Space combat games are few and far between these days, with the likes of Chorus, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and Rebel GalaxyOutlaw being some of the ilk you can experience if you’re looking for a similar playstyle. Everspace from Rockfish slots neatly into the genre, but its sequel fits like a glove. Picking up after the events of the first Everspace, the sequel moves away from the roguelike elements of its predecessor. Instead, it focuses on the life of one iteration of the main character, a clone pilot who has seen several lifetimes.
Everspace 2 begins with a scene of mundane everyday life in the Demilitarized Zone and a mining expedition to a resource-rich asteroid, where protagonist Adam Roslin pilots the escort fighter. This mission is one of the last assignments before he qualifies for Grady & Brunt’s retirement plan and retires with his colleague Ben to Eden-6.
Everspace 2 Is A Step Above Its Predecessor
A space quadrant once traversed by a brutal war between Colonial forces and Okkar aliens, the DMZ is no place for anyone. A mixed jurisdiction area where the Okkars hold a semblance of order, the Zone is home to countless scoundrels, ready to attack merchant convoys and the unwary who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It is also home to one of the most essential detachments of mining company Grady and Brunt. This mining company is compelling economically and militarily and not particularly interested in the longevity of its employees. It is, finally, the corner of space where military clone Adam Roslin had laboured since the first Everspace, when he had to journey after journey, hoping to arrive at a destination where, perhaps, he would find answers about his origins.
The Adam Roslin you now play as is one of the last surviving clones from Everspace. The machines ensured he would return to life in another body, keeping his memories. And just when inconspicuous life away from the dangers of space seemed within reach, he is again on the run. His new friend Dax Bashar plans to make them both rich. You know where this is going, right?
The evolution of Everspace 2 is not just about the plot. As those who have tried out the Early Access version over the last year will know, the game structure has also changed a lot compared to its predecessor: linear roguelite that, open-world action RPG this. Rockfish’s latest game feels like Freelancer with a touch of Diablo, and it works for the most part but with some frustrations. The equipment and growth system also takes a more blatantly numbers-oriented turn, with Adam levelling up and secondary weapons and modules characterized not only by level requirements to which higher and higher damage values are attached but also by five levels of rarity – common, uncommon, rare, epic, legendary.
Drawing inspiration from RPG franchises like Diablo, the game enforces level-based restrictions on gear usage. Equipment surpassing your current level remains inaccessible, and the game notifies you when your gear falls too far below your current level. Which is usually fine, but it can feel cumbersome. While a crafting mechanism allows players to forge new equipment, the requisite materials stem from dismantled gear. Similarly, enemies find or drop blueprints, although these drops are random, leaving you uncertain about their contents until acquired.
Consequently, attaining exceptional high-end gear might only occur toward the game’s conclusion or relying on serendipitous loot drops. Although sporadic side quests yield new equipment, encountering genuinely high-end gear involves completing protracted and challenging quest chains. Various fundamental weapon types in specifications and specific manufacturers bestow set bonuses when multiple pieces are equipped. Unfortunately, creating the gear you’ll eventually want to use is a guessing game; buying them is usually easier.
I do not have moods; rather, modes
It is a change that has its reason, not only narratively. Everspace was a good game, but it suffered from that lack of permanence typical of roguelites. You get to the last few sectors, tension always running high, hoping you don’t get into a solar storm; regardless of your inventory, you get to the previous sector, but you still have to start from scratch.
Combat allows for different approaches, guaranteed by the number of weapons at your disposal and the nine other classes of spaceships at whose command you impose. The difference between getting into the cockpit of a heavy Vindicator or the very agile Scout is distinctive: the former can take more damage. It can rely on a host of drones to help manage bogeys, while the latter loves long distances and is not suited to being in the middle of the fray.
You’ll also have to work toward unlocking and earning a variety of spaceships. It’ll cost a lot of credits to ensure you get the correct ship and the rarity you’re looking for. It might not be a system every person will enjoy, but there’s some excitement when working toward the vessel you want to own.
For example, the Sentinel you start with is a tier 1 ship, and you can arrange to own a tier 4 ship. The higher tier ships have better stats, armour, shield, hull, and more slots for passive and active abilities and thus become the obvious choice. The problem is that given their price, the game pushes you towards the highest tier afforded, and this means that in the 40 hours it took me to get to the end of the campaign, I changed ships just five times. There are ways to farm credits through distress calls, so while you can earn credits, it is still a grind.
Another bloody clone!
Adam’s a decent character; the on-board AI HIVE returns in this sequel, and its sarcastic comments are always fantastic, and the voice acting is excellent, with most of the cast being pretty interesting to boot. But on the whole, the story goes through all the clichés of space stories; there’s the cruel guild leader and the power of friendship. The cutscene style is also hit or miss but isn’t enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Every time I’d start Everspace 2, I’d lose track of time; every time, I’d finish a main or a side quest and then, in the middle, get a distress call, open the map and see an unexplored site. Then you have to go and see what’s there before a new side quest appears, and then a new location and time quickly becomes irrelevant.
Kudos to Rockfish for delivering a fun combat system, which plays a significant role in the game and is exhilarating; it never gets old getting into a dogfight in space and getting out with your ship intact. The developer deftly manages the ability to balance these high-intensity moments well with breaks of various kinds.
Everspace 2 is an exhilarating space combat adventure that’ll keep you busy through its entirety. There is so much to do from side quests, space battles, investigations, and more, and sometimes it becomes a bit overwhelming if you’re not in the right mood for it. Thankfully, when you’re primed for takeoff, the fun is endless, and there’s something incredibly special to be discovered in Everspace 2.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Everspace 2 is an exhilarating space combat adventure that'll keep you busy through its entirety.
A stunning, engaging world to explore
Tons of ships to choose from and upgrade
Combat is thrilling and often exciting
Sometimes going off the beaten path feels overwhelming