Starfield and No Man’s Sky: Comparison

Starfield and No Man's Sky cover

Starfield carries a lot of similarities to No Man’s Sky but the games are fundamentally different. At a glance, both games can look almost the same as each other. If you’re a fan of No Man’s Sky, then you might be asking if Starfield is for you. Let’s compare Starfield with No Man’s Sky and see what’s different.

Starfield vs No Man’s Sky

Starfield is an RPG with space exploration elements. No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival game that allows you to freely explore space. Both games may look the same, but they thrive in very different genres.

No Man’s Sky, released in August 2016, was met with critical reception. Mostly due to broken promises of what the game was supposed to be. Developers Hello Games have since made significant updates to No Man’s Sky that have turned public opinion in their favor. It is now hailed as one of the best redemption stories in the gaming industry.

Starfield is more recent, releasing in September 2023. While, at the time of this writing, it has yet to be fully released to the public, reviewers are giving it stellar scores. Complaints about bugs that we’ve come to expect from Bethesda do exist, but they are nowhere near as critical as they were in their previous works.

How Long to Beat Starfield cover image

Todd Howard describes Starfield as “Skyrim in space”. However, it’s also been referred to as a Nasa-punk RPG. In design, this is easy to see, as the spaceships in Starfield feel closer to real life than the more cartoonishly sci-fi ones in No Man’s Sky.

Starfield vs No Man’s Sky – Gameplay

At a glance, Starfield and No Man’s Sky looks like they have similar gameplay. However Starfield leans more towards RPG mechanics like levelling up, investing in skills, and taking on side quests.

Of course the biggest difference between Starfield and No Man’s Sky is in its multiplayer features. Starfield is exclusively single player while No Man’s Sky lets you meet other players who are exploring the galaxy as well.

One of the biggest notable differences is in combat where Starfield makes full use of a different variety of guns to combat hostile NPCs. Combat is a lot more fleshed out in Starfield. In No Man’s Sky, you really only use your multi-tool weapon to fight against enemies which can lack in variety and impact.

Both Starfield and No Man’s Sky feature space exploration. However while you can freely explore entire planets in No Man’s Sky, you’re much more limited in Starfield. You can travel across star systems but planets you land on do have invisible walls which will take you back to your ship if you wander too far from it.

There’s also resource gathering for Starfield and No Man’s Sky. You can build your very own base in both games but the base building features isn’t as viable in Starfield until you’re late into the game because they cost a lot of resources compared to No Man’s Sky. You are able to start with your very own customizable luxurious home in Starfield if you picked the Dream Home trait. Though amusingly, this puts you at 120,000 credits in debt which you have to pay off.

Starfield lets you customize and build your very own spaceship, leading to designs made by you. You can even steal ships from enemies and make them your own. No Man’s Sky does let you upgrade your ship but you can’t really customize it with new parts or design your own. Though you can buy new ships if you like the design.

You’re also able to customize your own character more extensively in Starfield. Aside from a robust character creation screen, you’re able to pick your own background, skills, and traits. Some character customization is available in No Man’s Sky but it’s not as extensive. Though you can play as an alien which you can’t do in Starfield.

Starfield vs No Man’s Sky – Story

Starfield places you in a large galaxy where you must uncover the mysterious secrets of a bizarre alien artifact. You meet new people, learn more about their backgrounds, and help them out unfolding more about the story on the way. No Man’s Sky is a bit more ambiguous, tasking you with reaching the center of the galaxy at your own pace.

In Starfield, you can side between different rival factions and each of them offer unique dialogues that make you feel like you’re a part of the story. This is different from No Man’s Sky which has does have its different factions but don’t seem to react much to your presence so you don’t really feel an impact.

Another important aspect of Starfield is romance which No Man’s Sky doesn’t have. In Starfield, you can get intimate with your companions who can follow you around as you do quests. You can complete their romance subplots and even marry them should they like you enough. Relationships with NPCs in Starfield feel a lot more meaningful compared to forgettable characters you meet in No Man’s Sky.

Because of how Starfield is exclusively single player, Bethesda is able to do more with the story compared to No Man’s Sky. Because you share the same universe with other players, you can’t really do anything drastic in No Man’s Sky. This leads to No Man’s Sky feeling rather static as you feel like just another cog in its machine than a wild card who can make big changes for everyone around.

Managing Editor