Regardless of the situation, FTL is insanely fun to play.
The game puts in you in a sort of backwards Star Wars universe. You’re the captain of a ship working for the Federation, whom, is currently locked into a losing battle against the Rebels. You’re current mission is to cross the Galaxy and deliver vital information to the remainder of your fleet. And your mission is not that easy, this game is brutal. And I do mean brutal. You will die, and die, and die, and die. But you won’t die of the same thing over and over..no..you’ll die of different things every time. But that is one of the great things about this game. I played four hours straight, basically died repeatedly for four hours, but every time I restarted, the experience was different every time.
Losing is never fun, but this game provides enough variety to keep you coming back for another adventure.
This game is about strategy, exploration, and above all…resource management
Being the captain of a ship you have primary systems and subsystems.
Primary systems make up Shields, oxygen, weapons, Medbay, and Engines. Subsystems make up piloting, doors, and sensors. All of these systems require a certain amount of power from the reactor and you can reroute power from any system to power up another one. This is where your strategy kicks in, what system becomes less important and which one will save your ship? Do you power down piloting and risk the chance to dodge attacks in favor of boosting your shields? The choice is yours.
Battling adds a little chaos to resource management. You’ll be pummeled with enemy fire, often times a boarding party, corridor fires, and whatever hellish nightmare the vastness of space might deem necessary to throw at you. There is one very memorable type of battle I always HATED, and that was within the reach of sun. Every thirty seconds the sun would emit a solar flare that would catch certain sections of the ship on fire, keep in mind this is all while fighting an enemy ship.
Destroying enemy ships will allow you to salvage parts and weapons. Parts you obtain are called “SCRAPS” and are used in this game as a sort of currency. You use SCRAPS to buy fuel, missiles, crew members, weapons, and as tools to upgrade your ship and reactor. Again…managing resources.
Battling is one half of the game and exploration is the other. Maps are littered with “beacons” that allow for instant travel. Each map has an exit point, and its up to you to travel from beacon to beacon until you reach the exit point, from there you’ll go to the next sector. Sectors come in three variations; friendly, hostile, and unexplored. Obviously, you can figure out which ones will give you the most grief.
Exploring each sector will provide the most benefit. Quickly getting to the exit just to get to the end of the game will get you killed quickly, but lolly-gagging too long will get you killed too. Each sector you’re in is essentially timed, slowly, Rebel forces will creep their way into the sector and its up to you to reach the exit point before they reach you, otherwise you have a lot of fighting on your hands. Again, just like balancing your resources, you must do the same when it comes to exploring. Visiting different beacons can lead to salvage, weapons, and the possibility of unlocking new ships. But exploring for too long could condemn you to a barrage of enemy ships.
Beacons vary in tasks; sometimes there will be nothing, sometimes an enemy ship, sometimes a store to buy or sell supplies, and sometimes distress signals where you may fall into a trap or actually try to help someone out. The game beautifully randomizes these events and maps so that every play through is its own unique experience. Granted, while not every play through was the same, there were times where I ran into a reoccurring situation that played out the same way every time, I wish the outcomes randomized also.
FTL is a smart game with a simple look. It’s highly addicting but brutally hard. If you’ve always wanted to be your own Malcolm Reynolds, then this is the game for you. However, if you’re the type of gamer who likes having your hand held through every situation..oh…and save points…then no…you should stay away from this game.