'Too early access for early access'—players react to Kerbal Space Program 2 launch

Kerbal Space Program 2 characters
(Image credit: Private Division)

After a nearly three year delay, Kerbal Space Program 2 is finally here. Well, some of it. As with the original space flight sim, the sequel has launched into Steam early access, with ambitious plans to build on its base sandbox. Colonies, interstellar travel, and multiplayer are all coming eventually, adding features that don't exist in Kerbal Space Program. But with none of those features in at launch, fans of the original game are questioning whether it makes sense to start playing Kerbal Space Program 2 just yet.

A "no" to that question was the takeaway from our own launch impressions. "Without the skeleton of a campaign or progression present, Kerbal Space Program 2 can often feel like being in the middle of an ocean, clinging to a hunk of wood," we wrote. "It's got depth you can drown in, but no easy way to navigate it without the (assumed) support of its community."

As of Monday, KSP2's user verdict sits at a definitive "Mixed" on Steam, with 50% positive reviews. Here's a breakdown of some of the most common complaints—as well as compliments—from Steam reviews so far.

Performance is rough

"Kerbal Space Program 2 FPS" - Steam reviewer Flekso (they still gave it a thumbs up)

"We don't have all the features of KSP on day one, but KSP2 is a fundamental improvement in many ways. The one core thing that's a problem right now is performance. Any time Kerbin is in view, the game just gets super laggy. On a positive note, load times are drastically reduced, the UI got a huge boost all the way around, procedural aircraft wings, live swap to the tracking station, and huge improvements to craft switching, just to name a few. But the overall performance is what kills it at the moment, even if your specs far exceed what's recommended." - Steam reviewer Mike Honcho

"It uses 70% of a 4090 just to be cpu bottlenecked at 75fps. I can't imagine how bad it is on low, or even mid tier systems." - Steam reviewer Crimsonblod

"No matter the graphics settings, I always get sub 20 FPS running a 3070. Not to mention the game breaking bugs… I have high hopes, but I will refund until performance is fixed. You can't test a game to find bugs and make suggestions if the game isn't even playable." - Steam reviewer AdmiralViper

"This game was not ready for early access. The lack of content isnt the problem, its the abysmal performance. The NUMBER ONE problem with KSP1 was performance, and yet they release this in an even worse state. I have a 5950x and 4090 and yet I get 15-20 FPS during launches with a rocket that is only complex enough to get to Mun and back. I wish they would have waited another few months to optimize." - Steam reviewer Dr Neeley

It's very buggy

"As is the game is unplayable. parts wont select correctly, if you are building your ship there is a chance it will end up in the floor with no way to get it back. even small ships may start to rip themselves apart. i have accidentally deleted my ship from orbit more than once and there is no guarantee that quick saving and reloading will help with that issue. ive phased through moons and planets in timewarp, i loved the first game but this one needs a lot of work, it may be too early access for early access." - Steam reviewer sigguard

"Wish I could recommend this game but its unplayable. Like how can i create any satellites if each of them may at any point change orbit to a collision course." - Steam reviewer Ash.

"- craft spontaneously exploding, for seemingly no reason.
- conics and flight paths disappearing when they intersect a body's SOI.
- craft CHANGING FLIGHT PATHS when not being controlled or flown. Try docking with a haunted ship.
- had a disconcerting spinning ghost kerbal in a pod stalking my entire trip to gilly, including on the surface. It would appear, then disappear suddenly, for no reason.
- decouplers, engines, and other critical items not appearing on the staging list in the VAB or in flight." - Steam reviewer samjacbak

"I want to like this game, but the bugginess of it makes it exceedingly difficult to do things like an Apollo style Mun mission because you get kraken'd when attempting to undock. You've got cargo bays that will hold onto legs when they shouldn't, so you can't disentangle them, and a whole host of other issues. For as much new and good stuff the devs bring with it, these bugs are all show stoppers and never should have been allowed in the public release." - Steam reviewer almagnus1

Many players are excited about the graphical upgrade

"The graphics for this game are unreal and I have found myself constantly taking screenshots" - Steam reviewer Shrekticle

"The sound design and graphics overhaul are stylistically and qualitatively AMAZING." - Steam reviewer Thygrrr

"good graphics, better UI, many new quality of life additions, sound design is peak, planets look beautiful, and the load times are INSANE for me in terms of speed. KSP 1 never loaded this fast for me… Wait at least a couple months for them to iron everything out. I firmly believe the game WILL be good eventually! But as of right now…" - Steam reviewer Collcroc123

Kerbal Space Program 2 characters

(Image credit: Private Division)

There's still fun to be had, even with the limited features…

"the rocket still go up" - Steam reviewer retro

"This is how early access was meant to be used. It is very buggy but is a lot of fun. As long as they deliver the features and optimizations over time it's well worth buying now. I believe they will. We've seen previews of a lot of them already. I'm having a blast just playing around with it as is." - Steam reviewer Veritas

"Overall, I didn't (and seeing the direction they're going with KSP 2, still don't) mind giving them my money for this game. It's very obvious this still a very early alpha. It takes money to make these games, and although the $50 price tag seems steep, I'm willing to stake it as a bet on the product this will be developed into… Personally, I'm treating this more as a pre-order with a playable demo." - Steam reviewer fillmore from the show fillmore

…but you're probably better off playing KSP1 for now

"I really didn't want to have to say this, but just go play ksp 1 for three or four months and see how this is doing then. It's a pretty, but buggy, shell of what ksp 1 is. Even without mods. Even ignoring the lack of several major features (campaign mode, any of the promises made during the hyped last three years), the current state is genuinely just as empty as the earliest versions of KSP 1, just with a worse UI. (The UI has the potential to be better, but it's FAR too cluttered and hard to read to be considered better yet)." - Steam reviewer Crimsonblod

"In its current state, KSP2 is in a couple ways better than KSP1. Unfortunately, it is also in dozens of ways worse." - Steam reviwewer samjacbak

"The game in it's current state is lacking key features and QOL features that simply deter any type of creative freedom that KSP inspired and nurtured. First of which is of course, wobbly rockets, this feature really makes you shy away from the overly-engineered and wacky creations that you want to experience in the game. The addition of new and bigger parts is almost completely over shadowed by the fact that using them/ building with them is just not worth the headache." - Steam reviewer Fecal Flinger

"One positive aspect of KSP 2 is the changes made to the user experience, UI, and onboarding process. These improvements make the game much more accessible, and once the game is optimized, it will undoubtedly be much smoother. The changes are impressive, and it's clear that the developers have put a lot of thought into them… Overall, if you're interested in KSP 2, I would recommend buying it only if you intend to provide feedback and help the developers test the game. Otherwise, it might be best to wait until the game is fully released." - Steam reviewer Mrbluestar

"Just wait. There's a diamond in the rough, but there is A LOT of rough." - Steam reviewer Ath

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).