One of the games I was most excited to see at PAX East this year was Everspace 2. I happened upon the original game a few years ago and spent a thrilling afternoon navigating asteroid belts and blasting away rival pilots in the inter-connected and randomised roguelike arenas.
As much as I enjoyed the sharp aesthetic and responsive controls of the original game, its roguelike style made it difficult for me to stick with it for very long. On the other hand, an open space adventure with varied quests and oodles of customisation is exactly the kind of thing I could spend hours and hours in. You can imagine why I was so excited to get my hands on the latest demo of Everspace 2, a promising sequel that shifts genres entirely and, from my experience with the game, does so very successfully.
The most interesting part of this genre shift is that there’s actually a strong narrative reasoning behind it. The original game saw you piloting a different pilot clone on each run through the roguelike world, making new discoveries, enemies, and fatal mistakes in each of these artificial lives. Everspace 2 sees you controlling the pilot that these clones were modelled after, with no second chances through duplicated lives. OK, so you do have autosaves as a safety net, but instead of living through repeated slices of roguelike adventure, you’re tasked with tackling the full breadth of the world as you uncover the mystery of your origins, and live with the consequences of your clones’ actions.
While you are exploring larger and more frequent areas and environments in Everspace 2, it isn’t the kind of vast, massively connected galaxy that you find in something like No Man’s Sky or Elite: Dangerous. You’ll still dip into hyperspeed travel in order to set your sights on one of the numerous star systems or planetary surfaces, then launch yourself at your target destination, but once you’re there, don’t expect a small pocket of space in the same vein as the first game. Areas in Everspace 2 are massive, varied, and incredibly gorgeous.
A variety of objectives and interactive elements are scattered across each one, from clusters of pirate crews and abandoned cargo to trading stations and ore deposits. I spent all of my time exploring a variety of different pockets of space during my time with Everspace 2, but the full game will allow you to explore exciting new environments like full planetary surfaces and massive space cruisers.
While the size and scope of the world have changed, the action sure hasn’t. That same zippy ship maneuvering and satisfying gunplay from the first game return in full, amplified by a huge variety of new and jaw-dropping weaponry. Machine guns, laser rifles, charged beams and more can be found in your toolkit, along with heavy support weaponry like guided missiles or explosive mines. You won’t just be customizing your weapon loadout, either. Your ship is a modular and constantly evolving piece of technology, allowing you to swap around the wings, engine and body as you please to craft your ideal star cruiser.
Everspace 2 is a toybox of space-cruising fun, and a natural progression from the first game. Rather than expanding on the original’s direction by simply crafting a familiar roguelike experience with new content or loot, the team at ROCKFISH Games has expanded the world of Everspace in so many more ways with a massive, addictive and incredibly promising new open-world adventure that is sure to take the world by storm when it hits early access in December of this year.