One of the great paradoxes of writing about games is knowing about every new release and not having the time to play any of them. Such was the case with Everspace, an arcadey space dogfighting game with roguelike elements that’s probably right up my alley. Be it bad timing or a busy release schedule, but that game never ended up on my radar. After playing Everspace 2 at PAX East, I know that I need to rectify this sooner rather than later.
What is Everspace 2?
For everyone in the same boat as me, Everspace tries to bring back the arcadey fun of jumping into a spaceship and cruising around the galaxy. It's the feeling you got blasting around Corneria, only you can actually go in all directions without having a blue falcon yell at you to get back in line. You don’t have to worry about simulating thrusters in space, most of your shots land where you want them to, and the next batch of dastardly pirates is always just around the corner.
The original game accomplished this with procedural generation, which can be either great or terrible depending on RNG. I love roguelikes, but there’s something to be said for a game telling a story, especially in a market overcrowded with random elements. The developers at Rockfish recognize that as well, because Everspace 2 transitions to a handcrafted open world. There’s still an excellent cycle of loot and combat to keep you going, but you’re building towards what’s hopefully a glorious finale.
Cosmic Loot Drops Aplenty
However, it’s not all about the story. One advantage Everspace 2 has is that its gameplay comes from a highly polished first game. Everything you’d want to do in an arcadey space shooter is here. You can use your tractor beam to throw around explosive barrels or blast turrets with EMP waves. You can cloak your way past foes or escape via a handy warp drive. You can even do as many barrel rolls as you want with controls that feel as tight and responsive as you’d want them to be.
So, if you’re just interested in blasting off in search of a better engine or more guns, Everspace is more than happy to oblige. Loot comes off of pretty much everything, and you can even mine minerals off of space rocks to sell for cash if you don’t want to dogfight. During my first demo on the show floor, I even found a named loot drop, an overpowered laser that let me tear through enemies with ease. There was a ton of variety to what I did even in my 20 minutes with the prototype, and it’s only going to get more varied from there.
Can you land on planets in Everspace 2?
After my play session, I talked with the devs a bit to discover that the prototype wasn’t even scratching the surface of what they wanted to achieve. During my demo, I tried to fly into a planet only to get the expected cutscene where you loop back around. Apparently, that’s in for the demo, but Everspace 2 will let players explore the surface of several worlds while staying in their spacecraft. Let’s just hope one of them makes up for the lack of a giant hover tank with an energy cannon.
That’s really the story with Everspace 2. It feels like the best kind of sequel, a game that takes everything great about the previous entry and throws a ton of new stuff on top. The story-based structure and set open galaxy will set it apart from a lot of its peers, and it still retains the engaging driving momentum of loot drops and explosive combat. It’s not a full arcade-style No Man’s Sky but it’s far closer than you’d expect. Even though the game is more than a year out, Everspace 2 feels more than ready to blast off.
TechRaptor previewed Everspace 2 on the PAX East 2020 show floor. It's coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in the second half of 2021.