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Your ship shudders as it hits the planet’s atmosphere. Through yellow clouds, you snatch glimpses of the surface. A herd of alien creatures runs across a desert.

As you land, you spot something on the horizon. Is that a rock formation or a building? Only one way to find out. You step down from the ship – and become the first person ever to set foot on the planet. You won’t stay long. There are too many other worlds to see.

Due for release in June 2016, No Man’s Sky is the most hotly anticipated video game for years. Developed by Hello Games in Guildford, UK, its promise is dizzying: a virtual universe of 18 billion billion planets, each one unique, each waiting to be explored. No Man’s Sky will be an almost boundless playground.

Hello Games has harnessed the power of procedural generation, using computers to churn out variations of a world-building template. Seeded with human designs – space stations, mountain ranges, dinosaur-like animals, shrubs – algorithms then generate different versions. The result is a game filled with creations that can surprise even its developers. It will be so vast that most will never be seen.

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