No Man’s Sky wasn’t quite the game we were looking for, even if all of us were somewhat complicit in the increase in expectations that occurred before it was released. Despite the somewhat mixed reaction, and my own pre-release excitement, the game does have a very distinct look even if it did play poorly at launch. Now that plenty of patches have made their way out and several driver revisions later, how does it perform? We’re just as much not really curious as you are. So we adventured into the unknown

Despite the impressive procedural generation technology there isn’t anything too advanced about the underlying game engine. Certainly the deterministic algorithms such as parameterised mathematical equations do mimic a wide range of geometry and structures found in nature in a very convincing way, and on a large scale, but the artistic flavor detracts from the overall experience.

No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky still performs poorly, but not overly

For NVIDIA the OpenGL 4.5 game actually does alright. The drivers have traditionally been very good for them and not the best for AMD. That’s since change and AMD now enjoys slightly better performance than initial reports suggested. The game can sometimes have a bit of a performance hitch as it communicates copious amounts of data, the math needed to procedurally render so many things. Aside form that there seems to be no glaring performance issues. It’s taken some time, but it seems to run very well.

Moving into new territory causes some low-res textures to take the place of the horizon as everything finally resolves itself with the magical algorithms they’ve created. It’s a bit off putting, though each planet does have some very interesting looking terrain. There’s only so much variation, though, and it tends to all blend together and look the same from planet to planet.

No Man's Sky

Your results will vary, but we took the first planet we started on and flew up through the atmosphere and back down multiple for each test which seemed to be one of the more resource intensive tests.

Test System

And now, numbers

1080P

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1440P

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2160P

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Conclusion

Essentially it’s now more playable, and in turn allows you to explore the massive galaxy without issue at nearly every resolution. OpenGL is the less efficient backend API to use, but it gets the job done. Why Vulkan wasn’t chosen is a very good question, especially since it offers quite a few advantages. What we learned is that Pascal does very well thanks to generally better optimized drivers though AMD is still quite competitive. AMD, though, is working very diligently on improving performance of OpenGL games. NVIDIA seems to be at or near the top of their game in terms of performance, however. But it’s not quite the slow mess it once was. It’s much faster and is better experience. If you’re still playing it now, we’ve got our recommendations below for the best experience possible.

For 1080P we recommend at least a GTX 970 or an RX 480 be used for the best possible experience.

For 1440P you’d need to step things up slightly to a R9 390X or a GTX 980 when you have everything enabled as high as possible.

For 2160P we recommend you use at least a GTX 1070 for the best possible experience. AMD’s R9 Fury X is acceptable, though not quite the best choice though it can work.

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