A Night With FTL Advanced Edition

By Alec Meer on April 4th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

I’m a broken man today, having been up til nearly 2am playing the freebie ‘Advanced Edition’ expansion for impeccably clever/brutal space survival sim/strategy/RPG FTL: Faster Than Light last night, so I guess it’s safe to say the new features haven’t broken the old spell. I had worried the various new weapons, rooms and encounters would upset FTL’s simultaneously delicate and chaotic balancing act, but in four run-throughs (three failed, once successful #humblebrag) I haven’t felt its famed cruelty ever collapsed into either messy excess or over-complication. In one game, I lost because the enemy kept teleporting over a stream of invading clones. Another I won thanks to an excellent new weapon. All’s fair in love and murderous rebel space fleets.

Thoughts and a video (with commentary, or something approximating it) below.

The nuances and precise roles of the new stuff, especially the new room types, aren’t going to make themselves known until I’ve used them in double figures’ worth of playthroughs, I suspect, but the important thing is that they’ve already got me wanting to do that, to see how they work, to see what a ship hinged around hacking or mind control or clones can do. Until now I thought I’d exhausted FTL, which had consumed no small amount of my life upon initial release, but much as with X-COM’s Enemy Within expansion, yesterday’s obsession has neatly become today’s obsession.

Here’s a video of a my fifth game (just the first system so far), showing a new crew member type and the new cloning and hacking systems. I recorded a narration, but I’m very aware that it’s quite the mumblathon. I’ve only done this once before, but practice makes not quite as shitty, that’s my motto.

(Apologies for volume issues. I’ll get it right next time.)

Might do similar with later systems of the current campaign if there’s any appetite for it, but hopefully it helped demonstrate some of the new stuff.

In my first four campaigns I didn’t really pay any attention to the Cloning system – partly because I hadn’t yet unlocked a ship which had one from the start, and partly because I arrogantly thought I was good enoguh at keeping crew alive that I wouldn’t need it. Having now used it, I find it hard to imagine playing without it.

As you can see in the video, I fell foul of two of FTL’s cruellest tricks – having a crew member eaten by giant alien spiders, and having a crew member murdered by a mad space hobo I beamed aboard my ship in the hope he’d be useful. In FTL vanilla, that would be two of four crew members lost in the first system and as result the survivors would have the life expectancy of a badger in Princess Anne’s horse paddock.

With the cloning chamber, both my spider-eaten and hobo-battered chums immediately sprang back to life. They’d lost a little of their slowly-gained expertise in whichever systems they’d been manning prior to their untimely demise, but I’ll take that hit. Look at them there, alive and keeping engines running and guns firing! That is a game-changer. Of course, installing a cloning bay is expensive – both in terms of cash and power – so it’s not exactly gimme, and the new ship I’m using here has sacrificed a medbay in order to make room for it. In theory that’s OK, as if someone’s killed a replacement just pops right up, but in the late game losing someone who’s maxed out Evasion training, for example, in favour of an identically-faced greenhorn, is really going to sting.

Hacking, meanwhile, seems to exist as much to give people who don’t have the Drone system installed something else to do with all those drone parts they acquire during a run. It send a little robo-lad out to latch onto the outside of an enemy ship, and which becomes periodically able to temporarily disable whichever system it’s attached to. Combed with an Ion Cannon, as it was here, I could disable two enemy systems at once while spitting death lasers at a third. I’m sure I’ll get my comeuppance in a later system, but it’s a rare feeling of power in a game which loves to put its players on a back foot.

It won’t last.

It really won’t last.

But it’s a neat little remix, one of several, and by God it’s brought me back to FTL. Danger, Will Robinson. Extreme danger.

FTL: Faster Than Light – Advanced Edition is out now.The update is free to existing owners.

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36 Comments »

  1. nebnebben says:

    Yes, this expansion is truly excellent, and free no less! Though I don’t no how long the new content will last before I got bored and wander off…

    • Tiberius says:

      FTL is that game that is hard to marathon, but is always fun to come back to when I’m in a slump.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I marathoned and burned out on it. But am looking to give it a little play now. :P

  2. Grisamentum says:

    Why no Autofire against that first ship, Alec?

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Autofire is for noobs.
      Manual is for noobs.
      We are all noobs.

  3. Skiddywinks says:

    Forgot I had updated to this so started playing late last night. Half six in the morning and I decided bed might be a good idea, only after dying to the last phase of the boss. I’m thinking stealth is still almost necessary.

    Haven’t tried many of the new weapons but gave the new ship a whirl. Clonebay is nice but I prefer medbay since I usually go teleporter and get some mantis or rock invaders. Losing the experience on them makes a huge difference. I got so used to being careful with them that I only miss not having a clonebay when I make a poor decision on an event. But even then if you don’t have it powered when warping in to a system, you still lose a guy since you don’t have a chance to turn it on before having to make a choice.

    Hacking drones are useful but I’m still undecided if the system space is better spent on something else.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      As a fellow boarding-enthusiast I can honestly say that in my experience, the hacking system is well, well worth the space it takes up. The disruption ability is nice, but it’s having a free, permanent(!) lockdown effect on a room of your choice that really sells it for me. Made my first try against the new final boss relatively easy, and that was without stealth, btw.

    • mdaborn says:

      There is an augment for the teleporter that completely heals the units when they are teleported meaning that there isn’t much need for the medic bay and if you’re crew dies, they can easily be revived. Can’t remember what the augment is called but it’s extrememly useful with a cloning bay, a four-man teleporter and 4 mantises.

      • Jorgamoundr says:

        If you’re a boarder the hacking system is one of the best choices if you use it right, easily. If you use it on a room with a system you want to take out, for example, your boarders will have some alone time with the system if they get lucky, which has helped me in a lot of cases in taking out weapons on ships.

        But the main thing I’ve found it useful for is stopping enemy crewmembers getting to the medbay. The doors locked on them, they have to attack it to get out, so you can usually kill them before they get out of the room to head to the medbay. Very helpful. Not to mention the whole time this is going on you can power down whatever system you’ve latched on to (I usually go for weapons, which lets me get through battles without them even getting a shot off sometimes, but it’s been very useful in delaying FTL drives to give another example)

    • PieLord9001 says:

      The hacking drone is great for boarding because in addition to being able to lock down a room of your choice, it can be used on the enemy med bay for massive gain. While actively hacking it damages the enemies in the med-bay for a total of 125 damage if they stay in for the full duration of the max level hack. This makes boarding any enemy with a med-bay much easier and killing every enemy in the final boss is almost possible with only a 2 mantis boarding party.

  4. Syra says:

    It’s so hard it makes me cry now.

    Getting used to the clone system (it’s like the enemy will only finish off any of my dudes the second after it blows that up) and having to micro more with hacking and mind control is super confusing :/

  5. Tiberius says:

    The new systems are fantastic, adding a lot more ways to get a risky comeback.

    However, the two additions that really sell it for me are the new weapons and ship unlocks. There is a TON more variance in weapons, so no longer do you get screwed by simply being unlucky enough to only ever see crap weapons in shops along the way. They aren’t overpowered, but they do give you new tactics to use, making it rarer that you run into a ship configuration you are completely unable to defeat if you are good at thinking quickly.

    The last bit are new random occurrences and multiple different ways to unlock the extra ships, if you haven’t done so already. There’s no where as much RNG bullcrap preventing those who put time and effort into the game.

  6. iucounu says:

    I’ve been loving Mind Control. The first thing that happens when someone attacks me now is their Shields guy goes nuts and starts a fight involving most of their crew, which is then swiftly followed up by a couple of missiles to that room. (It didn’t seem to help much with the final boss, though. I hadn’t bought a teleporter.)

    • darkChozo says:

      Mind Control + Fire Bombs is a pretty potent combination, even against the final boss. I assume MC + any sort of breach would work pretty well too.

      • Koozer says:

        Oooh maybe throw in a hack drone to lock down the doors?

        • darkChozo says:

          One better, add in the augmentation that causes the hack drone to stun any crew in the room it’s hacking.

          I may have won the game with that exact setup.

    • iucounu says:

      I guess the problem and the brilliance with/of the AE is that now there are loads more recipes. FTL is so clever; you always have a plan, and it never survives first contact with the enemy, or with the first shop. By the time you hit sector 2, you’re already committing yourself to some new weird hybrid plan. Now there are, like, ten extra weird hybrid plans possible. Decision-making is even more agonising.

      (FTL is the best version of Star Trek: Voyager ever, isn’t it? Way better than the TV series.)

  7. darkChozo says:

    I think my favorite new addition is the flak cannons. They’re basically AOE burst lasers — target a room and a bunch of wads of space junk hit the general area — with OP sounding damage/power ratios (the Flak-2 does fires 7 shots for just 3 power). I’m not convinced they’re actually good, per se (they have lots of issues actually hitting two-block rooms), but boy are they fun.

    • Imaginary Llamas says:

      I’m finding the flak cannons to be excellent attrition weapons – a couple are almost guaranteed to disable 4 shields when fired together, and usually do a little damage. It remains important to have some other higher damage weapon to take advantage of the shields being down though.

      • uh20 says:

        I smashed through a medium game with two flak cannons and two lasers. Its a super brutal combo since you can get the lasers to cut through everything by simply timing them after the cannons hit out all the shield between recharges.

      • mdaborn says:

        If you add weapon preigniter to those flak cannons they are very deadly too.

    • Tiberius says:

      My first new run-through I used a chain laser with two Mk 1 Flak Cannons to down the final boss. While they are not too great for pinpoint accuracy, they simply excel at breaking shields, which the game itself describes as their true purpose (leaving a fully charged chain laser to decimate the depleted generator).

      For those not yet playing, flak cannons are still room targeted, but instead of a precise crosshair there is a red circle which the shrapnel can hit anywhere in. This means if a big room (2×2) is targeted it has a big chance that if there is a hit it will be in that room. If a small room (2×1) is targeted, the circle will stretch more into neighboring rooms, so if there is a hit, it might accidentally be in a room next to it. For tightly clumped rooms all with their own systems, this is great. If it’s skinny room on the edge or wing of a ship, then there’s a decent chance that even if you don’t dodge the flak, some of the shrapnel could miss the hull anyways.

      • darkChozo says:

        My first advanced playthrough ended with me selling everything in sector 7 for a flak-1/flak-2/weapon preigniter combo. It was a glorious death.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Slight spoiler ahead if you guys haven’t unlocked it yet
          the new Type-C Federation cruiser swaps out its artillery beam for artillery FLAK, plus a teleporter and a clone bay, but no conventional weapons. I’m definitely looking forward to giving that one a try – lends itself well to a battle of attrition using rookie clones, which I could absolutely enjoy attempting.

    • geldonyetich says:

      My favorite new weapon is the big gatling laser.

      At 4 energy investment, it’s as beefy as lasers come but, after a short spin-up period, it unloads enough raw firepower that a four-shield ship can just barely keep it in check. Combine it with some other method of damage, and even the end boss’s defeat is an inevitability as long as you can keep that laser powered and running.

      (Of course, if you’re up against an enemy with a gatling laser, you’d better take it down before it spins up completely, or you’re in for a world of hurt.)

  8. Koozer says:

    My new hobby: start with the new ship with cloning bay, open all the doors including the external ones. Proceed to watch the none-spikydude crew members man a station for a while while holding their breath, choke to death, respawn and repeat.

  9. derbefrier says:

    its a neat little game. I never played it a whole lot. I think i got to the last boss once and died. I wanted to try out new ships but since they are locked behind achievements(ewww) I just moved on. I guess i could look for a mod or something that unlocks everything if i ever got the urge to play it again. Its just not something i see myself putting a lot of hours in, just something i dick around with from time to time.

    • darkChozo says:

      The Advanced Edition made it so you can unlock all but one of the base ships by just completing the game with another ship (ie. beat the game with the Rock cruiser to unlock the Mantis cruiser), as opposed to completing the random obscure luck-based quests. You still need to do achievements to unlock ship variants, though.

      • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

        The C variants of the ships are all unlocked by simply reaching the last sector, I believe.

        • darkChozo says:

          You need to do so with the type B varients, which means you still need to do achievements. Still better than, say, having to complete all three achievements or something.

  10. phroderick says:

    mumble, mumble, mumble.

  11. Blader54321 says:

    The last run of mine was won in a very magnificent way. In Sector 5 I find a shop with something of great value : a Vulcan and then I manage to find another Vulcan off some ruined base being consumed by Lanius. So, by the end of Sector 5, I could demolish anything and everything in such a short time with a very rare expense on my ship. I do agree that this expansion may have introduced some Over-Powered weaponry, but the chances of a perfect combination is ridiculously slim.
    P.S. : I’ve gone through about 30-40 games before finding this

  12. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I just splashed out on the game, hadn’t played before. Brings back the simple fun of my C64 gaming days. Especially reminds me of upgrading my car and traps etc in Ghostbusters. Very jolly.

    PEW

  13. freedomispopular says:

    Is it just me, or did it get a LOT easier? Playing on easy in the standard game, in my first 50 playthroughs I probably made it to the boss 5 times at the most, only beating it once. Now in my first two playthroughs playing on easy on Advanced, I’ve already lost against the boss both times (the second one I had one hull bar left to go!) with a full crew and fully upgraded ship. I always played on easy because even that was brutal enough, but looks like might have to bump it a bit.

    • Ditocoaf says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they made easy slightly easier, since they added in a “hard” mode. A lot of people felt like Easy wasn’t easy enough.

      Personally I’ve only ever used Normal, which I feel is the perfect difficulty. I might try out Hard once or twice, but Normal has just the right balance for me to feel like my occasional victories are against-all-odds.