Open-world space combat game, Everspace 2 is now in early access for PC on Steam. We check in out.
Whilst still only in early access, Everspace 2 is already shaping up to be so much more than its predecessor. Whilst I found 2017’s Everspace fun to play, it wasn’t the open-world space game that I thought it would be. For Everspace 2, developer Rockfish have embraced the genre to bring us what could be a spiritual successor to Freelancer.
Everspace 2 plays a bit like a less complex and more immediately rewarding Elite: Dangerous with the flight characteristics of a less pedantic No Man’s Sky. Really though, it’s neither of those open-ended games.
Early access only gives players a slice of what the full game promises, but it’s still a vast part of space. The mission-based gameplay requires players to fly from location to location across large distances. Locations are reached using the ship’s jump drive. It takes a little bit of time to travel to each new location, but nowhere near as long as it does in Elite: Dangerous. Once there, activating cruise quickly gets you to where you want to go. Then the controls become more akin to that of a regular shooter.
The game pacing is pretty good, with a nice mix of mission types. Whilst there’s a good amount of combat, some missions are more like puzzles, with players exploring installations and wreckage, unlocking puzzles, and retrieving items.
There are also plenty of ports and bases that players can use to patch up their ships, restock and purchase equipment. Some of these ports will have side-missions on offer.
The third-person view of your spaceship puts the game in arcade territory rather than that of a simulator, and I’m happy with that. Whilst I love Elite: Dangerous, it can get a bit mealy. Everspace 2 seems to rely less on a procedurally generated universe. The result is a more sculpted environment that offers players a hand-curated space adventure.
The visuals are clean and very polished. It would seem that by early access the developer means that the engine and gameplay has been refined to a release standard and that they are just working on content. If only some retail releases were this refined.
Even location in deep space features environmental effects with the light from distant suns silhouetting asteroids barely visible through celestial clouds. The locations look pretty stunning.
As well as locations on atmospheric planets, Everspace 2 has players visiting bases tucked away on the surface of asteroids and investigating giant wreaked space hulks. Even at this early stage, the developers have given players a fully-formed part of the galaxy to explore.
The various outposts and bases, along with the huge wreckages all look spectacular. The animations when landing and taking off look very cinematic, as do the cut-scenes with their Firefly/BSG-style use of focus.
The game has all the staples of a role-playing game. Players are tasked with upgrading their ships’ armaments and hulls by purchasing hardware, salvaging, or looting it from fallen enemies. The XP system unlocks perks that can also be applied to the ship.
The combat is slick, aided by smooth and easy-to-understand controls. The vast array of weapons and customisable load-outs makes encounters fun.
Credit must go to the collision detection. The game rewards pilots’ fancy flying by enabling them to traverse through debris and the wrecks, if skilled enough, without hitting invincible objects. The ships handle well with finely tuned and very responsive controls.
Enemies have a skill rating that needs to be watched else you get into a firefight that’s out of your league. You need to switch weapons to take out shields before pummelling their hulls to oblivion. With a bit of fancy flying and a few mines, I didn’t have too much trouble thinning the enemy squadrons when things started getting out of hand. A few times, though, I did find myself pursuing side quests and exploring to get some better equipment to get past a tricky situation.
The early access gives players about six hours of content if they burn through it. But there is a sizable area to explore. It should be noted that the game is currently in development. Savegames may not carry over to new versions, so there’s a good chance that you’ll lose all your progress at some point.
Everspace 2 is in pretty good shape for an early access game. It’s actually more polished than some of the recent AAA releases of late. If you are a fan of the original or space combat RPGs, in general, you should check it out.