Everspace is one of a kind. Personally it reminds me of a combination of the map progression present in FTL with a Freelancer/War Thunder flying and combat style, which translates in an extremely fast paced space dogfighting game.
Developer: ROCKFISH Games
Publisher: ROCKFISH Games
Genre: Action Space Shooter
Release date: 14 Sep, 2016
After a successful Kickstarter campaign the game launched on Steam Early Access last month so it doesn’t feature all the planned content and gameplay is still being tweaked and balanced based on player feedback. Once completed, the game is supposed to have at least 3 different ships that you can play with, instead of the only one available at the moment. Among the planned features you can also see a “non-linear story” which has me excited. So far, there are some narrator quotes and some pieces of dialogue that you find on shipwrecks, both of which are rather funny in their own way and give some background to what’s going on the game world and who is who.
At its core, Everspace can be described as a space dogfighting game in which, after you die, you get to upgrade your ship, among other systems, with credits that you pick up during your playthroughs, which will help you last longer in each consequent playthrough. This form of permanent progression is very effective to keep me playing because the more I play, the more credits I get, the stronger I’ll become and, therefore, I’ll last longer on future playthroughs. As your starting ship becomes stronger and able to sustain more hits and weapons, the combat becomes much more enjoyable, as you’re able to take damage from enemies who previously would pretty much kill you in a few seconds. If you’ve played Rogue Legacy, Everspace’s permanent progression system works pretty much like that one. Besides improving your starting condition by purchasing perks with credits, you also get blueprints, that remain after you die, allowing you to craft more gear from the very beginning. Last but by no means least, you also have challenges that upon completion grant you credits. They are a small little feature that can serve as a secondary objective, like destroy 50 fuel depots in a single playthrough and things like that.
As far as gameplay goes, your goal is pretty simple, you have to engage the hyperdrive in order to move to the next system. After engaging the hyperdrive you select which system you wish to go to and, on the last system of your Star Map, you’ll have a Jump Gate which will allow you to move to a whole new sector. Going from one system to another consumes fuel though, so if you run out of fuel you’ll have to risk engaging the hyperdrive with the risk of damaging a part of your ship (e.g. secondary weapons, shield, etc). As you progress through the sectors the difficulty will increase gradually, so dying is part of the process, because it allows you to upgrade your ship. You can also get new weapons, items and systems for your ship or buy them in trading posts, but these will only last that current run so it’s up to you to figure out if you should save those credits or not.
Of course if you don’t want to play nice you can just attempt to hijack some cargo or fuel off a station or freighter. But then don’t go running off if a capital ship warps in to deal with your petty act of thievery and vandalism. That really caught me off guard the first time it happened but if you think that sounds fun you should see the other surprises and anomalies the game has in store for you. Eitherways, the game allows you to be neutral towards some factions, while others are hostile right off the bat.
In terms of visuals, as you’ve probably seen, the game is eye candy. The particle effects, the lighting, the planets on the distance, the anomalies and the ships, everything looks absolutely gorgeous. While I’m sure that feat is due to the use of the Unreal 4 engine, I’m also sure it’s due to the work of the developers because the game runs smooth as butter and there’s a fair amount of graphics options to choose from. Even during explosion intensive scenes, with everything maxed out (Vsync off), I’m way over the 80-90 FPS range on a 970 and a i5-4460. For those that like to play around with the camera like I do, you can tweak the 1st and 3rd person views with separate FOV sliders. As for audio, the game offers separate audio sliders for voice, music and sound effects which I really appreciate and, overall, it’s easy to distinguish what type of weapon is being fired based on their sound.
To sum things up, I’d say that, at the moment, Everspace is already extremely enjoyable and contains dozens of hours worth of content. It is very replayable, thanks to its persistent progression system and thanks to the random nature of each system, from asteroid fields to electric storms and from outlaw ambushes to major warships, chances are you won’t find 2 playthroughs to be the same. The gameplay is stellar, enjoyable and not once I felt like I died because of the game and not because of my own ability to play it.
What it does, it does surprisingly well. It is that with mind, and with its current price, which is probably making some people hold off their purchase, that I highly recommend this if you enjoy space dogfighting games or if you’re into the whole idea of dying over and over again trying to last longer than your previous run. One way or another, I do think that this is a game that anyone who’s looking for some fast paced action will most likely enjoy.