HIGH Great sidequests and random events

LOW The story is underwhelming.

WTF Why won’t it end already?

Space combat simulators aren’t as a popular a breed today as they were in the late ’90s. Yet, every now and then a good one hits digital shelves and reminds us that this genre still has life left in it. Everspace 2 is the latest example.

Everspace 2 is the sequel to roguelike space shooter Everspace, with some core changes. The roguelike elements from the first are replaced with a focus on looter-shooter mechanisms that require the player to frequently collect items and weapons from defeated enemies in order to upgrade their ship. Players can engage in action-packed space combat in first-person, third-person and cabin view, explore the galaxy, help different factions and groups with their quests and uncover the mysteries of an ancient alien civilization.

The adventure tells the story of the protagonist, Adam, as he’s trying to lay low and live a normal life in the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) as a miner, but things take a wrong turn and his cover is blown. With authorities after him and a friend in dire medical straits, he tries to set things right. Or perhaps I should say that Everspace 2 attempts to tell this story, but fails dramatically.

While the initial build-up goes well, it turns into a long sequence of MacGuffins (such as powering up the base where Adam’s hiding out in order to access the map) which is then used to find medicine to cure the friend, and then Adam starts doing chores for multiple NPCs in order to enlist their help in the search for a hidden treasure. This stuff is too shallow to be stretched out for the thirty-three hours I put in!

Not only did the story fail to carry me for the length of the campaign, even after that extended playtime, I had not leveled up enough to complete the final mission by the time I got there. The amount of grind required is truly exhausting, and I even had to lower the difficulty for the final battle in order to roll credits..

So, about that grind. As mentioned, Everspace 2 is a looter-shooter, only set in space. Ship weapons and items such as shield generators can be looted (or purchased) and upgraded the same way armor and accessories would be in most loot-focused RPGs like Diablo. Unfortunately, Everspace 2 allows leveling up each item and weapon only once, which is why players must constantly look for new gear in order to keep up with the increasing difficulty of enemies — it’s impossible to settle on the perfect loadout and simply upgrade it until the end of the campaign.

While looting, players will notice that the world of Everspace 2 is huge and well-populated. There are seven solar systems, each containing multiple planets and points of interest. Players can travel between the systems using jump gates and travel between planets in hyper-speed mode. After entering the vicinity of a planet or a point of interest, they can use full ship functions such as weapons and close-range maneuvers.

I’m happy to report that despite the apparent emptiness of space, there are tons of random events such as rescuing ships from minefields or defeating space pirates that pop up during hyper-speed travel sessions.

These side missions are actually quite memorable! Not just repetitive combat scenarios, some are puzzles that need to be solved, some are fetchquests, and others are rescue missions or even drone-controlling minigames. The amount of hard work put towards sidequest design is perfectly evident and it pays off — and that goes double for sidequests with compelling stories, like helping a group of miners find their own colony and free themselves from corporate exploitation.

While Everspace 2’s main story is a flop, the side missions are awesome and make traveling from point to point much less tedious, and especially when one considers that the instant fast-travel system is introduced far too late (plus, it requires grinding for resources to activate!)

While the travel can sometimes be annoying despite the encounters that help keep it fresh, another issue while zipping around the galaxy is the frequency of loading screens. Every time the player enters and exits hyper-speed, the game goes to a loading screen for a few seconds. Considering that Everspace 2 is running on current-gen hardware, this should be a more seamless experience — or at least, loads should be hidden more elegantly.

Everspace 2 is the definition of a mixed bag — it’s great in some areas, but awful in others. For every exciting sidequest or random event, there’s a long, boring main mission to suffer through. For every thrilling combat scenario, there are dozens of loading screens that rip me out of the experience. I wish it held together a bit more consistently because Everspace 2 starts off as a promising adventure, but by the time I reached the end of Adam’s saga, seeing credits felt, ultimately, more like a burden lifted from my shoulders than the epic end to a space odyssey it could have been.  

Score: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by ROCKFISH Games. It is currently available on PC, XBO, XBSX/S, PS5 and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PC. Approximately 33 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: This game is rated T by the ESRB, and contains Language, Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Violence.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game has subtitles and they cannot be resized or altered. There are important audio cues during combat and exploration that are not subtitled, so therefore the game is not fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game’s controls are remappable.

Ali Arkani
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