In an interview for the PC Gaming Show 2023 Preview, Kerbal Space Program 2 creative director Nate Simpson offered us the first details on how multiplayer will work in the sequel. It's still a long ways off—KSP2 has a list of major features to add during early access first—but when multiplayer does finally arrive, it won't just be cooperative. Kerbal Space Program's going to get cutthroat.
OK, not really—but it will have some form of competition, harking back to the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s.
"Multiplayer introduces the concept of agencies, so you can work alongside friends within a single agency contributing to a single space program in a way that's cooperative," Simpson says. You can also play competitively between agencies, each of which is located at a different location on Kerbin. With multi-agency play you can have space races. We're excited to see all the new types of gameplay that emerge from multiplayer."
There's a lot we still don't know here: how many players can be in multiplayer, for starters, and whether we'll be able to play simultaneously with friends in an online session, or if KSP2 will be a more passive multiplayer experience. I'd love to be able to sync up with a friend and race rovers over the surface of a new planet, but I can imagine Kerbal's complex physics simulations and time dilation being a nightmare to synchronize.
Will we be able to literally launch rockets simultaneously and race to the Mun? Will an online game instance be exclusive to friends we choose to play with, or will we be able to create open online worlds that pull in colonies and vehicles from other random players? It's tantalizing to speculate, but it sounds like Kerbal forum member Vl3d—who wrote a post in April that envisioned KSP 2 multiplayer as "a competitive space-race team-based persistent-world MMO with inter-agency contracts and trade"—may be getting their dream for "the greatest game ever made."
Now all we need is a perfectly coiffed kerbal version of JFK to deliver the "We choose to go to the
moon Mun" speech, and we'll be ready to race. Kerbal Space Program 2 will touch down in Early Access on February 24, 2023.