EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Jordan Helsley
previewed on PC
Hail, KSP, those who are about to die salute you
Our favorite ditsy aliens are back, and they’re on a mission: to reach the stars. While not wildly, or mildly, different from their previous mission, their methods and means have improved.
Run It Back
To the onlooker, and seasoned Kerbal player, things seem remarkably familiar. As of now, not much has changed with the core of the game, but what can be found are significant improvements to onboarding and quality-of-life.
My first mission was to dive in and see what I could accomplish. Having sent many Kerbal to their doom with failed science-fair level projects, the nervousness was real. No one wants to see these lovable scamps perish in a fiery explosion. Immediately apparent was the attention paid to approachability. Discerning how to build the first space-worthy craft was a breeze due to improvements to the UI. Several years after my first successful orbit I had another, thanks in no small part to my favorite addition: the blueprint mode. Snapping to side views to align boosters properly, and a visual readout of the rocket's angle, meant construction had much less fiddling around.
For the early access release, this seems to be the primary focus. Not much has tangibly changed, but everything has been meaningfully improved. The interface, and information therein, made me feel like a true NASA engineer.
Noobs In Space
Unable to trust if my abilities were simply locked away or a result of design care, my next mission was to head to the improved tutorial. Improved is selling it short: the tutorial system they crafted makes your space adventures seem downright trivial (rude awakening to follow). The information you need is clear and concise, presented with the twee of Fallout's in-world marketing. Understandability of the game's high-level concepts is key, and you get the basics quickly. It's the Bill Nye the Science Guy of orbital dynamics.
Second Generation Space Program
Improved graphics and settlement building are two other early impressions that set Kerbal Space Program 2 apart from its predecessor. It feels more expensive, and with good reason. The studio's sale to Take-Two was met with plenty of skepticism, but so far the results are mostly positive. Some things are missing: there's no heat system, a lack of career building for your Kerbals, and honestly a few fan-favorite mod systems seemed like sure implementations, but are absent.
On the horizon is a list of promises: a campaign, multiplayer, interstellar travel, colony building. The future of the Kerbal Space Program seems bright, but whether the present shines depends mostly on your experience with the series. Newcomers interested in building a space program would be well served to jump in now, but veteran Kerbal engineers might find their favourite features absent.
Preparing for Launch
They're missing some basics. They've included some much requested (and previously modded) new features. The current level of gameplay implies that Kerbal Space Program 2 is dialing back the realism just enough to increase the fun, and it is a much more approachable experience because of it. It is hard to recommend a game based on promise alone, but what is currently included is more than enough for this budding astronaut.
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There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.