Initially the Galaxy contains hundreds of fleets, each trying to survive. AI captains do everything the player can. The player is not special and is not the center of the Galaxy.
As resource scarcity becomes critical, ships come into conflict just to survive. Factions may form for protection or split due to starvation. Old friends must become fodder.
Stronger factions establish and defend territories, set up resource hubs, and establish star bases. Weaker factions may resort to banditry. Each captain is unique, persistent, and shapes the Galaxy.
When factions meet, combat is usually the result. While the strategic side of SPAZ 2 is about exploration, territorial control, and faction building, the action side of SPAZ 2 is about ship construction, tactics, and salvage.
Combat creates damaged ships and dead crew, but it also provides new salvaged parts. All the parts in SPAZ 2 are modular and randomly generated. If you see something you like, break it off an enemy, grab it with your tractor beam, and connect it to your ship. Ship construction can be done live during battles, though sometimes beating an enemy to death with their broken wing is also fun.