Space trading games aren’t really that common these days. However, recent space games have decidedly focused more on the combat aspect or on the survival/crafting aspect of landing on uncharted planets, like No Man’s Sky. Everspace 2 represents a unique jump for the franchise; its predecessor was more of an action roguelike space combat game where you’d take on randomly-generated missions for cash and upgrades. Everspace 2, on the other hand, is much closer to the old Freelancer games, with a matching control scheme to boot.
That’s not to say that the game is purely about being a space trucker traveling around various star systems trading commodities for fun and profit; there’s also combat, and even a full-fledged story to deal with. Rather, Everspace 2 is closer to the niche X franchise, which gives you quite a bit of freedom in what you really want to be doing with your time.
Helping drive things forward into the variety of player-driven activities that Everspace 2 has to offer is its story. While ultimately still an excuse to have you traveling across various star systems and fighting different factions, the story in Everspace 2 still manages to be quite an enjoyable ride. It revolves around protagonist Adam Roslin—also the hero of the original Everspace—as he teams up with freelancer Dax and tries to help his injured friend Ben and escape the game’s main location: the DMZ.
"Everspace 2 gives you quite a bit of freedom in what you really want to be doing with your time."
The plot in Everspace 2 has a surprising number of twists and turns, especially early on where the story is pretty front-loaded. And while you can focus purely on the story and get plenty of enjoyment out of its varied mission designs, the meat and potatoes of Everspace 2 is actually all of the side content. It’s also worth noting that Everspace 2 leans quite heavily on the fact that it’s also an in-depth RPG, complete with a loot system and various forms of progression.
The side content comes in all shapes and sizes, from the procedurally-generated random missions that pop up while you’re doing something else, to more focused side quests, complete with their own story arcs, and even an endgame system with massive “dungeons” like locations that you can finish to get your hands on some legendary equipment. There’s also a fleshed out faction system where the actions you take while in employment of one faction might adversely or positively impact your standing with another one. I had fun being a space trucker, buying commodities at low price in one system and selling it for a profit in another, just to make some extra cash on the side.
Despite all of its ambition when it comes to the core game, its campaign, and its side content, Everspace 2 never really feels like it’s trying to chew off more than it can swallow. Despite the massive scale of some of its star systems, you’re not really going to be flying freely across an entire galaxy and accidentally run into a black hole like you would in Elite: Dangerous. Rather, Everspace 2 is a much more focused game, more interested in the factions and their politics in the DMZ instead of trying to model an entire galaxy.
"Everspace 2 never really feels like it’s trying to chew off more than it can swallow."
The combat in Everspace 2—and there’s definitely a lot of it—takes a few cues from classic games. You have quite a few options in tricking out your ship’s weaponry, from the limited number of missiles you can carry that deal a considerable amount of damage to the hulls of ships, to railguns that can be used to snipe from a distance, and even the shotgun-styled flak cannons that can be used to wreak havoc at close range.
Space combat can often be either long, drawn-out and grueling affairs where you manage to make it out by the skin of your teeth, or quick, short bursts of lasers and missiles flying everywhere before you decimate an entire squad, depending on the situation you find yourself in, and it’s this variety that helps keep what would otherwise start feeling like a chore; instead Everspace 2 feels quite fresh in just about every encounter you experience. It also helps that enemies can come in a variety of different ship and weapon loadouts, taking on different roles in a fight. Enemies can also have long-range snipers and close-range ships to keep you distracted, so you can’t really blindly enter any fight and hope to win without using every tool in your disposal unless you end up vastly out-gearing and out-leveling your opponents.
When it comes to how you actually go about controlling your ship in space, Everspace 2 uses a control scheme designed around offering six degrees of freedom. You can strafe, move forward and back, roll, turn up and down in just about any direction. Once you get used to the control scheme, it ends up feeling quite intuitive, especially when you find yourself exploring derelict shipwrecks and abandoned asteroid mines on a semi-regular basis. The freedom of movement also means that combat can be quite hectic in all the right ways. While I tested the game out with controllers, the keyboard + mouse setup ended up being much more comfortable for my own tastes. Controller players can breathe easy, however, as the game offers full support if you prefer to use analogue sticks for finer flight controls over the WASD key cluster.
"Everspace 2 uses a control scheme designed around offering six degrees of freedom."
One thing just about every space-flight game has to get right is visuals, and Everspace 2 definitely delivers in that department. While it cedes some accuracy to science in the name of better game design—planets, for example, appear much larger at a distance than they really should—Everspace 2 is still a gorgeous game. It’s also interesting that the game knows that it looks great, since it lets you freely look around while you’re in the faster-than-light travel mode between different planets.
Its visuals are anchored by excellent sound design that helps quite a bit in trying to figure out where enemies might be attacking you from. The game’s different weapons also sound great, if a bit unrealistic since space is a vacuum, but once again, game design takes precedence over accuracy to science. The soundtrack is quite fun as well, opting for the thumpy bass driven beats of synthwave music to accompany its hectic action-packed set pieces.
Regardless of your taste in games, Everspace 2 will definitely have something to offer you, be it the loot-based progression of an action-RPG, a cool story to follow with interesting characters, fun plot twists, some great action that gives you a variety of different weapon types to play with, and even some peace and quiet as you live out your fantasies of being a space trucker ferrying goods between planets. Everspace 2 is packed with content, and even once you’re done with its core story, there are several other ways to progress as well, such as end-game “dungeons”, and even a faction system to mess around with.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Good variety in activities; Fun story; Intuitive controls.
More action than space trading.
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