When Rockfish Games first unveiled that the follow-up to their roguelike space shooter EVERSPACE would be taking a very different approach with a fully open world structure and RPG mechanics, it was hard not to be excited, and in the time it has spent in early access – over two years at this point – EVERSPACE 2 has proven that that excitement was very much justified. Now, over two years from from its initial early access release, the game is finally ready to see its full 1.0 launch on PC under a month from now. Ahead of that major milestone, we recently reached out to Rockfish Games with questions about how the game has evolved during its early access period, the biggest additions it’s making with its 1.0 release, and more. You can read our full interview with Rockfish Games CEO and co-founder Michael Schade below.
"At 1.0, we’re delivering the final chapter of what has become a truly massive game, much larger than we anticipated when we shared our vision in the 2019 Kickstarter."
With EVERSPACE 2 having been in early access for a couple of years now, how significantly has the game changed from where it started to where it is now and the form it will be in with its upcoming full release?
At 1.0, we’re delivering the final chapter of what has become a truly massive game, much larger than we anticipated when we shared our vision in the 2019 Kickstarter. When we launched EVERSPACE 2 into Early Access, the game only had the first two star systems and about twelve hours of gameplay. Over the course of several major updates and many smaller ones, we’ve added new star systems, story chapters, voice-acting, side quests, companions, enemies, ships, weapons, puzzles, challenges, HOTAS/HOSAS support, localization for eleven additional languages, and more. What started as a very polished twelve hours of gameplay is currently closer to seventy hours and more content is being added at launch. We wanted every major update to feel meaningful and polished to our Early Access players while being transparent about our development. Telling from lots of positive feedback from our community that this is how Early Access should be executed, I think we’ve succeeded at that. Showing the current dev build in a weekly, two-hour live stream while answering questions from our fans was a centerpiece to that.
What are the biggest changes and additions you’ve made to the game over the course of the early access period? How heavily has feedback from the community impacted the game’s development?
Community feedback has been a huge part of our development plan. Our goal early on was to have players get hands on with a polished version of the game as soon as possible. We did this with our early prototype and then swapped it for a fully playable demo of the first sector in the first star system where curious space pilots can test it as long as they like. It has been updated with every major content update and will still be available after v1.0 release. As the community of space game fans got excited, we saw more and more jump in with insightful feedback, much of which helped to improve the game. Of course we cannot add every asked-for feature or change, but we do read and make a note of all the feedback made on Steam, Kickstarter, our Discord, social channels, and elsewhere.
We’ve made significant changes based on what was shared—the biggest being our change to overhaul enemy level scaling in a previous update to create greater rewards for side exploration—and we’re continuing to listen as we head towards 1.0 and beyond.
EVERSPACE 2 is also adding plenty of new content and gameplay features with its 1.0 launch, but what would you say are the biggest upcoming additions?
The end of the story is the big one! We’ve been sitting on the end of this chapter of Adam’s story for a while now and it’ll be exciting to see how our community enjoys it, especially the boss fights we have coming.
Just as significant, we have another star system coming in 1.0 adding entirely new regions for players to explore. While this new star system isn’t as sizable as Union (the biggest system in the game) there’s still a significant number of handcrafted areas packed with secrets and challenges.
As we head towards launch, the team is also polishing the massive amount of content introduced throughout Early Access. It’s safe to say that someone who experienced the demo or even an early version of EVERSPACE 2 is in for a new and exciting experience that is unique within the space combat/exploration game genre.
"We’ve made significant changes based on what was shared—the biggest being our change to overhaul enemy level scaling in a previous update to create greater rewards for side exploration—and we’re continuing to listen as we head towards 1.0 and beyond."
EVERSPACE 2 is a very different game from its predecessor, thanks to its narrative-driven open world structure and emphasis on RPG mechanics. What can you tell us about the initial process of conceptualizing such a different sequel, and how development of that experience progressed through the early access period?
Our initial vision for EVERSPACE falls closer to what EVERSPACE 2 is becoming. When we first set out in development for our original title, we wanted narrative and an open world to be additional main pillars to the iconic, fast-paced EVERSPACE zero-G action gameplay, but those both take significant amounts of money, time, and resources we didn’t have at that point. The roguelike experience of the first still influences some aspects of EVERSPACE 2 though, most notably seen in the recently added Ancient Rifts endgame challenge feature, so you still have that “one-more-run” feeling of the predecessor.
When we initially announced EVERSPACE 2 as a more open-world title with a greater focus on action-RPG mechanics and story, the vast majority of the EVERSPACE fandom was on board, seeing this as a major improvement to the franchise. We were very pleased to see that even some early naysayers jump on board through our continued transparent development and excellent community team communication as well as the mentioned endgame activities.
Following its 1.0 launch, roughly how long will an average playthrough of EVERSPACE 2 be?
It very much depends on how deep you’d like to go. Sticking to the core storyline with only minimal additional exploration and side quests will take about thirty hours. A more completionist run where the player explores every one of the hundred plus areas we’ve created, finishes every side quest, and wraps up all the miscellaneous puzzles, races, and other fun things we’ve scattered throughout the galaxy will take more than ninety hours to finish. That’s not including the Ancient Rifts endgame content where players can tackle challenging waves of enemies for chances to find powerful legendary equipment.
It was recently announced that plans for PS4 and Xbox One versions of EVERSPACE 2 have been shelved. Can you talk to us about why that decision was made?
Our vision for EVERSPACE 2 has always been ambitious. We want players to explore massive handcrafted environments and get into flashy, explosive combat with many enemies at a time. As we progressed through development, it was identified by the team that designing for previous generation consoles was holding EVERSPACE 2 back from being the game we wanted it to be.
Providing a scaled-back experience to players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just didn’t fit well with us. While it does mean disappointing space fans who haven’t yet upgraded to the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 consoles, we feel this was the correct choice for the game and the potential future of the franchise.
"As we progressed through development, it was identified by the team that designing for previous generation consoles was holding EVERSPACE 2 back from being the game we wanted it to be. Providing a scaled-back experience to players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just didn’t fit well with us."
A Steam Deck version of EVERSPACE 2 has been announced- can you offer any updates on roughly how long after the game’s 1.0 release it will be fully optimized for the Steam Deck?
Early Access players can currently play a non-optimized version of EVERSPACE 2 on Steam Deck. It plays well, but there’s quite a bit left to do with UI and quality-of-life improvements to ensure the experience meets the quality bar we’re aiming to hit.
We plan to have EVERSPACE 2 be fully-optimized for Steam Deck alongside our PC launch on April 6. While we don’t anticipate this slipping, we do have commitments we’ve made to our Kickstarter backers for Linux and MacOS versions of the game that we’re giving higher priority. In the event of any delay, Steam Deck players will see improvements coming their way shortly after launch. We often update our community through Steam and Kickstarter, and we’ll be sure to share any change to our plan on those platforms.