Back in 2017, the first Everspace launched, offering a fast-paced roguelike spacefaring and combat adventure. It did well enough to spur the team through to a sequel which saw a highly successful Kickstarter. A few demos and reveals later, Everspace 2 has finally arrived in early access form on Steam in 2021. Rockfish Games has gone all-out to expand Everspace 2 beyond the original game in terms of visuals and combat and we strapped in to see for ourselves what the early access version had in store for our next galactic adventure.
In the pilot’s seat of a new journey
Right off the bat, there’s as much new as there is familiar to Everspace 2. The game is still built around free-roaming space combat that doesn’t get buried in too technical of an interface. However, where the original Everspace was more focused on a roguelike experience in which every challenge was a mystery that might never play out the same twice, Everspace 2 engages players in the story of a thoughtfully-constructed galaxy of factions and forces the player will align with and fight against as they explore its rich depths.
In this game, players take on the role of Adam, a freelance escort pilot working alongside his friend Ben for a mining company. They have plans of finishing up a few last gigs and then taking a severance check and settling down, but of course it hardly goes according to plan. Ben gets hurt and Adam finds himself aligned with a mysterious fellow known as Dax who offers them a station to call their homebase, an opportunity to help Ben, and a scheme that could leave them rich enough to settle down for life… or dead. It'll definitely be one of the two, but it’s your job to try and make sure Adam and company don’t find themselves on the latter end of those possibilities.
Even in early access, Everspace 2 is proving to have a far more directed campaign than that of the original. Don’t get us wrong, there’s still a lot to explore. Each system is a vast array of regions filled with locations to explore and loot, all while engaging in frequent free-flying dogfights with enemy forces looking to make space dust of you. There’s also randomly-appearing opportunities such as unknown signals in which you could discover enemy patrols, bases, or scattered fields of debris and loot or distress calls in which you can fight scavengers off of merchant convoys for an impromptu reward. It’s just that all of this explorable and occasionally random space is also tied into a core story full of static, yet interesting destinations and opportunities as well. For what I could see, the random occurrences (especially unknown signals) could use some extra variety, but the more focused explorable star systems of Everspace 2 are interesting and don’t lose out on the vastness found in the original game.
From freelance scrapper to mercenary extrordinaire
By far, one of the most enjoyable elements of Everspace was the ability to choose and deck out your ship in a multitude of armaments, equipment, and capabilities. Fans will be happy to know that remains pretty much fully intact and expanded in Everspace 2. At its most basic, your ships have hard points for primary weapons (lasers, machineguns, cannons), secondary weapons (missiles and other explosives), boosters, shield generators, energy cores (for overall weapon, shield, boost energy), region scanners, cargo bays, and quick-use items for ship repair and damage boosters, etc.
As you fight your way through the game’s various battles, missions, and challenges, you’ll collect gear and equipment out the wazoo from the depths of wreckage both scattered throughout the regions and created by you when you destroy your foes. There’s a wide variety of armaments and upgrades throughout Everspace 2 that offer completely different approaches to engagement. For instance, if you have a rail gun, you’ll want to sit at distance as long as possible, charging shots and stripping away enemy protection and shields. When they move in on you, you might switch to a high kinetic damage autocannon to finish them off. There are any combination of weapons you can pursue and I very much enjoyed re-exploring gear in Everspace 2 as I crafted my evolving approach to dogfights and battle.
Devices are another fun way to turn the tide of combat. Found hidden in environments as well as purchaseable at shops, these activatable abilities can turn the tide of a fight fast. For instance, the EMP will temporarily stun all ships in proximity to you, Teleport will make your ship jump several hundred meters ahead in a blink, and Corrosion will fire an acidic aura that strips down the hull health of a single target, just to name a few. Meanwhile, you can upgrade them with level-ups to gain unique properties like leaving an explosive mine behind at the point of your teleport or refreshing the cooldown immediately on your Corrosion device if you kill a foe affected by it. Ship customization was always a strong point of Everspace, and it’s feeling stronger and more enjoyable than ever in Everspace 2.
A glimpse of the galaxy to come
Early access means plenty of opportunity for improvement and additions, but don’t get me wrong. My first voyages through Everspace 2 left me feeling giddy at what’s ahead. The stars, asteroids, bases, and overall spacefaring in Everspace 2 is gorgeously lush and the opportunity to continually evolve your ship into a bristling menace to all that would oppose you is constant without feeling like too much of a grind. A glance at Rockfish’s itinerary for the journey to Version 1.0 shows a huge roadmap of goodies ahead. But with about 12 hours’ worth of main campaign, a vast array of side missions, and a wealth of exploration to go with it, the early access space freelancer won’t find Everspace 2 lacking.
These preview impressions are based on an early access Steam PC edition provided by the publisher. Everspace 2 has launched in early access on Steam and is available now.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Everspace 2 early access impressions: Ludicrous speed ahead
was watching some streams of this, looks great!
somehow i thought it was coop and was looking forward to that, but no... :*(
what was i thinking of?
I just played my best game of EverSpace (1) yesterday. Gunship to Mid-Sector 5 (I made accidental enemies of G&B Mining in FIRST Jump in Sector 5), $17.8K.
Unlocked B Loadout for Gunship!!
Of course that WAS on Easy, not Normal (-25% Cash Rewards).