No Man’s Sky is an unusual and contradictory game, one that asks very little of its players while simultaneously demanding a great deal.
It is difficult to separate No Man’s Sky: The Video Game from No Man’s Sky: The Great Hype Experience. It’s not impossible, however, so: No Man’s Sky is a first-person game about looking at pretty things and crafting jet fuel. It starts with a straightforward crafting grind—break ten rocks to make four metal sheets to craft one shield upgrade, etc.— and sets it against an endless, procedurally generated universe full of procedurally generated planets.
You get in your spaceship and travel from place to place in search of materials to make more fuel and trade for a better spaceship so you can carry more materials and make more fuel and trade for an even better spaceship and on, and on.