N.O.V.A. 2: Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance takes place eight years after the events of the original game. The player once again takes control of Kal Wardin who after leaving active service in N.O.V.A. lives with colonists on a desert planet. But as a civil war breaks out he is forced back into action and once again have to fight the alien Volterites.
Like its predecessor, N.O.V.A. 2 is a first person shooter. The single player campaign consists of twelve chapters that takes the player to the hostile environments of various Orbitals. More than a dozen weapons can be used in combat against the Volterites and there are also section where the player drives vehicles and takes control of stationary guns. Vehicles include motor bikes as well as giant mechs. The player also has access to three special powers: freeze, slow time and a disc that is used for melee combat.
In addition to the single player mode the game has some multiplayer modes that can be played by up to ten players online or locally. These are free for all, team deathmatch, capture the flag, freeze tag, and instagib. The game has a ranking and perks system that grants access to new weapons and equipment as the player levels up.