Preview: Everspace 2

26 Jan 2021

I love space. Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen are two of my favorite games to play when I get the itch, but sometimes those games can be just too much though. Occasionally I need my space fix without having to use my brain too much.  Everspace 2 looks like it just might fill that gap in my space catalogue.

Everspace 2 is being developed and published by Rockfish Games and was released in Early Access on PC on January 18, 2021.

The story surrounding Everspace 2 isn’t much more than a frame for space adventures, but I think that’s just fine. My personal stories and fights and discoveries are what these sorts of games are really about anyway. As someone who never played the first game, I didn’t really know who these characters were. I do wish it did a better of job of introducing new players to the universe.

The game’s cinematic elements are interesting and unique as well, with the story being told with wonderfully illustrated animatics. While it certainly isn’t the first game to do this, its art style and perspectives used create a great atmosphere. Fortunately, this attention to detail extends to the overall presentation of the game itself. For an early access title, Everspace 2 is already gorgeous with only a few frame hiccups interrupting my experience.

Gameplay is kept fairly simple and straightforward as well. Using weapons and gadgets is easy and the flight controls are kept nice and obvious. The feel of flight is my only gripe at the moment, it feels a little too loosey goosey on a mouse and keyboard but I’m sure the controls will be tightened up as the game develops.

That being said, the combat is just as fun as any other flight game. It may not be as complex in its systems, but it has the same variety of weapon and damage types to keep combat interesting. Having to consider whether you need to damage your enemy’s shields or their hull decides what weapons you use. Watching them go boom feels incredibly satisfying and well earned.

There is also a fairly deep customization system for your ship. You can change virtually every aspect of your craft from weapons, shields, thrusters, armor, and sensors. Along with stations all over the galaxy where you can both buy and sell your wares, there is a lot of reasons to explore.

Everspace 2 certainly has elements of a more in-depth flight sim like Elite: Dangerous but it doesn’t get nearly as complex in-flight. As it is now, it is more reminiscent of 2020’s Star Wars: Squadrons. It’s capable of being just as challenging but it does give you a bit of leeway when it comes to mechanics like power management, which this game does not have. I would definitely put this closer to the arcade space pilot genre than sim.

What’s refreshing about Everspace 2 is its single-player nature.  It’s nice to be able to explore the beautiful vastness of the universe without worrying about some troll who feels like blasting me into oblivion. It allows for a far more relaxing experience.

There is a rather significant difficulty spike pretty early on that I found frustrating. While I can appreciate using this as encouragement to do side missions and level up your ship, without much guidance as to the best ways to do that I found it rather discouraging.

So far, Everspace 2 feels like it has a good foundation to build on. It’s fun to play, relaxing, and gorgeous. It fills a much needed spot in the pantheon of space combat games and will be one I keep coming back to check on.

Preview copy provided by Rockfish Games for PC. Screenshots taken by writer. Featured image courtesy of Rockfish Games.