Although the game is in no sense new, I recently had the pleasure of being able to play FTL, or Faster Than Light. The game has several interesting elements to it, but my favorite has got to be the story telling aspect.
While not an outright feature of the game, the way that FTL is structured lends itself very well to prolific story building. When selecting a new game, you can choose from a variety of different ships (granted you have unlocked them) and are able to name three crew members. You’re then dropped off in the middle of space with one objective: Deliver the Federation Intel while fleeing from the encroaching Rebellion. You can choose any multitude of paths through space as you make your way to the beacon, jumping from sector to sector on your way to deliver the intel, but other than that main objective, you have freedom. choose your own route, choose how you fight, choose everything pretty much. On more than one occasion I was ambushed by pirates but later given the choice to let them go free and accept their bribe, or take no prisoners and annihilate the pirate scum.
The more you travel within a sector, the more Scrap you are likely to accumulate. Scrap is the currency of FTL and can be obtained through completing Distress missions or by vanquishing opponents. Each time you choose a warp gate to go through there is a random encounter. The encounter may be a refugee ship quietly passing through the sector, or it may be a Rebel ambush. If the encounter is combative, you will be rewarded with any combination of fuel, ammo, and scrap. Occasionally there are warps where there is nothing going on near that particular gate, but these are few and far between, and sometimes welcomed. The Scrap that you obtain can be used to buy weapons, ammo, fuel, repairs, crew members, or additional peripherals for your ship like a cloning bay. Scrap can also be used to purchase upgrades for your ship. Unlike repairs and ammo and the like, upgrades can be purchased directly from your ship. Think of it more as paying your crew to upgrade your current hardware. You can do anything from upgrade your ships reactor, providing more energy to allocate, or upgrade your shields. You can even upgrade the efficiency and efficacy of your O2 scrubbers. These upgrades are fairly cheap to buy and are extremely important; you won’t get very far into the game with level one shields, trust me.
As I mentioned earlier, you have the freedom to choose your own travel path from the start of a sector the exit. It’s imperative to choose your route wisely though because not all points can be jumped to from anywhere and some points have hidden dangers. Each point has a number of connecting points that can be jumped to or from. Some points, and some entire Sectors even, are shrouded by uncharted Nebulae. Within a Nebula, your sensors will not be able to function properly. This means that even with highly upgraded sensors that would usually allow you to see how your enemies are moving within their ships, you will only be able to see within your own ship, and what’s more, you will only be able to see within rooms that are occupied by a crew member. This is extremely hazardous because should you be boarded by an enemy or should a fire break out, it’s nearly impossible to know exactly where without scouring your entire ship. The upside to venturing through Nebulae is that rebel progress will be hindered, making escape that much more easy.
As you begin to make your way through the Sectors you’ll begin to notice that some are green, some are red, and some are purple. What this means is that some are neutral civilian controlled territories, some are hostile territories, and some territories are completely clouded in nebulae. This adds yet another dimension to your adventure as you basically choose how difficult your journey is going to be. Sometimes the choice really is yours, but each time you load up a game the map is randomized. You may end up with a straight line of civilian territory all the way through, or you may need to duck in between sector after sector of hostile territory. This is also a fairly good way to regulate your scrap which in the end dictates how powerful of a ship you have. Along the way you may even pick up an extra crew member or two as well, making the journey that much easier, and that much more fun.
I’ve highlighted pretty much every gameplay element there is in FTL, but one thing I neglected to cover was the main point of this article: the story telling aspect. The story telling aspect comes as a side effect of all of the other elements combined. when all of these things are taken into account and the characters are customized, you end up with this cohesive, personalized story line that is completely up to the control of the player. Will you be Captain Lenny and his crew, cold and calculating, ignoring all distractions and focused solely upon completing your mission? Will you be Commander Thompson, sympathetic starship pilot who aids all in need? Will you seek out evil as you journey, or turn a blind eye, or even procure special items from the black market? Will you buy slaves from the wandering slave ship you encountered? Will you save those scientists aboard the burning station? Anything and everything is possible in FTL’s massive, randomized universe. Hours and hours of the game can be spent simply creating different stories and seeing how each different playthrough will end. Will it end in success? Or will you and your crew crash and burn as a Rock ship cripples your vessel and leaves it to burn in the close proximity of a star and its deadly solar flares? All these things have happened to me and I still haven’t even completed the game. So many more ships remain to be unlocked, so many more scenarios lay waiting for me to uncover.
I’d love to keep telling you about this amazing game, but I’ve got some Intel to deliver. My name is ChristianCoal, thanks for reading everyone!