Yes it's a fleet combat game. But it scales so big at this point, I don't want to understate it, this kind of caught us off guard.
To answer your question, if we get enough players, we would love to build an empire level meta game above it.
I know those screenshots don't explain much -- I will make a package soon so you guys can understand. The game breaks in to a few parts, the Strategy, Operational and Tactics are much more rich and deep then we ever expected.
There are no force fields, so angles are VERY important. The flank is one of the worst things that can happen, if you expose your rear, it's terrible, because the engines cannot be armored as much. Sometimes if the fleets are large enough, it looks like line battle with the flanks trying to get side shots and cross angles. Its basically a knife fight, lots of things will get hit, you have to have a solid stomach for many maneuvers. I'm a pretty good raider myself, breaking lines etc. Anyone who can get good timing working during attacks can be devistating.
On the tactical level, knowing the ships, what they can do etc. is a must. But all levels of combat are critical. One of our guys is an excellent pilot, and it works, causing major damage. Even holding formation is tricky when someone pushes you around with a raid.
Kinda goes like this.
1. Strategic Deployment - Fleet Formation (Big Deal)
2. Strategic Plan - This quickly becomes less flexible as things progress, but it needs to be thought out a bit.
3. Operational Level - This is basically the part where you test each other, some times skirmish etc. The whole team will work together here to achieve position.
4. Tactical Level - Once you think you have the better position, many of the ships can accelerate at very quick speeds, this will catch your opponent by supprise, but it will also stiffen your speeds and commit you. Battleships are great, but take time to cool their guns, so they need support, frigates are fast as heck, assault frigate can charge with rail guns, but they need anti projectile support from our assault cruisers. This goes on and on as we can create new ships, but for now 4-5 is enough.
So far, bottom line: There are endless strategies and tactics, staggering some times. It's slow and calm at the start, and will quickly devolve in to a massive bloody knife fight :-)
Our current battle I will post up when we are done, fully annotated so people can see the things that happen. I don't really have anything to compare it too, the game never gets "bogged down", there is no where to hide, you HAVE to fight, no hiding in bunkers here. You can only flee in the first few minutes, if you know what your doing.