Good, But Still Slow
My biggest point of feedback is that overall game speed is far too slow. I can feel it's faster than Drox 1, but too many things are still dragging the speed down.
The start of my first playthrough went like this: My first game I started, there were no inhabited planets for miles, I had no contact with any race. I spent what felt like 10 minutes exploring the whole system, I found multiple empty planets, and eventually I found a gate to another star system, and after exploring THAT one for another 5, I eventually found inhabited planets near its center. The battles were mildly fun, but spending this much time without interesting stuff to do (besides random battles) is a huge drag!
I would push you to do a more radical departure from Drox 1 in terms of gamespeed. Some ideas that would help:
1) Movement speed could be ~2x faster than it is now
2) Vision radius (for exploration) should be 2-3x bigger than it is now, so that we don't have to wander over ever square inch of the perimeter to map out a star system. It feels like a 20 minute chore to explore one, right now.
3) We should always start with contact with a race, or at least knowledge of where the nearest race is, so we can use trade as an exploration tool
4) Preferably we would start out knowing at least where the star gates are in our starting system, or a hint as to vaguely which direction they are in.
5) I LOVE the way you can upgrade the size of the ship over time for tons of equippable items, BUT I DISLIKE the way doing so hurts you significantly in terms of speed. Instead of making your ship slow, maybe it makes it harder to have an energy surplus, or something, because it feels too punishing to me