Everspace 2, the sequel to the space shooter Everspace, was announced in October of last year. The game launched as a Kickstarter project and reached its goal of $500,000 within three days. As promised to backers, developer Rockfish delivered a short preview that explores the early stages of the game.

The original Everspace is a rogue-lite space arcade shooter packed with fast-paced action. Everspace 2 will be an RPG action game that will retain the high-octane space combat but will adopt RPG elements such as XP, levels, quests, and missions. Mainly, it drops the rogue-lite aspects in favor of a well-crafted open world.

Since I am a big fan of simulators, no matter if you’re flying a jet fighter or a giant mythical creature, I decided to take Everspace 2 for a spin. The preview build I played lasted for about an hour and offered a glimpse into the game Rockfish Games are cooking for us.

I downloaded the preview and pulled out my HOTAS, that’s a fancy term for a flight control stick for all you non-pilots, only to realize the game doesn’t support it yet. There is an icon for a HOTAS controller in the menu, so perhaps it will be added in later versions. For now, I shrugged it off and cruised into the galaxy of Everspace 2. Before I could jump into the action, I first had to choose a ship out of three options. Since this isn’t a space sim, the ship models don’t look very realistic, but they are fun to pilot nonetheless.

Everspace 2 preview

Everspace 2 adds a layer of open-world action RPG to its arcade shooter gameplay. Battles are very similar to classic RPG games, with weapons and special powers assigned to the number keys. But don’t be fooled – this is an action shooter, and to make sure you are aware of that, the game begins with a grand scale assault that killed me more than I would like to admit.

The space combat demands high maneuverability and peripheral awareness while controlling the ship. Weapons are divided into several groups, such as Kinetic and Energy damage. Apart from that, each turret on your ship has different stats of speed, power, and energy consumption, which you can upgrade in space stations scattered around the galaxy.

Like any RPG game, you obtain gear upgrades and XP from fights, loot-drops, and missions. The missions are pretty straightforward with a HUD indicator that points you in the right direction, and a button that interacts with the objectives once you’re there. I hope to see more complex missions in the full game and not just ones that have you interacting with three objects to complete them.

Everspace 2 preview

The world seems very lively and packed with NPCs, both hostile and neutral. There are plenty of places to explore, including a portal gate that spawns a massive ship with menacing turrets that blasted me to pieces more than once. Whenever you die, you can choose to revive yourself at the same spot if you want to try again, or you can turn back to the last checkpoint.

Right now, the only interaction you have with other space ships is firing at them. Any conversation you have with them is scripted in the demo, so you still can’t feel the RPG elements. More options, such as hailing them to trade or collect side-missions can be a game-changer. Hopefully, Rockfish will make the best out of these NPCs and add more dialogue and quest givers across the galaxy.

By mixing action shooter, RPG, and space game into one, Rockfish seems to be going in the right direction. But you have to remember that this is not a space sim, this is an arcade game. Trying to balance between a shooter game and RPG game is a complex task, and I look forward to seeing if Everspace 2 will live up to it.

Everspace 2 launch was postponed to the second half of 2021 due to COVID-19, but it will go into Steam Early Access in December 2020.

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