What a nice start to the new year. Anyway, it’s me again, covering yet another early access title. And what an interesting release we have on our hands this time, with Everspace 2.
The original Everspace received mixed reception, it’s roguelike design turned off a lot of people. Everspace 2 has been in development for a while, and promised to be different from its ancestor. With a successful Kickstarter, the retail release was pushed back in 2020 because of COVID and the Cyberpunk dilemma (not many people wanted to release around the same time as this), before finally launching in Early Access on the 18th January 2021.
First thing to discuss is the price: 40$. There’s been a lot of talk about games releasing in early access for a high price tag, and I have to admit, it was a little higher than I expected. I’ve always been fascinated by pricing in games, and what people view as acceptable. In a year of financial instability and worldwide chaos, money is more important than ever. £32 for an early access title which was a Kickstarter is a considerable sum to ask for.
Now, I’m of the belief that if you’re selling an alpha state, your price point should reflect that and launch at least a bit cheaper. There’s been several big early access releases that launched too expensive for me, like The Waylanders, Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord, and Baldurs Gate III which launched at a hefty 60$ tag. The Everspace 2 devs are aware of this, and plan on providing moderate discounts during its development cycle. They certainly seem confident they have the game to back up the cost, and I’m happy to elaborate further on that soon.
The launch state of Everspace 2 is rather solid, with the current content available from Day 1 (This can be found by checking out their Steam page here, click on the image!)
“EVERSPACE 2 launches in Early Access in English with full voice acting for the first 12+ hours of the story campaign and several side missions that take place in the first two star systems of the final game. The initial version is good for at least 25 hours of gameplay, while introducing pilots to EVERSPACE 2’s core gameplay mechanics of space combat, exploration, mining, puzzle-solving, traveling, trading, itemization, crafting, ship customization, player and companion perks as well as five different player ship subclasses. The game supports fully customizable controls for mouse + keyboard, gamepad, as well as HOTAS/HOSAS incl. presets for popular Logitech and Thrustmaster joysticks hardware setups.
After multiple rounds of community testing by some 2,000 players, and great feedback from various gaming outlets and content creators on the closed Beta, EVERSPACE 2 is ready for Early Access, and we can’t wait to receive your much-appreciated feedback on the initial release version. If anything does not feel right, is missing, or you’ve got a great idea, make sure to let us know on the Steam forum. Rest assured, we read every single comment. We’ve already put a great amount of effort into performance optimization, but there is still potential for improvement, and it would be great to get your feedback on how your overall gameplay experience is (please share your specs and game settings if you do so). Of course, there are various design issues and some minor bugs already on our list as the game is far from finished.
The game has strong production value from the beginning, and it feels more polished than an ordinary early access title. When I boot up the game, it feels like something they put a lot of work into. There will be repeated progress wipes as development continues, so I advise not to worry too much about the story. It’s highly polished, and so far I’ve come across few bugs in the 10 hours of playtime I’ve had. It doesn’t feel like a game in early access, which is strong praise.
Speaking of the story, you open with a tutorial level where you’re escorting a mining group, and run into enemy raiders. Captured by the Big Bad, you escape with the help of a mysterious Dex. Your long-time friend is badly wounded, and the story is driven by the desire to help him. With the support of your new ally, you begin your journey.
This is NOT a multiplayer game, nor is it a simulation. It’s a simple-designed singleplayer looter shooter. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just to inform people because I noticed a lot of confusion over what the game is supposed to be. Some say it’s a spiritual successor to Freelancer, though I find it more simplistic than that.
The story and voice acting is secondary to the gameplay, but it’s not bad. For a small studio, the voice acting is steady but not spectacular. It’s professional at the very least, and for the price tag this is what I expected. Worldbuilding and lore feels ‘standard’ for a scifi setting, I can’t think of many positives or negatives to speak about this, but this is an early version, so perhaps this will be improved upon in later versions.
Graphics are fantastic. There are some wonderful sights to behold when flying around, and it’s quite a meditive experience when you’re not fighting for your life.
The control system is better than most space shooters out there. I used a mouse and keyboard and always felt in control. There is controller support as well as joystick HOTAS feedback. I’ve never had an issue in flying the ship. There’s a fast travel system between each star system, so it’s not quite open world but open zone.
Combat is tight and fluid, helped by the game’s excellent in-game controls. There isn’t much enemy diversity yet, but hopefully that will change in future versions. The movement is fairly responsive, which helps when fighting. Combat is difficult, but not overly punishing. Blowing up enemy ships feels great, helped by an excellent loot system and plenty of ways to upgrade your ship. Even in the early version, there seems to be plenty of little things to do, places to explore and even a few puzzles. There’s a reasonable amount of early side content alongside the story.
Visuals: A stunning art design helped by the nature of spaces makes for a great early impression, and it hasn’t waned.
Performance: Performs decently on mid-ranged systems, with few bugs. I’ve had a couple of crashes and hangs here and there, but otherwise decent for a game in Early Access. When you buy-in, this is what you have to expect. It’s well optimized especially for the graphics.
Quest Design: Most of it is looking for things to loot and kill, but the strong controls and combat help in this regard. It encourages you to explore at least. I would like to see more complex quests. What is currently in the game is a strong base, but very simple and doesn’t require much thinking.
Combat: Difficult, enjoyable and addictive, only let down by the lack of diversity in enemy ships.
Lore, Worldbuilding and World Design: It exists and it’s functional, but nothing that sets it apart from other scifi games. It’s just about enough to keep you intrigued, but there isn’t real depth. For a looter shooter it’s not bad.
Sound, Music and Voice: Voice acting is professional, average for this kind of game. The music helps get you in the mood when playing, and the sound design feels strong. Overall it’s quite good, but I would like to see more diversity in tracks.
Mechanics and Economy: There’s some trade mechanics as a framework, it’s not quite refined yet. The control system is excellent, and the UI while a bit clunky in this current version is solid enough to have no glaring weaknesses. There’s a decent amount of content to get you started, although you can blast through the story content in just a few hours. Expect progression wipes as updates continue.
Let’s look at my scores!
|Lore, Worldbuilding and World Design||6|
|Sound, Music and Voice||7|
|Game Mechanics, Content and Economy||7.5|
|Final Current Score||7.4|
- Streamlined and enjoyable combat
- Beautiful visuals
- Well optimized and high quality
- Excellent control system
- Voice acting can be frustrating
- Expensive buy-in price for an Early Access Title
- Story and writing is lacking in places
The Next Freelancer?
It’s difficult to find good spaceship games, but I’m happy to say Everspace 2 is proving solid so far. If you’re in the mood for a tight space shooter, with strong focus on exploration and upgrading your ship, I can give this a recommend. It is expensive for an early access title, and I’m not sure yet if it’s currently worth that price tag, but it’s well polished and high quality for the launch version. Keep your expectations towards the ‘Borderlands in a spaceship’ measure, and you’ll find yourself having a lot of fun with this. If you want to wait until all the content is in, I would say it’s worth waiting as well.