The expansive playing field is made up of various obstacles, power-ups and safe zones. You must maneuver through space collecting power-ups that will increase your ship's fire power, armament, maneuverability and special weapons. With hundreds of people vying for the same power-ups and flags, you must constantly be prepared to defend yourself. To help in battle, you can form teams or be assigned to one through the computer. In true team fashion, each player benefits when they or another teammate absorbs a power-up, which can help arm a weak beginner's ship rapidly. Points are scored for collecting power-ups and destroying opponents.
To maximize the gaming experience, SubSpace is divided into many different game types called "zones." Each zone has unique team or player goals and levels of difficulty that accommodate everyone from beginners to expert pilots. All zones contain arenas, accommodating hundreds of people playing at the same time. Through a unique on-screen chat system, players can communicate in real-time with each other. Individuals can address everyone in the arena, everyone on their team or specific individuals. This chat system allows teammates to plot strategies, build attack plans and taunt other teams.