Start a new empire before the discovery of hyperspace travel and try to expand into the stars, or play as one of the legendary Pirate factions of the Age of Shadows, competing with new victory conditions to establish an alternate history where the pirates triumphed over the planetary civilizations. The pirate options alone include four completely new playstyles (ranging from Raiders to Smugglers) and new smuggling and mercenary missions. Also included are ship boarding actions and ship and base capture, new Ship Captain characters and pirate raids of planets and space stations.
New gameplay also includes expanded ground combat, with a full new ground combat tech tree, a ground combat resolution screen and multiple different troop types (infantry, armor, planetary defences and special forces). Ground combat is now animated and resolved from the descent of the first assault pods from orbit to the final battles for planetary control, with new bonuses for combined arms and the effects of the different troop types as well as local space superiority all considered in the outcome.
The expanded tech tree also includes Gravitic Weapons and Tractor Beams as well as additional planetary facilities that allow you more customization on character recruitment.