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ℹ️ - Everspace 2

 

When the original EVERSPACE arrived as the debut title from Rockfish Games, it instantly became one of the most beautiful space games around. With its scattered asteroid belts, dilapidated space stations, and vibrant nebulas, it made the universe anything but beige.


It also included a photo mode that, while technically called Action Freeze and being fairly basic even by 2017 standards, enabled players to capture the magnificent space vistas and exciting dogfights that the game had to offer.

- EVERSPACE // 2017 -


The full sequel was always going to be great news for any virtual photographers with an eye for the interstellar then and, seeing as Rockfish have changed the formula a bit for EVERSPACE 2, things could be even more interesting this time.


Gone is the roguelike loop of procedural levels with incremental, yet linear progress, and in its place is a narrative-driven looter-shooter set a fully open-world – well, open star systems really – all filled with over 100 hand-crafted locations.

EVERSPACE 2 Location

- EVERSPACE 2 // ROCKFISH -


The gameplay primarily features the same fast-paced combat, with there being a fight to be had everywhere you go to some degree, though there is also a decent helping of environmental puzzles, mining, crafting and even races to be had along the way. The story alone is claimed to last you at least 30 hours, though you should expect to dip into the other 60+ hours-worth of side quests and optional content just to avoid being under levelled, especially if you hope to take on the high-level end game challenges.


It all adds up to a greater RPG feel this time; the huge number of ship upgrades, weapons, and perks open up many different tactics, while gaining reputation with factions and bolstering your list of companions will definitely benefit you in the battlefield.

EVERSPACE 2 Battle

- EVERSPACE 2 // BATTLE -


Expect no shortage of stunning space battles that will make you want to reach for the photo mode then – and it is actually called Photo Mode this time in case you were wondering – but the big question is whether the photography tools have been given any upgrades worthy of the game's own loftier aspirations?

 

Key Photo Mode Features:

  • Virtually infinite camera range

  • Auto focus and aperture settings

  • Camera movement acceleration


Controls & Implementation:


The short answer to that is technically yes, but it is still a basic implementation. Added options for Field of View, Aperture, and Exposure boost the feature set, it just doesn't really shake off the feel of being a debug camera made accessible to the player.


That is by no means a bad thing in principle by the way, especially given the virtually infinite range of camera movement that comes with it as a result. Nothing is out of reach as you are free to roam the entire playable area, but this is a photo mode that's unfortunately saddled with awkward controls that include some of the worst button assignments I can think of.

Photo Mode Controller Layout
Why not just implement a toggle to show / hide the settings UI, and maybe use the ideally suited D-Pad...

Essentially, when entering photo mode, the in-game ship controls are transferred to the camera, so when using the default "Scheme A" setup, the LS thrust controls translate into lateral truck & dolly, RS handles complete 360° pan & tilt, and L1 / L2 hover becomes vertical camera craning.


I have absolutely no problem with this so far, but the issues arise with the fact that everything else involves holding a combination of buttons, despite their being some obvious unmapped ones available. Camera roll is performed by holding down R3 while continuing to move the RS; the very useful camera acceleration is found in the same way with L3 + LS; and all other settings, along with the UI and a thirds grid to aid composition, require you to hold R2, constantly!

EVERSPACE 2 Photo Mode UI

- EVERSPACE 2 // PHOTO MODE UI -


I mean, why not just implement a toggle to show / hide the settings UI, and maybe use the ideally suited D-Pad to switch between and adjust them? Instead, the 3 available settings are cycled by pressing (while holding R2 remember), then adjusted using R1 and the now repurposed L1 – again while still holding R2. Maybe things make more sense when using a mouse & keyboard, but on a controller, the button choices are just not very user friendly.


With that pretty major complaint out of the way, let's focus on some of the positives again. The advantage of complete camera freedom really cannot be overstated when it comes to finding shots, while the Field of View setting offers a similarly free adjustment that goes from extreme wide angles with stretch distortion, to huge telephoto zoom that narrows the view, brings subjects closer, and compresses the scene.

- EVERSPACE 2 // PHOTO MODE CAMERA -


Exposure also has a healthy range that can easily darken the shot or crank up the brightness to make light sources overpowering, and Depth of Field is handled in a simple but effective way. Pressing X (along with R2 of course) will focus the camera on whatever the centre reticle is aimed at, and aperture adjustments will then vary the amount of defocused blur that is applied to both the foreground and background. It even responds to the FoV setting with a shallower DoF resulting at longer zoom lengths for a pretty pleasing effect with an authentic optical look.

- EVERSPACE 2 // DEPTH OF FIELD -


Beyond that, there is really not much more to speak about, and this remains a photo mode with a fairly modest feature set. In fact, it actually loses one feature from its predecessor with the optional EVERSPACE logo no longer available, but it can still be used to good effect. Once you get the hang of the inputs, you'll be able to cruise around the galaxy and take advantage of some stellar subject matter (pardon the pun).

EVERSPACE 2 Opportunity
Take advantage of some stellar subject matter...

Photographic Opportunities:


EVERSPACE 2 manages to recapture the visual appeal of the original and remains one of the prettiest corners of virtual space that you can find. As an art style, it is perhaps comparable to Chorus, more intricate than No Man's Sky, and more vibrant than the realistic black depths of Elite Dangerous.


Each of the 6 star systems have their own stylistic colour scheme, and all are filled with arresting backdrops, intriguing bases, and fragments of debris everywhere you go. With the freedom to explore inside some structures, enter the atmosphere of certain planets, and even go underground, there are plenty of places to take that virtual camera.

- EVERSPACE 2 // ROCKFISH -


You never do leave your ship though, so it's just as well that there are 9 different classes available to the player, each with multiple tiers, upgrades, and cosmetic modifications available. Add to that the 11 different factions with their own craft that range from small scouts and fighters to massive cruisers, and that's quite a bit of variety for the inevitable combat shots.


I say inevitable, not just because the game leans heavily on combat encounters, but because they are great to shoot – in a photographic sense that is. Weapons light up the skies with blasts of colour, bolts of electricity, and homing clusters that all play off against the ship engine trails to add a nice sense of dynamism. Plus, when something big does go down, it does so in a satisfying cloud of burning smoke and dust.

- EVERSPACE 2 // COMBAT -


The reduced penalty for death that comes with the change in game style does take away some of the sense of danger, but that also means that you are now not going to lose that perfect photo location when an unexpected Okkar patrol or Outlaw ambush sends you crashing back to the beginning. In fact, with that unlimited camera range, it is even possible to keep a safe distance and photograph ongoing conflicts from afar should you really want to. Just don't expect to stay safe for long.

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Verdict:


EVERSPACE 2 stacks up as a fine space themed looter-shooter, and the switch to an open world RPG works well for in-game photographers. The added freedom to roam, return to the beautifully crafted locations, or seek out another dogfight makes it easy to take advantage of some great subject matter.


Virtually infinite camera range also helps there, but an otherwise limited feature set and some awkward control choices mean that getting the best out of the excellent art style is not quite as fun as it might have been.

TheFourthFocus Verdict
 

Full Feature Set:

Access & Control

Photo Mode Access: Options menu

Camera Movement: Free camera with unlimited range Horizontal Pan: 360° Vertical Tilt: 360° Roll: 360°

Menu UI

Other Settings

Game Menu Settings


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