Imminent Content Update Union: Contracts/Hinterland | SPOILER ALERT

Greetings, Pilots!

Time to get excited about the first EVERSPACE 2 content update! Union: Contracts/Hinterland is scheduled to officially drop on Steam and GOG at the end of April! As the suffix suggests, there’ll be new things to discover and do in the second star system. While we don’t want to unveil too much, we know that many early pilots are yearning for some teasers, so here we go—there will be spoilers; you have been warned!

We’ve already shared some information about the two new ship classes, the Bomber and the Vanguard, including some detailed concept art in our previous update. While the Vanguard still needs some work in the ROCKFISH shipyard—it’s now scheduled to be deployed with the next maintenance patch after the content update has dropped—we’re excited to share the first in-game screenshot and some more details of the Bomber with you.

First in-game shot of a Cyclops, Bomber Class, Tier 1 in action. Although some pilots perceive subclasses in EVERSPACE 2 to be like different ship types in other space games, it’s worth mentioning that each ship subclass in EVERSPACE 2 will feature subclass-specific wing types as well as different perks.

The heavy-class Bomber is a bulky demolition expert with a virtually unlimited supply of missiles and mines, including the infamous ARC-9000. This much-loved secondary weapon in the first installment makes a comeback in EVERSPACE 2 as the Bomber’s very impressive Ultimate: It fires a massive ball of destruction that damages ANY ship in its vicinity and explodes on impact, so use it with great caution! 

The Bomber’s Special “Conversion” is also nothing to sneeze about as secondary weapons use energy instead of ammunition. In combination with a set of random passive perks, like the ability to convert hostile mines [instead of triggering them] or reduced target lock-on duration, plus the upgradable Expertise to self-repair its hull based on a percentage of damage dealt, the Bomber allows for a unique playstyle.

Meeting An Old Friend

It’s no secret that Elek, our Outlaw friend from the EVERSPACE: Encounters expansion, will have a comeback in EVERSPACE 2. As Outlaws do, our furry friend has got himself in quite some trouble.

You might wonder how Elek ended up hanging upside down… trapped in a cocoon… in a dark, spooky cave deep underground at Cephas Downs… you’ll find out soon!

The main mission rescuing Elek will take combat and exploration gameplay underground a notch further compared to what you have experienced in the tutorial by featuring a bigger and more complex cave with several tunnels as well as a new type of alien creature, fittingly named “Cave Crawlers.” While the pests are individually weak, they compensate through quantity and have some nasty tricks up their sleeve.

While you can easily splatter Cave Crawlers with any weapon, make sure to avoid the stacking corrosion damage from their acid spit attacks. Corrosion goes right through your shield and eats your ship’s armor and hull within seconds if hit by too many times. Better to be safe than sorry; a full stack of large nanobots might come in handy!

Once you have figured out how to make it back to the surface, Elek will drop a clue that’ll help you progress further in the main campaign, leading to an all-new type of mission. Later on, Elek will join your companion roster, where you’ll be able to unlock and upgrade his perks.

The chance of Elek joining the fight when Adam is under attack is the first of several perks to unlock and upgrade for our furry pal. Later in the game, Elek’s connections in the DMZ will come in handy, too.

Veteran EVERSPACE – Encounters pilots who have fought together with Elek know him as a skilled wingman; it’s always good to have him flying alongside you, ready to pull yet another ace from up his Outlaw pilot sleeves when things get hairy.

However, Elek being Elek, he’s not a fan of sitting around at the Homebase, waiting for you to call for help, but being busy. By further investing in your relationship, you’ll be able to increase chances that he’ll take your call. IF he shows up, his space combat skills never disappoint.

Chasing Spaceships

Some pilots wondered what those racing challenges scattered all around in Ceto and Union are all about. After all, EVERSPACE 2 is a looter shooter RPG with spaceships, not Mario Kart, right? While this loose quote from a comment on Steam about race challenges in EVERSPACE 2 might be a bit exaggerated, we also understand that racing in a space combat game could feel out of place, especially to fans of hardcore space sims.

However, our creative vision for EVERSPACE 2 is more like an open-world action RPG in space. We want to provide various gameplay mechanics that you can delve into while progressing through the game in your preferred manner. Much of these side quests are optional objectives to pursue whenever you’d like to take a break from the main story campaign.

That said, we aren’t implementing all these different types of gameplay mechanics for nothing. Some super-duper loot will require top maneuvering skillz AND brainz to obtain. No worries, we’re not gonna force anyone to solve lots of complex puzzles and tight pursuit missions to progress through the story campaign à la Uncharted or Tomb Raider. However, many in our team enjoy games that challenge players in lots of different ways, so we also like throwing various challenges at pilots that are up for testing their capabilities outside of established gameplay mechanics in the space combat & exploration / looter-shooter genre.

Watch out for sudden obstacles, unexpected turns, and nasty surprises dropping while chasing an informant through a dense field of asteroids.

A great example of how to keep things interesting off the beaten path are those inglorious exotic weapons quests in Destiny 2, throwing bonkers platforming challenges at Guardians before the final boss fight. At first, you might hate them, but once mastered, it’s all the more rewarding when that precious legendary drops.

With that in mind, look forward to a twisting high-speed pursuit within the busy delivery drone flight routes at Prescott Starbase and an adrenaline-rush spaceship chase through a dense asteroid field to test your maneuvering skills.

Ancient Puzzles

As said earlier, puzzle-solving in EVERSPACE 2 has generated a lot of feedback, especially from hardcore fans of space sims. Be sure that we are constantly reevaluating and changing things throughout Early Access. For example: In the new update, the rigged asteroids puzzles will now show the current amount of activated and total detonators. It’s a small change, but it will make this puzzle more accessible without rendering it trivial. Again, no challenge, no fun, right?

Anyhow, looking at 92% positive reviews, it’s fair to say that the vast majority of pilots do like puzzle-solving to keep things varied, so good news for most of you: Union: Contracts/Hinterland will also introduce new types of puzzles in combination with the second boss encounter, featuring another old acquaintance from the predecessor, The Ancient Warden.

Veteran EVERSPACE pilots already know that the Ancient Warden is no push-over with his long-range hyperbolic attacks that can hit you even behind cover and its capability to teleport when receiving too much damage. Make sure you have weapons with high energy damage installed, dodge its attacks, and pay attention to the final combat phase that will be even more devastating in the confined space of a cave.

Overhauled Game Balancing

We’ve heard from a few players struggling with the overall game difficulty, especially when coming from space flight sims featuring more atmosphere-style combat with fewer weapon types and ship capabilities. Some are even using HOTAS, which is a more difficult to use setup in the EVERSPACE series compared to mouse + keyboard and gamepads.

According to a recent survey on the ROCKFISH Games YouTube channel, about two thirds of space pilots prefer mouse + keyboard when playing space combat games; based on current player data, we’re seeing a whopping 82% playing with mouse + keyboard in EVERSPACE 2.

On the other hand, we’ve received a lot of feedback from pilots that the game is much too easy, thus reaching the current level cap of 14 far too fast, a point also shown in anonymously collected player data. To improve player progression throughout the story campaign and local challenges, we’ve reduced XP from kills, buffed some enemy’s hitpoints and damage output. Furthermore, drop chances for uncommon and rare items have been reduced, too.

To make things more interesting across the board, enemy levels are now more varied and more commonly above player level. Speaking of player level, we also decided to increase the new level cap to 15, enabling pilots to unlock a new set of perks:

The new set of perks is all about dealing extra damage that might come in handy when venturing into high-risk areas.

Now, to all pilots that had a hard time in EVERSPACE 2 so far, don’t fret! Once we’ve nailed game balancing of the full game for the vast majority of players, we’ll introduce various difficulty levels plus more granular gameplay and accessibility options to tweak the overall difficulty to everyone’s liking.

That said, our creative vision for EVERSPACE 2 is an open-world action RPG with looter shooter mechanics and various side activities. Meaning, just like any other open-world action RPG, anyone just bee-lining through the story campaign would not only miss a ton of content and features, the game will also be incredibly difficult.

So, we strongly recommend going for side missions, jobs and random events, solving puzzles to get more rare loot, using crafting to always have items at the current player level, and optimizing your ship and gear loadout depending on the current objective. Most importantly, always keep moving and circle-strafe to avoid incoming fire, lead your shots, and use the environment and all ship capabilities to your advantage! This is how EVERSPACE 2 is meant to be played! 😉

Additional Content, Features, Improvements, and Bugfixes

As teased in previous live streams, the first EVERSPACE 2 content update will also introduce the Bloodstar, an all-new Outlaw sub-faction with different combat capabilities, and the chance to drop special Bloodstar gear introducing set-bonuses. Here’s Erik, our beloved Community Ambassador and ace pilot, revealing Bloodstar NPCs in a recent live stream.

Bloodstar items only drop from defeated Bloodstar units and come with unique attributes that can significantly boost gear stats when equipped simultaneously.

Beyond adding new content and features, we’ve also tweaked a ton of things. As of writing this production update, I’m counting over 40 improvements currently listed on our internal changelog, ranging from migrating the project to UE4.26 to potentially fix some stability issues, more sophisticated enemy AI, to numerous QoL and UI improvements across the board.

The all-new Batch Actions feature makes dismantling, destroying, selling, or sending several items to Homebase so much easier!

Closing Remarks About Our Vision

Thanks to a ton of great support from our hardcore fans in two wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns, over two million EVERSPACE 1 pilots since its Early Access release in September 2016, and an incredibly successful Early Access launch for the sequel, we’re living the indie dream With this success, we’ve been able to forge our creative vision of an open-world space action RPG that everyone on the team is really passionate about, while working closely with our community to make it the best game within our financial and crafting capabilities without having to make compromises based on the agenda of a 3rd party.

Now, commercial success of a predecessor alone is not all it takes to make a great sequel. The most important thing is that everyone on the ROCKFISH Games team is on board for the journey and aiming for the same goal, which is harder than it sounds! Our team is composed of a very diverse type of gamers. While some of us prioritize deep storytelling, casual combat, and deep exploration, others mostly want to blow stuff up and maxout their loadout without too much thinking, looking behind each asteroid for hidden treasures, or watching cutscenes. Whereas some, like our “hardcore” players, mostly thrive on challenges that are absolutely insane, like the way Erik enjoys playing, while still appreciating deep lore and compelling storytelling.

Meaning, building accessible loot & shoot gameplay with intuitive shooter-like controls is the common foundation not only for our team but also our promise to our community. We want to offer a decent amount of depth to the EVERSPACE 2 world in various additional mission types, worthwhile gameplay mechanics, and more further down the line. We know that many design decisions may not make every pilot happy, but we hope everyone can appreciate us being as open as possible about our creative, technical, and commercial decisions.

To help digest all this new information and answer any burning questions you might have, make sure to join our next “ROCKFISH Games Show” on Twitch and YouTube, on Friday, April 16, from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm CET / 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ET / 11:00 am to 1:00 pm PT. Chances are, things go sideways yet again when showing the latest build, plus even more spoilers heading your way, so it should be fun! 🚀👀💥🙌

See you in space!

and your dedicated ROCKFISH Games Team