your weapons and armor and gaining Powers are all required to make it through Starfield. The combat focuses on a much more realistic approach with dark, gritty colors.

no man's sky combat with gun pointing at giant crab alien
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Combat is more or less optional in No Man's Sky, at least when we talk about ground combat. The game launched without ground combat being a thing, and there are only a few options for your guns. With updates, this has improved a bit, but the combat experience isn't anything to be excited about.

Ships and Space Travel

Before we get into the ships, let's get the gripes with the space travel in Starfield sorted out. Starfield's open world and space exploration seem like an illusion compared to No Man's Sky. You don't land your ship or take off. Instead, you have to sit through a cutscene, essentially a loading screen. This gives the world a sense of fragmentation, which is also present whenever you enter a building, as you're hit with even more loading screens. Space travel is nonexistent and is a glorified fast travel menu, which can often break immersion.

starfield ship taking off
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Now, let's get to the ships and space combat aspect of both these games. No Man's Sky's space combat is much better than its ground combat. You can upgrade your ship, hire a small personal fleet, and stumble upon massive space battles in front of you. You can also have a personal freighter that serves as your base in space. All of this can be pretty fun and immersive. However, it has nothing on how in-depth Starfield's space combat is.

no man's sky space combat
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Starfield has a dedicated ship-building system where you can customize every aspect of your ship. Some players have become creative and made ridiculous designs. You can choose from various weapons, ship classes, engines and shielding parts. The combat has an entire skill tree dedicated to it, and your companions help give you perks to improve space combat. There's a whole ship-fighting system that adds strategy to every battle. You can board and steal enemy ships and participate in various space activities.

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Base Building

Base Building in both games is kind of similar. You go to a planet and set down a base where you can customize its structure, facilities and how it operates. Bases serve primarily to farm resources for you. However, Outposts in Starfield are primarily built for their functionality in farming loads of resources and linking them all across several planets into a shared storage.

starfield outpost building top down view
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On the other hand, No Man's Sky's base building is more feature-rich when discussing the quality of life aspects. You have a much wider variety of decorations and customizations. For example, you can even set the music of the base you're in. No Man's Sky's base building approach is more design-oriented than Starfield's functional Outpost building approach.

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Story

Starfield is the clear winner in this department. I'm still determining what else anyone was expecting. No Man's Sky delivers its story in a pretty straightforward and barebones way. The characters need to be fleshed out, and the story could be more intriguing. Sure, many sections of the world get their usual lore dumps, but it's nothing compared to the expansive world of the Settled Systems in Starfield.

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Starfield gives you the Triple-A fleshed-out story experience with several fleshed-out characters, dialogue choices that impact the story, several important decisions and multiple key factions to get sidetracked into joining. The dialogue is fleshed out, and the immersive feeling of going through the major cities such as Neon City is all there. You'll also be able to have your companions accompany you. They'll help in combat and judge your decisions, and you can even romance them.

However, you should note that Starfield is only a single-player experience, whereas No Man's Sky has co-op support and many large-scale multiplayer events happening frequently.

Updates and Support

Lastly, we have updates and support. We feel that this might be a bit of a tie that can swing in Starfield's favor if they give Starfield the support it needs. Starfield and No Man's Sky are similar in that they overpromised and underdelivered. However, at this point, No Man's Sky has become legendary due to its redemption arc as the developers at Hello Games have continued giving it support and won the hearts of many fans with their huge lineup of DLCs.

no man's sky updates
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On the other hand, Starfield is still in its infancy, and we might even call it an unfinished game at the moment. If it follows the standard Bethesda formula, then the modding community and future DLCs will change Starfield into an immersive sandbox, the likes of which surpass No Man's Sky in every way possible. However, until then, we have to wait and see how Bethesda and the modding community approach Starfield.

That's all from us on Starfield vs No Man's Sky. For more comparison, check out our features on Starfield vs Baldur's Gate 3 and Starfield vs Cyberpunk 2077.

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