I’ve played through all the game’s battles twice, as Feds and Rebels. I think that’s about half way.
One of the rewards of game playing is exploration - experiencing new things, the enjoyment of encountering something surprising, and (when adversarial) learning how to overcome it. Players (such as myself) who are mostly driven by this motive will typically play a game through in order to see everything once, and often then move on to something else. Beating high scores, collecting achievements, or “doing the same thing but harder” aren’t as interesting.
GSB as it is at the moment isn’t that satisfying for such a gamer (well, for me, at least), but there isn’t a fundamental reason why it can’t be made so.
The basic issue is that everything is too samey. Having played through on Easy, I can field Rebels. But the Rebels are barely different to the Federation (I’m not saying the differences aren’t important, but they’re not large), so playing through with them isn’t much different. Likewise, the Alliance have a couple of different weapons, but those weapons are nothing special.
Likewise, in the first playthrough of the set of battles, there’s little variation. Meeting the Empire for the first time is visually interesting, but they mostly fight the same way as everyone else. The only real surprise came in the first battle versus lots of fighters.
My main suggestion would be to restrict per-race weapons and defences selection much more. And the main determinant for selection would be based on visual distinctiveness, so as to make each race “obviously” distinct; that it leads to differing combat techniques is secondary, but a bonus. The plan being that the first time you come across Rockets is as smoky trails from the enemy, and/or Plasma as fast-moving sparks. The player going to be surprised, not know what they are, and is going to have to work out how to deal with it. And I’d give the Feds just beam weapons only, and order initial run of the campaign so that the player learns how to deal with Rockets, and then Missiles, and then find how useless his point defence is against Plasma…
Subsequent playthroughs of the campaign are now different, as the weapons you previously used aren’t available. And you’re more inclined want to carry on to the point that you can use those sparkly weapons yourself.
The obvious disadvantage with this scheme is that it makes balancing a lot more tricky.
The above plan is intended to have no effect on art assets. Another idea for enforcing more variation is:
The “Oligarchy” (perhaps a Alliance sub-group) has a ruling species is physically large, and the prestigious Pilot’s position is reserved for them. Thus, they can’t field fighters
The “Pirates” (a Rebel sub-group) can’t afford large shipyards, and don’t field (big) cruisers
Oh, and I’ve also read the post on “More extreme anomalies”, and that will help.