3030 Deathwar is an open-world 2D space RPG. The game is played from a top-down perspective and features an open world, where the player chooses freely which systems, planets and stations to visit. The game features activities such as trading, hunting pirates, searching for derelicts and wormholes, as well as various missions, ranging from assassination and courier missions to cargo transport and photography.
The player can buy new ships over the course of the game, of varying types: fighter, trader, interceptor or all-rounder. These ships can be equipped with guns and missiles as well as additional upgrades that enhance the ships capabilities. Some examples of this are thrusters, scanners, tractor beams, shields, afterburners and fuel scoops.
When visiting stations the player can board and walk around on them in a visual style similar to point-and-click adventure games like Monkey Island or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. While on stations, the player can talk to characters, trade, upgrade and take on new missions. The story is presented in 10 acts, with the player furthering the plot by completing missions given to him by story characters.