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Dogfighting in Space is a woefully under-appreciated and developed genre, so when it came time to check out the full release of EVERSPACE 2, I couldn’t pass it up. Truthfully, I knew very little going into the game, having never played the original. However, that did not stop me from enjoying my playthrough..

For the uninitiated, EVERSPACE 2’s narrative opens with the introduction of a clone pilot emboldened by the exploits of his past lives (and presumably EVERSPACE 1). Now on his last life, players must guide our hero in navigating a mostly hostile environment to resuscitate a fallen alley while uncovering the greater plot. Things quickly escalate, and a simple rescue mission turns into an exciting plot rife with conspiracy, hostile robots, aliens, clones and smugglers in a story that matches the epic scope of something like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, minus the incessant ramblings of dark and light denominations.

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Before talking about some of the quality-of-life improvements and additions present in EVERSPACE 2’s post-early-access build, I want to take a moment to talk about what sets EVERSPACE 2 apart from its contemporaries.

“What sets EVERSPACE 2 apart lies in its RPG mechanics, which encourage thoughtful exploration and even some light puzzle-solving mechanics…”

Like other space combat titles, EVERSPACE 2 has good dogfighting mechanics with various weapons, including beams, bullets, missiles, and other forms of ranged and close-quarters arms that become available to the player (my favourite being corrosive rounds and webbing). What sets EVERSPACE 2 apart lies in its RPG mechanics, which encourage thoughtful exploration and even some light puzzle-solving mechanics, which add a decent amount of variety to the otherwise familiar gameplay loop.

Exploration in EVERSPACE 2 consists of going from zone to zone to different clusters, which contain everything from key objectives, storefronts, derelict spaceships and debris to ambushes and impromptu rescue missions. Upgrading your ship is a gradual process but a rewarding one, particularly when finding a rare piece of equipment, paint job or crafting material from one of the above points of interest. Setting up trade routes and mining also helps add variety to the game while giving players an engaging way to earn the credits required to get some of EVERSPACE 2’s later upgrades that alleviate what otherwise would be a grind.

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Activities such as mining for resources or treasure hunting inside the bowels of a derelict structure are primarily where EVERSPACE 2 flexes its creative muscles. Unlike other space sims, manoeuvrability in EVERSPACE 2 feels closer to something like the Zero-G sections in Dead Space in that the player can push and pull objects out of the way, shoot mineral deposits on the face of asteroids and activate switches in a fully 3D environment. In practice, the freedom of movement in EVERSPACE 2 allows for a more thorough experience that other games within the same genre tend to ignore in favour of combat.

EVERSPACE 2’s release out of early-access brings with it several quality-of-life improvements such as colour-graded loot, which makes it easy to quickly parse through the rarity of your gear for when you’re micromanaging your spacecraft, to new camera angles such as a cockpit view and first-person camera, which are nice touches. However, I found myself mostly sticking with its default camera, particularly in some tricking chase sequences and narrow caverns.

Despite a fairly solid gameplay loop, EVERSPACE 2 left me wanting a little bit more in terms of interacting with some of the larger biomes present in the game. An example of this is the scale in which you can fly around and interact with planets and structures, which feel uneven in terms of their interactiveness, with many feeling devoid of life, especially in regard to city structures and areas that want to convey a lived-in atmosphere.

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In-game cutscenes in EVERSPACE 2 are done via animatics which do a surprisingly great job conveying the story despite the jarring change in aesthetics from the in-game graphics to the painterly and stilted cinematics. The banter between Adam and the eclectic cast of characters the player meets along the way is mostly great, with my favourite being Elek, a small bat-like alien that feels like he’s ripped straight out of an 80s sci-fi design book.

EVERSPACE 2 is a guaranteed blast with a surprisingly deep and engaging story to keep players interested even without prior knowledge of the series.”

I do wish some of the lesser enemies you encounter in EVERSPACE 2 had dialogue or radio chatter, as often, just shooting faceless enemies tends to feel somewhat repetitive. Thankfully, enemy variety in EVERSPACE 2 is varied enough that just when you think you’ve seen it all, a new mechanic or even boss encounter will show up, which helps alleviate some of the tedium of mowing through fodder.

Upgrading your ship starts off slow. Slowly trickling and expanding, opening up significantly as the player discovers new blueprints and master cores that gradually allow the player to tailor fit themselves with a ship that feels just as nuanced as a character builds in something like Diablo or one of its contemporaries.

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Ultimately, EVERSPACE 2 is not exactly what I expected, as the game feels closer to something like Borderlands or Destiny in its focus on gear rather than pure space combat and simulation. However, this change is a refreshing take on the genre, particularly for fans of looter shooters that enjoy that dopamine hit of upgrading your character, or in this case, ship, with cool and exotic parts, which not only encourages exploration but creates a solid gameplay loop to keep players engaged.

If you’re a fan of the original EVERSPACE, then EVERSPACE 2 is already locked and loaded on your ship’s radar. Still, if you’re new to the series like I was or are in the market for a fresh spin on the looter shooter genre, EVERSPACE 2 is a guaranteed blast with a surprisingly deep and engaging story to keep players interested even without prior knowledge of the series.