SteamWorld Heist is a side-scrolling strategy game with focus on skill rather than chance. The core gameplay consists of recruiting a team of steam-driven robots, boarding enemy spaceships and taking down rivalling robot factions in turn-based shootouts. A majority of the game's levels are procedurally generated.
In battle, the player controls the aiming of all firearms and can bounce bullets off the environment for ricocheting trick shots. As the game progresses, players can upgrade and customize their robot crew with different abilities, weapons, and hats. Some weapons are equipped with laser sights to assist the player with the free aiming.
The game has over 100 different weapons and almost 100 hats to collect. These can be found as treasure during missions or bought in designated shops. Hats are primarily obtained by shooting them off opponents' heads and collecting them.
After finishing the game players have the option to start the game again with New Game+.