PvP has been at times great and at times impossible. Around 2014, just before beams were introduced, was the most "stable" I've seen combat. It wasn't perfect but it very rarely devolved into rubber banding and/or chunk anomalies that became common around 2016/17. (as long as the server wasn't running on a toaster)
I think a lot of gameplay issues with combat are directly related to bandwidth and FlOps available to the server. As in, StarMade as coded in 2016 needed premium 2018 hardware to run "well" with more than 2 players. With hardware being more and more optimized for multi-threading instead of frequency ramp since the 2018-19 hardware standards the engine itself probably doesn't see much benefit from the newest hardware...but that's an issue for asynchronous functions if they're ever added.
For example, massive chunk updates(like from giga-miners or missile spam) screwing over a couple 300 block ships trying to have an unrelated dogfight halfway across the galaxy is/was an issue with threaded workload code. Who knows, AMD and Nvidia's push to cut the CPU out of the storage loop might make Java get more butter-smooth in a year or two and make combat great again. 5+GHz cores running the instance couldn't hurt either.
The actual BALANCE of combat (was always) a rats nest, but that's a long discussion that's been had from many angles over the years if you bother to use a search function.