Zharkov Grand Opening, The Vanguard, New Story Content and Companion, New Gameplay, New Gear, Crafting UI/UX Improvements, Technical Improvements
Grab a drink, sit back, and relax! What was intended to be a short & snappy news beat about the official Zharkov release on top of all the information shared in recent news updates, became our longest news update so far, covering the 2nd major content update of EVERSPACE 2 in-depth, as well as some important studio and community-related news.
First off, a big shout to all the daring test pilots who smoke tested the experimental release opened up a few days ago. You all provided very useful feedback on the overhauled game balancing and also flagged a number of bugs that slipped through the cracks. The team acknowledged and fixed most of them, while a few improvements have to wait until the next major content update, currently scheduled for fall (or spring if your home base is on the Southern hemisphere of planet Earth). You’ll find the official changelog at the bottom of this news. Changes based on the experimental build are marked with the prefix (Exp).
Now, before you jump cut to the bottom of this release to check out the 150+ changes this update brings, let me put a spotlight on several team members and external partners who’ve been hard at work to hammer out yet another meaty content update.
It sounds easy, but one of the most critical tasks for any update is left to Sven Lohse, our Technical Director, who has moved his mouse and clicked a few buttons to open the jump gate to Zharkov on Steam and GOG for all Early Access/GiD pilots. Technically, you’ll have to play through the new main story to unlock the jump gate yourself, but you’ll find the way. And yes, all new and previous content is fully voice-acted… except for Banjack, the adorable scrapyard robot.
He has his charming TTS voice back by popular demand from the community and because we also think TTS just perfectly fits his character. In fact, since he became such a beloved shop dealer, we’ve decided to write a proper side mission for Banjack, shedding some light on how he ended up in that abandoned scrapyard in the first place. But that’s for a future content update. Now, let’s have a look at our new gameplay trailer, produced by Lol_bye, one of our Kickstarter backers (of course, we’ve compensated him like a pro for his excellent work)!
or those who haven’t watched Erik Schrader, our one-and-only Community Ambassador talking about the all-new Vanguard light fighter class during its reveal stream, here’s the nuts and bolts description and a nice äktschon shot from GeometryPrime, one of the most active space photographers on our Discord:
But wait, we’ve got even more ship news coming from Matthias Kummer (Senior 3D Artist) who’s exclusively been working on all player ships for over two and a half years. With the new update, pilots will have access to Tier 2 ships of all currently existing ship classes, featuring fancier wing types and better base stats, such as increased cargo space.
New Story Content and Companion
In the new content update, the plot thickens. You’ll finally catch up with Maddocks in Union and get a better understanding of how all the parties involved so far are connected to each other. After you found out how to activate the Outlaw’s jump gate, Zharkov will be your new oyster, filled with new secrets, activities, puzzles (yes!), and loot, but lots of danger too. Watch out for lightning rods that cause havoc whowho when flying too close as shown in the Zharkov teaser trailer and other environmental hazards.
One particular highlight of the main campaign that we haven’t talked about yet are the all-new drone missions. These are all about your 6DOF maneuvering skills as you remote control a maintenance drone through narrow tunnels and bypass moving security barriers deep underground of the G&B Lunar Mining Colony to prevent an undercover job from going down the drain. So no looty-shooty for a change but no touchy-touchy those lasers either, or AAAALERRRRT!!! No worries, there’s no time limit so you can take it slow and careful, and you can immediately try again if discovered.
Some fans of hardcore space sims might think: “RC drone gameplay and even more puzzle-solving, what the heck!? I thought this was supposed to be a space game…? I didn’t sign up for this, I want more space combat and exploration!” Well, our vision for EVERSPACE 2 has always included introducing new gameplay mechanics and objectives to keep things fresh, like puzzle-solving or, in this case, remote controlling a drone à la Descent. If you’re also a fan, go check out the Overload Kickstarter, the spiritual successor created by the same devs; Overload is currently sitting at 94% positive on Steam, and they even have a free demo, also sitting a 94% positive.
Now, even though we’ve talked about this before, anyone not into puzzle-solving or 6DOF drone gameplay, please understand that EVERSPACE 2 is meant to stand for its own within the space game genre. There are much bigger titles already out there or in the making, so there would be no point in us trying to compete against the juggernauts of space games. While on the creative side, we believe there’s enough room for an arcadey space action RPG with looter-shooter mechanics bringing new things to the space game genre, which our team is very much excited about. On the whole, allowing our designers the freedom to flex their creative muscles with additions like these is going to make for a stronger game overall.
Continuing the main mission, you will be introduced to another gameplay mechanic right before bumping into the next boss encounter, testing everything you should have learned so far. Without saying too much, HOTAS pilots don’t throw your precious gear at the screen! It’s gonna be rough, but don’t you worry! We’ll have various difficulty and accessibility options at full release, so it’ll be fine™! For now, you might want to fly some of the more challenging missions with a mouse + keyboard or a gamepad of your choice, though.
Along with voice recordings that are replacing the TTS voices of the story content of the previous update Contracts/Hinterland, Gero Goerlich (Sound Director), Uwe Wütherich (Creative Director), and Bernie Duffy (external Lead Story Writer) have worked with 20 voice talents to record 2180 new lines with over 20,000 words for more than 40 roles just in the most recent recording session alone. In the final game, we’ll have well over 6,000 lines / 60,000 words of voiced dialogue, putting EVERSPACE 2 on par with various iconic AAA action adventures/RPGs.
Gero, Uwe, and Bernie have also worked closely with our friends from Puppetworks to add new quality cinematics based on concept art by Moritz Manhart (our in-house Concept Artist) and Tobias Frank (external Concept Artist, but part of the RFG family since the very beginning).
So yeah, while we won’t have gazillions of proc-gen planets in a vast, seamless universe, we hope that experiencing our carefully handcrafted content in a pseudo-open world while playing through a proper sci-fi story is a journey worth your while. And we’re not even done yet!
Speaking of more story content being in the works: with a heavy heart, we have to share that Kevin Mentz, our very much esteemed Quest Designer, has left the RFG family on good terms.
We have very much enjoyed working with Kevin for three full years. He was the mastermind behind the EVERSPACE 2 tutorial and most of the side missions. Kevin also worked closely with our story writing team on the main campaign, bringing lots of great narrative ideas into the mix. If you’ve been laughing over some of the absurd 4th-wall-breaking TTS jokes or bloopers of yet unfinished missions, that was also him. Here are some fond memories of watching top content creator Cohh Carnage losing it when he played the closed Alpha.
Kevin will be joining Osmotic Studios to work on even more narrative-driven and less action-heavy games. Everybody at ROCKFISH Games wishes him nothing but the best for his future, and godspeed to our indie dev friends at Osmotic with their offices pretty much just around the corner, while our doors will always be open for Kevin to return just in case… nudge-nudge, wink-wink!
Ok, put away your tissues because here’s the good news: a) Kevin left us with a ton of more wicked ideas for future side missions, and b) since the core gameplay mechanics of EVERSPACE 2 are mostly in place, you can look forward to Andi, Senior Game Designer and Programmer, who’s been working with us for over 15 years(!), as well as the creative-minded Gameplay Programmer, Thorben Kohler, who already was a former colleague of Kevin when they were working together at Daedalic Entertainment taking over.
They’re both super excited about creating new main and side missions for you, and I can say from experience, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, Thorben already got his hands dirty by designing and programming the side mission VaultWorthy in this very update, while Andi, in case you didn’t know, worked together with HCK, our Lead Game Designer, on all main and side mission of the Galaxy on Fire 2 – Supernova add-on (arguably the closest thing to Freelancer on mobile, but that’s a looooong story maybe for another day).
All that said, with Kevin leaving and no substitute in sight, we have to slightly reduce the complexity of the game world. Meaning, instead of having eight star systems at full release as originally planned, we decided to go with seven — imaging Erik playing his inglorious BOO! sound on stream before telling everybody to calm down — but to hear us out: System 8, as we call it internally, has always been designed to be a rather small star system primarily meant to stage a major plot point in the campaign. Thus, we can integrate it into one of the other seven systems without cutting any super relevant content.
Playing through the new content would be only half as fun if there wasn’t any new gear! We’ve got all you loadout tinkerers covered with a slew of new weapons and devices. Get ready to try the already teased Fusion Hook for some cool Zero-G swing maneuvers, new types of secondaries, such as the (mostly) self-explanatory Corrosion, Armorbreaker, Shieldbreaker, and Destabilizer Missiles, and the Web and Corrosion Mine Launchers for more sophisticated crowd control. Last but not least, we’ve also added set bonuses for Bloodstar items and introduced a new item affix Swift, which reduces ramp up and charge time of certain weapons by 30%—you’re gonna love this one!
Crafting UI/UX Improvements
Thilo Eggers (UI/UX Designer) and Mathias (Thies) Ebell (Senior UI/UX Programmer) have been working hand-in-hand to make crafting more intuitive and more streamlined. Not only can you now perform any action with both mouse click or hitting a key. Use is also visually and functionally the same for both mouse and keyboard users and gamepad pilots so that neither side has to sacrifice comfort options or usability. Another new feature added is the Material Overview Overlay, which can be summoned over the crafting interface. It shows which materials you already have and how to obtain any further required resources.
Thilo & Thies have also significantly improved the UX of unlocking blueprints. New unlocks are now visually highlighted with a shine animation, while upcoming unlocks are teased. So when unlocking a blueprint, you can immediately see the next two unlockables.
Finally, we’ve made significant technical changes under the hood. For instance, game assets are now compressed to save disk space and are distributed among several PAK files to speed up patch installation via Steam, so no more hours of copying data from your jampacked SSD to your HDD and back for incremental updates. That said, due to all the handcrafted content and baked high-quality GI lighting still to be added, we’ll probably hit the 75 GB mark for the final game. To help running EVERSPACE 2 on lower-spec systems, we optimized texture memory usage even further, but please don’t expect any miracles when running EVERSPACE 2 on a potato from several years ago.
To smooth out some spikes in the overall game balancing, especially when fighting against ten or more enemies simultaneously, Sven also tweaked our in-house developed AI director (we went a bit too far in the experimental build, so we had to scale it back for this official release; thanks again for providing community feedback). It’s a pretty complex beast, so if you want to know more and see it in action, check out Erik’s most recent gamedev stream where he talks about us addressing game difficulty issues in highly populated areas.
While Sven was knee-deep in the technical code of the game, he also improved floating-point precision for more accurate hitscan and long-range weapon targeting. Bonus news: this allowed us to even add weapon zoom for Rail Guns, a much-requested feature by several marksman pilots.
- Added new main and side missions
- Added new star system: Zharkov
- Added new player ship class: Vanguard
- Added new companion: Tareen, the Okkar Trader
- Added new device: Fusion Hook
- Added new missile weapon types: Corrosion, Armorbreaker, Shieldbreaker, Destabilizer
- Added Bloodstar items set bonuses
- Added new item affix “Swift” (reduces ramp up and charge time by 30%)
- Added “Union Explorer” challenges + challenge reward for “Explorer” challenges, allowing to fast-forward in supralight
- Tier 2 ships are now available at ship dealers
- Added English voice acting for all dialogs that were added since the previous Contracts/Hinterlands update
- Cinematics now feature improved animation and professional voice-overs (but are still WIP)
- Added new music tracks
- Increased max level to 18
- Added 10 new ship colors to collect
- UI: Added “new” and “invest” indicators to the perks tab
- UI: Item crafting and modification rework including item preview and materials overview
- Game assets are now compressed to save disk space
- Distributed game assets among several .pak files to speed up patch installation via Steam
- Optimized texture memory usage
- Improved Thermo Gun projectile performance
- Overhauled enemy damage and hitpoint balancing
- Balanced difficulty when fighting against multiple enemies at the same time
- Fewer Outlaws in Siren’s Sea and Palaemon’s Wound
- Cargo space will now increase with higher ship tiers
- Slightly reduced Scout agility
- Increased ship acceleration while not boosting
- Outlaw Ravager and Bloodstar Overseer now have fewer and more prominent weak points
- Outlaw Vipers now leave behind a corrosion field when destroyed
- Creatures and cruisers can no longer be targeted by the Magnetic Repulsor
- Nanobots and Nano Injector will now repair a percentage of hull hp, not a fixed value
- Improved Teleporter collision detection to prevent getting stuck in geometry
- Corrosion will now first damage the armor before damaging the hull
- Annihilator Virus: reduced explosion delay and doubled infect interval
- Annihilator Virus: reduced kinetic damage from 150 to 90
- Annihilator Virus: limited maximum number of infected targets to 6
- Annihilator Virus: increased range from 400m to 600m
- Annihilator Virus “Symptomatic” mode: increased target damage reduction from 20% to 50%
- Annihilator Virus “Incubation” mode: renamed to “R-Naught” – now increases the maximum number of targets by 2
- Corrosion Injector, Annihilator Virus, Quantum Entangler, and Quantum Tether (Striker ULT) can now be used on capital ships
- Doubled Quantum Tether (Striker ULT) effect range
- Rail Gun: Reduced energy consumption
- Rail Gun: Added zoom when charging
- Rail Gun: Increased full charge damage by 50%
- Baron Executioner: Increased max spread angle from 0.5 to 1.5 degrees
- Beam Laser: Increased energy consumption by 20%
- Elek will only jump in if the player is in a fight with more than 2 enemies
- Reduced “Play It Safe” perk effect duration from 12s to 5s
- NPCs will now gain EMP resistance immediately after receiving the EMP debuff to prevent stun locking
- EMP resistance duration is now scaled with the duration of the EMP itself
- Increased hull hitpoints of G&B and Freelancer freighters
- Decreased probability of Interceptor passive perk that recharges Weapon Overdrive with critical hits from 50% to 20%
- Increased global elite enemy probability
- Signal Decoders will now reveal a high-risk area inside the current region of the system
- Signal Decoders will now always have a higher rarity (no more common signal decoders)
- The first boss now gives more and better loot
- Improved support for mixed input methods like joystick + mouse (added option to specify input method or use auto-detect)
- Prevented crafting exploits via reloading
- Fully mine ore deposit when using Flak or Missile Launcher
- Portable debris can now be picked up from a further distance
- Only play detonator drone warning sound when it is flying towards a target
- The pinging sound and icon-effect of invisible containers continue until the container is emptied
- Added options to quickly invert camera pitch/yaw (in addition to the already present invert option in the “customize controls” screen)
- Force fields now have two distinct textures representing their access state
- Flying Dutchess will now spawn-kill enemies when jumping in
- Post effects produced by conditions, devices, and damage are now hidden in Photo Mode
- UI: Added dedicated HUD marker icons for different drone types
- UI: Improved speed when first opening the map
- UI: Joystick keybindings are now displayed in HUD when a joystick binding is assigned
- UI: Tractor Beam Range is now shown in “Ship” screen
- UI: Master rewards for challenges are now instantly revealed
- UI: Added implicit cargo sorting for M&K in case sorting was active on the last menu visit
- UI: Repair and device hold actions trigger an error on the start of hold action in case of insufficient credits/points
- UI: Clickable action buttons in crafting result screen
- UI: (Batch) marked items now feature an animation
- UI: Added ingame menu tab pre-loading for Inventory, Ship, Perks, Mission, Data, and Map
- UI: Better explanation of locked player perks when in space
- UI: “Crafting XP” is now called “Crafting Data”
- UI: Opening ingame menu with gamepad implicitly sorts inventory and selects the first slot
- UI: Dismantling and destroying while using a controller now implicitly sorts inventory (removes empty slots in-between)
- UI: Enabled “Expand Cargo View” / batch actions in loot container view
- UI: Enabled “Send To Homebase” action in loot container view
- UI: Added navigation SFX to mission item inventory
- UI: Hovering one of the six main attributes will now show the items that contribute to the respective value
- UI: Added descriptions for condition tooltips in ship screen
- UI: Added storage slot ratio to inventory headline
- UI: When activating a high-risk area and choosing to show it on the map it’s now highlighted and centered
- Fixed ship selector sometimes not being displayed in Homebase despite owning multiple ships
- Fixed floating-point precision issues related to weapon aim
- Fixed already destroyed Bomb Thrower Turrets sometimes still throwing bombs
- Fixed energy orbs not restoring armor
- Fixed not being able to activate buttons using a flak cannon
- Fixed a potential blocker and a wrong dialog being played in “I Heart Scrap” side mission
- Fixed dialogs related to fights being played when colliding with level geometry
- Fixed destroying Okkar units not yielding correct XP
- Fixed Okkar being spawned by the Wanted System giving loot and XP after re-entering a location.
- Fixed player stats not being updated immediately after re-entering stats screen
- Fixed highlight effect on some structures being visible from far away
- Fixed “Data Fishing” side mission briefing dialog being played again when docking before leaving the location
- Fixed mission item “Drone Debris” not getting removed from inventory after becoming obsolete
- Fixed Gauss Cannon and Rail Gun having improper affixes
- Fixed Baron Executioner weapon receiving energy damage modifiers
- Fixed item bonus attributes that grant extra damage not working properly
- Fixed bounty not increasing when defeating an enemy with a device like the Corrosion Injector
- Fixed problems with axis inversions also affecting other logical axes that were bound to the same physical axis
- Fixed that Elek could appear multiple times in a location
- Fixed that Elek sometimes left too soon
- Fixed that Elek and Dax could die when acting as wingmen
- Fixed enqueued hull repairs being lost when docking to a station
- Fixed faction rewards not being displayed for accepted jobs in the missions tab
- Fixed being able to use warfare devices on allies
- Fixed timestamps of items accidentally being renewed after having been moved to a different inventory slot
- Fixed device inventory did not update after changing ships under some circumstances
- Fixed quick equip with right mouse button in loot container screen might send an item to Homebase instead of equipping it
- Fixed that some item attribute bonus values (like Resistance) would not spawn
- Fixed Sentinel ULT (Static Overload) not scaling with Utility attribute
- Fixed Sentinel passive “20% reduced cooldowns for warfare devices.” falsely stacking until cooldown was zero
- Fixed that missiles could not be destroyed after the ship or turret that fired them died
- Fixed additionally spawned Okkars not leaving location after having paid bounty
- Fixed “ULT ready” not being triggered by Interceptor passive perk
- Prevent being able to switch camera while in “1st person no cockpit” view and having activated auto-pilot
- Fixed that retractable turrets could be destroyed by very high damage, e.g. Annihilator Virus
- UI: Fixed that only one missing attribute was shown when comparing items
- UI: Fixed item actions for Aeterna Bypasses and Signal Decoders being visible in multi-select mode
- UI: Fixed equip action being visible in multi-select mode
- UI: Fixed focus and hud visibility problems after very quickly opening and closing ingame menu
- UI: Fixed wrong device slot length in item selection
- UI: Fixed wrong implicit cargo sorting when using a gamepad and first opening the menu
- UI: Fixed inventory items clipping through scroll indicators
- UI: Fixed icons for companion perk upgrade requirements sometimes being wrong
- UI: Fixed that when using mouse+keyboard, gamepad icons were displayed on a device icon and consumable slots in the menu
- UI: Fixed stats and condition tooltips sometimes still being shown on screen after changing ships
- UI: Using dedicated icon for ship special in the stats panel
- UI: Fixed that log sometimes displayed items with the wrong affix
- UI: Fixed that pressing Tab while “Press Tab to Show” was shown for completed or new challenges not opening the challenges screen
- UI: Fixed slot focus being lost after clicking on various regions in ingame menu header
- UI: Fixed item sorting type ‘Latest’ (newest item first) not working properly
- UI: Fixed “Quick equip” action of selected equipment in storage inventory being broken after changing ships on Homebase
- UI: Fixed icon scale for devices that can’t be used not being reset after being replaced by another device
- UI: Fixed damage numbers not shown for damage-over-time conditions like Corrosion
- UI: Fixed shop icon not being shown on Map for Flying Dutchess beacons
- UI: Fixed Ben’s speaker image not showing implants after his operation
- UI: Fixed “Outdated Equipment” message appearing at a bad time
- (Exp) Fixed a bug that resulted in inadvertently easy fights against large numbers of enemies
- (Exp) Fixed that energy spheres would show resist marker in radiation fields
- (Exp) Fixed false unlock of random system regions when entering supralight which leads to Union Explorer Challenge unlock banner not being shown
- (Exp) Fixed being able to activate gas harvester boss from the outside
- (Exp) Fixed invisible forcefield spawning right above shield generators after beating gas harvester boss and loading checkpoint save
- (Exp) Fixed being able to damage the Okkar Corvette during “Tipping The Scales” Side Mission
- (Exp) Fail “The Vortex” main mission when attacking G&B at Vesna Mining Colony
- (Exp) Fixed colliding with invisible ships on ship dealer platforms
- (Exp) Fixed that fast-forwarding in travel mode affected playtime
- (Exp) Fixed faction standing not increasing after completing a job
- (Exp) Fixed fast-forwarding not pausing when opening menu
- (Exp) Fixed camera being inside remote drone occasionally
- (Exp) Fixed that the Raid Booster’s “Boost After Kill” bonus was stackable
Phew, that was quite something! We hope everyone will enjoy all the new content and improvements. If not, let us know, and we’ll have a look into your concerns; Again, that’s why we’re doing Early Access to constantly improve the game based on community feedback. While full transparency is of utmost importance to us, so every space game enthusiast can find out where EVERSPACE 2 is heading, but also where it isn’t.
To get everything, you gotta read all our news material, though. Or, even better, join our weekly ROCKFISH Games Show on Twitch and YouTube to watch the latest dev build in action and hear it directly from the dev horse’s mouth, Erik Schrader, ace pilot and beloved Community Ambassador. He’s there for you to answer all your questions every Friday from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm CEST / 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm EST / 11:00 am to 1:00 pm PST. 🚀💥🙌
See you in space!
Michael and your dedicated ROCKFISH Games Team