No Man's Sky PC Review: Gameplay And Performance Explored

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No Man's Sky Graphics & Benchmarks

The multiplayer aspects of NMS left many players confused at launch. Now that it is clear this game is primarily a single player experience some feel slighted. However, no one is disputing the sheer beauty of the game. Each new world and moon is more varied than the last. The game makes beautiful use of bright colors, which remain immersive and not at all "cartoony". The horizons are absolutely stunning with moons or planets looming in the sky.
 
no man's sky
Don't eat em. We did.

The game engine procedurally generates the varied structures that makes up each of the star systems, planets, plant life and lifeforms from a number of pieces, geometries, and body parts. This is why you will find, for example, the wings of a familiar creature have morphed into the hooves of a completely new creature in a different star system. It's a compelling system that is the cornerstone of the game's endless diversity.

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A worthy set of PC settings to tweak

Unfortunately, there have been performance issues with the game. While it continues to receive patches even as of this writing, AMD video cards are still feeling it the most. Various in-game menus are difficult to view because of bad texture flickering, and frame rate dips, freezing and crashing to desktop have all been issues more widely reported by AMD owners. Both our R9 Fury and R9 390X suffer from more stuttering and more sever dips in framerate than our NVIDIA GPUs when loading in a new world, which has proven to be the most taxing point of the game. We didn't experience any show-stoppers, though.

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Trade with NPCs at any star system's local space station. 

Because the worlds in NMS are procedurally generated, and will vary from player to player, no two people will experience the exact same set of variables (atmosphere, wild life density and diversity, gear etc.). That means performance will vary from system to system as well, even when using identical hardware.  Within our own play tests, on some planets we averaged sub-50 FPS on some planets at 1440p, while performance on other planets was nearly double. Below is an average of 5 mins of playtime each from in-space, on the ground, within buildings, and on space stations. We did this within 12 different star systems, factoring in FPS during warp travel between these systems.  
1080p bench
1440p bench
4K bench

We need to reiterate that performance across systems will scale differently, because NMS creates new-worlds procedurally, on-the-fly. This snapshot will give you an idea of what to expect, however.  As you can see above, even our older generation of GPUs handle NMS fairly well with maximum image quality, all the way up to 4K. Though our 390X offered sub 30FPS on average and was unplayable that resolution, hence its omission from the chart.

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