Laser Days: Gratuitous Space Battles 2

The conflicts in Gratuitous Space Battles 2 are certainly deserving of the adjective applied in the game’s title but the new video below brings several other descriptives to mind. ‘Colourful’, ‘cunning’, ‘extravagant’, ‘fabulous’ and more besides. Like it’s predecessor, GSB 2 is a game in which players construct fleets, position them and then watch as they do battle. Remember the text crawl that sucked all the excitement out of you like a joy vampire at the beginning of The Phantom Menace? “The taxation of trade routes to outlying starsystems is in dispute”, says Star Wars. GSB says, “BOY HOWDY THE PURPLE SHIPS ARE SHOOTING THE EVER-LIVING CRAP OUT OF THE GREEN SHIPS YOWZERS!”

As the title suggests, it’s a game in which spaceships criss-cross the galaxy with hot laser death purely because that is what they are supposed to do.

I’m keen to get my hands on this. As mentioned in the video, many of the changes on show here are cosmetic, but when a game is about watching shit-hot space war, that’s no bad thing. When the ship goes down (‘down’ is actually North East in space) at 5.57, the aftermath is quietly beautiful. Smoke, flames and the constancy of lasers. I’m something of a sentimentalist and despite the gratuitous nature of it all, I can imagine finding the plight of the last ship in a once proud fleet rather a sad thing to see.

Sombre Space Battles. That’s the ticket. Not sure when SSB will be released but GSB 2 will hopefully be with us before the end of the year.


  1. PopeRatzo says:

    The colored sparklies behind my eyelids look exactly like this game. Without the asteroids.

    • Baines says:

      Don’t worry. As you age, your eyes may/will get floaters, which are like asteroids.

  2. Cinek says:

    O_o why that game looks so much worse than the original one? They really think that adding more flares and harsh colors counts as a step up in graphics?

    • Michael Anson says:

      The ships aren’t textured yet, and most of the graphical effects aren’t in. They are transitioning from a sprite-based system to a model-based system, so there are still bugs to work out (such as the bizarre explosion grid) and features to implement.

      • Cinek says:

        I see that stuff is unfinished, but I also see that someone tried to make “flare” a major feature of this game.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          It’s a space combat game. Flare is a feature.

          Anyway, he says in the video that you can turn them off.

      • Napalm Sushi says:

        I’m actually quite enamoured by the Chris Foss-ness of the ships on the left in their current state.

  3. padger says:

    Look great. The original looked great too. 2D games: can look okay.

  4. BlackAlpha says:

    The problem I had with the first game is that it was very pretty to look at but the game itself was a bit boring. You position your ships as close as possible together, creating a stack of doom so to speak, and that’s it, you then wait until you’ve won. I hope this sequel won’t be more of the same.

    What a game like this really needs is some proper strategy elements. Think maneuver strategies where flanking past the enemy defenses using ship X will give said ship a bonus against enemy ship Y. You can then develop some strategies based around penetrating the enemy defenses. Or some proper formations that actually serve a purpose (apart from keeping your stack of doom together) and also apply when the battle has already begun where the ships try to face their strongest armor and the most guns towards the enemy (think real life naval tactics). If specialized ships would get more of a bonus, then strategies could be created around them. Or being able to give limited commands during the battle that wouldn’t always be followed depending on the situation. And more stuff like that.

    • Cinek says:

      Multiplayer was basically rock-paper-scissors. Either you knew what you send on the enemy to win, or you didn’t. There was no “how to solve this problem?” moment there.

      • Bishop says:

        I found if you made ships without engines and the longest ranged weapons available it’d generally top trump everything. Weird that a ship that can’t move could even get into the battle. Every now and then I’d play against someone with the same tactic and it’d be an instant stalemate.

    • JoeX111 says:

      Some sort of tutorial that explains which weapons are good at countering which defenses would also be nice. The original game just drops you into a build screen with hundreds of components and no real explanation of how they fit together. Laboriously reading through all the descriptions felt like homework.

    • Reapy says:

      In the original I felt like I was playing an MMO analyzing our raid parses without actually getting to play the raid. I liked the idea on paper, but in execution the game felt pretty boring and really confusing as to what was happening to be honest.

      It is worth taking a check on starsector, which is coming along slowly but steadily. I fired it up again the other night and was reminded how tight the combat portion of the game is, this was more the style of fleet battles I wanted to play rather than what GSB was offering up.

  5. LintMan says:

    My biggest wish for the first GSB was that it could be a little less “gratuitous” – not in terms of wanting some epic backstory – I just wanted more wider purpose for the battles; a bigger context. The campaign mode that was later added helped, but still felt kind of shallow and half-hearted. I’d love to see a more fully realized campaign mode for GSB 2.

    Honestly, I think this series could make a great foundation for a “lite” 4X game: ie: just ship-related stuff; strip out all the trading. diplomacy, population growth/food/happiness stuff, leaving a basic economy, a tech tree, and the ship design/building. Something maybe like the old Spaceward Ho! games or Star Control 1.