Empyrion vs. No Man's Sky


Well played.


Brian? Can you go back and rate your current favorites in the spaceship/space/planet/exploration vein (with an emphasis on exploration; esp. RWG or yuge!-iverses) as opposed to the crafty or shooty or even RTS?

I want to love NMS but I’ve been talked out of it before even taking the plunge. I’m also hearing that Subnautica might scratch my itch for visual and exploration pleasure. How are some of the other contenders? More and more I’m excited by early access in terms of innovation and fun at a great price point.


My favorites? Personally, I’m not a fan of these craft games like Space Engineers and such.

Exploration though? Sorry, to this day no game beats Starflight. Still best in class, bar none.


Believe it or not I took a look at Starflight; it’s available on abandonware.com. But could you cough up some games from the present which scratch an explorer’s itch? Above you asked SamS “more crafty or more explorey”? Could I get your reply to more explorey than crafty?


The best games, for an explorer, to me are Starflight and Distant Worlds, bar none. Nothing even comes close. The only thing that even scratched that itch a tiny bit was FTL with this mod that removed the fleet chase mechanic and let you explore at your leisure.

Exploration just isn’t that big a deal in games anymore, and it’s damned sad.


Did you play Out There?


Sure did, enjoyed it, but the survival mechanic turned me off a bit. I was just reminded of this one though:

Very good for exploration.


@BrianRubin what about Approaching Infinity?


Well, it sure has a decent amount of stuff to explore and discover, but it felt like exploring in Rogue. Nothing like Starflight for example, but it has exploration, so it might do ya.


Approaching Infinity looks like something I’d possibly enjoy but the $40 price tag seems more than excessive for this kind of game.


Sigh, yeah, I kickstarted AI, so I got it for less than $40, and while it IS indeed a fantastic game…it’s hard to recommend it at that price from that publisher when there are cheaper options that are almost as good.


Subnautica is fantastic for exploration. Avoid the maps, avoid the wiki. Go in cold and it will feel like a huge, amazing undersea world with tons of surprises and beautiful, varied environments.

I put about 20 hours into it a few months ago, and it was one of my top 5 gaming experiences (in a life of gaming that dates back to pong). I put it away for now, but can’t wait to dive back in (hurr, hurr) when it’s feature complete.

It’s certainly got a SF veneer, and has ships (well, they are subs, but close) – so I think it’ll scratch the itch for you. It is decidedly non-shooty.

It is however, fairly crafty and buildy, but I love the base-building.


Is the buildy and crafty stuff efficient at least? I’m not a fan of stuff like this, but if it’s fairly seamless, like in Interstellar Rift, I can deal with it.


Efficient in the sense of not being too fiddly? Not requiring complex ingredient chains?

Hmmm … that’s a bit tough to say. Depends on your tolerance. I haven’t played Interstellar Rift. The stuff you need regularly (filtered water, food) are all easily dealt with. Building something more complex, such as a specialized tool or vehicle, will require some ingredient chains, but nothing particularly onerous. There’s some ingredients which are rare, which encourages you to explore. Inventory storage gets a bit fiddly, as I built a pretty large set of storage lockers at my base to try to keep organized. Part of that is my hoarder mentality, though.

Might be worth watching a couple of let’s plays to see how it seems to you. It’s certainly something you spend a fair amount of time doing in game, and I enjoyed it, but your tolerance for mucking about with crafting might be a fair bit lower than mine.


You can turn off things like the need for food in Subnautica, which I think is a really smart move in a genre that feels crammed full of games that absolutely insist on the full spectrum experience even if it involves a lot of stuff that is pure tedium for many. (conversely, I know it’s a draw for others. So the toggle is nice.)


I think I’m going to take the plunge on Subnautica. You’re not the first person to recommend its Explorer charms but thanks for the push. And I appreciate the suggestions for non-spoilerizing the experience and just playing it straight up.


Please return once you’ve tried it and post your thoughts on it. :)


Sub nautical is awesome! There’s even a whole topic about it!


Per Clay’s link I’ll be moving over to the Qt3 Subnautica thread to further discuss the game but for Brian and anyone wanting my opinions vis a vis the Explorey discussion here… here goes.

Love it! I took the advice of not reading forums and how-to-plays and cheats to start out and I intend to continue to do so. The game is hitting on so many of the right buttons for me. Clearly there is a huge world to be explored and visually the game is flat out spectacular. I’m running GTX 970 w/ a large 4K monitor and all settings at the highest so YMMV. But jaw droppingly gorgeous.

Just as important it plays nice. Controls are familiar and intuitive and you glide about the underwater world with ease but not unrealistically so. I am excited to be able to build faster and better vessels to really open up the world to me but for now, simply on the enormous ‘starter’ reef it’s an amazing experience.

I’m several hours in; have done a few restarts before I really felt I got the hang of things, newbie-wise, and now I’m to the point where I’m not spinning my wheels unnecessarily and sort of know what I’m doing, what I’m capable of, and working towards being able to improve my lot. Honestly, I did have to google up some specifics before I got comfortable. I didn’t know I could catch fish by hand for example or different ways to make potable water.

For all that, the restarts, the game does indeed flow very naturally. There is no sign of any ‘grindiness’ in order to do things or better do things. Resources are varied and for a while you tend to collect things assuming there will be a use for them later and there generally is. But I didn’t have to kill 10 searats or craft a dozen fins to have something worth the having.

So, yeah. Hooked. This is a fantastic game to explore in all the right ways for me. It’s vast, it’s detailed, it’s gorgeous and there is a point to all of it. That being it is a survival game. Definitely not a grindy/crafting experience at all I’m happy to say.

Oh, and Brian… the intro to the game is that your dying spacecraft falls into the atmosphere of this unexplored ‘water world’ and you’re the sole survivor of an escape pod so there you go… it IS a spaceship game too! :-)


Has anyone here played Empyrion? I just started playing it because it is on sale. So far, I really like it, however, the tutorial and other information is somewhat lacking. I found an abandoned mining facility. I can’t open the doors because I do not have the right faction. So I have 2 questions.

  1. Are there NPCs factions that you can gain “faction” with such that I could be permitted to open the doors to that facility?
  2. Is there a way to “recycle” the facility? I tried my mining gun on various objects and it seemed to be completely ineffective. Id love to harvest it for resources.