FTL game strategy guide
note that this is work in progress and will be updated on a regular basis until completed
Faster Than Light or FTL is an indie space game from Subset Games in which you are commanding on of the last federation starships (good guys) on the run from filthy rebels (this time, the bad guys!). Your task is to survive crossing eight sectors in which you will encounter rebel fighters, pirates, slavers, hostile species and many, many other random encounters. During your voyage, you will – if you get lucky! – expand your crew, improve your ship, obtain better weaponry and equipment, but also face a series of ever stronger opponents that will oftentimes seriously put a dent into your hull.
There are few rules to have in mind before playing this game.
First and foremost, this is old school gameplay, the one you might know from arcades in late 80′s and early 90′s, where gaming was serious business. Back then, the games killed you with pleasure, and beating each boss and completing a level was a true challenge. In recent years, the game designers (or, to be more precise, the publishers!) are ever more afraid of making games „too difficult“ and thus less likeable by a wider audience. In plain words, they are afraid that the today’s kids, all presumably suffering from ADHD, would rage and burn their products if they appear to be only slightly more than difficult than, say, turning on the console. Such thinking is not only wrong, it is also stupid, but the times when the publishers were on the same page with the players are loooong gone.
In accordance with this, FTL will whoop your ass, case and point. It is really hard and if you don’t like challenging titles, don’t play this.
Second of all, it is fair to say that the game, even though it has two settings, easy and normal, actually has only easy and hard settings. At normal, you will suffer and die very often.
Third of all, luck is a very, very important element of the gameplay. For instance, I found myself doing extremely well, having a big crew, good weaponry and fairly well balanced ship, when within two jumps I found myself first in an asteroid field where I took some serious beating from a pirate ship to, crippled and mangled by previous fight, run straight into a heavily armed rebel ship on the next jumppoint. Needless to say, they turned me to space dust within moments.
Thus being said, we can proceed with some general advice and tips for the game.
This guide will consist from two parts: general tips and tips on how to unlock all the FTL ships.
FTL general game guide
Use the strengths of your ship.
Explore as much from the sector as you can.
Some people simply run for the closest next exit. Don’t. It may make your life easier at the beginning, you should pursue a different tactic. Once you are certain of your ship and its weapons/equipment, make sure you explore as much of the sector, fight as many opponents and gather as much scrap, gear, fuel, rockets and other commodities as possible. Also, make sure you always come on top at the end of each encounter, and not be losing scrap on repairs or purchase of rockets or drone parts. In essence, you need to have a nice pile of loot each time you blow a hostile to stardust in order to upgrade your systems and weapons.
If you end up with only a small gain in scrap, with most of it being used to repair your hull or replenish rockets and/or drone parts, you are (as the web would say) doing it wrong. Change your appraoch and setup until you find an optimal strategy on how to come on top in each sector you are traversing.
As with the rest of the game, one of the most important issues here is luck, once again. You may lose crew members to random encounters, gain extra scrap or items from research of dangerous nebulae and asteroid fields, but the space combat will always go to the one with better gear and smarter tactics.
It is also most important to notice that for many ship unlocks, you will be required to run around the galaxy as if your underwear were on fire.
How to unlock all FTL ships?
I started playing the game with the standard ship, The Kestrel, and eventually (by pure coincidence) unlocked the second ship, The Engi ship. Without paying too much attention to the requirements to unlock other ships (I was too busy being blown to pieces in random and most unexpected corners of the galaxy) I kept playing on and assumed that, with greater score and more finished sectors, other ships will be unlocked. Ofcourse, you know what „assume“ as a meme means, and eventually, I went to discover what exactly one needs to do to unlock other ships in the game, as well as the other types of the specific ship. To be direct, it ain’t always easy, and one needs quite some luck to do that.
The Kestrel is the main ship you start with, nothing mind blowing, but still quite a sturdy, useful craft. You can unlock the type B Kestrel by accomplishing two out of three listed achievements:
- have six unique aliens on the Kestrel at the same time (bit hard that one…)
- have every system and subsystem installed on Kestrel at the same time (much easier)
- have Kestrel fall to one 1HP and repair it back at a store to full health (basically bound to happen sooner or later!)
Game tips for Kestrel: Kestrel is a quite useful ship, and you can achieve a lot with it. Personally, I’ve had the best possible results at times where I could get dual Burst Laser 2; with two of them babies, Kestrel becomes a powerhouse as far as the DPS is considered, able to render any foe defenseless at the very beginning of the encounter if you should get the upper upper hand. If you should get lucky and obtain Weapon Pre-Igniter, augmentation that enables your weapons to be ready right after the jump, you will be simply golden.
The ultimate early setup for Kestrel is Artemis rocket launcher with two Burst lasers (if you can’t find two Mark II Burst Lasers, Mark I will do just as well).
Kestrel Type B ship is pure awesomeness; armed with four basic lasers and a Zoltan crew member (+1 energy on the system they are operating), you can basically run 4 lasers right off the bat, without the need to upgrade your ship’s systems. Having four energy weapons also means that you no longer need to worry about expensive rockets and drone parts.
Game tips for Kestrel type B: Simply enough, invest all your initial scrap into upgrading shields. From there on, investing into teleporters and a second mantis crew member (you get the first Mantis crew member with the initial ship) for baording and sabotage purposes might just prove as the winning strategy.
The Engi ship
The Engi ship is all about ion guns and drone damage being dished out. Ignore rockets, stock up with a second ion weapon if possible, and keep a large supply of drone parts ready.
How to unlock the second Engi layout:
In order to unlock the second Engi ship layout, you need to complete two out of these three achievements:
- have three drones functioning at the same time
- destroy an enemy ships using only drones
- have four systems/subsystems on an enemy ship ioned out at the same time
It is an easy guess that the Engi ship second layout is easier to unlock than some other ships in the game. The second achievement is especially easy, and once you have acquired a second ion weapon on your Engi ship, all you need to do is find an enemy ship with a lot of systems and simply target another system after every hit. You should very quickly get the third achievement as well.
The Vortex starts out with a Heavy Ion and a Heavy Laser 1, one anti-personal drone and two system repair drones. The downside is the fact that you only get one single crew member, no attack drones and that the Heavy Ion is far too slow in the initial phases of the game, making you receive a lot of damage before you come on top, if at all.