We’re going to have our review of FTL up shortly, but Erandi’s take on that starship simulator reminded me of the ship-construction aspects of the clever Gratuitous Space Battles. For those that aren’t familiar, nearly all of the “game” of Positech’s little creation was in the vessel design and selection phases.

Outfitting the right types of star-borne vehicles with the correct armaments and defenses, and then selecting how many of them enter the fray is the challenging part. Once the battles are underway though, players are helpless and cannot intervene. It’s an interesting design decision that makes the battling part of the game, well… gratuitous. While this makes the title unique, I was disappointed by the lack of granularity in the order sets. I often wished that I could more carefully tune target prioritization and reactions to enemy shield and weapon types.

In the latest update (1.6, which is live now), an additional level of command options have been added so that you can make adjustments to standing orders, target ships and employ specific weapons against selected enemies. Anything normally done in the deployment phase can be tweaked and massaged. It’s important to note that this is only for single-player skirmishes and is entirely optional. It won’t impact the campaign or the multiplayer affairs.

There are also new visual effects that add a beautiful shimmer to shields taking damage. There are also enhanced explosions. Both of these are imported from the more recent title, Gratuitous Tank Battles. All of these changes have me itching to jump back in. If you’ve never played either of the Gratuitous titles, but consider yourself an armchair general, they are definitely worth checking out.

Get a look at the new changes in this video below hosted by Positech’s Cliff Harris.