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If No Man’s Sky isn’t as explosive as you want, if Elite Dangerous is too slow, or if the wait for Star Citizen is truly agonising; EVERSPACE 2 from ROCKFISH Games will quickly fill that gap. This fast-paced spaceship shooter comes to Early Access on Steam from 18 January 2021 and already provides a cosmic experience.
EVERSPACE 2 attempts to improve and expand on what the original game set as a great foundation. The sequel replaces the roguelike elements of the first for more detailed and extensive role-playing and story. Straight out of the hangar, the game introduces a brand-new journey with an interstellar electronic and ambient score.
The game features excellent voice acting and comic-book style cutscenes that drive and build these personalities and stories. Admittedly, the voice acting isn’t entirely complete in this preview, and placeholder narration covers most of the cutscenes after a few hours of game time. Players step into Adam’s shoes, a recently hunted clone with a “can-do” attitude who belongs to a large space conglomerate. Despite the main protagonist being a bit of an empty shell, the rest of the supporting cast and the gameplay more than makes up for the bland hero.
EVERSPACE is all about dogfighting in space – and it nails it. Many of the same combat mechanics return; each ship has two primary weapons, two auxiliary weapons like missiles or mines, two skills that help with defence or offence, and energy shields and kinesthetics shields that protect the overall hull integrity. One minor complaint of the current build is there are no values given to health bars, so you don’t know which nanobot healing items to use relevant to your current hull hit points.
Movement feels smoother than ever, boosting in and out to avoid slow-moving projectiles and knowing how to manoeuvre through tight corridors like flying through the Death Star is almost flawless. There is a slight issue with rolling the ship using a standard controller, having to hold-down the right-stick to activate, the axis feels clunky. Still, it’s understandable with the limited options a controller provides. Remapping controls is still a work-in-progress and didn’t function correctly during our preview build. Auto-lock missiles often react wonky as well, homing-in on targets that are not in view or intended. Regardless, the controls and combat still feel tight and hopefully the minor issues are ironed-out soon.
While the environments are pretty, the cannon-fodder will become tiresome. The Early Access build features mainly a small variety of different Outlaw ships to destroy that quickly feel repetitive. While enemies indeed prove a challenge as the main quest continues, they aren’t amazingly interesting to shoot besides the lovely explosions they make. Encountering different space stations and planets is genuinely where the gameplay feels above and beyond and it’s likely with following updates that this spaceship dream will become extraordinary.
The difference now is how players encounter exciting space battles. Without the roguelike elements, the game now features an open-world full of undiscovered signals and quests to explore. Loot each area and enemy ship for equipment and credits to invest into upgrades. At first, the game feels simplified as it does admittedly walk you through some easy shooting galleries and “Point A to Point B” missions.
Travelling between significant areas with the Jump Drive can also feel like needless filler and speeding from one side of the galaxy to the other on auto-travel can take upwards of minutes. Although, this early game is really intended to tutorialise players through the many new RPG systems the game has to offer and clearly demonstrates how they all work.
After the first few hours of space battles, EVERSPACE 2 proves it’s much more than just that. It’s now a looting game of sorts where different abilities and equipment can be found through grinding and completing quests to develop a unique playstyle. The Early Access build also gives a small taster of the factions that players can support to receive exclusive bonuses. The foundations are here for a deep and addicting game with only more content to come.
Following the Early Access release in January, EVERSPACE 2 will receive three major updates throughout 2021. These instalments will add content to an already quite exciting gameplay loop to further the experience into a deep action game. ROCKFISH Studios plans to fully release EVERSPACE 2 in early 2022 with a 20-hour campaign and countless hours of side-missions and repeatable content to extend the play. Word of caution, game saves will most likely be wiped with concurrent updates – so don’t get too attached.
This preview bodes well for what EVERSPACE 2 could offer soon, and it’s already one of the best space-dogfighting games on the market.