With still little time and other things preoccupying me, I tend these days to rare game sessions and only smallish ones, which require only little immersion into the game rules and systems. E.g. Sid Meier´s Starships, for a few turns in between. And then I found Rebel Galaxy.
I just finished the main story line, which really is not the main attraction of the game. It rather is a nice little distracting game when you don´t have the time or the mindset to involve yourself with deeper, more complex games like Elite: Dangerous (ED) is.
It is a similar combat system to StarTrek Online, but also brings in some Homeworld and Eve Online feelings, by virtue of commanding a big ship and destroying small fighter vessels like annoying flies. It is watered down to a mere two dimensional maneuvering on a plane (just the NPC fighter and gunships are allowed to zip around above and below you) and spiced with the broadside-style ship combat which hails from Assassins Creed: Black Flag, which I never played. But it for sure is quite a difference to the classic cockpit style of ED. Add to this the ability to pause and to have a pure offline game experience, resulting a much more "family friendly" game than ED ever can be.
The little lively universe, with constantly changing market prices and faction presence, makes your actions do show up some consequence there. The ships all look gorgeous, just the right mix between practical and exotic. ED ships look bland, in comparison.
Also, Rebel Galaxy demonstrates how some sprinkled-in NPCs with dialogue can make a game world suddenly seem much more personal and alive. This is certainly something which Frontier should really start working on for ED, hopefully after Horizons. I also read some guy´s post about an idea to make NPCs as procedural as the environment, mentioning Shadow of Mordor´s Nemesis system, where NPCs would also level up and adapt, according to how successfully they managed to harass (read: kill) the player avatar. Yes, please!
In the end, though, I did not expect much depth from Rebel Galaxy and thus could not get disappointed. It is indeed very easy to construct yourself an overpowered ship, as any kind of scissor-stone-paper balance between weapon and defense systems is missing. Also, defense system strength is independent from ship size, so a small frigate with Mk 5 shields is almost as sturdy as a dreadnought with the same system (just the hull strength is supposedly different, but your shields should never get whittled down firsthand).
My op-ship is a Barracuda, which has insane and totally unbalanced speed and maneuverability for its considerable medium size. Mining lasers are, opposed to in ED, actually the strongest turret weapons available (which probably makes sense, but not so in combination with a deadly instant targeting capability). Also, there is hardly a space craft which allows for more than four turrets aimed at the same target, so any bigger ship just has too little advantages compared to the increased vulnerability due to loss of speed and agility, it seems. As broadside weapon, I chose the tachyon cannon. A ramming deflector completes the setup. For combat, I fist lure the annoying fighters and gun ships a bit away from the big pots and let my turrets take care of them. Then I boost in, ram the big ships and make use of the tachyon cannon´s fastest firing cycle, by buttong mashing from close up so that I do not need to aim the broadsides at all. Add in the high-damage dumbfire missiles as secondary weapon, and, together with the turrents, this obliterates even the largest enemy vessel in a blink of the eye.
Really, it is a child´s play, since the NPC ships only do fire at a much slower pace than the cannons actually would allow for. This is why this game is more for your mood when you just want to quickly blow up something on a short relaxing evening or just want to relish in some mini game of trading, doing missions or some mining. For this, Rebel Galaxy is indeed perfect.