Space is mostly bleak and empty,” says Michael Schade, CEO of Rockfish Games, the developer of Everspace 2. Without getting too Douglas Adams about it, this makes open space combat games “boring, because most of the time you shoot at tiny pixel clusters in the distance without having a concrete sense of player orientation and movement”.
We’re playing the prototype build of this space shooter, the one that appeared at PAX East back in late February and which would have been shown off at this summer’s entertainment shows if they hadn’t been canceled. It’s playable, in that it functions – you fly through space exploring, shooting, and trading. It’s not exactly coherent yet, however, with little sense of purpose or mission structure. A whole mission-tracking system exists in the game but doesn’t work, and upon selecting your ship you’re dumped out in space with none of the pre-game preambles we’re used to.
It’s certainly a good looking game. Forebears like Elite Dangerous have been making the endless void into a tourist attraction for a while, knowing that it’s not the howling vacuum itself that’s interesting, but the things you encounter along the way, such as ringed planets, disintegrating space stations, and outlaw bases built into asteroids. “We love the freedom of exploration that Elite Dangerous provides the player,” says Schade, “as well as the added weight of traveling with limited resources, and navigation through dangerous territories.” Strong storytelling and the arcade-style gameplay of Everspace 2 is less about the simulation of spaceship management and more about jumping into combat, so a lot of the design ends up being dramatically different in comparison.
“In fact, Freelancer is our main gameplay reference, which we took a lot of inspiration from regarding both controls and the desire for an open-world experience and deeper storytelling. Our visual and sound design comes more from Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars, while itemization stems from Destiny and Diablo. Second-to-second combat gets its roots from classic shooters like Halo.”
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