Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
If there was one thing that I wanted to do while growing up it was to fly a spaceship. Not fly a rocket to the moon. Not fly a shuttle to a space station. But really fly agilely through the stars as fast or as slow as I wanted. While I may not yet have played Elite Dangerous, Everspace 2 has finally allowed me to do all of this but on “my terms”. Still very early in development, not only is the successor to Everspace (PC / XB1 Reviews) very pretty to look at, but the mechanics felt so smooth even with a controller as the hours went by and I didn’t even notice them.
Having launched into Early Access a few months back, Robert and I have shared some notes through the previous versions that have been released. There’s a lot more available now than just a short while back AND there’s also a lot more to come down the line. Players can look forward to many more locations to be explored as well as being able to fly down into a planet’s atmosphere and experience flying through what I can only imagine to be tougher conditions as gravity and storms will most likely be involved.
For the “most part” Everspace 2 is all about picking your base model of ship, currently there are three available, flying out of the hanger and then doing whatever you want to do. Hunting outlaws, fixing solar panels to read data from a blue sun, fixing leaks in a space station or simply bringing an escape pod to the nearest space port so that the person can find a new passage through the stars. It’s all up to you and you can do as much or as little as you please. Now that said, while Everspace was a roguelike and Everspace 2 is more “open world RPG” concept, you’ll want to at least hunt down “some” outlaws as you’ll want the experience to level up as well as find new parts to either sell or to equip in order to make your ship that much more badass. Let’s be honest, nothing is safe and you’ll want to take multiple weapons with you as you explore the stars.
Now while I can say that Everspace 2 handles fairly well with a controller, as console versions for the final are planned, the sheer amount of options that are available to you are simply nuts and honestly extend far beyond the current amount of buttons that are available. It took a little getting used to to simply move the thumbstick forward to move forward but the sheer level of control that this grants you is amazing. Want to fly carefully into an asteroid because something was picked up on your radar? Simply ease forward and then rotate as you need to all while gently pushing on the thrusters to go up or down. Unfortunately in my case that lead me to be face first into a turret that while I won… t’was not pretty and I may have spammed a few missiles in a panic.
The control of your ship is really what sells this. I’ve played a lot over the years from the original Tie Fighters and X-Wings to some of the more recent ship / mech sims like War Tech Fighters and Project Nimbus but none of them compared to this. As you’ll be spending a lot of your time flying, being comfortable and at ease with the controls is a must and at this current point Everspace 2 is delivering. You can fly at “normal” speeds, you can boost yourself to fly faster for a time or to get out of the way of enemy fire, you can turn on the “cruise” which makes the kilometers zoom by, and I loved everything being in kilometers instead of miles as it’s more familiar, and finally you can basically go to lightspeed to travel fast distances in the manner of seconds. Each of these has its place but like I mentioned, space isn’t safe and even at lightspeed you can be hunted by outlaws and if you don’t escape, you’ll want to make sure that your weapons are hot.
Combat was simply stellar. Flying fast, stopping on a dime and rotating your ship and adjusting your fire, it’s everything that I could have wanted so it’s probably a good thing that I started with the weapon heavy model before going back to home base to try out the others. Each ship can have different configurations and some allow more weapons and sub-weapon slots than others. What impressed me a fair amount, though nothing really came close to the ship controls, was the variety of weapons that you could have access to. Short burst beams, machine guns, laser based rifles, shotgun blasts, steady beams all alongside missile launchers and space mines as your secondary almost heavier weapons. These really come down to personal preference as while some didn’t do it for me, I’m sure others will find using a rail gun from kilometers away boring and maybe a bit cheap, but, all is fair in love and space exploration against outlaws trying to kill you first.
Because the first thing that I saw on my HUD was the ammo count for my secondary weapons, I wondered for a bit where my ammo count was for my main weapons which probably leads me to my “only” issue with Everspace 2. The HUD for the most part is rather clear with what you have as a primary weapon, a secondary weapon and consumables. What wasn’t quite clear, especially for someone’s first time, was that it took me a long time to realize that the curves that were on my screen weren’t there for a “where I was heading” as much as the left was my boost and my replenishable ammo while the left was ship health, armor plating and shields. Once you know they are there that’s great, but they could stand to be enlarged just a bit. Not enough to mar the rest of the visuals while exploring or while in combat, but enough to not have to squint to see as within certain areas the contrast just isn’t there to let you know how much is left until you stop boosting or firing.
Finally, quests for the most part seem to only be starting to trickle in as other than happening on them there’s no real current way to track them. Simple enough for the most part, they blend into the exploration and into the combat so they don’t feel out of place. Flying into a system I was asked to help repel outlaws that were attacking several cargo freighters however as I moved in close to help, their own defenses had already dispatched them. Ah well… there’s always next time. Good thing I ran into a huge outlaw based while going back to my own home base and destroying that had a good deal of satisfaction to it as the visuals were something else on top of knowing that I just made that sector safe for others to explore. At least in the meantime.
So while Everspace 2 is still in a fairly early stage, it’s already looking great. Just with the amount of updates from a few months ago into what’s still to come? This is going to be one hell of a stellar thrill ride and we’ll be bringing you more once some of the more massive updates are dropped!Score: N/A