I have never felt my time so wasted by a main quest in a game. The writing is poor, dialogue is vague and the game tells you that no matter what you do, your choice is pointless anyway. The biggest mystery in the game is not answered and your only choice is a massive disappointment. It takes a solid hour of warping towards the centre to complete the main quest, nothing more than open the map, jump to black hole, warp, repeat for a whole hour.
The game is in a decent playable state now (providing you completely ignore the main quest) but not without it's flaws. Progression both for quests and gear seems to make more sense now, systems work better together, there's lots of stuff to do and on the whole it's enjoyable to play. I tried a weekend community mission for the new cosmetic currency and it was absolute trash. 1.5 hours of trying to find scarce resources with other real players and bases everywhere breaking immersion and removing the terrain under mission objectives. However, base building is generally well done (several bugs still) and very similar to Subnautica's module method. You could visit dozens / hundreds of systems in a playthrough, but the teleporter system just lists them by name with absolutely NO way or sorting them, knowing what they contain or how close to galactic centre they are. Exploring is still wonderous, but seriously suffers by basically all trillions of planets being the same. Hopefully they learn their lessons from NMS and put it all together for a fantastic lie-free sequel.
- The first time I found a completely wrecked ship and managed to repair all it's subsystems to get it flight-worthy again felt awesome
- Seamless transition between earth and sky
- Learning words so you can understand aliens is awesome
- Scanning and logging alien life is cool (but pointless)
- I really enjoy discovering new plants, but it feels really crap that once you've landed on a planet in one spot, you've seen the entire planet.
- Ocean planets and underwater exploration is now pretty great
- View distance on planets is poor
- Textures sometimes stop loading
- Quests will not work unless you have one actively selected
- The main quest is split into two questlines at once, but you can only advance one of the two tasks at a time, and the game doesn't tell you which
- Constantly farming basic resources to charge life support, fuel & weapons is boring and grindy
- Every planet in the universe is the same, there's nothing uniquely interesting to explore.
- Inventory management is constantly annoying. They've since added storage on your freighter, but accessing and organising it is clunky
- No manual takeoff/landing
- The language system is a repetetive grind (you learn one new word by repeating exactly the same 3 lines of dialogue with an NPC, 2000+ words)
- The UI and technology management is unintuitive
- Lots of the game's mechanics are never even mentioned inside the game and are left to the wiki or Reddit to explain
- Space combat is basic, starship controls are awful by default and only slightly better in alternate mode (which most people don't seem to know exists)
- Dialogue is generally so deliberately vague that you have no idea what's going on for most of the game
- The main quest line is ridiculous, suffers from the dialogue issue above and ends in a serious anti-climax
With a game like this, you have to make a decision at the start about how many planets you're going to have; a hand-crafted small number, or 'lots'. Although NMS boasts an enormous number of planets, it doesn't actually gain anything from it. Because there are 18 quintillion planets, none of them are special or interesting, and they simply become a resource to gather. I love exploring in games, but only when there's cool stuff to discover. The difference between NMS and Subnautica for example is that Subnautica's world is entirely hand-crafted, and literally everything you can find in it is cool and awe inspiring.
I will give credit to the developers, I have never seen so many free content updates after such a terrible launch and they deserve credit for that. They did, however, still lie through their teeth about the game before launch and I'd never pre-order anything from them. The result is a playable game that's still mostly devoid of anything uniquely interesting with various kinds of grinding mechanics that don't all work very well together and a massively disappointing ending.