In May 2020, I was able to test EVERSPACE 2 with an initial prototype that offered about 4-6 hours of gameplay, and I really enjoyed the time I spent with the prototype. I had high hopes for the future of the game, and I think I was right. Eight months to the day, and here I am writing this preview of Early Access after spending over 20 hours in the EVERSPACE 2 Early Access building. ROCKFISH Games is about to release EVERSPACE 2 in Early Access on Steam, and here’s our preview of this build where we explore massive galaxies while shooting tons of thieves stealing from them.
EVERSPACE 2 is essentially a space shooter, but it also strongly mixes RPG mechanics with gameplay. You and every opponent in the game have a level, and the fight is only fair if those levels match, just like in any other roleplaying game. After a brief introductory mission, you’ll remain in the open space of the game’s very first CETO star system, where you’re free to follow the game’s main story or explore the locations at your disposal. The exploration is very rewarding, and sometimes you find really cool weapons and other ship components that you can use. Each mission in the story has a level, as do all the missions and side missions you undertake from that point on. You must meet the requirements of this level to easily complete missions and tasks. Besides the main story mission, the game contains a lot of content that can keep you busy for hours.
As you explore new planets and regions, you will encounter new human settlements that will also confront you. These places will have many jobs for you, and by performing these tasks and helping the local factions, you will improve your reputation with these factions, which will benefit you in the long run. These missions and side jobs are also a great source of extra credit, and sometimes fun parts. If the game follows RPG style, you should also manage the inventory. You can equip two main weapons and two heavy weapons. Your main weapons require power, while your heavy weapons have their own ammo. You can reconstruct your original base or any other local counter you have found in the universe so far.
There are many weapons that you will find and use in the game. Each weapon has two basic damage patterns. One is kinetic damage, the other is energy damage. Both are needed to take out enemies quickly, as like you they are equipped with shields and protective armor before you can damage their hulls. You’ll have to mix and match these weapons to make sure you’re using the right weapon against the right enemy. Some enemies have higher shields, while others have very thick armor plates. Their weapons will easily take care of it. In addition to weapons, you can later upgrade your boosters, shields, engines and many other parts of the ship. If the upgrade doesn’t suit you, you can even buy new ships from local merchants.
These counters also offer you many other possibilities, such as B. replacing the shielding plates with better ones. If you can trade almost anything that has different parts in it, for whatever reason, you can only trade your armor plates if you are at the milk station. You can also trade in minerals or other useful supplies you find or loot while exploring star systems. As you explore the planets and galaxies, you’ll come across many points of interest such as sunken ships, destroyed bases or simply locked storage containers floating randomly in space. You can open them to steal nice things. Sometimes they are locked for easy puzzles, and you must solve the puzzles before you can access these locked bins or storage boxes. As you explore the darker corners of the universe, sometimes a destroyed escape pod or a sunken ship starts a secondary quest that keeps you alert and encourages you to explore certain areas further.
Let’s talk about the gameplay itself: While flying the spaceship is pretty fun in general, I miss some of the more advanced maneuvers in the game, like rolling left and right, quickly turning to change direction, and more. These advanced moves will definitely come into play in combat, which remains my least favorite aspect of the game. The combat still requires a lot of tweaking here and there, as do the game’s enemies. Fighting a group of more than 3 enemies at once becomes tedious and no matter what you try, your enemies will always hit you even if you try to dodge or evade their attacks. For the first few hours of the game, until you get some very good games, the game is a little hard to survive.
Most enemies are no problem, but the first time I started feeling weak in the game’s combat system, I almost gave up after trying the same mission for almost 4 hours with different weapons. I was at level 5 with my level 4 enemies and I had to clear an abandoned station to get items for the quest, but no matter what I did, my ship always got smashed. Your starting ship is really weak in terms of armor and shields, so you’ll die a lot if you’re not careful in the beginning of the game. Fortunately, the game sometimes offers more than one way to complete a mission, and this time I had a different way of completing the mission in the main story, so I used a different method this time.
When I played a first prototype of EVERSPACE 2, the combat was pretty much the same, and I lost a lot of lives then too. But after a while, I managed to defeat the game’s toughest enemies and all the enemies the game sent me. However, this is not the case and a little sanding and smoothing is required. I wouldn’t call it a grind like most titles, but upgrading and preparing for battle is always beneficial in the game. I learned that it’s always a good idea to be at least one level above your opponents, and the game becomes pretty easy to manage. However, I look forward to seeing how ROCKFISH Games continues to improve the combat and balance of enemies to make dogfighting more fun in the game.
While there are many technical issues and problems with most Early Access editions, I was surprised at the stability of the Early Access version of EVERSPACE 2. In over 20 hours of playing, I can’t recall a single instance where the game crashed or I couldn’t complete a particular quest because the game crashed. There were no visual issues either, but I did have a few visual dropouts, probably because I was using an old GPU during the test. Surprisingly, the game stayed in the 50s on Ultra for a while, even on an AMD R9 290 released almost 7 years ago.
When upgrading to a modern AMD Radeon 5700 XT, these small image drops were also removed. During my preview, I tested the maximum resolution of 2K and the build was extremely stable, even in crowded locations and during battle scenarios where many fighters are fighting on screen. The game is highly resistant to light and heavy traffic. I also tried the game with a mouse and keyboard and an Xbox One controller. The game is fully compatible with PS4 and Xbox One controllers. So if you prefer to play with a controller, put one in the foreground. There is plug-and-play support, so even if you plug in a controller while playing, it will immediately switch to controller switching mode.
The only thing I noticed about the game is that there is currently no way to use custom link controllers. While the default control scheme is pretty good and the controls are pretty good after a while, it would definitely be better if I could shift a few buttons here and there to adapt them to my own play style. Since the game is still in Early Access, I hope the full version has an option for custom keyboard shortcuts and other detailed control options to play with. Besides the custom controllers, there are a few other little things I’d like to see in the full game.
Having a local map will definitely help the game succeed. Navigation is not easy in space, and sometimes you just lose your position in flight. A local map with all the sights, enemy locations and other elements of your current environment will certainly help us navigate. I understand that the game wants us to find objects in space itself, but once we find them, the marker on the map certainly helps us so we can visit them later when we find them in the game. The game has markers on the screen, but sometimes it’s too overwhelming to have so many icons on the screen to keep track of them. It certainly helps to have a map.
Another thing I noticed while playing the new build was that the camera was too close to the ship, which made the quest a little hectic. While this was possible in most cases, navigating the limited space posed a problem due to the narrow camera angle. Even in remote settings, the camera isn’t really far from the ship, and that’s obvious, especially when you have to do a little backup and you end up touching everything and your ship starts rolling, completely losing its sense of direction. On the prototype I thought the angle was good, but on this first version I found it slightly enlarged in the ship. It could be me, but a small variant with a camera would certainly be useful for many scenarios in the game. Having spent quite a bit of time developing Early Access, those points stood out to me, and I thought I’d post them here in case anyone else also notices them and wants to implement them in a full version of the game.
EVERSPACE 2 is going to be a big headline. Despite the Early Access tag, the game is already in very good shape. Now I’m even more interested in future updates to the game and seeing how ROCKFISH GAMES makes it even better. There are still many promised features in the game, which means the full version will be a huge space shooter with extra hours and content. With Elite Dangerous: Odyssey has been delayed to a later release and Star Citizen has no plans for the future. If you’re in the mood for a good space shooter, I highly recommend getting into this game. Ignore the Early Access tag, as the game already has a lot of content and is in a state that will only get better.