Attack Of The Clones: FTL Advanced Edition Update Detailed

By Alec Meer on February 19th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

No release date for the free FTL ‘Advanced Edition’ addon as yet, which makes me an even sadder boy than I already was. Especially in the wake of the new Clone Bay subsystem being revealed.

“The goal of the Clone Bay was to really disrupt the core way you play the game,” the devs have explained. “You’ll be able to send crew off into dangerous situations without fear of death. Giant alien spiders will no longer be the terrifying, unstoppable force that you’re used to, since the system can simply revive your crew after the event.”

“Giant alien spiders will no longer be… terrifying” is a bold claim, isn’t it?

Clones aren’t a permanent fix for FTL’s ever-looking mortality, however. “If a stray missile takes out the system mid-clone, you’ll find death can still be quite permanent.” Erk.

I’m fascinated to see how this plays out in practice – there is a nagging sense of unfairness to losing a crew member in dialogue, as opposed to as a result of your own failure to manage to a battle well, and I like the idea that there’s at least a chance to survive some of the Fighting Fantasy-style random fatalities. (As long as you’ve built a Clone Bay, at least – your ship still only has so many rooms, remember). On the other hand, random acts of cruelty power FTL’s engines, so I hope they’re not too downplayed. Ooh, ain’t I the contrary one?

Also being added is a hacking system. “At the cost of a drone part, the system allows you to launch a hacking drone that attaches to a chosen system on the enemy vessel. As a passive effect, that system’s doors will be blocked (delaying enemy crew) and you’ll be granted detailed vision of that system. You’ll also then be able to initiate a hacking pulse which affects each system slightly differently.” Basically it’s increasing the range of options for ships which don’t carry a wide spread of heavy weapons, which is going to be enormously helpful if either you’ve got a drone-focused craft or have been deeply unlucky with drops and shops.

Also! Mind control. This requires that one of your crew has line of sight to your intended target, so you can’t just cause mutiny on the enemy ship from afar – you’ll need to send a crew member over first. If you do, there’s some true dastardliness to be done – turning an enemy staffer against his chums, or teleporting him back to your ship to man an empty or system or get himself locked in an airless room. Similar can be done with enemy boarders.

Thoughtful stuff, though we just have to hope it doesn’t overcomplicate what’s currently a beautiful design.

There are a few other bits and bobs detailed here, but that big shining fact – when – is frustratingly left unanswered.

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46 Comments »

  1. youhavemyaxe says:

    I refuse to read any more about this update until I actually get to play it

  2. cyrenic says:

    “Hard Mode: For our more masochistic fans, we’ve also added an additional Hard difficulty to the game. More challenging enemy generation, lower scrap rewards, and other small tweaks should help keep the game interesting for anyone who might be bored of Normal.”

    I’ve been wanting something like this, but I wish (hope?) the difficulty would come from smarter enemy ships. Right now enemies haphazardly attack your systems. AI that intelligently targets your systems would be very interesting.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I am pretty sure the game would become literally impossibe toward the end if the AI played as well as a human player, because past the halfway mark or so ships are rigged in its favour.

      Nightmare mode: the Rebel flagship doesn’t have isolated weapons rooms, and synchronizes its weapon fire to overwhelm your drones/shields and keep your own offensive options suppressed. Get out of that one, smart guy.

      • cyrenic says:

        Maybe if they did that to the boss they could get rid of the awkward “special moves”. I know they’re there to keep the final boss challenging, but the fact they don’t appear anywhere else in the game makes them feel a bit cheap.

        But you make a good point. The design of the game would probably be broken by player quality AI.

      • Phendron says:

        Just a small counterpoint, on the whole it WOULD be hard to deal with, but if the flagship syncs it’s weapons to fire in a fusillade then a well-timed Level 1 Cloak would have no problems dealing with that.

        …er, the first volley at least. I can’t remember which system recharges faster.

      • Horg says:

        Triple Ion Cannon + Boarding Drone + two Mantis offensive boarders. 3 fast charging system lock downs, and with enough drone parts you can just keep causing hull breaches and killing crew that come in to repair. You need a bit of luck with Ion Cannons in shops, but that load out will kill everything.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          I’ve always gone down the route of having 2 mantis boarders, full shields, and as many lasers as possible. If it wasn’t for the isolated weapons rooms, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to do it. I’ve always liked the theory of doing things with Missiles and ion cannons but never managed to make it more effective in practice than just having a ton of lasers.

    • LTK says:

      The AI’s lack of focus you describe actually gives it abilities that the player doesn’t have. Burst-fire weapons fired by the AI will hit different rooms with a single salvo, whereas if you fire burst weapons, all shots always hit the room you’re targeting, or miss entirely. That’s why I was hoping for them to implement a ‘fire at will’ option that gives you the same ability, so you can increase your chance to hit in exchange for sacrificing your ability to target a single room.

    • minic78 says:

      There’s always modding to make it harder, but (to me at least) I’m not not sure making the AI behave too efficiently would be a great idea. The design of AI ships would have to be reworked to make them much more in line with the player, so it wouldn’t be too much “harder.” The randomness and unpredictability of the game would suffer for it (which is obviously subjective as to whether that makes this game or any at all more enjoyable), and at the end of the day there isn’t much difference in the difficulty between an enemy with huge potential but variable performance and one that is less powerful but more reliable.

      • dcalogue says:

        I think the improved AI could be fun, if and only if you could keep upgrading your ship without the current limitations, so you could always fight the enemy ships in equal ground, given that you managed to improve your ship enough before the fight (ships should give more scrap, based on their difficulty), this way you could end up with a behemoth capable of taking on the boss ship at the end of the game. I would pay for that, even if it could change the game into something else.

  3. Lexx87 says:

    Really excited about this, curse you Alec though I thought maybe maybe we had a release date.

    Go play some Banished as punishment.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Will it still be possible to play the current FTL, without this?

  5. Eddy9000 says:

    Will it fix the problem with AMD video cards where it won’t show the radar? I haven’t been able to play my copy :-(

    Also release a tablet version already.

  6. The Dark One says:

    Just reading about this has me jonesing to play stock FTL again.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    I’m unsure that this will change the fact that every ship I pilot will be on fire by about ten missions in.

  8. Shadow says:

    Overall, the expansion seems pretty good, but I have to say I quite dislike the recently revealed Clone Bay addition. Way to make your crewmen’s lives less meaningful.

    Yes, random event deaths were a pain in the arse, and cloning probably won’t let you work around them lest the whole event system breaks down, but combat could be managed with sufficient skill and strategy to avoid crewman deaths. It was challenging and rewarding to do so, knowing how to fight, when to fight and when to retreat, and I feel those aspects will be severely diminished if you can just recover your losses via cloning.

    EDIT: Read more about it, and the cloning system is more elaborate than the article describes. It’s a compromise, because cloning leads to small skill losses, and you have to give up the medbay in order to install the clonebay. They occupy the same spot on the ship.

    • Riley Lungmus says:

      Then don’t use it.

      Rogue-alikes are common with crutches that are ultimately less effective than optimizing your playstyle, but ultimately make the game easier.

      I pretty much would never take clones over a crew teleporter, or a shield bay, or even a cloaking device.

      • Shadow says:

        With my edit I meant to imply the addition of the clone bay has more substance than what this article described. So given it involves a sensible compromise, it doesn’t seem to be the cheap mechanic I first thought it was.

        And as I said earlier, the clone bay can only replace the medbay, which means you have to choose between taking care of your most mortal crewmen or making them pseudo-immortal, while accepting skill losses and the risk of the cloner going down at inopportune times. Sounds balanced enough.

    • phuzz says:

      Clearly you don’t play the correct way, you do not warp off before retrieving your boarding team from the enemy ship. That’s what I do pretty much every time I try and play with a teleporter. Oh, and lets not forget shooting the rooms of the enemy ship that your crew is in, I’m bloody good at that too.
      I’m surprised anybody will still fly with me.

  9. Iskariot says:

    Looking forward to this.
    Never defeated the end boss though.
    And I never got more than 3 ship types either. I know you can read spoilers how to get those, but I feel that is just not how a game should be played. I would like a more accessible and transparent in-game mechanism to acquire new ship types.

  10. Rizlar says:

    AAaaaah! Sacrifice my fleshy casing on the altar of Giant Alien Spiders to speed this thing up already!

  11. DodgyG33za says:

    While it can be very frustrating, the fact that you have to make do with what you are offered in the shops forces the player to try different strategies.

    With a greater number of things on sale, it might make it more frustrating, or might just force the player to use the new stuff. It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

  12. Mirqy says:

    And for anyone who likes the soundtrack, Ben Prunty has a new album on bandcamp called Curious Merchandise.

  13. NathaI3 says:

    Loved FTL up until the final boss battle. I could have a massively tooled up ship capable of beating any normal ship and still get nowhere near beating it. I’ve made it to the second stage maybe twice. It irritates me when you have to use a specific set of tactics completely different to the rest of the game to beat the boss. I’ve read up on it a little and it seems that’s the case here. Certain builds that work really well against standard ships just do not work against that boss.

    • Cinek says:

      Everything this guy said.

      FTL got the same problem that Deus Ex: HR got. Brilliant game, but horribly shitty boss fights.

    • Rizlar says:

      Drones. Drones and lots of guns.

      I like the boss fight.

    • teije says:

      Yeah, my problem exactly. Well, once more into the masochism breach when the expansion arrives. Looking forward to getting my ass kicked.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Funnily enough, I usually find the Rebel Riggers in the final sector more of a challenge than the boss itself (or, gods forbid, sometimes it generates high-level auto drones). The boss has some massive, massive weakpoints, and even if you avoid a careful boarding strategy for feeling too cheap and exploity, you can usually cripple its ability to hurt you if you can take down things with level 4 shields (which includes the other ships you’ll have been encountering by then).

      • Themadcow says:

        Absolutely, I’d take the boss ship over a 4 shield drone with half decent weapons any day (although thats partly down to my play style – I’m a boarding / laser weaponry fan more than missiles and drones). Once you’ve beaten the boss ship a couple of times it becomes pretty easy, even on normal mode. Obviously there are a few strategies to beating the boss, and the game really is about surviving while gearing towards those strategies.

        On that note, what would make the game REALLY interesting is if there were 3 or 4 different end bosses so that you didn’t have the competitive advantage of foresight every time. You’d have to go into the first phase ‘blind’ to the boss type and then change your loadout for phases 2 and 3.

        • Rizlar says:

          Hm, I always forget that there is an ‘easy’ mode. The boss is a test of how well you have built up your ship throughout the rest of the game, so I imagine it’s easier to beat if you have already been through the trial by fire of normal mode. Even if the boss is easier in easy mode, could be that players who haven’t gone through normal mode still aren’t quite as prepared for it.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I agree, my reaction on getting into a fight with a rebel in the last sector is to run away as quickly as possible.

  14. DrScuttles says:

    Clones freak me out. Like those Tleilaxu Masters. Serial clones provide a kind of functional immortality, but you still die over and over. Your conscious mind facing that unknown abyss time and time again. And what if you get cloned twice in one generation due to a clerical error? They’re both you but neither are you because you, the first you, died years ago. It’s not you. It’s clone-you. It’s a faaaaake.
    That episode of DS9, with the four-hours-into-the-future O’Brien and the radiation. That upset me, too. While not strictly clones, it’s a similar quandary.
    But then I may be thinking too much about what’s an optional mechanic in an eagerly-awaited expansion for that game we like.

    • Dezmiatu says:

      Imagine if the cloning was like the Tleilaxu, and all your female crew was lost because they’d become your cloning tanks. It’d make the Federation so much more creepier, or at least highlight how desperate your bid to stop the Rebels is.

  15. Mittens89 says:

    I’ve owned FTL since 2012, and I still cant beat it. I’ve recently started playing it again, hopefully I can beat it before the new expansion comes out. Stupid beam drones! Everytime.

    • Themadcow says:

      If you’re having problems with drones then there are usually 3 solutions. Either:

      - Have some sort of disabling device (Ion Cannon 2 is ideal due to recharge time). Boarders can work well to disable but not if the enemy ship has a functioning med-bay.

      - Bombs or missiles. Fire bombs are my preference in this respect.

      - If you’re tooled out with energy weapons, make sure you’re ‘synching’ their discharge by taking the one due to fire first and deselecting a target, then re-select that target as the slower weapon fires so that one takes out the shields and the other hits the system. Having two different speed weapons can be useless if the enemy ship shields regen before the 2nd volley.

      Oh, and avoid buying beam weapons generally. They can be great but require by far the greatest micromanagement in terms of needing to time their attacks so that their effect isn’t wasted on shields.

      Generally speaking I try to take down drone systems as my number 1 target if they’re powering an offensive drone unit such as a beam or anti-ship drone. That might require taking shields down first, but it depends on your weapon load-out.

      • Themadcow says:

        That said, there is no anti-system or loadout tactic in the game that beats having 2 or more Burst II’s as your primary weapon systems. One run I managed to collect 4 x Burst II and pretty much everything in my path was destroyed within 30 seconds.

  16. phuzz says:

    I notice many people complaining how difficult FTL is, you have noticed the ‘Easy’ button right? Use that, and get some insight into different tactics, then tackle Normal once you’re ready.
    I find there’s no point in picking a strategy (eg, “I’m going to use boarding drones”) from the beginning, your best bet is having a bunch of different strategies that you’ve tried before, and then using which ever one the RNG throws at you.
    Picked up a couple of extra crew in the first sector? May I suggest buying a teleporter.
    Got a Halbard Beam as random loot? It would be a shame to waste that eh?
    Pretty much every ship type or weapon has it’s own play style, and any of them can win once you’ve learnt how to play them.
    Some of the achievements might help as well. I noticed there was one for asphyxiating an enemy crew, which was something I’d not tried before. It’s tricky at first, but you get loads more loot from an intact ship.

  17. danlbob says:

    I’d love to see something like a space suit that lets you go into 0 oxygen rooms without taking damage maybe movement/repair speed/attack power are all halved when wearing it but I think it would provide some great opportunities for strategy.

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