No Man's Sky can drop as far as 13FPS in some stages and suffers from distracting texture pop-ins on ship fly-bys.
I'm enjoying my time with No Man's Sky so far--the game is absolutely beautiful and is quite an interesting experience. However I am aware of its faults, some of which are glaring distractions that really break the immersion. Some of the major faults are the ugly texture pop-ins that occur when you're flying above land in your ship, and Digital Foundry has found that No Man's Sky can dip far below its 30FPS mark--as low as 13FPS in some cases.
Now before we start dismissing Hello Games' procedurally generated exploration sim as a "broken game," we need some context. The game handles its frame rates exceedingly well on Sony's PlayStation 4, providing near-consistent 30FPS in almost every moment--even during cluttered space battles with frigate ships, planets, asteroids and pirates blasting you down, as well as high-volume planets with tons of flora and fauna. But there's some moments that trigger some noticable FPS drops, namely when you're flying across a new planet's surface.
And then there's the texture pop-ins. I saw these on the leaked videos, and Hello Games apparently optimized the pop-ins with the game's huge day one patch, but it's still not enough.
The pop-ins are pretty bad on the final game and I'm not sure if it's because of the PS4's limited hardware, or because of the game having to trade-off certain things in order to maintain its procedurally-generated universe.
- Flying over terrain - pop-in and shadow artefacts have been reduced. Generation speed has been increased two fold (planets with large bodies of water will be targeted in next update)
According to Digital Foundry, the FPS drops trigger when you're boosting across a planet's surface. This is exactly when the texture pop-ins kick in, and they get continue to get worse the higher up you are until you hit a specific threshold when the surface detail drops when you hit the atmosphere.
No Man's Sky is a great game, and this shouldn't deter you from trying it. Like I said, I'm having a blast with the game and it really does feel like something that's specifically made just for me. But I do know that consoles are quite limited in their performance, and I'm hoping the PC version of No Man's Sky fares a lot better.
At the same time, however, I do think all gamers should be aware of these issues. I've been playing No Man's Sky for quite some time now and I haven't noticed any real FPS drops...but I have noticed some problems, and I'll document these issues in future articles.