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2023’s best space game is getting a big engine upgrade in free update

Everspace 2, the loot-driven space game blending Diablo with Starfield, is getting an upgrade to Unreal Engine 5 in its second free update.

If Starfield space battles leave you cold, or you’ve ever wished Diablo 4 had a more intergalactic setting, Everspace 2 is a must-play. The loot-driven space flight RPG is, at least for my money, the most exciting space game to launch in 2023, and following its first huge free update developer Rockfish Games has big plans for its second major upgrade including a switch to UE5 – although it’s taking a little longer to make sure everything’s shipshape and correct.

Everspace 2 is all about exploring and fighting your way through numerous handcrafted planets and the vast space between them, gathering plenty of loot to upgrade your ship. You can uncover components, mine for resources, and craft new parts to advance your technology and take on even tougher challenges, all alongside a satisfying story. It’s one of the most satisfying space games I’ve played in a long while, really nailing the feel of its thrilling, high-speed ship combat.

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Following the launch of the huge, free Everspace 2 Armed and Dangerous update in October 2023, Rockfish Games is planning its second major free update, Incursions, which is loosely scheduled for Spring 2024. “There’s a sizable gap between our two free major updates, and there’s a good reason for that,” the team explains. Along with being “just as big” content-wise as Armed and Dangerous, “one of the main reasons this update is taking so long is that we’re bringing Everspace 2 to Unreal Engine 5, which is no small task for our small team.”

While UE4 is certainly no slouch, and the team says isn’t currently planning to use some of the new engine’s most prominent features for the time being, it’s “looking at this as a way to help future-proof the game so we have less difficulty bringing updates and expansion content down the road,” adding, “We want to be able to support Everspace 2 for a long time.”

Everspace 2 - A ship fires twin lasers into a giant space station as it explodes.

“Let’s get real about Unreal Engine 5,” Rockfish continues, “The engine is phenomenal, and many studios who embraced it early have been able to deliver fantastic visuals.” That’s certainly true, as the likes of Remnant 2, Lords of the Fallen, Ark: Survival Ascended, Immortals of Aveum, and even Fortnite have recently showcased. “But taking a significant leap between versions is breaking all kinds of things,” the Everspace 2 dev explains.

To help showcase some of these, the team gives visual examples of some of the most common issues it’s working on ironing out. These include menu and UI elements being just slightly out of position, random visual glitches that look quite flashy but definitely aren’t intended, and other notable lighting effects that aren’t currently up to the team’s standard. “Lighting is one of the places where Everspace 2 shines and clearly we have a lot of work getting things back to as it should be,” it says.

Everspace 2 - A screenshot of the game's equipment and crafting menus, showing gear being made and prepared for use on the player's ship.

“Experienced Everspace 2 pilots know just how big the game is, and that there are many, many systems threaded throughout that create our game. All these systems make for an incredible number of things that can go wrong when migrating to a major engine upgrade. By taking this time, we’re aiming to ensure our next major update is as smooth as possible.”

As mentioned above, I was already very impressed by the base version of Everspace 2, which is gorgeous to look at as well as fun to play, so I’m very excited to see what Rockfish Games can deliver when the Incursions update finally lands.

If you’d rather keep your loot grinding on solid ground, take a look through the best games like Diablo for plenty of games that excel in that area. We’ve also rounded up the best indie games to play in 2024, if you’re looking for something new to kick off the year right.

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