Releasing games nowadays is not just as simple as bringing out a disc -- there are multiple ways to bring a game to the public. One of these options is the Game Preview program, of which games such as ARK: Survival Evolved
have taken advantage. The program allows players to try out an early version of the title before its full release at a later date and the latest game to make the most of this is Everspace
, a space based shooter that combines combat and exploration. While in the program, the game is lacking story elements, extra ships and the chances are that a few things might change before the final release. The question is, what does Everspace
offer us now in the form that it is in?
Once you have chosen whether to play the game in first or third person view, you are guided through a tutorial for the basic movement and weapons of your spaceship. Players who are familiar with this genre will no doubt easily adapt to the controls but it might take time for those who are new to the genre to get used to them. Luckily, the tutorial is kind and doesn't throw you into anything too quickly; rather it tells you the controls and then lets you get to grips with them at your own pace. You're given the opportunity to become familiar with the sometimes erratic movement of the ship, as well as some of the basic weapons and items that you'll be using a lot during your space flight.
After this, players are left to carry on at their own free will. You start off with a few basic weapons, including a pulse rifle that has an infinite amount of ammo but has the downside of overheating if you fire it too much. This is your primary weapon and you'll have a secondary weapon on top of that, which is defaulted to light missiles. These will track targeted enemies and basically ensure a direct hit, so they can definitely be helpful to get you out of a tight spot. Whilst these are your starting weapons, you'll have the opportunity to salvage other weapons from enemies and crates as you travel, although you only have a limited amount of slots in which to hold your weapons. The ones that you throw away can be salvaged for parts, as can extra items that you pick up along the way. Even if you find something that you don't need, you can usually find a use for it.
Keep your weapons at hand; you'll be needing them
Once you've grasped your movement and weapons, the final things with which you need to familiarise yourself onboard your ship are the items and abilities that you can use. One of the most useful items is your starting item, the scanning probe. This allows you to scan your current area to show up everything that is interactable, from enemies to mineable ore. Your ability starts off as a fast boost to get you around quicker, serving to help you out in your general exploration. Whilst allowing you to explore, fight and salvage different areas, the current playable area is small where players are limited to smaller sections that can be explored before you have to "jump" to the next area. In each sector, there are a number of these smaller areas to explore. You must visit these before you eventually get to the final area, where you can then do one final space jump that will take you to the next sector.
The exploring that you are doing is matched by an equal amount of combat, which is fast paced and rather hard to come through unscathed. While enemies are not a huge presence across the different areas, they can quickly crowd around you and death may be quite a regular occurance. Enemies come in various forms, including other small ships and drones that can group up and fight you together, but you might get some help from the small neutral transporter ships that fly about the areas, too. Make sure you don't shoot the transporter ships, though, as they are pretty fickle and will fight whoever ends up attacking them first.
Fly, Shoot, Kill, Repeat
When you die, your run is officially over and anything that you have collected is tallied up. You'll be wanting to keep an eye out for credits, fuel and any other bits of mineable items or scrap to pick up as you go between the areas. Not only can these be used for a multitude of things during your run, they are also used once it is finished. All of these are dropped by defeated enemies, are found in floating crates or can be mined by shooting certain bits of rock in the area. You are free to spend as little or as long searching for these in each place as the game doesn't pressure you to move on.
Credits are of great importance in this game; they're not just to use for trading items if you happen to come across a trader in your area. Credits are your way of levelling up your ship, weapons and items, and you are offered a fairly big skill tree in order to improve your ship. You can choose to improve many different aspects of your ships, including the shield, the hull, damage output, weapon and item slots, and there's a lot more on offer. This means that you have the freedom to improve the ship how you want it -- if you want to specifically focus on improving one aspect then you can. You can also improve some more passive aspects to help you in other ways, such as upgrading your sensor in order to tell you which areas will have a lower or higher risk on the sector map and allowing you to actively partake or avoid conflict depending on how you want to approach the game.
Without a story, where exactly are we heading?
The game looks beautiful, interesting and exciting. Even in the setting of dark space, the game manages to produce bright and eye catching colours. You'll be met with blues and oranges and reds that make the game so pleasing on the eyes, and the ships themselves look equally impressive. Considering the game's preview state, the game offers no achievements, but there are some in-game challenges to give you some kind of aim and direction should you need it. Trying to collect a target number of credits or take out a certain number of enemies in one run is the kind of challenges that you'll be up against.
If all of this sounds tempting, Everspace
can be purchased for US$29.99/CA$38.99/£23.99/€29.99/AU$49.95 as part of the Game Preview program. The full version of the game is scheduled to be released in Q1 2017.