Kerbal Space Program 2 is going to let you have competitive multiplayer space races

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.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).