Game Introduction – FTL: Faster Than Light
FTL is a spaceship command strategy game with rougelike elements by Subset Games. Gamezebo’s strategy guide will give you all of the tips and tricks you’ll need to brave the void of space and defeat the incredibly difficult closing chapter of the game.
Tips and Strategies
Mix It Up — FTL features a wide range of weapons from lasers, to beams, to autonomous attack drones. Each subset has its own advantages and disadvantages, but in the long run it’s best not to rely too heavily on just one. Missiles require ammunition and so aren’t always reliable. Drones attack automatically, so it’s tough to time them with enemy shield cycling.
Instead, your best bet is to mix and match. For example, my personal favorite combo is a set of burst lasers alongside a beam weapon like the Glaive. I’ll wait for the beam to recharge fully, then fire a laser burst to knock out enemy shields. Once they’re down, I use the non-penetrative beam to sweep through as many rooms as I can manage.
Doors as Weapons — Much like in the smashing martial arts film, The Raid: Redemption, doors in FTL can be lethal. You can achieve this by upgrading them at least once to blast door status, which allows you to lock enemy boarding parties in or out of specific rooms.
They’ll break through eventually. The blast doors only provide armor so that they must be cut through by enemy units. However, if you’re clever, there’s a way to kill or at least damage them before they make it through.
By opening the airlocks to space, then opening the connections between them and the room with the boarding party, you can actually suffocate enemies. This is especially useful against species like the Mantis, deal high damage in hand-to-hand combat. Normally, they’d dispatch your crew before you can whittle their health down. Suffocate them, however, and you stand a better chance of taking them down. This same trick works for putting out fires in specific rooms of your ship without risking crew members.
Target Priority — There’s a certain rhythm to how combat works in FTL. Your first impulse will probably be to damage the enemy’s shield systems to give you free shots at everything else. In reality, it’s better to fire at their weapons first — especially if you have items or crew members that let you reload faster. By doing so you’ve crippled their ability to fight back (for a time) and ensured more health for yourself later down the line (which is usually more important than short-term victory).
When you have multiple weapons, and/or when you get warning that the enemy is preparing for a jump, start firing on their engines. It reduces evasion and also pauses their ability to escape. If the enemy does escape, you’ve just lost out on potential resources and possibly hastened the rebel fleet’s approach to your position.
Don’t Leave Yet — In each system, you want to reach the exit point before the rebel fleet (the growing, red blob on your map) arrives. If you get caught, you’ll be forced into fight after fight with rebel cruisers every time you jump that don’t provide any scrap or ammunition.
However, don’t just leave the moment you’re within range of the exit point. If you have a few extra turns before the fleet arrives, explore the areas near the exit for the chance to earn more resources and equipment. There are only a limited number of systems to explore before reaching the (incredibly difficult) final fight, so you want to exploit each of them as much as possible to be prepared for the encounter.
Be Adventurous — As an addendum to the last tip, take every opportunity you’re given. Because FTL is randomly generated, which equipment and resources you get, and in what quantity, is up to dumb luck. So if you’re in a situation where the game asks you if you’d like to explore a foreboding, abandoned space station take the chance. There’s a possibility your crew will be eaten by giant spiders, sure, but you might also get a stealth device instead. The benefits to a good run usually outweigh the risks of a bad one.
Save Your Scrap — Scrap is used to upgrade your ship’s systems, as well as purchase equipment, fuel and ammo from stores. It’s tempting to spend your scrap as soon as you have enough to upgrade, say, your shields, but I implore you to resist.
The equipment found at random in-game stores, while not always more useful, is far more interesting, rare and expensive.
You can upgrade your blast doors whenever you like, but you may never have another chance to buy that sporty cloaking device. My personal strategy is to wait before buying upgrades in a given system until after I’ve encountered its first store. If it has nothing I want, I’ll start sprucing up the ol’ cruiser. If it does, I’ll get that and probably still have enough left over for extra power cells.
Go with the Flow — I know I keep bringing it up, but upgrading yourself to double or even triple and quadruple shield strength isn’t necessarily the best option. As I said, FTL‘s levels are random. There’s no telling what kinds of items you’ll get from side quests and random events. If you have a cloaking device, for instance, it might be better to upgrade that and use it to evade enemy fire and ignore shields altogether.
The only thing you really must pay attention to is your weapons. Eventually, enemy ships will start doubling up on shields and it’s very possible to find yourself without the necessary offense to even penetrate them, much less destroy the ship. This is especially important in the final fight, which is notoriously difficult for this very reason.
There are ways around this. Brute force via a handful of burst lasers is one option (though not one I have great success with). Boarding parties and/or drones are another. It’s ultimately up to you, but you’ll find most success if you spec out your ship to match the sorts of special items and crew you collect along the way every run.
Don’t Get Frustrated — This tip is pretty self-explanatory. FTL is, however you feel about the nomenclature, a roguelike. You will probably fail — often and repeatedly. The final boss is so tremendously difficult it borders on unfair. That’s part of the game’s appeal, if you let it be. Running the game over and over to see what combinations of ship parts and upgrades work best, unlocking new designs and finally defeating that annoying jerk are incredibly satisfying. You just can’t get discouraged too much along the way.
Congratulations! You’ve just completed Gamezebo’s strategy guide to get you started in FTL: Faster Than Light. Be sure to check back often for game updates, staff and user reviews, user tips, forums comments, and much more here at Gamezebo!