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Everspace 2 Review – Looter Shooter in Space

Everspace 2 is a single-player space arcade shooter with RPG elements, developed and published by ROCKFISH Games. After a very successful kickstarter in 2019 that I jumped on straight away, Everspace 2 has been on Steam early access since January 2021. Now more than two years later, and after six huge early access updates, the full release is set for April 6, 2023. If you’ve played 2017’s Everspace, take out the roguelike element and add an epic story along with open world RPG exploration and you have got Everspace 2. I will go so far as to say this is comparable to the next evolution of 2003’s Freelancer. The evolution between Everspace 1 and 2 is exactly what I wanted as a fan of the first game and is almost the perfect storm of a space arcade game for my tastes.

In the original Everspace, the player progressed through a number of sectors with increasing difficulty where death is inevitable, making it a roguelike game. The limitations of your starting ship and items/perks meant you would only be able to advance so far through the initial sectors. With each death you would use earned credits to upgrade ship perks for your next run. Through exploring the sectors, you can find weapons and add-ons that can be used during the current run, and you could craft and upgrade various systems of their ship.

An overarching storyline in Everspace was revealed as the player reached certain points in the game. However, given you are constantly dying in order to earn credits to be able to afford better perks and ships, the story was limited to your ability to succeed in successive runs. Each time I played the original Everspace, I’d do better than previous attempts but always got frustrated with dying often and not advancing enough to get to the next sector/story element. I wanted to freely explore the universe but were limited to tracks in each sector. Enter Everspace 2.

Everspace 2 keeps the amazing graphics and familiar aiming and maneuverability that I loved from Everspace whilst adding a rich story, an overhauled progression system and newly added RPG elements. I play with mouse and keyboard but there is gamepad and joystick/HOTAS support as well. Normally I would go straight for the joystick to play any space flight games, but the first game felt foreign with the joystick. I had much more control with mouse and keyboard, and the same in this game. The roguelike elements of the first game have been removed completely, so Everspace 2 is now essentially a looter shooter in space, and I love it!

It is everything I wanted after playing the original, and it has so much content. There are six systems to explore, and if players focused on completing the main story missions and only explored a few side missions, they can complete the game in around 30 hours. However, to fully complete all the side quests, explore every region, solve every puzzle, finish every racing event, gain all reputation bonuses, and wrap up all the other odds and ends, completionists will be looking at more than 90 hours of playtime. This is an epic game with so much on offer.

Each system is split into a number of sectors with a heap of major locations to visit, plus many hidden areas to explore and discover. The story picks up right where Everspace left off and each hidden area has challenging puzzles to solve in order to gain access to the loot there. I enjoyed picking a quest, flying and discovering mystery locations during fast travel, noting them on the map, completing the current objective and then looping back around to go check out those mystery spots. The puzzle variations found in Everspace 2 are quite clever needing you to think about how to approach each one differently. There are some that were frustrating for me, where you need to grab an energy orb that blocks your vision in first-person and rush it to another source through obstacles. We get to explore deep within derelict capital ships in space, and for the first time we’ll be able to fight above planetary surfaces which was really cool to experience. Fighting in planetary atmosphere does not disappoint. Your trusty tractor beam or fetch drones will be able to pick up the loot off the ground or tucked into ground-based structures.

I love the nostalgia this game brings for me too. Where Rebel Galaxy Outlaw felt like the next progression of Wing Commander: Privateer for me, Everspace 2 feels like a modern take on Freelancer. You can play this game at your own pace too and not feel you have to grind to raise levels. Some play sessions I would stick to progressing the story, while other nights I would just concentrate on visiting all of the unknown discoveries I had found along the way. The music that plays during auto-piloted fast travel gets you pumped up to face the next intense battle or new discovery.

It’s always a thrilling feeling finding a new green or blue loot item which is usually a decent upgrade for your ship. If not, simply deconstruct the item for crafting materials as you find more blueprints. Otherwise, you can travel to the nearest in-system trader to offload your loot for some quick cash. There are various factions that you can earn reputation with, and each faction has tiered rewards which gives you yet another goal to work towards. There really is something for every space game fan.
The voice acting is outstanding in the engaging storyline that drives you forward, but it’s the free exploration of open space that is the most exciting aspect. Travelling between points will often discover new points of interest to explore or distress calls to attend to. These are optional but risk versus reward comes into play as you chase better equipment for your ship. The puzzles you come across are cleverly designed into asteroids or derelict ships, and exploring planetary atmosphere was thrilling.

ROCKFISH Games have talked briefly about potential future free DLC/updates and a paid expansion during their weekly streams. However, their focus has quite rightly been on nailing the v1.0 release this week. That said, they are happy to share that they are planning to have a free content update in the second half of 2023 and that the creative team has already started working on a major expansion, scheduled for mid-2024.

Overall, Everspace 2 sets an extremely high bar for space flight games. This is more an arcade looter shooter than full on space flight sim, but the RPG elements with loot galore make every play session an exciting one. There is just so much content in this game that I’ll be playing this for quite some time, and it can be played in short or long sessions where you feel there is steady progression, both with the story but also the power of your ship.

Everspace 2 will launch v1.0 on Steam as well as GOG on April 6, 2023. Console versions are in development for Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5.


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