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Carl Aiken - Kiarac

18 June 2023

Spacebourne 2

Dogfights in asteroid fields, deep space mining, and frequent crashes are some of the wonderful things on offer in Spacebourne 2. Following up on the 2020 release of Spacebourne, Burak Dabak - the sole developer, has released Spacebourne 2 into Early Access three years later. Right from the store page, the game promises “adrenaline-fuelled battles and a chance to claim your place in the galaxy”, which it does live up to in most ways. Spacebourne 2 has a lot of great things going for it, but also a few things holding it back. But it’s good to remember the game is only in Early Access and is constantly evolving and changing with frequent updates from the developer.


Upon starting a new game, I was put into a character creator, where I lovingly spent about 5 minutes going through the options available, naming my character, assigning attribute points, and confirming my backstory, all for it to crash right upon entering the first mission. With no autosave, I had to recreate my character from the beginning again, where I just skipped everything this time except the attribute points in case of another crash. Launching into the universe, I quickly saved and began my adventure.

This brings me to my first point - autosave. This game is in early access, so crashes and poor performance are to be expected from time to time which I am fine with. However, I found in this game that because of the amount of time you spend in menus, it’s easy to forget you need to visit another one to save all the changes you have made. Maybe this is a silly point, but with most games having quite a precise autosave or constant save feature, it feels like a technical step backward for this game despite having so many other great tech systems in the game.


Having mentioned the menus, this game has a significant amount, and while it’s not a spreadsheet simulator jumping around the menus can sometimes feel like a mission in itself. With certain buttons and interactive elements having multiple options, there’s a lot to learn about the menus we spend so much time on. As someone who hasn’t played many of these large space games, this felt like it was trying to throw a whole bunch of mechanics at me all at once to show how big the game is. I honestly found traversing the map a nightmare and would constantly choose the wrong option and then zoom in on a planet or station I was looking at. The game feels like it wants you to be able to do everything in it, from trading stocks to running your own army. The available menus - and the more that unlock over the game, continually add more and more systems for the player to progress in that I felt like I didn’t really want to engage any of them simply due to how many there were. This is a flaw for me, but for players who enjoy realistic space games, this will be something they will get hours and hours of enjoyment out of.

Another area that stuck out to me was the level and environment design. I understand the game’s goal was to provide a pretty realistic universe to explore, and having multiple planets and stations at their sizes is extremely impressive; however, these large areas come at quite an immersion cost. Flying over planets, you realize they are absolutely huge but completely empty. Enemy camps are in the middle of nowhere, and NPCs you interact with are in even weirder areas of absolutely nothing. Fighting in enemy camps becomes boring really quickly, as a lot of the colors of the camp environment and enemies blend together, making them harder to find (also because half the time the pips above enemies’ heads wouldn’t show) and slowing down progress because if you fly around the camp too long looking for them, you will get killed with absolutely nothing you can do about it. I wish the planets had been smaller but more densely populated with areas that provided great combat challenges and rewarding exploration. After a few hours of playing Spacebourne 2, I felt like I wouldn’t see much more in terms of level design and combat/exploration challenges.


This is where the game started to lose me, and the more I played on following the story, the more I actually realized combat is a pretty general third-person shooter that would make you wait a couple of seconds to pull a weapon out after getting out of your ship. Still, the added mechanic of the jetpack did enhance it. However, the camps and areas I would attack had anti-air weapons that didn’t seem to be able to be destroyed or disabled while you were attacking. They are also not bound by the same collisions that the player is, constantly shooting you through walls and buildings as you jetpack around. This seems in conflict with its own combat - use the jetpack to get around, but if you do, you get constantly blasted by these seemingly undestroyable turrets shooting unavoidable lasers at you. I don’t enjoy being punished as a player for using the tools at my disposal, and I feel like jetpack combat should become a thing - there is no use of guns while you fly around. This seems like it would make sense against melee enemies, but we are fighting other characters with guns, which means my being in the air should make me an easier target for the AI. After having had four crashes at the exact same quest location, I decided I couldn’t take playing any longer with the continuous stream of crashes I was getting. It was becoming infuriating. The lack of autosave meant I was basically stuck in this loop of trying to get through this mission to progress, but I simply couldn’t. This was the point I decided not to finish this game.

Spacebourne 2 is a behemoth of a game - with a myriad of mechanics and systems that feel like they need to respect the player’s time more. I felt about half of my time with this game was me holding W and making adjustments to my mouse to keep my ship on track since half the time I would try, I couldn’t lock onto and warp to areas, I would have to fly the few thousand km’s which shouldn’t seem far, but my ship with its humble upgrades only really felt like it was traveling at about 100 km/h, which felt like a real slap in the face considering I could boost up to space then cover 12AU in thirty seconds. Not to say this game is bad because of the ways I feel like it’s lacking in respecting player authority and autonomy. The game has a LOT of incredible moments that really help to define Spacebournes’s identity. It’s hard to forget the dogfights where you flip your ship around and fly within a hairs width of the top of an enemy ship before blowing them up, flying through the explosion of their debris, and taking out another enemy ship.


There’s something to be said about the feeling of warping to a new station and seeing its colossal size appear in front of you. These are the little moments that made me keep wanting to play, but the technical and design issues I felt I was facing kept me back.
I want to end the review on a positive note because I feel like it may seem like I have been somewhat negative leading up to this. Spacebourne 2 has given me some incredible moments through its gameplay, and I’m sure there are plenty more of them for me to discover later as I return to it over the future of the updates. The game is very performant on my humble GTX1070, and loading is quite quick as well. The amount of depth in this game by a single developer blows my mind.

This is a challenging game to review due to its early access status and dozens of interlinking systems that are constantly being expanded on and added to, where all of the systems may not be for everyone. It’s safe to say the developer has a vision and is working hard to achieve it. This game is an exceptional early-access product and speaks to the developer’s ability to build a game. Knowing this, I feel confident in the game to get better continually, and I see a very bright future for the state of Spaceborne.

In its current state, I would only recommend Spacebourne 2 to people who really enjoy deep space simulator games. There are too many systems in this to talk about in a review and they are best experienced in the game itself. If you like games like Elite Dangerous, and Star Citizen or are looking forward to Starfield, this game would be worth checking out, and at a humble $28.99 NZD, it’s kind of a bargain for how much this game holds.

Spacebourne 2 is available now on Steam as an early-access product.


The Bad

- Impressive scale
- Fun combat
- Intense space battles
- Amazing optimization for older rigs
- Constant fixes and updates and improvements
- Always new things to learn and progress

- Issues with crashes
- No autosave
- Un-intuitive systems need research to understand
- No first-person ground combat
- Robotic voice acting

The Good

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