Why 'FTL' Is Better Than Pretty Much Every Other AAA Space Sim Out There

January 16th, 2013 2:08pm EST | Patrick Hyland By: Patrick Hyland



Subset Games


Space simulations are a difficult genre to get into. Games like "Freelancer" and "X:3" and "Evochron Mercenary" are games that have SO many dimensions to them, it's simply too much to handle for most players. Shields must be re calibrated, power generators must be tweaked and redistributed, weapons need upgrading, bay doors need opening and closing, weight must be watched, be careful not to overheat your kinetic whatever launchers - all in the middle of an active battle.

There is just so much to do - so many fragile variables to keep in mind. When it's done right, you feel like a godd#mn Captain Kirk - but most of the time you just end up frustrated and feeling like a loser in a computer chair, rather than a Commander at the helm of the ship.

Last September, a fun little gem called "FTL" (standing for 'Faster Than Light' for the Sci-Fi impaired) launched and was Greenlit on Steam. I recalled watching a trailer for it sometime earlier that year, but didn't know what to make of it. Being an avid science fiction fan, I decided it might be worth the ten bucks to pick it up. That was one of the best ways I spent ten bucks in 2012.

FTL is a game about spaceships, aliens, oppressive trans-galactic hegemonies, lasers and rockets. And also, it's a roguelike. So, expect your games to be fairly short; to be completed in two or three sittings, either by victory or by (permanent) death. When your game ends, it's over - and you'll have to start a-new.


Home sweet ship.

The basic premise of FTL is that you're a messenger ship, sent to reach the Federation Fleet, many light years away, This wouldn't be such a daunting task if your objective wasn't time sensitive; the entire rebel armada is hot on your tail.

At the beginning you have only one ship to choose from, though later you unlock more. But for all intents and purposes, the starter ship is more than enough. Ships have crews, who can occupy various stations on the ship - engines, helm, weapons, shields, etc etc, as well as repair damage, fight boarding crews, patch holes in the hull among other things. Individual crew members get better at tasks the more they do them, so your experienced helmsman (I call him the captain) may be better at evasive maneuvers than the guy controlling your ships shields. Your crew members will invariably die from time to time, and will need to be replaced either via event or by replenishing them at galactic watering holes and stores scattered throughout the galaxy.