If you were to throw an open world action RPG and space flight shooter into a blender, the resulting puree would look something in the neighborhood of Everspace 2. A rooty tooty, space looty shooty, Everspace 2 drops the roguelite mechanics from its previous iteration to deliver a more robust, exploration-driven adventure. A traditional action RPG set in space, this is a title that departs from gameplay established in the first Everspace to deliver a more ambitious and comprehensive space exploration experience that will have you mining every rock and blowing up every asteroid for every goodie you can find.
The story of Everspace 2 follows a clone, named Adam, as he gets himself into a little bit of trouble when enemies from his past catch up to him during a routine bodyguard job. Stuck out in the vast reaches of a remote star system, Adam has to work with another individual as they escape and evade captors. The story of Everspace 2 is present, but it’s very much a variety of sci-fi that disinterested players can push to the backburner if they just want to set out and explore without missing much, if they should so desire.
Ever since playing a game like Freelancer on a Windows 2000 PC some twenty years ago, the search for a title like Everspace 2 has been high on my own personal list of wants. While the first Everspace title was a space combat game with heavy roguelite elements, meaning you were expected to perform “runs” of it and die often, Everspace 2 is a full-blown adventure in space. You navigate all over star systems, take down enemy ships with a wide variety of equipment, collect resources, items, and equipment, and repeat while enjoying a fairly light sci-fi story.
You’ll spend basically all of your time in Everspace 2 flying around various star systems while taking in the sights, collectibles, fighting enemies, and solving various puzzles along the way. A title like this lives or dies by its controls, and that’s where Everspace 2 gets tricky. The default PC controls are just fine- the mouse and keyboard work phenomenally. If you plan to play this when it launches on Xbox Series or PS5, the controls need a dramatic rework because it, out of the box, requires you do nonsense like click in the right stick and tilt left and right in order to roll your ship in those directions, which is just… patently awful.
Thankfully, everything in Everspace 2 can be rebound to different buttons, keys, and sticks. It first occurred to me that maybe the default controls weren’t going to work out for me personally when a simple task of solving a puzzle with a key and a door within a specific time limit seemed too challenging. Within just a few minutes in the controls menu, I was able to rebind everything as I preferred, and for subsequent combat encounters and puzzle solving, Everspace 2 felt like a more ambitious version of Starlink, complete with more range of movement and way more to explore.
Since you primarily spend your time within your spaceship, you’ll be collecting new gear for all of your many systems or armaments constantly. You level up and acquire points which can be spent on aspects of your ship, on top of also increasing your basic parameters like damage and health. The weapon variety in Everspace 2 is quite high- you have medium range lasers, short range flak cannons that function kind of like shotguns, gatling guns, mines, and a whole lot more. As you level, you’ll need to toss out old gear that doesn’t keep up with your needs in damage, and thankfully there’s even a crafting system to help you stay up to date with your preferred weapon types. Crafting new missiles, even at the most common rarity that matches your level, can be super helpful when all the sub weapons you’re finding are mine throwers and you, for example, abhor using mines.
There’s a variety of star systems you explore in Everspace 2. You have a kind of overall world map that you can engage hyperdrive and fly through until you reach a destination you want to visit. Even though there’s a load screen when jumping between a satellite planet and an asteroid belt, physically traveling through the world map like this makes the universe seem very cohesive and unified.
Some of the locations in Everspace 2 are packed from end-to-end with things to do, and you may spend a few hours just in one solitary area because there were multiple side quests, resources to mine, challenges, and puzzles to solve present in that one area. You can also encounter emergency instances, like distress calls, that may drop you into small areas where enemies try to take advantage of your good natured attempt to help, or you may just need to defend a cruiser from bandits or something. These usually yield some kind of reward and are typically worth doing as you encounter them too.
The puzzles in Everspace 2 start off simple but actually get pretty inventive by late game. Some puzzles have seemingly unorthodox solutions or may require you use the environment in ways you hadn’t thought of previously. Of course, there’s a veritable ton of “grab the glowing ball and put it here to open the door” or something to that extent, but for the most part, there’s a pretty decent bit of fun to be had exploring, stumbling across a new puzzle, and tinkering with everything until you get a reward. It’s a great way to get the classic Pavlovian response from the player because you know that once you figure out whatever you’re looking at, you’re going to be flying away with some kind of neat reward.
For the most part, should you do some side questing as you progress through Everspace 2, you shouldn’t ever really fall behind on levels for the main story. If you find that you are, it’s a simple matter to just go exploring, fight some random bandits, or clear some quests you haven’t yet, and then get right back to the story. This is effectively the same gameplay loop as Borderlands, but inside of a space craft where no one tells you to use the force- if you fall behind on levels, do a few side quests and get right back on track. Completing side quests not only yields valuable XP to level up, but you also obtain a wide variety of ship parts and weapons that, if you don’t want to use them, you can sell for credits or dismantle them to use in your own crafting.
There’s a variety of spacecraft you can purchase in Everspace 2, and each ship performs differently than others or might even have a special ability attached. Later in the title, the weapons and ship parts you encounter will increase in rarity, and you might even stumble across some extremely powerful legendary gear of which you can only attach one or two of them to your whole ship. Legendaries drop from end-game Ancient Rifts which are effectively combat-focused challenges with amazing rewards.
What you primarily get in Everspace 2 is a very enjoyable, fairly addictive space adventure RPG with superb controls where you’re constantly rotating in new loot to try out on your fancy spacecraft. The visuals are absolutely breathtaking. The more impressive your PC, the more gorgeous Everspace 2 will be. The sci-fi beats and usage of background synth for the soundtrack especially fits the adventure, and some of the tracks are surprisingly good for a title like this.
There’s an absolute ton of customization in Everspace 2, with multiple ships to pilot, more than a dozen equipment slots, perks, and lots, lots more. It has you rotating out gear often, like you’re playing Diablo or Borderlands, with the controls and play style of a game like Freelancer from 2003. It’s a very ambitious title with a very simple plot for the player to engage with, and even has an intergalactic trading system you can take advantage of by buying low in one system and selling high in another. Many things in Everspace 2 are customizable to a fault – from the controls to the fact that you have multiple points of view, even a first-person camera.
For the most part, Everspace 2 is an absolutely phenomenal time. It has a lot of action RPG mechanics present that form the primary gameplay loop in that you’ll be continually on the hunt for newer, stronger weapons, shields, plating, and more. Finding secrets, solving puzzles, and shooting down bandits is entertaining and downright addictive, because there’s always some reward at the end of each encounter. If you enjoy action RPGs and space flight titles (even more combat, action ones like Star Wars: Squadrons), Everspace 2 might scratch an itch that doesn’t often get reached.
Developers: ROCKFISH Games
Platforms: PC, Steam