The Everspace franchise initially kicked off as one of the early Kickstarter campaign success stories with developer Rockfish Games delivering the first game to fans way back in 2015. It worked a bit like the classic Freelancer, though with updated graphics and presentation befitting its arrival some fifteen years later. Fans of the game enjoyed the action but yearned for a fully open-world take on the idea. Another Kickstarter campaign was successfully launched for Everspace 2 and now the game is in warp drive targeting a late 2020 release.
As a part of the recent Steam 2020 Game Festival that worked to showcase new and upcoming projects from indie developers, Everspace 2 just offered a short demo that allowed players to get a taste of the expanded sequel ahead of the final release. If this demo is any indication, space jockeys are in for a treat once Everspace 2 officially releases.
The biggest change from the first game to the sequel is the addition of a persistent open world. The original Everspace leaned pretty heavily into roguelike territory and with that came the procedural world design. Everything was generated on the fly which helped keep things interesting, but held back the visuals due to technical limitations.
Everspace was already known for being a good-looking game, but the sequel really kicks it up a notch. Making full use of Unreal Engine 4, Everspace 2 presents a bigger, badder world and everything simply looks better and carries more bespoke detail. The persistent world is teeming with nearly every graphical trick in the book and it is easy to get distracted while taking in the sights and sounds, though your ship will usually take some laser fire from an enemy that will snap you back to reality.
As you zip around the galaxy and get into fights, you will be able to pick up items for trading. How valuable said items will depend on the location you try to sell them, so travel to multiple stations is encouraged, though it is a good idea to keep your guard up as space pirates will be all too happy to rob you on the journey. As you find more objects and parts, you can begin to assemble the ship fleet of your dreams. Multiple ship classes, weapons, and combat perks are available to ensure that your craft is one of a kind.
The controls and combat in the demo felt really tight and I was able to begin dogfighting within moments of firing up the game for the first time. Players who may be intimidated by more complex space sims will find a lot to like about Everspace 2 and its pick up and play approach.
Folks with aspirations of being the most notorious space pirate or fully exploring this sprawling interstellar RPG should make sure to wishlist Everspace 2 on Steam to be prepared for the Early Access release that is planned to arrive this December.