Throughout your bid for galactic conquest, you’ll need to build up your own power and capabilities, turning your humble starship into a virtual Deathstar while trying to manipulate events in your favor.
Thankfully, space is rife with pirates and “mobs” that shoot first and don’t ask questions ever. Blowing them up frequently leaves valuable loot, upgrades, and technology, which can be applied to your ship or sold on another world.
And as you gain experience and levels you can improve characteristics that improve your ship, how much it can carry, and how much cool stuff you can load it up with to out-maneuver and out-gun your enemies.
New zones (star systems) can be discovered by finding what are essentially ‘gates’, and each gate has new planets, anomalies, random floating space junk, and “wandering monsters” (alien ships) that will attack you on sight.
There are also plenty of things just waiting to be discovered—“barrels” to use the Diablo analogy. You might find random asteroids, floating space junk, or space anomalies that you can "research" (i.e. click on and wait for the progress bar to complete) in order to plunder goods (new technology, ship upgrades, credits, etc.).