I’ve been trying to put together a comprehensive modern review of No Man’s Sky, but I keep getting distracted by other games. This one, in particular, I’ve been paying attention to for a while. But since I have already pushed the level cap, I figured I might as well do a review.
Normally, I’d hesitate doing a review outside of Steam for a game so fresh into Early Access without an available end-game, (compared to say Valheim where you can fight bosses, dive dungeons, and pump hundreds of hours into base-building alone, or Dyson Sphere Program, which has obvious missing elements, but you can still achieve the final goal of the game), but I’m making an exception because of how polished the current game already feels, despite barely breaking into the prologue of the story and having a level cap of only 14.
While there are a number of random encounters, and continuous spawns of baddies in certain areas, the game is fairly hard-capped for content at around 25 hours. The other important thing to note, is that this game will likely never be content complete during Early Access. It never was for the first one, (and I bought the first one in Early Access, as well) so I don’t expect it to be in this one. The developer has also expressed this sentiment. I think it’s important to know this going in, because the last game had some lamentations of abandonment towards the nearing of its completion, because it didn’t get a lot of updates towards the end.
However, when it did release, it was a massive opening up of content and narrative, so I have the same expectations for this game’s release.
So what comes along with those expectations?
Well, Everspace 2 is a lot like the first one, mechanically speaking. In fact, it’s near identical. Fans of the first game will slip into the feel of the sequel without skipping a beat, and that’s not a bad thing. The first game had great graphics and smooth gameplay. It had tons of exploration, combat, crafting and variety of encounters. The problem, is a lot of these mechanics felt locked behind the roguelike death: both in how you unlock more ships, but also in that none of your efforts felt like they mattered. While the progression shared a lot of similarities with FTL, it didn’t quite use the formula in a way that fit the narrative. FTL rarely wants you to fail, despite its difficulty curve, while Everspace *needs* you to fail at least a few times to further the progression of the story. Every time you play FTL is intended to be a new adventure, whereas Everspace is a continuation of the same adventure by one individual.
It’s not to say that I think Everspace uses the FTL progression system poorly, but I think it could have done it differently.
Thankfully, we have Everspace 2, which does away with all that and drops us into a sprawling open world. All of those materials you acquired, you get to keep and stash and hoard and craft with. Unlock ships so you can line your hangar with them. Buy them, trade them, upgrade them. There is a lot of freedom already available in this early version of the game.
Not to mention variety of gameplay. There are a dizzying number of puzzles hidden around every nook and cranny. You can literally fly inside the core of orbital space cities to dig for locked containers, and find their respective keys. There are mini-games to detonate giant asteroids for their resources, or bounce lasers by physically strapping a mirror to the front of your ship. It’s even scratching the ARPG itch with the crafting and loot system, and has a lot of potential to fill the void left by classics like Freelancer and Descent.
I don’t want to go too hard into comparing it to legendary games, or games with much bigger scopes and much bigger studios. The developers have already expressed how intimidating that is, and they want to temper expectations, which is fair; considering how far hype can take a game, and inflate expectations.
That being said, I still feel like this game’s potential is huge. Even if it doesn’t live up to the impossible standards of meeting nostalgia’s call to the 90s, or matching the sheer size and density of open worlds existing in games like The Witcher 3, there’s no reason it can’t stand in its own shoes.
For one thing, this is probably the most polished early Early Access release I’ve ever seen. Framerates remain smooth as silk, and there are no obvious missing textures or fritzy AIs running around. I’ve had no client crashes, no audio glitches; it nearly plays like a finished game right up until you hit the level cap and narrative cliffhanger. It’s nice to be able to say that when you compare to some recent full releases of “AAA” games.
So, do I recommend buying Everspace 2 in Early Access?
You really just want to play the game in its current state because you are desperate for fresh space action.
You really liked the first game, and want to support the developer while they finish this one.
You are expecting the game to be finished within the year.
You are expecting a complete, or near-complete game experience at any time during Early Access.
When the game is finished, I’m sure I’ll have no issues recommending it to anyone who is interested. I’ll continue to check in on the game as it develops, but I’m not expecting to see a *lot* of content added to the game until it’s finished, which likely will be some time mid-to-late 2022.
At the end of it all, I have no regrets with my purchase, and can’t wait to see what comes next!