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A Night With FTL Advanced Edition

Space-impressions and a space-video too

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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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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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