Everspace 2 continually makes my jaw drop.
The scope of this new spaceship shooter, dropping into Early Access on January 18, foregoes being simply impressive and jumps into the unfathomable. Most games are content with building worlds, Everspace 2 is out here building an entire universe. Throughout the few hours I spent exploring the vast reaches of Rockfish Games’ version of outer space I consistently felt a sense of wonder and awe few other games have managed to achieve. It’s not all interplanetary peaches and cream, there are a few points of improvement to make, but boy is Everspace 2 on the right trajectory.
Let’s get one issue out of the way immediately: controlling the spaceship can be disorienting. I opted to play with keyboard and mouse, a format I will readily admit is not my forte, but the layout isn’t the issue. In fact the controls are actually fairly simple: WASD for movement, F for a quick boost to cross big distances in a single location, or C to jump from planet to planet. Aiming and shooting happens with the mouse, left click is main weapon and right click secondary, while the wheel lets me switch between two different weapons on the fly. Everything’s laid out simply and comfortably, and I’m able to pilot the spaceship with little confusion.
The problem, instead, is the camera watching me pilot this ship. Even at lower sensitivities I find myself getting disoriented quickly, losing my place or ending up going a completely different direction from my marker...and that’s not even in the heat of battle. Bringing enemies into the fray makes things even more hectic, although being able to track the red blips on the screen that surround the enemies does help.
I know it’s odd to put this sort of nitpick in a preview piece, but I bring this all up for one simple and important reason: those with motion sickness will have a problem with Everspace 2. I’ve never had a bout of motion sickness in my life, and yet there were times I found myself getting a little dizzy trying to find the objective. Unfortunately I don’t really see a solution here either, because it’s simply the nature of the game. Taking away free space flight and making things more linear defeats the entire purpose of the game, so all I can say is if you have motion sickness, proceed with caution.
Once I do get a handle on the controls, however, Everspace 2 is an absolute joy. This game is the closest I’ve ever been to being in outer space, and the tools it gives me to explore are amazingly fun. Each zone contains areas to explore and loot, enemies to defeat, and of course objectives to complete. Everything is done in the confines of my ship, and once I’m done the game clearly gives instructions on my next objective...but I don’t have to immediately leave the zone. I’m free to look around and see what I can find, which honestly is the best part of the game. Slowly flying toward a derelict spaceship to loot, the game’s awesome soundtrack playing while a massive planet looms over everything...it’s an awesome sight to behold.
The story of Everspace 2 intrigues me so far, giving me reason to keep exploring and learning about this universe. Tales of clones, munities, outlaws, and an overzealous governing body were all disclosed in the first hour of gameplay, and the story continues to grow from there. The banter between characters while I’m in jump drive mode or I’m completing an objective is engaging and funny, doing a great job of advancing the story in a way that makes me care about it. I’m in love with the gameplay, sure, but the story is doing just fine at increasing my desire to continue.
If there’s one area I’m worried about as I continue to play, it’s mission variety. This being a game entirely based on interstellar combat and dogfighting, I fear the game’s missions will soon begin to feel monotonous after a time. I think the dev team worries about this too, with an early mission being a prime example: I’m tasked with finding and repairing three devices in three separate zones. I expected each zone to have some kind of “kill enemies, fix device, move on” format to them, but instead each device had unique circumstances. With one I had to find two antennae that broke off, with another I had to clear debris after almost falling into an outlaw’s trap, and with the third I had to locate it (its marker was randomly blipping on my screen) then clear off some alien lifeforms infesting it. That sort of variety in a mission is appreciated, but I worry about its sustainability as the adventure continues.
Everspace 2, quite simply, is the Star Fox game I’ve always wanted. It provides full exploration of a vast universe, offers plenty of things to loot and objectives to complete, and packs it all into a story I’m invested in. Camera placement and disorientation can be an issue, and the mission structure longevity strikes me as a potential weakness, but outside of those two things this game is in a great place. With Early Access around the corner, the future is looking bright for Everspace 2.