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Everspace 2 Demo Preview: a Galaxy in the making

Continuing on what made Everspace great, Rockfish Games leans more towards the open-world genre in Everspace 2. The Diablo-like itemization and inventory systems coupled with a stronger emphasis on story make the game even more desirable. The 2021 release date seems to be far more distant than it actually is.

Everspace 2 Demo Cover

Please keep in mind that this preview is based on the demo version, a very early prototype. The release date is Fall of 2021, meaning there are almost two years of development ahead. What you read below is a subject to change and may not make it to the final release.

Everspace 2 is an upcoming space shooter set in the open world of the future with a rich story to discover and introduction of new itemization, inventory management, and progression systems. The game is at the early stages of development, and I got the chance to play the demo. While this is by no means a finished product, it shows the hand-crafted open-world approach the developers at Rockfish Games have taken. Moving away from the rogue-like nature of the first Everspace, Everspace 2 has much more room for exploration. 

The game is currently on Kickstarter, actually making the final jump towards its campaign goal. So if you liked the first installment, like what you read below, don’t hesitate to show you support. Even $5 makes a difference. 

Story – Roslin’s Adventures Continue

Adam Roslin continues to be our protagonist, and he has a lot of adventures ahead of him. The first installment of the space shooter didn’t have much story in it, but what there was quite fitting for the rogue-like genre. Everspace 2 is going to have more story in it, as developers promise to have a 20-30 hour long campaign. While there weren’t any major story pieces revealed in the demo, more about the story and the approach Rockfish is taking can be seen below in the dev vlog.

Gameplay – Space Shooter goes Diablo II

Itemization, inventory, and classes

Much like Diablo II, Improving on what has worked in the first installment, Everspace 2 is taking a step forward and adds a lot to its gameplay. The core premise is still there – it is a space shooter. A space shooter with various types of enemies, guns, and devices where the outcome of the fight depends on your aim, clever usage of devices, and general game knowledge. However, you’ll discover that a lot of new RPG elements were added. Inventory management, the rarity of items, stash management, leveling, and more – are new additions. For items, rarity tiers not only mean better stats, be it a range of the weapon, energy consumption, and other various parameters, but also different on-hit effects. Better tiers offer more effects, better stats, and higher on-hit chance. For resources, rarity tiers do apply as well. There wasn’t much to do with them in the demo, but I’m sure crafting and trading will be even more developed in Everspace 2 compared to the first game.

Guns and equipment from the previous installment make their return. And a lot of new stuff is going to be added during the development cycle.

It is not that auto if you ask me. You still have to track targets

It is not that auto if you ask me. You still have to track targets

Since the game is at the early stages of development, and the progression and classes system hasn’t been flashed out yet, the demo featured 3 sub-classes for the medium-ship class with various class-tied abilities. The devices you started with were obtainable by other class ships in Everspace. This is no longer true as each class now has a set of built-in abilities unavailable to other classes.

On the other hand, the ships do have a lot of equipment slots. You have slots for weapons, primary and secondary; slots for consumables – devices you can use a number of times before they disappear; modules – think the gear you get for your character in RPGs; and cargo space. As of now, everything you pick up costs 1 cargo slot. But I’m pretty sure this won’t survive the final iteration of the game as it makes inventory management far too simple. It would be interesting to see what Rockfish would come up with. There could be a system with equipment taking up a different number of cargo slots to store. Alternatively, you’d have a carry weight for equipment and a certain weight a ship can carry. We’ll see.

The developers also plan to have 3 main types of ships with various sub-classes, letting the player have a lot of options when it comes to roles and customization. The vlog below should shed more light on the system:

Open World Design, Leveling, and More

There are a lot of solar systems to explore. Inside a system, there are different locations to visit. The players can freely move between the locations inside the system. However, in order to travel to a different solar system, you’ll need to use jump gates. These are familiar to Everspace players. Jump gates weren’t functional in the demo, though they have a surprise for anyone who has played it, so it is unclear how they are going to work in the final product. The locations vary in nature. They can be a planet, trade station, outpost, mining facility, and so on. You can freely move between locations by entering a special flight mode, which allows you to enjoy the whole process of flying from one location to another or skip it entirely and jump to the desired place immediately.

Killing enemies, completing missions, and doing other actions will reward you with experience. It accumulates into levels. In the demo version, the level up gives you a set of passive bonuses like improved critical hit chance or damage. 

A prototype of the map shown in the demo

A prototype of the map shown in the demo

Even though it may seem like I talked a lot about the gameplay, there is more content planned. To name some, the developers are working on missions, companions, and progression system. I didn’t mention it throughout this preview since it wasn’t the part of this demo, but I strongly encourage you to visit the Kickstarter, Steam, and Youtube to discover other plans Rockfish has for Everspace 2.

Graphics and Audio – as stellar as Everspace

While it is hard to envision how the final iteration will sound and look based on the early prototype – what is there already is on the level of the first installment. Powered by Unreal Engine, Everspace 2 is an experience to eyeball. The game constantly swarms its players with beautiful sceneries, and thanks to the freeze function, you can fill up your PC with tons of gorgeous shots.

Audio is still in development, and the music is great. When you’re out of combat, exploring, trading, just enjoying the view, or else, there’s a sense of wonder, unknown, and charm to it. On the other hand, combat brings in ambiance, intensity, and techno vibes. Overall, music and sounds are quite fitting. Based on my Everspace and demo experience, the developers are on the right track.

What a beautiful view

What a beautiful view

Summary
Based on the prototype, I can't tell you how the game will play or feel when it comes out. What is certain is the direction Rockfish Games is taking. Having spent a lot of time in Everspace, I can assure you they are on the right track. The open-world approach and addition of many RPG elements will only enrich the experience of the first installment. Some may think that going away from the rogue-like genre is a mistake, but I think it is too early to judge. Let's wait and see what's more to come.
Good
  • The shift to the open-world approach
  • Addition of new RPG elements
  • Dedicated story campaign
Bad
  • The 2021 release date

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