There was a time when space flight games ruled the PC gaming landscape. It started with Chris Roberts’ iconic Wing Commander series, famous for the FMV cut scenes from the third game onwards starring Mark Hamill and infamous for a terrible, terrible film starring Freddie Prinze Jr.
This was quickly followed by the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, and even Microsoft got in on the action with their Freelancer games. The genre, like almost all, fell out of favour, maybe partly due to the hype and missed deadlines by Roberts’ new opus Star Citizen but has had a mini resurgence recently, with Star Wars Squadrons and the recently released and reportedly excellent Chorus.
Everspace 2 is the obvious sequel to 2017’s Everspace a well-received if not box office breaking space flight game. That game was a single player focused roguelike where each level or rather space sector increased in difficulty and with each death the player was rewarded with earned credits that will be spent on new or improved perks to enhance your chances of getting through that sector. Everspace 2 seems to have ditched the roguelike structure for one based more on an open world with what the developers describe as a persistent world with deep exploration and intricate RPG mechanics.
And so far, this change has drawn me in. Flying through the universe you do get a sense of the vastness of space and that anything can happen as distress signals pop up as cargo ships are ambushed or you are being pulled into an ambush. Like any open world the universe map will quickly fill up with icons denoting areas of interest, some are based on missions given to you and others based off recording of stranded and abandoned ships you will come across in your exploration.
The RPG elements are focused on your ship and the upgrades that you can make. Salvage loot from battles or the miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam you will come across and either sell them, break them down for components or simply attach them to your ship and you will become the meanest and most dangerous fighter in the galaxy eventually. It is an expected system, but RPG-like in that it’s like upgrading your armour and weapons in a traditional RPG. It is impersonal as you don’t get a chance to add to your skills as a pilot or even increase attributes but it works.
All this updating is required because battles will be intense and the learning curve steep. At the beginning I was handling squadrons of enemies with ease, but as soon as I got out of the tutorial sections and into the game proper, I was routinely outmatched and outpaced. Not so much that it was frustrating it just meant that I had to manage my weapons, be aware of my surroundings (tough in a 3D environment where attacks come at you from anywhere) and simply be agile.
Combat is fun and challenging and the different weapons and enemies you encounter make it a greater challenge. You will fail, often so that’s part of the original’s DNA that has made it into the sequel. What makes things more challenging, and not in a good way, is that you cannot remap the controls in this early access version. Yaw is mapped to clicking and holding in the left thumbstick instead of the more intuitive left and right bumpers. The number of times that I tried to do a barrel roll or a tight turn to get on target or shake an enemy and failed is too numerous to count. Hopefully controller customisation and remapped keybindings will be added as the game gets closer to release.
Everspace 2 is a game to keep an eye on. If you enjoy space flight games, this is one to throw some money at because even though it’s still in early access, it is an already impressive game and can only get better from here on out. Rockfish Games don’t let us down!
If you don’t want to commit just yet, there’s also a demo available on Steam and at the time of writing this preview, Everspace 2 is also currently available on Xbox Game Pass for PC.