COVID-19 recently forced developer and publisher Rockfish Games to push the early access release window of Everspace 2 into December 2020. While working remotely due to the pandemic did bring up new challenges, the good news is that Rockfish Games is fairly confident of meeting the new deadlines.
Speaking with SegmentNext in a recent interview, project manager Caspar Michel confirmed that getting Everspace 2 out in Steam Early Access within the year “is still on the cards” and the developer is “so ready” to release an early build for Kickstarter backers to experience and relay all-important feedback.
We are about to hit the Alpha milestone which will conclude in the “closed Alpha” for our Kickstarter backers. We are so ready to get this early build out into the world and collect that juicy feedback. Steam Early Access is still on the cards for 2020 as we cannot hold out forever.
Between now and then, Rockfish Games will be looking to polish Everspace 2 as much as possible and that covers improving existing features as well as adding new ones. However, multiplayer will still not make the cut.
Everspace 2 will be strictly a single-player game. Michel noted that there are regular internal discussions around adding online elements and the franchise could receive a multiplayer installment in the future. Everspace 2 though will be sticking with the single-player side, majorly because adding online support right now would add years more to development.
There’s always a possibility for a multiplayer Everspace in the future. We often discuss it internally, but we are simply not ready for it. Let’s keep the evolution healthy from a single-player roguelike to an open-world space shooter RPG and maybe add online coop-multiplayer in our next game.
Make no mistake, adding online multiplayer would add years to the development cycle, many job descriptions to our fairly small team, and require a significantly bigger budget if done right. It’s a high risk, high reward situation we are not comfortable taking at this moment.
Something of interest is that despite how many players have requested support for multiplayer, Rockfish Games believes that “there are fewer fans who want multiplayer as there are who want a fulfilling single-player experience” from an Everspace game, at least right now. “Exploring space alone, without being called names. Don’t have to keep up with others. Drop-in drop-out. Life is stressful enough” – is what Everspace 2 aims at.
Coming to the single-player, Michel clarified that the previous mention of the campaign being 20-30 hours long was without including the side quests. The optional missions though, are in dire need of improvements. Rockfish Games will be experimenting with side quests for the early access release. The developer wants them to be more “fun” and attractive enough for players to pick up.
We are well aware that side quests are not something for everybody and are only occasionally picked up. They will be clearly marked as such in the quest log. However, they will add to the fun and the lore of Everspace 2. This is the place where we can be experimental and go a bit crazy. So, pick up the side quests, folks!
But side quests will not be the only reason to invest long hours in exploring and looting deep space. Everspace 2 will have an endgame, which Michel excitedly compared to the likes of Diablo. Rockfish Games is playing with the idea of changing the world (a bit) after the campaign is done.
The world will open up more to offer new challenges like Ancient Rifts, inspired by the Nephalem Rifts of Diablo 3, where players need to quickly explore, kill, and loot an area and make it out alive or else the loot is gone. These challenges will add a ton of replay value to Everspace 2 as players will continue to find new ways to become stronger.
We still have many ideas floating around. Surely, the world will open up even more and offer new challenging tasks like our Ancient Rifts, which were unlocked as a Kickstarter stretch goal. They take inspiration from Diablo 3 rifts and of course heavy influence from the original Everspace with its roguelike core loop. We aim for a high level of replayability in the endgame where you go for that extra juicy loot.
This is pretty much the basic concept for what we have in mind for the Ancients’ Rifts in Everspace 2, but of course, we have tons of ideas on how we could bring in some of the best roguelike mechanics from the original Everspace to make things even more interesting.
Michel also discussed other gameplay aspects of Everspace 2. The new sub-class system, for example, will introduce new arrangements of ultimates and perks for new play-style possibilities; a breath of fresh air when compared to the original outlined light-medium-heavy classes. Points needed to upgrade ships will be earned through a number of ways and not just by leveling up and currently remains without a level cap for early access. Some boss fights will require special strategies and a spam of rockets, for example, will not be enough.
Bringing companions along for every quest though, is something that remains under consideration. The developer would love to add the feature but like the multiplayer, will add to the development cycle. “Imagine writing dialog and recording voice lines for every mission with every companion. It would suck if they all said the same,” reasoned Michel.
Taking over from Michel, CEO Michael Schade revealed that Everspace 2 was being considered for the Epic Games Store following its announcement. Epic Games was even interested in offering one of those famous “epic” deals. However, Everspace 2 had already been picked up by thousands of players on Steam by then. Not to mention that Steam accounts for more than half of the total revenue streams for Rockfish Games. Everspace 2 was decided for Steam in the end but when the game officially releases in late 2021, the release will accompany the Epic Games Store and GOG as well.
After a lot of discussion with the entire team, we decided to double-down on our financial freedom and do another Kickstarter, promising our community that if it succeeded we would 100% guarantee that Everspace 2 will launch on Steam first.
So, we went back to our friends at Epic Games, told them about our decision and asked not to make us an offer that would be very, very hard to put down. Because let’s face it, those Epic deals – pun intended – are the absolute dream come true for any indie developer that is not able to fully fund development by themselves.