09
Oct
12

FTL:Faster Than Light

One of the reasons I’ve been slow to update recently is because I’ve become addicted to a new game I bought on steam called FTL: Faster than Light. The game puts you in command of a star ship which has information important to the “federation”. You are being chased by a rebel fleet which will try to kill you if they catch you.

The game is focused on controlling what you use the limited power available from your reactor for. For instance you can decide how much power to allocate to weapons and shields. There are a variety of enemies that you will face in your journey and many strategies you can use. Teleporters (transporters for trek fans) allow you to board an enemy ship and attempt to kill the crew or destroy a subsystem. Unfortunately the enemies can also do the same to you which often results in losing crew members or subsystems.

There are a variety of different weapons available, each useful in different configurations and situations. Lasers have infinite ammunition, but can also have a long recharge time. They are often good for knocking down the shields or dealing moderate amounts of damage. The downside is that the shields have often recharged before you can fire them again.

Missiles and bombs ignore the shields entirely and are useful for destroying subsystems such as the shields faster. The downside is that they require ammunition which is often scarce in game. The recharge time varies with some being short and others quite long.

Beams are like the standard laser weapons in that they do not require ammunition, and have long recharge times. The way they damage an enemy ship works differently. You draw a line on the enemy ship to tell it where to fire and the Beam will follow the line for the duration it lasts for damaging rooms it hits. Beams can’t knock the shields down of a ship but can pierce them and do damage if the beam is strong enough to get through. In practice there are only a few beams that are capable of getting through shields at all.

Drones are a separate sub system of their own and have many uses. Attack drones fly around the enemy ship and try to attack it with whatever type of weapon they have (usually beam or laser). They often fire faster than a weapon mount on a ship. Defence drones circle your own ship and shoot down incoming projectiles. The base drone shoots missiles and boarding drones, but the advanced one will even shoot down enemy laser blasts. Finally there are drones for repairing your ship and repelling boarders, I’ve found these ones to be very useful.  The hull repair drone was enough to help me beat the final boss.

You sort of have to do the best you can with the equipment you can manage to get, as often it is very difficult to find exactly what you want. You can buy upgrades with scrap you collect to the various systems of your ship in order to increase the ability or capacity of it. Choosing the right system to upgrade is essential, but you can’t go wrong with upgrading shields or engines. I’ve found it’s a good idea to always have some scrap just in case I come across a store with a good weapon.

FTL is very much a rogue like in the sense that death is often inevitable as you often run into bad luck. This doesn’t detract from the game and actually makes me consider my decisions much more carefully. Victory against the final boss is fairly rare even when playing on easy. To encourage you to keep playing there are ships you can unlock by following certain quest paths in game. The game map and quests are randomly generated each time so each play-through is quite different. Each time I play I find something new to try and am currently trying to unlock all the achievements and ships. I guess I’ll probably tire of it eventually when I’ve unlocked everything, but for the price FTL was a bargain for many many hours of entertainment.

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