The answer is EVERSPACE, a new project from the Galaxy on Fire games.
If you're a PC gamer through and through, like myself, then you'll probably understand when I say one of the greatest things of the crowdfunding era has been the way in which space games have been well and truly revived. It wasn't that long ago that if you wanted to scratch that Freelancer itch, you had to go back and get Freelancer working. Or maybe load up an indie such as Evochron Mercernary.
These days, space is bigger than ever; Star Citizen is surely proof of that. Elite: Dangerous is already playable on Xbox One, No Man's Sky is coming out next year and there are a tonne of smaller projects to look forward to as well.
EVERSPACE is the newest one on the block. It's a single-player only space shooter from ROCKFISH Games, a German studio that specialises in mobile space action-adventures. Think of a developer that just really wants to remake Freelancer on its own terms, and you're pretty much there.
The last space epic I played from a German developer turned out to be one of my most depressing experiences — but then again, anyone who had fun with X: Rebirth at launch deserves a medal of some kind — but ROCKFISH are making all the right noises with their Kickstarter.
"We take a more action-focused approach to the core gameplay of a space shooter and combine it with a modern, rogue-like game loop taking you on a challenging journey through an ever-changing, yet beautifully crafted universe full of surprises."
According to the campaign blurb, the player receives a destination at the start of every run and is tasked with making their way from point A to B (a little like Out There, in a sense).
"In order to leave the system and jump to the next one, you will need to gather enough fuel to power up the jump drive and at the same time collect credits and resources to craft items and upgrade your ship."
The upgrades look pretty amazing as well. This craft looks like it belongs in Wipeout 2097.
But the main thing that really catches my eye — besides those gorgeous lasers — is the way the control system works. Freelancer's mouse-driven control system — basically what Chris Roberts tried, but didn't quite nail, with the Wing Commander and Privateer games — is the biggest inspiration here. ROCKFISH effectively admit that out of the gate by promising that EVERSPACE is built for mouse and keyboard pilots first and foremost.
"We put a lot of effort into this and we believe EVERSPACE has one of the best control schemes since Freelancer," the developers wrote. If you want gamepad or joystick support, the developers have promised to do that as well — in a stretch goal.
Does that reticule remind anyone else of Unreal Tournament as well?
Anyway, EVERSPACE has 29 days left on its campaign. ROCKFISH is asking for &eur;225,000 and they've already halfway there, which is a pretty good sign when you consider most Kickstarter projects raise the majority of their money at the beginning and end of their campaigns.
ROCKFISH hopes to have the game out by October next year but as everyone should be well aware, Kickstarter dates should be taken with a heaped handful of salt. If you want to jump in at the lowest possible level, &eur;20 (just over $30) will get you a Steam copy of the game and a stack of wallpapers.