Rockfish Games expands on its addictive space-faring formula, opens up exploration and delivers an epic story that gets straight to the point in Everspace 2.
When the original Everspace released in 2017, fans fell in love with its rogue-like gameplay and drop-dead gorgeous visuals. The persistent progression system in-place made dying and diving back in a seamless process, and multiple modes allowed players to make the game easier or extremely challenging, depending on how they wanted to play. With the recent release on the Nintendo Switch, it is now available for every modern console and has a mostly positive standing on Steam. With a veritable hit on their hands, what’s next for the Everspace franchise? A lot, apparently.
Gone are the procedural levels and random challenges that made the original game a rogue-like. Instead, this second game focuses on handcrafted areas with huge set pieces and improved visuals. Each area feels more alive in distinction, and there are specific missions to join and finish for an array of NPCs out in the isolation of space. Ranging from rescue missions where you fight off a barrage of outlaws attacking a relatively defenseless space station or freighter to rescuing stranded denizens with a damaged ship, there’s a lot to do out in the ‘verse.
Everspace 2 provides a number of improvements that focus specifically on speed. Where before you had to rely on the upgradable speed of the boosters on your ship, you now can simply activate a Cruise drive, which locks you into an ‘auto-run’ of sorts, eliminating long waiting periods of holding a key or pressing in on a stick on your controller. Long stretches of space within areas seem shorter in comparison, thanks to these upgrades. Additionally, there’s a new warp system that allows you to warp out — if you’re not currently being attacked that is — of the area you are in and proceed to a ‘warp zone’ of sorts.
In this swath of open space, you’re given a selection of nearby planets or facilities to visit, often near a nearby star, as they tend to utilize resources given off by it — solar being the primary, for obvious reasons. You can steer your ship in the direction of your intended destination, and activate your cruise to get there faster. If you choose to, in the interest of time, hold down the respective key or button, you can also skip the process and be instantly transported to the new area.
One thing to watch out for in the midst of ‘hyper travel’ is the threat of being pulled out during a jump and hijacked by outlaws. An icon shows up in the middle of the screen and you must follow its path in order to bypass the attempt to be attacked by their crew. All of these systems are a combination of some of the features found in Elite: Dangerous and the flight mechanics of No Man’s Sky, but it’s a welcome addition to the Everspace formula, as it works really well.
Everspace 2 openly embraces the fact that they had a good foundation to build upon. The new features, systems, upgrades and story focus add to the success of this base to provide a richer experience as a whole. While the demo I played only took about a half-hour to complete, the full single-player campaign is planned to last twenty to thirty hours, and that’s certainly something I am ready to strap in for when the game launches within the next year or so.
Everspace 2 is planned to release in 2021 with early access expected later this year – I got a chance to check out the demo at PAX South 2020. Follow them on Twitter or check out their website for more information about the game.