The original Everspace was an unusual mix of a space combat sim crossed with roguelike elements. So I can understand why some of you may have given Everspace 2 a pass. But I’m here to say: no, no really, Everspace 2 is the shit.
I don’t know what happened precisely between the development of Everspace and Everspace 2, but Rockfish Games have absolutely stepped it up over the last couple of years. The original Everspace was a good, solid shooter with some nice combat mechanics, clean UI and a decent gameplay loop.
That was back in 2016. Today, or at least with the several hours of story content that’s available, Rockfish has bashed out a great model for a game that’s got a lot of great throwbacks to Freelancer.
Here’s the basic setup. You’re running a basic scout mission when your excavation crew are attacked by some raiders. There’s some basic combat, which has a great flexibility that feels almost more like you’re piloting a space mech. It reminds me a lot of the indie game Strike Suit Zero, an older space arcade sim with a cracking degree of freedom. (And anime.)
Other games have had a crack at the “modern Freelancer” shtick. The most recent I remember is Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, a game I desperately wanted to love but ultimately couldn’t. (Luke had a better time, mind you, and the pool and dice poker was great.)
Everspace 2 isn’t fully fleshed out, of course, and the developers have been open about needing another year, maybe a year and a half, before they hit a proper release. But from the story campaign I’ve played so far, I’ve not hit any of the annoying walls that I did with Rebel Galaxy Outlaw. The combat’s just as good, if not better because the controls are so fluid and natural from the off. Everything’s clearly explained, too, whi8ch is always a big bonus.
There’s also a super neat little progression system afoot. On the faction side, you’ll get new rewards as your reputation with different factions improve. You can spend money and resources on your companions, who then offer further upgrades (like reduced repair prices and so on). All parts you pick up can be sold or dismantled into other parts, as well, and the XP you get out of that can help you level up rarer versions of the parts you actually want.
Something else that’s great is just how much the game has gotten a visual upgrade. Everspace always looked nice, but Everspace 2 looks substantially nicer. Not just because “pretty graphics go brr”, but the whole UI, font and styling has been hugely improved.
Here’s what you’ll see within minutes of playing the game:
And for comparison, here’s a shot from the original Everspace:
The cockpit view in Everspace 2 is suitably slick too, as you can see in a few shots from the official teaser trailer below.
There’s also some neat environmental puzzles. As you bounce around doing missions, you’ll come across some bombed out stations or craft that have various containers and goodies locked behind various forcefields, energy barriers and the like. Solving these requires floating around rocks, finding energy cores or parts of the station you can break through, casually strafing your way through, grabbing the loot and then getting out.
It’s not especially complicated, and I wouldn’t want to do it after every single mission, but I love that Rockfish are thinking about adding little extras in there. As Rebel Galaxy Outlaw showed, tiny extras can really help sell the illusion of a world.
But also, a virtual world’s appeal can sell itself if everything about it happens to be really fucking good. Everspace 2 is at that place right now, and Rockfish are onto an absolute winner. Pick it up now, or don’t pick it up now — either works. It’s a fully priced game at $64.95, so I can understand if you’d feel more comfortable holding off until more of the galaxy is fleshed out.
And as an extra bonus? Those HOTAS setups you got for Flight Simulator work well with Everspace 2 as well. But it also works just as well with a gamepad, mouse and keyboard, or even those oldschool Logitech 3D Extreme joysticks if you’ve got those hanging around.
Either way, if you can’t afford Everspace 2 now, wishlist the game or keep an eye on. Everspace 2 handles, looks and sounds like an absolute dream — and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s an early GOTY candidate whenever the full release version drops.