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Thread: FTL - Faster than Light

  1. #1
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    Default FTL - Faster than Light

    FTL - Faster than Light has been out for eleven days or so now. It's an indie game described by the makers as a "space roguelike-like". You take over command of a lonely, pretty crappy spaceship that is the last, best hope for peace. Well, victory at any rate. You possess crucial information (presumably, many Bothans died to bring it to you) that has to reach the last bastion of the struggling Federation at any cost - but the rebels know you have it, and they are right behind you. If you're going to make it through at all, it's by the skin of your teeth, adapting to rising challenges, improving your ship with systems and scrap left behind by defeated enemies, hidden caches, Federation sympathizers, random souls in need or whatever of the many secrets lie hidden in these unexplored sectors of space.

    Why is it roguelike-like? First of all, it has permadeath - you don't get to reload or retry. Second, no two games are the same - there are always eight sectors, but their contents are largely random, though "themed" - you can fly through sectors mostly inhabited by civilians who try to stay out of the war, or controlled by the many alien races, or even by the rebels, or even just nebulas uncharted by anyone, and the "beacons" (the game's FTL drives travel from beacon to beacon, sort of like Babylon 5 jumpgates) contain places and events chosen from a rather large pool. Enemy ships have randomized weapon loadouts; even within the same sector, you can fight some that can barely harm you at all, and some that have just the right tools to completely mess your shit up.

    It makes it all the more important to stay on top of the situation. Battles are fought in pausable real time; you can hit space bar to issue commands at any given moment, and unless you are the God of FTL you will do so frequently. Your ship has a number of main systems:

    - Engines, which keep you moving; without the engines you can't flee from a battle or evade any incoming weapons.
    - Shields, which can block incoming shots and recharge fairly quickly - but can be bypassed or deactivated by certain weapons, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer amount of enemy lasers.
    - Weapons, the system that manages your various turrets and launchers. Each individual weapon requires power rerouted through weapon control, but if weapon control is damaged, you will lose the ability to power some or all of your weapons systems.
    - Life Support, which keeps your ship filled with precious oxygen. Lose Life support and your ship slowly becomes uninhabitable - repair it or, eventually, die.
    - as well as various other, less absolutely, but still very crucial systems such as medbays, drone control or cloaking devices, and subsystems like sensors, remote door control or the helm, which don't require power, but are still extremely important (lose the helm, and you can't pilot the ship, becoming the easiest target for the enemy weapons imaginable!)

    Keeping all systems powered at all times is usually a pipe dream, so you will often be faced with choices and manual rerouting to get that tiny sliver of energy to keep your last laser turret powered, or get maximum output from your engines to escape - after all, life support only becomes truly important when your guys start actually collapsing. Or maybe you just open the airlocks and vent the ship into space, depriving both fire and incoming invaders of precious oxygen. Just make sure your life support system stays working so you can get it back!

    Lasers, ions, beams, rockets, bombs, invaders in all shapes and colors frequently fly about with straightforward graphics and sound effects, and usually you don't have one system that needs repairing, but five. Your crewmembers, potentially skilled in various roles and from one of seven diverse races including of course the ever-present human, will have to deal with them in various ways; manning stations, repairing damage, putting out fires, fighting other enemies with ray guns, claws and other weapons of choice, and occasionally staying put huddled together for dear life as your ship gets pelted by rockets all over and into every orifice imaginable. Even if that last ditch rocket, fired remotely as the weapons room is slowly burning to complete brokenness, manages to remove that last sliver of hull strength and leaves you victorious, that won't count for much if your own ship is beyond repair. On the other hand, it can all be worth it in the end. Survival always leave the option for eventual victory, or at least getting as far as you can.

    You don't get time to build up your ship indefinitely - while you can cover a lot of beacons before the rebels force you to leave a sector (and should), you will try to gather as much scrap, fuel, missiles and other stuff (like additional crew members) as you can, on the go, upgrading and adding new systems as you can and need.

    The randomness of game scenarios and the finality of death, both for your individual crew members and your own ship and its mission, makes your playthroughs memorable much in the same way as you remember that ADOM character who pulled off that one miraculous escape - or died that gruesome or valiant death. In the end you don't just fight for the ideals of the Federation, you fight for that one guy who fixed the life support at the last second so his crewmates might live, but asphyxiated just seconds later - or the heroic soul who sabotages the enemy ship to explosion as it's pounding you to a pulp - with no time to teleport him back out in time. Or that unlucky redshirt who was manning the engines as they were hit with a missile and set on fire, retreating to the medbay to heal only for it to get hit with a missile and set on fire, and finally settle in a remote spot of the ship with his last remaining three HP. Only to be hit by another missile.



    The goal was to combine that special feel of roguelike games with permadeath - where very choice matters, and adaptability, caution and paranoia as well as strategic (which weapons to pick? Which systems to upgrade and keep powered?) and tactical aptitude (which weapons to aim at what, when, and which crew members to send to repair or man stations; at the same time possible directing your own boarding parties aboard the enemy ship) and a fairly healthy dose of plain old luck will determine your success. In my eyes, the creaters of Faster than Light have succeeded masterfully. Playing, winning and losing in this game feels the same and is just as addictive as ADOM, even if in a different intensity, since you don't invest as much time in your "character" the ship as you typically will in a regular ADOM game; it's more similar to Iron Man.

    On the whole FTL is much easier to win than ADOM - but just as in ADOM, you will have to minimize mistakes and understand the combat system really well to succeed at all. It's just that FTL is not nearly as long and detailed; though still very much a deep and engaging experience.

    Similar to how the ADOM races and classes offer very different experiences in the early game especially, Faster than Light offers eighteen different starting ships, vastly differing in starting crew and equipment, that you can unlock in various ways. Some of them break the mold significantly - you can play ships without shields, without sensors, with just one crew member and without weapons. Like in ADOM, even if you find the "Normal" playing experience to be too easy, you can give yourself certain restrictions, or work on one of the many achievements the game will gladly record for you.



    The game costs ten dollars, and for the fun I've had with it, that's an absolute steal. For me, it's the only time a game that wasn't ADOM has made me feel the way I did when I played ADOM - in addition to letting me be a friggin' spaceship captain. I'm still far from unlocking every ship, too, so it's not the end of the road yet.

    And that concludes this review. Incidentally - it's almost enchanting to read some of the posts in FTL's official forum. Many of the complaints raised against its randomness and unforgivingness and their rebuttals could just as well apply to any roguelike, including ADOM (and have been). As such, roguelike-like seems a fitting term.
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  2. #2
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    Yeah, it's a great game, very addictive. I talked about it on Roguelike Radio recently. Have won 3 times now, each time with the Torus (I love the ion blast II). For me the big thing that gives that roguelike feel is the control of time. Pausing and issuing commands makes it a really tactical game, where you have to think carefully about all your actions.
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  3. #3
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    I've won one each with the Torus, the Osprey and the Bulwark.

    With the Torus, I think I had the easiest time (but because it was the first win it also felt the best). I had lots of Ion, though I don't remember what I used to actually deal damage. I think it might have been rockets and a Heavy Laser Mk 1.

    With the freshly unlocked Osprey, I immediately jumped in again - and won that one, too. I never got cloak; I think the ship isn't allowed to. In the second phase, I was almost done for; most of my ship was on fire and most systems were down - I think the helm and the weapons and part of the engine were still functional; and the artillery beam, which dealt the final blow to the boss. I lost two crewmembers and almost lost two afterwards trying to repair the life support in time, but I managed to repair to full, reach a repair station, and go back in to finish the job.

    With the Bulwark, I had fully upgraded engines and shields and cloak and a defense drone and everything. The Bulwark is the ship that starts with two missile launchers. I sold them both in an effort to get a weapon loadout that didn't use missiles, and ended up with no missile launchers whatsoever for the final boss. Fire Bombs turned out to be close to useless, so it was back to relying on my two ion weapons to get the shields down and the pike beam to finish the job. Without my near perfect defensive systems, that probably would've gone badly. If I had kept even the Artemis, I could've done damage much quicker.

    Next up... probably the Adjudicator. Or unlock some of the type B ships. Decisions, decisions.
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  4. #4
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    I need to unlock more ships, but I've not had much luck doing so.

    I'm not a big fan of the missiles either, as later in the game too many enemies have high evade and defensive drones, causing you to burn through missiles far too quickly. Bombs can be handy though - the ion bomb is handy at the start of a battle to quickly get their shields or another system taken offline. Fire bomb has its uses for taking down a medbay and then targeting the ions at their oxygen. Killing the crew with the ship intact leads to better loot (more scrap, fuel, chance of picking up a weapon or drone).
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  5. #5
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    I used the Fire Bomb for that very purpose before - I just never managed to pick up something else for the final boss. I didn't have a lot of crew left because I let them stupidly board a fleeing ship.

    The Crew Teleporter is perhaps the most lucrative early investment possible, just after the Scrap Recovery Arm, provided you have the crew to spare.
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  6. #6
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    After hearing them talk about it on Roguelike Radio I bought it and I've been playing a little bit. I'm busy wedding planning, but I've figured the game out and I'm enjoying it so far.
    Proud member of Team Silfir in the Treasure Hunter debate.

  7. #7
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    Yeah, Crew Teleporter is ridiculously profitable. But I don't enjoy the gameplay with it so much - lots of crew micromanagement. Plus I like the overall feeling in the game that you are the ship, and fighting with crew is less interesting than with lasers and bombs.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    Yeah, Crew Teleporter is ridiculously profitable. But I don't enjoy the gameplay with it so much - lots of crew micromanagement. Plus I like the overall feeling in the game that you are the ship, and fighting with crew is less interesting than with lasers and bombs.
    What is difference between crew and bombs? Both are disposable/buyable from ship position....

    I glimpsed actual games homepage. Real time roguelike... WTF?
    So far rolled 15 casters with RoDS and shamelessly killed them within 200 turns. For eternium glory!
    (after 15 I stopped counting...)

  9. #9
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    They call it a roguelike-like. Obviously it looks nothing like one, and it's not truly turn-based. But because it's always pausable and you can give orders freely during pauses, you can plan out battles at any point with no pressure - though if you don't want to miss crucial timings, you better become good at pressing it twice fast to advance just a tick. I think I once had a window of maybe a tenth of a second between my crew teleporter coming off cooldown and the enemy ship falling apart due to fires, and thanks to the pause function, I easily got it.

    ADOM would play the same way if you could pause the game every segment and do something - but you can only ever act when you have 1000 energy points and the game is automatically paused when you do, and only then. It's not even possible to delay your action for just one segment to take advantage of better timings (we still do it, but we have to spend a lot of turns to exploit a slight speed advantage to get free hits) - in FTL timing your attacks is often crucial. For instance, beams do great damage if the enemy shields are down for even parts of a second, since they connect instantly and do great hull damage, but cannot pierce or lower shields.

    You can pull off all sorts of things with timings. I recently managed to hit an enemy missile with a missile of my own - by accident. I can only assume there are people out there who do stuff like that on purpose. As far as I can tell, all types of projectiles can also potentially intercept all others, and also drones.

    You can play it like a real time space combat simulator if you simply don't use the pause function. I might just do that someday, sounds like crazy fun.

    Bombs consume a missile each; crew members don't technically consume anything if you bring them back alive. Missiles are much easier and cheaper to get than replacement crew members. I don't exactly see how lasers, bombs and boarding parties are mutually exclusive, though! Bombs that damage systems especially are almost a necessity when boarding enemy ships with medbays.

    I don't really get the feeling I am the ship as much as I'm the captain of the ship - since the game ends if your crew dies, one of the crewmembers must be the captain, and by extension, you. They're probably all interfaced with a mind link at all times with all the ship's systems and the other crewmembers, and whoever is the most senior alive crewmember can give commands to the systems and the other crewmembers just by thinking.
    Last edited by Silfir; 09-27-2012 at 12:27 PM.
    ADOM Guides - whatever you wanted to know about playing a certain class, but have been afraid to ask!

    Check out my youtube channel to see my ADOM videos, including a completed playthrough of the game. I try to give instructions, so if you want to see some place you haven't been before and get some hints on how to deal with it, this might help! There's also some other games featured there that you might find interesting.

  10. #10
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    Wow this game is amazing :O

    It's those times when half your ship is on fire and lasers are raining down and mantises are scratching at the door that really make the game for me. I love them and hate them.

    It reminds me of those moments in ADOM when your mindcrafter rolls a strength of 2, or when your fireproof blanket bursts into flames halfway through the first level of the ToEF, and the game clearly wants you dead without being too obvious about it but you just refuse to die. That's the roguelike spirit, and this game has it.

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