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Review RPG Codex Review: Faster Than Light Beta

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Faster Than Light; Subset Games

Faster Than Light, the space simulation roguelike(-like) focused on the internal workings of the ship (you may remember the interview we did on it), has recently seen the release of a closed beta limited to the game's Kickstarter backers who were generous enough to go for the beta tier. Among them was our very own Ulminati, who has already played the beta extensively and offers his thoughts and impressions in this review. Here's a snip:

Ship-to-ship combat is the heart of the game and to excel at it you have to understand the weapon system. Weapons begins to charge once you divert power to the ship's weapon systems. Once a weapon is charged the player can direct it to fire at a particular part of the enemy ship. The two main categories these weapons fall under are energy weapons and missiles. Missiles bypass enemy shields, and as such are prime tools for taking out shield generators, but consume a finite supply of ammunition. Shields recharge fairly quickly, so it can often be worthwhile to wait until you can fire multiple weapons in a salvo that overwhelms the other ship's defenses. Some weapons excel at damaging multiple rooms, causing hull breaches that vent atmosphere or setting fires that spread and prevents crew from repairing damaged systems. It is also possible to launch offensive and defensive drones that will fight crew, repair your ship, shoot down incoming fire or simply pepper the other ship with festive and colorful bursts of irradiated death! All the while the other ship is trying to do the same to you.

It is during combat that the game really shines. Your systems, crew and abilities are simple when looked at individually. But combat forces you to tweak all of them simultaneously and it is a pleasantly frantic experience at times. Further complicating things there are environmental effects such as nebulae that limit your sensors or asteroids that will bounce off of your ship's hull if your shields aren’t up. You rarely get through a combat without losing some of your resources in the form of hull durability, missiles, drone parts, or crew members. Having piloting and engines crewed gives your ship a percentile chance to evade incoming fire but actual range and maneuvering is abstracted. You get to pick what to shoot at with your weapons, but the game takes care of the aiming. Also, while you can order your crew to board/fight boarders, the actual fighting consists of watching health bars grow smaller and sending people off to the med-bay if they get close to dying. The focus is mainly on managing the interior of your ship and making sure it doesn’t fall apart before the other ship does. Doing well in FTL is often an exercise in damage control and making sure the payoff from a fight exceeds the repair bill you are footing at the other end. Sometimes your best option is to divert power to shields and send your crew scurrying to perform damage control until your FTL drive spools up and you can jump away. The randomly generated nature of sectors also means that an unlucky series of jump events can see your ship rapidly spiraling into a catastrophic state where you are barely holding together as you limp on, desperately praying for a friendly trader at the next FTL beacon.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Faster Than Light Beta

Thanks to Zed and Jaesun for their feedback, and to Sovard for his help with editing the article!
 

Mrowak

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Great, informative Review/Preview. I will definitelly purchase the game when it gets released. :salute:
 

SerratedBiz

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Further complicating things there are environmental effects such as nebulae that limit your sensors or asteroids that will bounce off of your ship's hull if your shields aren’t up.

Are there other environmental effects other than these two? 'cuz I was reading the LP and he went on through like two whole sectors without dying and these are the only ones I remember seeing.
 
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Ulminati

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Further complicating things there are environmental effects such as nebulae that limit your sensors or asteroids that will bounce off of your ship's hull if your shields aren’t up.

Are there other environmental effects other than these two? 'cuz I was reading the LP and he went on through like two whole sectors without dying and these are the only ones I remember seeing.
I've run into plasma storms in nebula systems which halve the output of your generator (a real bitch). There's also systems close to suns where there'll be periodical solar flares which set fire to your ship if your shields are down when they arrive. There may be others we well, but these are the ones I remember.
 

thesheeep

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Forced ironman is nice, but no save & quit? That's a no-go for me.
Ionman and no loading of previous state already is the hardest possible way to play a game. Not even being allowed to save & quit does not add to difficulty. It adds to a game being unplayable in most situations (when you don't have many hours available). You have to be able to quit a game and continue later at (almost) any time.

I wouldn't even be able to play the game during leisure-time, except weekends, maybe. Definitely won't buy if they keep it like that.
 

PorkaMorka

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Forced ironman is nice, but no save & quit? That's a no-go for me.
Ionman and no loading of previous state already is the hardest possible way to play a game. Not even being allowed to save & quit does not add to difficulty. It adds to a game being unplayable in most situations (when you don't have many hours available). You have to be able to quit a game and continue later at (almost) any time.

I wouldn't even be able to play the game during leisure-time, except weekends, maybe. Definitely won't buy if they keep it like that.

Yes. I like perma death and no save/load.

But I require the ability to suspend in progress game and come back to it later. (When I return to the game, the save can be deleted.) Otherwise I'll constantly be in a position where I am unwilling to start playing because I might get interrupted mid game.

Will not buy.
 
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Ulminati

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Forced ironman is nice, but no save & quit? That's a no-go for me.
Ionman and no loading of previous state already is the hardest possible way to play a game. Not even being allowed to save & quit does not add to difficulty. It adds to a game being unplayable in most situations (when you don't have many hours available). You have to be able to quit a game and continue later at (almost) any time.

I wouldn't even be able to play the game during leisure-time, except weekends, maybe. Definitely won't buy if they keep it like that.

Yes. I like perma death and no save/load.

But I require the ability to suspend in progress game and come back to it later. (When I return to the game, the save can be deleted.) Otherwise I'll constantly be in a position where I am unwilling to start playing because I might get interrupted mid game.

Will not buy.

Keep in mind that reaching the last system will take 2-3 hours tops. And you're likely to die horribly well before then. The average session length is quite managable. That said, lots of people are clamoring for save&quit+resume functionality. So it might get implemented.
 

Metro

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Keep in mind that reaching the last system will take 2-3 hours tops. And you're likely to die horribly well before then. The average session length is quite managable. That said, lots of people are clamoring for save&quit+resume functionality. So it might get implemented.

I don't consider having to continuously play for 2-3 hours in the event you manage to complete the game anywhere near 'manageable.' Something like Binding of Isaac can get away without a save system because even a full run usually takes no more than 45 minutes or so. But, hopefully it is implemented.
 

asper

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Save/quit has been added as of the recent patch, as well as new races, a new sector type, and new events.
 

Metro

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Good to know, thanks for the update. Still not wild about the real-time versus turn based game play but the game is now back on my radar, at least.
 

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