Rockfish’s take on the still barren genre of epic space shooters is not only a wonderfully addictive arcade blast, it’s also one of the prettiest games available with VR support there is.
I’ve waffled on about my hopes for Rockfish Games‘ Everspace, a rogue-like arcade space shooter, before. My nostalgic yearning for a spiritual successor to Freespace (1999), which took the majesty, scale and unapologetic spurning of realism of a true space opera’s battles and made it easy to play but difficult to master. That title was developed by Volition way back in 1999 and, if I’m completely honest, there’s not been an awful lot to rival it in all this intervening time.
Now, in Everspace, not only do we have a spiritual successor to Freespace of sorts, but the title has also been developed with VR support pretty much from the get go. After languishing in early access for some time now, Rockfish has finally announced that the first ‘full fat’ version of the title is now on release, with support for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets.
First off, this is not a full review of Everspace by any means, merely a very brief preview of the title after spending a little time with it on the Oculus Rift since its full release last week. But even after such a short spell, Everspace seems to have the accessible combat and ludicrously OTT space pyrotechnics I crave from a space shooter.
As with many indie titles across many genres these days, Everspace adopts the fashionable rogue-like structure for its core gameplay. For those unfamiliar with the term (and it’s applied somewhat loosely in this case), this means every play session consists of a ‘run’, a play through whereby you progress a little further with each successive attempt, acquiring persistent upgrades and perks to extend the length of those runs. It’s a classic loop, and you can see why it’s popular, but after myself building the comparison, in this respect Everspace is entirely unlike Freespace‘s mission based structure. My comparison of the two relates more to the combat style, which gives you punchy gatling guns, homing missiles and lasers to toy with – all of which exude that space opera flair I spoke of earlier.
With the full release of Everspace comes a story of sorts. Instead of being thrown into the majestic void to blast things indiscriminately with no idea as to why, you’re now thrown into the majestic void to blast things indiscriminately prefixed by a brief series of hand-drawn cut scenes instead. As I said, my time with Everspace is as yet brief, but although I understand the need for such polish in a game costing £23, I suspect the story will be largely inconsequential to your enjoyment of the title in the long run. I’ve been wrong before though.
The VR support is solid, with some thoughtful graphics options (initially auto detected according to your PC’s specs) available for tweaking – including some healthy super-sampling and AA tweaks, very welcome in such a title. I did notice some glitching artefacts on some text HUD elements, but that aside things looked great.
The visuals are glorious – painterly space vistas punctuated with bright, attractive hues – with some great ship design and a general level of production aesthetic belying its indie roots. The combat feels weighty, with standard lasers and gatling weapons feeling satisfying and punchy and the obligatory homing missiles finding targets in an entirely delightful, if OTT fashion.
You collect scrap, loot, mine ore and collect fuel and upgrades from fallen foes. If you die, you’re returned to the hangar and given the option to upgrade your current ship (those persistent perks and mods I mentioned earlier), or buy a new one should you have enough materials and / or credits to do so. You progress through the procedurally generated universe via jump gates and .. well that’s about all I know so far.
As I say, these are just some of my very early thoughts. I’ve not played the game enough to recommend Everspace as yet, but what I’ve seen so far looks great, the VR support is solid and it looks to scratch that Freespace itch I’ve had for so long too. If any of that has whet your appetite, you can grab Everspace now from Steam.