During my younger gaming years, I enjoyed playing the older sci-fi space combat games such as Wing Commander and Privateer. Those were definitely some of the better times of Space Combat games and really defined the genre. Sadly, I fell out of love with those types of games shortly around the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System and console gaming altogether. If it wasn’t for the release of StarLancer on the Dreamcast, I might have just forgotten about the once loved genre. Fast forward to the recent two years and we’re seeing a resurgence of the once-dead genre. With the release of Elite: Dangerous, as well as a certain in-development title, it seems that the space combat genre is making a comeback. Though true be told, I haven’t played either of the two. I know, I know, I really need to and I will in the near future.
What I have played however is the currently in-development title, EVERSPACE, and it has definitely captured my attention. Now, before I get ahead of myself, let me back up and explain what EVERSPACE. Perhaps the first of its kind, EVERSPACE is an attempt to cross the streams so to speak. It combines the fast and dangerous combat of space combat games and smashes it against the popular and ever growing rogue-like genre. The ensuing result is a game that, so far gives gamers the best of both worlds. From the 20 hours I’ve logged with the game so far, I’m truly enjoying it.
Starting out in EVERSPACE is pretty daunting. You’re given a selection of one ship as the others aren’t available yet and dropped into space. No word on what to do, not good luck or anything. Just let to the cold confines of the great beyond. Since the missions aren’t incorporated into the game just yet, you’re given a set of objectives or challenges to perform. Your goal, for now, is to see how long you can progress and survive. Now, not everything is bleak like other rogue-like games, not entirely anyway. Since every venture into space is randomly generated, you’ll never really experience the same game twice. Sometimes you’ll be dumped into a peaceful sector, others you’ll find some sort of combat happening in the distance. And well, other times will have you dumped into a sector where you come under fire the minute you arrive. Oh, it happens and it is glorious.
Thanks to the Unreal Engine 4, EVERSPACE pumps out some truly impressive visuals. It’s insane with just how much detail and scale is involved with this game. For example, during my gameplays I encountered several massive ships. Mind you they weren’t just for show, as I was able to not only fly around them but I was able to fly through some of them. I’ve come across the remains of a what looks to be a battle station or some giant infrastructure that had seen better days, yet was the perfect opportunity to see if I could maneuver inside of the remains. Of course thanks to the tight controls, it was a breeze. But that wasn’t the only sights as I also flew into several clustered asteroid fields that were perfect for dipping and out of, or from hiding from space pirates or other enemies. The sounds are also done well, especially for an early access title. From the roar of the thrusters to the sound of missiles and lasers as they whiz past you, it all sounds good. They’ve even added a snippy ship AI that barks at you when you screw up or talks to you like you’re clueless. The character you play also sounds a bit like Nathan Fillion as well. I know it’s not him, but it’s really close to his voice. Good stuff there.
The performance was damn impressive as well. Other than several times where the game simply closed out, my ventures into EVERSPACE were flawless. For the most part, I played the game at 3440×1440 (21:9 ratio) on a widescreen monitor and it was blissful and immersive. Kudos for adding 21:9 support at the start, especially since not many developers manage to do that. No black bars, no cut-off, just full frontal space presentation and damn did it put a huge smile on my face. And while I claim I had no performance issues, I can’t tell if it was just due to brute force that’s to my PC setup or if the game is really that optimized from that start. For reference, I played the game on a PC rocking an Intel 5820k, a GTX 980 Ti Classified and running off an SSD drive. Still, it ran great and that’s all that matter to me.
Sadly I don’t have access to a VR setup, however, EVERSPACE does support both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You don’t have to own either to play the game, obviously, though I’d image the game would be a worthwhile VR experience. One of these days I’ll pick a VR solution up.
Speaking of enemies,there’s a few dozen of those in the Early Access title as well. And while I called them space pirates, I don’t know the official name of them. I do know, however, is they aren’t friendly and will fire on you or any other friendlies as soon as they make contact with them. Trust me, they don’t play around and you don’t merely come against smaller ships. There were instances where they even called in massive battleships and the scope is simply amazing when you first see them. I know the first time I saw them jump into the sector I was at, it wasn’t pleasant. I said that again once they locked onto me and I frantically tried to find cover before they ended my run. Thankfully I wasn’t unarmed as my ship had a few basic weapons such as a laser, a gatling gun, and missiles that can make short work of just about everything I came up against. While that array of firepower doesn’t seem impressive, not to work as EVERSPACE also includes an upgrade system that lets you upgrade various aspects of your ship, including weaponry, armor, and perks.
To make use of that upgrade system, you’ll earn credit during your gameplay. Since the missions aren’t in-game yet, you’ll find credits from destroying enemy ships, mining ore for trading, doing fetch quests or even by defending those who aren’t able to defend themselves. There’s a catch, as so far that I’ve noticed, you’ll only be able to use those credits after you’ve been killed and arrive back at the start of the game. Though once you’re there, you’re free to upgrade using all of your credits. This is also how the game progresses. When you do die, you keep your credits but lose anything extra you picked up during the game that you haven’t sold. So in typical roque-like flair, you play, die and repeat. It sounds repetitive but after putting as much playtime as I have, I haven’t gotten bored of it yet. And there’re very few games that do that for me now, so that’s saying something.
There’s so much more I could go on and on about with EVERSPACE, then again we’d be here all day. It’s heading in the right direction and with what I played so far, fans of the space combat genre are going love it. Scope-wise, I can’t say how well it matches up against, say Elite: Dangerous, but it doesn’t really have to. The game scene, just like space, has enough room for either game types. Though I can safely say that EVERSPACE doesn’t have the learning curve that other space combat games require you to have. I’ll definitely be following the progress of EVERSPACE, as not only am I hooked on this Early Access copy, but has also rekindled by love for space combat games. Now if we can get some HOTAS support added, it would be heaven.
Lastly, if you’ve looked at the images and video on this preview and thought to yourself that you think you’ve seen this game before. That’s easily explained. You see, the team behind this game, Rocket Fish, used to go by another game. It may be familiar to you, ROCKFISH Games. NO? How about Fishlabs, the very same team behind the Galaxy on Fire games that you may have come across on ioS, Android or even Galaxy on Fire 2 HD that you can pick up from Steam. Same team, different name and apparently they still got the touch (yes, that was a Transformers the Animated Movie reference). So it shouldn’t be any surprise to see that EVERSPACE is shaping up so well and so fast.
EVERSPACE is available now via Steam Early Access and GOG. Their Kickstarter page is also still up and accepting funding, head over here if you want to toss them a few dollars. If space combat is your thing, definitely try it out. Just be sure to watch out for those black holes, ok?