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FTL: Advanced Edition (PC) artwork

FTL: Advanced Edition (PC) review

"To boldly die where every man has died before."

I honestly felt like I was getting somewhere. What started as a half hour time killer messing around with FTL suddenly became a multi hour epic. I managed to outfit my ship with hard-hitting weaponry early in the adventure, dialled up an impressive list of junk and had my ship upgraded way above the curve. I owned an attack drone, but barely had to break it out; I used battles that I would have struggled with in previous attempts as cheeky ways to train my crewís piloting and engineering skills. I took on everyone and everything with swagger; scything through sectors and lingering just ahead of the pursuing fleet of intergalactic rebels. I was confident; hell - I was cocky, spending scrap on ship upgrades I didnít really need. My shields had four- count them Ė four layers. I bought a backup battery I had exactly no need for just because I could. I attended every distress call hoping they were traps so I could blow up the sneaky bastards hoping to ambush me. Everything was sunshine and kittens, all right, and there was nothing that was going to stop me. And then the Lanuis stopped me.

Less than a year ago, the stupid Lanius werenít even a thing. Theyíre part of the Advanced Addition update that crammed FTL full of new options, like fresh instances, differing weapon sets and the stupid, stupid Lanius. I didnít even need to attack the bastards; when I warped to their location, I had the option to slope off to another system Ė but, no. I had to be Bertie Big Bollocks. I shot first. A few minutes later, I was screwed.

It didnít help that they were armed with missiles that ignored my mega-shield and damaged my ship directly. It helped less that they had a teleporter that deposited two of the hulking lugs aboard my ship to sabotage it from the inside. Especially since my craft was mostly manned by fragile sentient robots who rocked at repairs and tech, but had been seemly constructed with tissue paper. I had an anti-intruder drone which had been enough to see off most boarding parties, but he was effortlessly dispatched in an opening melee. So the Lanius casually strolled around the ship, blasting the engine and the oxygen generator out of spite while my crew took turns almost dying then running to the med bay to heal up while some other poor sap got pummelled. Did I mention they had a mind control device? Oh. They also had a mind control device so, more often than not, a member of my crew was helping them kick the crap out of my craft from the inside or shooting their friends in the face.

I won the battle, but at what cost? My ship was floating debris and my once four-strong crew had been brutally slaughtered down to one. There were holes in my hull, which was a bright side in that they were putting out all the fires, at least. With only one more sector between me and the eighth and final stage, I knew all my work had been undone and that continuing would be futile. But I did anyway; I took another jump into unknown space, warped directly in front of a sodding sun, and shortly after exploded.

FTL exists only to screw you over. Itís a sci-fi rogue-like that has you running from a massive fleet of people who want to kill you through sectors of space filled with people who want to kill you. The mission statement couldnít be simpler; deliver a message to the remnants of you fleet eight systems over, but explore as much of the galaxy as you can for supposed glory. Exploring means finding the means to upgrade your ship or add to your crew. You might come across a slaver craft who will give you a prisoner in exchange for letting them live, or a space station willing to give you new experimental weapons if you protect them from meteors. Or you might dock somewhere and find everyone on board has long gone mad and you lose a crewman to cannibals. Or find that giant spiders have infected the base and are in the middle of slaughtering everyone. Or a bloody Lanius bomber lurking in a nebula.

Mostly though youíll be on a resource scrounge. Canít get far without fuel; canít launch missiles without stock or deploy droids without the right parts. Youíll be able to scrounge these up by destroying or capturing enemy ships, along with scrap which serves as a cover-all currency. You can use it to buy the bits you need at stores, as well as ship perks, new crew-mates and hull repairs or you can use it to upgrade your craft. Your ship is divided into sub sections that all need to draw power from your generator which is limited in output forcing you to decide on the fly what should take priority. You need hardy shields to soak up damage, but working on the engines will help you avoid incoming attacks. Want more than one weapon on the go? Thatís a costly amount of power and upgrades youíll probably going to be needing. Oxygen generators can be buffed, cameras can eventually peek in on enemy interiors. You can bolster these further by having them manned by a crewmember. Doesnít matter; youíll still probably die.

Still hurting from my previous losses, a more aggressive playthough brought me a rapid fire succession of messy deaths before I found my groove and seemed to be on a better path than before. I filed my crew quota up quickly, employing sturdier races that would last more than a few seconds against pesky intruders. A few systems in, I found a fire beam literally floating in space and coupled it to my ship and spent the rest of the game giggling like a madman as I overwhelmed shields and trapped enemy crews between burning rooms. Some I roasted inside their own ship; sometimes, I just made a wall of flame around a broken O2 generator and watched them slowly suffocate whilst I cackled and gloated. Oh, I found me some Lanius; they donít need O2 to survive and their ships can open to the vacuum of space. The flames werenít as effective as they had been elsewhere, but they still burn like anyone else. And they did. And all was well.

Then I reached the final sector of space, was set upon by the Rebelís flagship and was quickly destroyed. They hacked my mind control system and turned my rockman into a rampaging psycho. They bypassed my shields with missiles and multiple laser banks. If it looked like I was about to gain the upper hand, they cloaked and escaped my weapons lock. Without a target to lock on to, without the chance to overwhelm their shields, the fire could do nothing. I was destroyed. I was beaten.

Iíve lost count of how many times Iíve been destroyed in my quest to find conclusion in FTL. The pirate ambushes, the solar flares, the meteor storms, the alien viruses, running out of resources, running out of systems to hide in, running out of air -- thereís always immeasurable odds stacked against you, but you always feel like if you did a few things a little differently or if your luck had held just a little bit more, youíd have made it to the finishing line. Youíre kidding yourself - FTL exists only to screw you over. But I just canít quit it.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 04, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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zippdementia posted January 04, 2015:

God I love FTL! I haven't been playing much recently, but I never did get tired of it, just got busy with DND5.
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EmP posted January 05, 2015:

I often park FTL for months to go away and play other stuff, but I can always just drop right back in, pick up where I left off, and get killed in new and interesting ways.
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Germ posted January 05, 2015:

After a very long struggle I'm finally in a place where I can beat FTL fairly consistently with most ships.
On easy.
With advanced content disabled.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted January 05, 2015:

I've unlocked a single ship and I think I got as far as the sixth system. I still love the game.
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WilltheGreat posted January 06, 2015:

Regarding the review,

It's a little on the long side, which wouldn't be an issue if the text weren't so dense. That said you crammed a ton of information into an amusing narrative, so my difficulty in chugging along could be chalked up to my already knowing everything about the game. On the whole thumbs up.

Also Vulcan Laser is OP, and every one of you should play the Captain's Edition mod.
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EmP posted January 09, 2015:

You have one tactic and it's Vulcan Laser. When they nerf it, you'll be so boned.

I guess I have so many stories of FTL screwing me over, it's hard not to try and cram them all in. It was longer -- I had an entire paragraph bitching about the stupid jumps that drop you into the path of a stupid sun, but power-edited it down to a sentence. I've got a link to the Captain's mod handy, but don;t plan to do it until I've gotten a few more wins on AE.

Thanks, all, for reading.
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Nightfire posted July 12, 2017:

I actually didn't like the AE. I thought most of what they added was unnecessary at best or downright annoying at worst. It was certainly harder than the standard edition, no doubt about that, but not in any way that was more interesting or fun. All it really did was add a million more ways for things to go wrong - and since your ships did not have larger capacities for gear than they have in the standard edition, there was no way to effectively plan, counter, or prepare for any of it. Ultimately the RNG was emboldened, whereas tactics and skill were far less important. Slot Machine: Advanced Edition was my impression of it. It didn't matter how well you played, because, as you described, you could be trundling along and doing really well, then suddenly find yourself up against a weapons you have no defense against, which succinctly wipes out your crew and most of your systems.

The standard edition felt more balanced to me in this regard. Granted, the RNG was always lurking like a voracious predator, but it had a few less teeth in its sinister maw. Making good decisions actually mattered, whereas in the AE it seemed like the only route to success was if you got really, really lucky.

Great review, though. Reading it makes me want to re-install it and play it again, though I'll probably stick to the standard edition if I do.
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EmP posted July 14, 2017:

I've not FTL'd in a while now. Skyshine's bedlam took its place for a decent spell of time but I've got the roguelike-that-hates-you itch under control for now. At this point all I can remember about the AE was that I hated the Lanuis and adored the Vulcan Laser. I think at the point it came out, the game needed a shot in the arm of new instances to give those of us dying over and over again something new to look at just before we warped into a sun and exploded.

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