Everspace 2 Console Edition Review
No foolin’, back in April of this year I reviewed the PC release of Everspace 2. Spoiler: It was a great sequel to one of my favorite games. The original Everspace in 2017 was a roguelike and had a fair amount of procedural generation. Everspace 2 jettisons that formula for something akin to a hack-and-slash RPG, with fast-moving spacecraft taking the place of terra firma-bound characters.
Looter-Shooter, Sure Enough
The mechanics of RPGs are familiar to most gamers. The basic tasks of exploring, fighting, and collecting loot are addictive and satisfying. Upgrading gear, crafting, and progressing up a skill tree are the basics of the genre. Everspace 2 takes familiar systems and transposes them to a stellar interplanetary setting. Substituting guns and swords and a heavy-laden backpack, you have a vastly customizable spacecraft and dogfights that take place among the planets and stars.
Most players are coming to Everspace 2 for the action, but there is an interesting story to explore. Reprising the main character and setting from the first game, Everspace 2’s narrative is a bit opaque and told mostly through static images. Adam Roslin is an illegal clone of a suspected political assassin, now named Hero. Everspace 2 is about Adam/Hero’s attempt to escape the Demilitarized Zone of Cluster 34, evade the Colonial forces hunting him, and reach a new Homeworld, Eden-12.
Despite some hokeyness and bland voice acting, Everspace 2’s campaign is lengthy and engaging. There are many hours of side missions and enjoyable grinding to supplement the main quest. Overall, Everspace 2 has a better-than-average narrative driving the campaign. The impatient can skip through the dialogue and cut scenes and get right to flying and shooting.
Pick Up and Shoot
Like most action RPGs, Everspace 2 is at its best in combat. Flying through asteroid fields and cruising over hulking space fortresses has been the model ever since Star Wars showed us what it looks like. Some space dogfighting games emphasize complex controls and deep simulations. Everspace 2 lands on the arcade style of things, with relatively simple — but not necessarily immediately mastered — controls. For casual space pilots like me, uninterested in the more complicated physics of spacecraft, I’m perfectly content.
Maneuvers like attacks and evasive flying are fun. It’s kind of relaxing to fly randomly around and pick up crafting materials, explore abandoned ships, and take on the occasional, optional dogfight. When it’s go-time, you have a really wide range of weapons and defenses. You start with some basic guns, a homing missile, and an EMP blast, then you find, craft, and upgrade a staggering number of weapons, special abilities, and defenses for your ship.
In a traditional RPG build, your armor and weapons are where it’s at. In Everspace 2, it’s your ship, taking the place of both armor and weapons. Each ship you unlock has unique visual characteristics, but the important differences are the built-in abilities, weapons, or mechanics that define each craft. Some have massive area-of-effect defenses or extra slots for weapons. The ships are customizable at a granular level, like swapping wing shapes, engines, and much more.
If Looks Could Kill
Although some textures are a bit fuzzy up close, explosions, lighting, and particle effects are effective. There are a lot of visually engaging planets, asteroids, mining operations, and other interesting areas to explore.
On the PS5, there isn’t an incredibly deep set of tools to adjust the visuals, like a performance vs. quality setting, though there is a colorblind mode. Given the complexity of flying — even given the arcade-style flight model — the mapping of controls and UI to the DualSense controller is a great success. There are tons of ways to tune them and all players should be able to find their sweet spot. I thought the controller worked relatively well with the PC edition, but it feels even more natural now.
Everspace 2 has a solid narrative, great arcade-style flight and combat mechanics, and an addictive explore, loot, and fight gameplay loop. That was true on the PC and it’s just as true on consoles. Everspace 2 is proof that an unexpected genre mashup like looter/shooter and space combat can play nicely together.
***PS5 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Expansive story and characters
- Excellent combat
- Fun mechanics and customization
- Plays great with controller
- Some textures are fuzzy
- Controls take practice
- Limited visual adjustments