When you just want to blast the hell out of stuff, nothing quite beats a space shooter, and Everspace 2 sets the perfect stage to do just that. The second game in the series developed by Rockfish Games, Everspace 2 shifts successfully from the roguelike style of the original to a single-player looter-shooter RPG. Don’t be fooled, though – despite the new elements introduced and it being in early access, Everspace 2 keeps its fast paced and challenging gameplay.
You’re thrown right into the mix as Adam (the protagonist from Everspace), a gun-for-hire working for G&B Mining. Your wingman Ben runs you through a quick flight control check before you head into the derelict mine in a massive asteroid, the tutorial flowing into the intro seamlessly.
Clearing out the mine of hazardous space fungi, the mining team moves in to harvest the precious crystals, but you haven’t earned your pay yet. The asteroid begins to shake just moments before a large drill bursts through the rock and space pirates enter to cause carnage. With just a basic blaster, you engage in a massive dogfight alongside Ben, but outnumbered and out-gunned, you’re both captured by the outlaws and held for ransom. After a daring escape with the help of a cellmate named Dax, Adam and Ben regroup and begin their task of escaping the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). At this point, you have your first ship and are free to start exploring the galaxy.
Outstanding mechanics and a large variety of upgradable weapons and equipment make Everspace 2 extremely fun to play. Typical space weaponry like lasers and railguns are easily obtainable and, through resource collection, upgradable. In addition, consumables like nanobots or damage boosters let you repair and power up ships on the fly. Most of the items collected from destroying outlaws are for crafting, which is simple and lets you advance equipment and ships without getting distracted from the main aspect of the game.
Spaceships in Everspace 2 are intricately designed, albeit few in color and style. The varying stats and abilities of each ship allow for different play styles, and increase as you level up. Unlike most RPGs, you can’t choose which stats to increase, though augmentation modules allow you to add bonuses to stats you prefer. What’s most unique are your ships’ movements, which combine airplane flight controls (yaw, pitch, and roll), with the ability to strafe, reverse, and even hover up or down like a helicopter. This affords great maneuverability, giving you an edge in combat.
Gameplay is consistently engaging, and fights are challenging but not to the point of aggravation. What I like most about Everspace 2 so far is its balance of risk to reward. “High risk areas” present a much greater challenge, but also much better gear. Enemies become harder to defeat as you level up, giving you freedom to explore the galaxy without running into either outrageously difficult or easy fights. In addition, puzzles and side quests help keep the game from getting stale without taking too much time to complete.
The richly detailed environments of Everspace 2 are breathtaking. From extensive asteroid fields to abandoned research stations, Rockfish Games imparts beauty to an otherwise deadly void of space. Furthermore, most of the environment is interactive, either in the form of usable objects or damaging obstacles. Traveling between systems is another great interactive experience. After entering FTL (faster than light) travel, waypoints from your map appear around you. The autopilot can be changed from waypoint to waypoint or you can fly manually; furthermore, on occasion, distress beacons or unknown signals will pop up during fast travel that are not on your map. There are so many different areas to explore that it’s sometimes hard to stay on the main quest.
As I played through the storyline, I learned more about the galaxy and several of its factions, though it is early in development itself. Single frame cutscenes made me feel like I was reading a comic book and kept the plot interesting. Having died countless times during his service as a clone pilot, Adam now looks for a way out from the Colonial Fleet. Since clones are treated like property, they have no rights or freedom. Desertion becomes Adam’s only way of escaping his never ending servitude and with the fleet still after him, he fights to survive one last life.
The biggest limitation for Everspace 2 is currently the level cap. I reached it after fifteen hours of gameplay and before finishing the main storyline, which is still being developed. This, however, doesn’t deter me from continuing to play as lots of loot and new challenges keep me interested, as well as the chance to experiment with different weapon combinations.
Despite being in the early access stage, Everspace 2 delivers fast, fun gameplay that is easy to learn. It’s a game that you can pick up for just an hour or play for a whole afternoon. The combination of stimulating action and diverse surroundings makes it a game worth playing, even with its level cap. As I continue to fight, craft and explore, I look forward to what Everspace 2 has in store for the future.
Everspace 2 is available now on Steam. Copy purchased.
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