Space is infinite, so there are infinite ways that you can make a space game. That’s just logic. Everspace 2 is embracing that a little bit with its latest update, Zharkov: The Vortex. It adds a new sector and a new ship, which is definitely in their wheelhouse. But it also adds drone-based Descent-like puzzle missions, turning the early access looter shooter into a stealthy space sneaker for a level or two.
As the name implies, the new update drags the player into a vortex called Zharkov. It’s an environmentally threatening place, with creepy vertical asteroids (I’ve no idea why they creep me out, but they do), and space lightening that can zap your ship should you venture into it. Everspace 2’s world design has always been impressive and it remains the case here.
A new ship, the Vanguard, should help while passing through the asteroids. It’s a manoeuvrable recon ship, built for defensive but speedy players. It reads like a very hit-and-run craft, with potential critical hits if you attack from the rear, and shield overcharges of up to 200%. It can also activate a slow-motion mode if things get too hairy.
There are some experimental missions in the vortex. During the main campaign, you’ll have to sneak a maintenance drone through the inside of a mining colony. The six degress-of-freedom missions strip away the dashing space violence for a cautious drift through tunnels. It’s experimental enough that the developers do seem a little bit worried about the reception it’ll receive.
They said: “Now, even though we’ve talked about this before, anyone not into puzzle-solving or 6DOF drone gameplay, please understand that Everspace 2 is meant to stand for its own within the space game genre. There are much bigger titles already out there or in the making, so there would be no point in us trying to compete against the juggernauts of space games. While on the creative side, we believe there’s enough room for an arcadey space action RPG with looter-shooter mechanics bringing new things to the space game genre, which our team is very much excited about.”
Alongside the new missile types (corrosion, armourbreaker, shieldbreaker, and destabilizers), is the “fusion hook”. It enables the player to grapple objects in space and slingshot themselves around. I like the idea of it, it should make space battles even more swoopy.
There’s way more than can possibly be highlighted in a news story, so here are the patch notes in full. And if you've already got the game, you can go and check it out right now, as the update's already gone live on Steam.