Following Rockfish Games’ hugely successful Kickstarter for the original Everspace was yet another Kickstarter for Everspace 2, reaching even higher orbits of success and over $500,000 in funding. Breaking away from its predecessors’ roguelite roots, Everspace 2 hopes to immerse players into a deeper, more meaningful narrative, all while using the combat, controls, and universe so expertly crafted and delivered in the original game. It’s no easy feat to switch up genres between sequels, but can Rockfish Games pull it off?
Everspace 2 Preview
To preface things, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the original Everspace. I followed the Kickstarter and development of Everspace 2, but didn’t notice the lack of roguelite keywords being thrown about the place. Knowing the game has stepped away from its original in such a bold fashion may be off-putting for some, but I urge you to dive a little deeper. While it no longer embraces the core aspects of the roguelite experience, the game hasn’t suffered for it at all.
Rockfish Games opted for a more traditional approach with the execution of Everspace 2, providing a more streamlined single-player narrative-based experience that features everything that made the original so exciting. While the thrill of combat is somewhat lessened when the penalty for death is simply reloading a recent save, the game compensates with a far greater story and more interesting characters. The development team has made the universe feel more alive, one that is a stark contrast to the staged feeling often present with procedurally-generated roguelike experiences.
You take on the role of Adam, a hotshot pilot tasked with defending a mining operation alongside his friend Ben. After a routine mining stop gets ambushed by bandits, Adam and Ben are captured and Ben is severely injured. During a brief interrogation, you learn of Adam’s true origins – a military clone that is designed to be the ultimate fighter pilot. Adam escapes with Ben and a fellow prisoner Dex before fleeing to an abandoned based somewhere in the DMZ.
The current story offers only a portion of the final adventure, but still provides around 5-15 hours of content, depending on how much you venture from the beaten path. Even in its current infancy, the story is rewarding and really pushes to invest the player in Adam’s woes and the plights of the friends he makes along the way.
Although the core fundamentals of Everspace 2’s genre are worlds apart from its predecessor, the general mechanics and approach to gameplay remain the same. Combat is still its most thrilling activity; supported by controls that are immediately familiar yet offer room to improve, players will be able to pull off masterful dodges between asteroids and fly down narrow corridors while avoiding missile file. It never quite matches up to the fear of death set by the original, but skilled pilots are able to pull off incredibly satisfying maneuvers.
The depth of combat definitely has a lot of space to grow with far more weapons, ships, equipment, and different modules to build and improve – and that’s just based on the limited selection available in the pre-release of Early Access. There’s already a lot of potential for customizing your ship, experimenting with different classes of vessels, and different loadout combinations. It can be a challenge to hunt down all the individual pieces, but when you place the final puzzle piece of your build into place, it’s well worth the time.
While certain aspects of Everspace’s procedural generation are still firmly in place, there’s a lot of room for more detailed, hand-crafted environments. This is where the change in genre really steps up the game for Everspace 2. Massive space ports, huge derelict ships scattering ever corner of space – there’s a lot of character and depth to the world that I often felt was missing in the earlier versions of the original game.
As you travel between different systems through the main story, you’re often teased away with rogue signals or SOS calls from nearby fleets and locations. Exploring these optional areas can be as simple as grabbing some resources off an asteroid, but can also be as complicated as an intricate puzzle where you need to track down various power sources to open doors that lead to rare and powerful items. The side content is varied enough to make each encounter worthwhile while being familiar enough to not require hours of puzzle solving at each new location.
Outside of the new areas you will visit and explore, there’s companions to recruit, factions to work for, and side jobs to keep your Credits topped off. There’s a lot to do and even more to see – if you’re willing to go out there and track it down.
Everspace 2 is still in its infancy. The lack of roguelike elements many have come to love from the original may be a step in the wrong direction for many fans. However, in their absence is a bigger, more exciting universe, a passionate story, and a thrilling adventure. I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for Everspace 2.
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