FTL: Faster Than Light

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I have, of course, heard of roguelikes and know vaguely what they are and how they play, but I never really gave them much thought or tried one. A while back when FTL came out I remember  hearing about it and it was described as a roguelike in space. Still, I didn’t really care all that much. Some more time went by and I kept hearing about how much fun the game was and how it was like Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, etc.  Eventually I was curious enough to pick it up when it was on sale and since then I haven’t been able to put it down.

FTL Ship View
Tis is the view you’ll have of your ship throughout the game.

Basically, you are given a ship and number of crew and have to jump from system to system gathering resources, weapons, upgrades, additional crew, etc., all while trying to keep ahead of a Rebellion fleet that is creeping up on you all the time. Once you get to the last sector you make your last stand against the Rebel flagship.  It seems pretty basic, but for some reason I’ve been doing it over and over and over again. You initially start out with only one ship option, which comes with a different loadout when you unlock some achievements.

Through different encounters you can unlock the use of different ships on your next game. What’s really cool is how each ship offers very different play style. The Engi (Machine people of some sort?) ship, for example, utilizes an ion cannon to disable ship systems and sends out drones to attack/defend. Other Ships might focus more on missles or lasers, or even boarding parties. You can really upgrade any ship to do these things but it’s really fun how you can start over a new game with a ship in a completely different configuration. That along with the randomized star maps, encounters, items, shops, etc, really adds to the replayability. Will you get encounter pirates who attack you, slavers who demand you send over your crew, or possibly helpful allies who provide you with a weapons upgrade?

The hangar is where you pick your ship and see its stats.
The hangar is where you pick your ship and see its stats.

I was actually really suprised by how much enjoyment I could get out of a game that didn’t really have too much going on visually. Not to imply that the visuals are bad in any way. The 2D visuals are actually very well done and pleasing to look at. It’s just you would expect to see a lot more going on with two starships going at it. Through the whole game you are essentially looking at your ship and its interior, along with any other ships you encounter. It may not seem like a whole lot is going on but there can actually be quite a few things that require your attention. For example, you are attacked by a Mantis ship and they beam over soldiers.

First you might need to pull some crew away from their stations to handle them, but also make sure you start targeting the enemy ship with your own weapons. But oh, what’s that? Their missile just breached your hull and now you’re venting atmosphere so you have to pull even more crew away to fix that, along with the fire that is rapidly spreading to the next room because you cheaped out on door upgrades. Now your crew handling the mantis troops are low on health so you have to pull them away to heal them up in the medbay, leaving the enemy soldiers on their own to sabotage your shield systems.

And remember, you are still trading fire with the Mantis ship, which is now easily carving you up since your shields are down. Oh, and you had to pull your pilot from the con in order to repair those systems, so now you are dead in the water with no evasion. And while all this is going on you are handling your system power usage and trying to decide if you can pull power from your weapons systems to power your med bay or if you can get away with diverting it from life support. It can get incredibly hectic, but luckily you can pause the game at any time to take a breath and give some commands.

Maybe FTL isn’t the game for everybody, but I think everybody should at least give it a try. You can easily lose hours to this game and still want more.

  • Scrabble is not much to look at but I’ve played it my whole life.

    As AAA dev’s keep giving us movies on rails once in awhile it’s fun to play a game.

  • Hehe, I just bought it and am liking it in the first hour, but I am a micromanager type of guy.

    People will need to appreciate just how old school this game looks and sounds, Atari console midi simplicity. Nonetheless I do like your Firefly analogy, and it is fun for my style of play.

    A few questions:

    1) Can you attack a neutral ship or only “hostiles” For instance I accepted a surrender and then I thought to re-attack it, but couldn’t find a way to re-initiate combat. I suspect one cannot.

    2) Is there anything to do in a system once one has completed the defined initial mission within the sector point (i.e. is there only one mission per sector point)?

    3) Does the Rebel advancement progress with time or per jump (i.e. should I be pausing the game after battles, but before the next jump, or doesn’t it matter)?

    4) Is it worthwhile to try to engage within the rebel zone or is that even an option?

    I realize that some of these questions I will answer just by playing further, but it might be good to share it with others up-front.

    Thanks for the tip.

    BTW It is on sale at Steam atm for less than $8.

  • Also have you found any advantages or disadvantages to targeting different ship systems?

    I have been targeting weapons as that makes sense from a repair POV, but does one get less weapon salvage in comparison to hitting other systems instead?

  • @Gankatron I have no idea if these things are accurate, but from what I have observed:

    1. It seems you can only attack a ship if they give you an option and if you choose not to or let them surrender I don’t think you can re-initiate.

    2. I think I have encountered more than one mission per sector. If you are talkinga bout the optional missions, at least. The only main mission I know of is to get to the last sector. And I try to explore as many jump points as possible in order to best gear up my ship. I don’t think there is neccisarily anything you need to do in each sector. You could try and get through them as fast as possible if you wanted to. There is even an achievement to get to the last sector having not fought anybody or fire a shot or something like that.

    3. I believe the rebel advancement happens during jumps, so if you are just sitting there I think you are fine. The size of their advancement depends on if you are out in the open, in a nebula, or were scouted by a rebel ship.

    4. If you mean the rebel advancement wave then I don’t think there is any benefit to engaging them. They are usually pretty hard and give no loot. I’ve engaged them 4 or 5 times and only seem to get about 1 fuel when I destroy them.

    5. I’m not sure if targeting weapons, for example, lowers your chance of salvaging weapons, but if you want better salvage in general then just try to kill the crew without destroying the ship. The easiest way to do this is to use a weapon that starts fires or hurts crew but doesn’t damage hull or systems. You could also try boarding them if you have a transporter. In general though I go for weapons first in the beginning of each game. That usually works well until the mid of sector 2 or 3 when enemies have more shields. Then I try to take out shields with a bomb or missile, since they pierce shields, so my lasers weapons can wreck their weapons. If they are using defense drones though you will need to target their drone systems or your missiles won’t get through.

    Sometimes I change up my tactics depending on what the enemies are using. If they have a lot of missiles then weapons becomes a major target, unless I have defense drones. If they only have laser weapons but my shields seem to be mainly holding then I won’t bother and will go straight for their shields. It just depends on the situation, really, and what your armament is.

  • I’ve played it quite a bit, and enjoyed it very much.

    Some things i’ve found out:

    The first Engi ship you get it really good, and is my favorite I think. The combi with the ion burst and the drone is pretty powerfull. You are a bit vulnerable to bording parties, so watch out.

    Travel in nebula when you have the chance, this really slow down the rebels and give you more time to explore which is very important, since the end bosses is a giant pain in the butt.

    You dont start out with missiles or bombs on the engi ship, but if you get one its really nice.

    If you can get a defence drone 1 and 2 you nearly canty be hit by anything.

    If you want, you can use the iron cannon to criple the o2 device, so you can suffocate the enemy, but ofcourse they can shot on you while they suffocate


    Sorry for the CAPS, I just don’t want anyone to read past this if they intend to play this game.

    So, is the “Black Market Trader” that offers to sell you an unknown weapon for 65 credits always a scam, or has anyone ever gotten an item from them? I have done it twice now, and both times got ripped off. I like taking chances, but not if the wager has a zero percent chance of paying off. 😛

  • a bit of a spoiler as well 🙂 So dont read if you dont want to be spoiled etc 🙂

    If you encounter a slave trader, allways attack them. They will offer you a crew during combat if you leave them alone. Which is pretty nice

  • A few helpful hints:

    1) The save system is specifically designed for a single purpose, to allow one to walk away from the game and re-start it a later time; consistent with this there is no straight “save” option, just a SINGLE “save and quit” slot, and no load option, just a “continue”.

    To illustrate this, at one point I wanted to explore what would happen if I chose between different dialogue options and so I hit “save and quit”, restarted the game, and choose the first option. Afterwards I went to exit so as to reload the saved game, but one has to chose between “save and quit” or just “quit”; since I didn’t want to over-write the single save slot I chose “quit” and was prompted by a pop-up that I would lose all of my progress if I did this, and continued exiting the game. Upon restart the “continue” option was grayed out and my prior save file automatically deleted.

    2) While in combat one can preload weapons by not designating targets. In this way a weapon is ready to immediately fire once the defender’s counter-measures have been eliminated.

  • You are right Gankatron 🙂 And its very important if you use beam weapons. Charge them up, and wait for the enemy shields to go down, then shot. Never use them on auto

  • I’m waiting to see if FTL gets a flash sale before buying it. Looking forward to playing it.

    Anyone try Drox Imperative? It’s a space game by the guy who made Din’s Curse. I bought Din’s a few days ago and can’t stop playing it. It’s honestly one of the best diablo type games I’ve ever played (much better then torchlight or D3). If Drox is 1/2 the game Din’s is I can see spending many 100s of hours playing it.

    I have all these high profile release titles sitting there and I’m spending all my gaming time on a sub 10 dollar indie game that came out a few years ago……