FTL: Faster Than Light is a "Roguelike-like" spaceship simulation game released by Subset Games.The player controls the crew of a small spaceship affiliated with The Federation, which is currently on the losing end of a massive rebellion. The objective is to deliver important information to the remains of the Federation fleet in a distant sector. Unfortunately, as those familiar with Roguelikes will suspect, this is far, FAR from easy: the galaxy is an extremely dangerous place for a lone vessel, filled with dangers such as pirates, deadly environmental hazards, rebel scouts, hostile alien races, and others. Not to mention that the vast rebel fleet is in hot pursuit...FTL's gameplay involves the player's ship "jumping" between waypoints in a randomly generated galaxy, each of them containing a Random Event. The main game interface is a cross-section view of your ship, showing the layout of rooms filled with crewmen and various ship systems (helm, engines, shields, weapons, etc). During combat, the player must juggle various aspects of the ship — from crew assignments to power allocation and weapons targeting. Certain systems gain bonuses from being manned, but you may need those crew members to repair damaged systems, repel boarders, or simply evacuate dangerous areas. Meanwhile, all ship systems need power to function, but your ship's reactor may not be able to supply them all at once, leaving the player to decide which are most important at any given time. Along the way you'll collect scrap, the game's currency, and use it to upgrade your ship's systems, get repairs, fuel and — if you're lucky — some fancier things like new weaponry or whole new systems such as cloaking devices, teleporters and more.FTL was officially released for purchase from the developers, Steam and GOG.com in September 14th, 2012, although early beta access was granted to its Kickstarter backers. Speaking of Kickstarter, it is one of the first completed games spawned from such a project.February 2013 saw the creation of an online petition to LEGO to make official FTL LEGO sets based on fan designs.Not to be confused with the developer which was best known for its own Roguelike, Dungeon Master and its sequels.
This game contains examples of:
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Averted for equipment of any kind, which always costs the same no matter when it's purchased. This is balanced by the fact that store inventory is somewhat random (systems do have a higher chance of appearing than other selections), especially when it comes to weapons. Played straight with repairs, which go up in cost the further you progress, beginning at two scrap per point at the start and topping out at four in the final sectors.
Adorkable: The Engi lines are really cute. In a way.
Advancing Wall of Doom: The Rebel fleet, which (after three jumps) moves across each sector from left to right, replacing any jump beacon it overlaps with a fight against a powerful rebel ship that gives only 1 or 2 units of fuel when defeated. There is a buffer zone at the head of the wall which has slightly less powerful ships but is otherwise the same, and the wall can be slowed by certain events or jumping through nebulas.
Aerith and Bob: Crew names range from normal names like Alex or Elizabeth to stuff like Luaan Ti and GM Faux. A lot of those names are taken from the game's Kickstarter supporters.
Alien Blood: When Slugs and Mantises die, a pool of green blood can briefly be seen.
Alpha Strike: A common and often necessary tactic for overwhelming the enemy. Assuming that a ship's weapon systems are upgraded so that it can power several weapons simultaneously, carefully timing their shots such that they happen closely together in a tight salvo can knock out shields, overwhelm defense drones, and set the enemy crew dealing with more damage control at once than it can comfortably handle. This is also a necessary tactic to employ beam weapons, which cannot penetrate shielding on their own. The Weapon Pre-igniter ship augment lets you launch one the moment a battle starts, and there's an achievement for using it to blow up an enemy ship with the first volley. Your enemy usually won't do this, but will if they have a cloaking device, since they never fire while it's on.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Sure, each Type B layout comes with enough differences it's practically a completely different ship, but one of those differences is a spiffy new paint job.
Anyone Can Die: Those crew members that you've been with since the start of the game, trained up from skill-less Mooks with no abilities whatsoever into vital parts of your ship, can be killed off at a moment's notice. And the game carries on, expecting you to man up and find a way to deal. There's actually an achievement for not losing a man all the way through.
Armor Piercing Attack: Missiles, bomb teleporters, and boarding drones bypass shields entirely, but to balance it out require using missiles (which double as bombs) or drone parts, which can run out. One of the earliest strategies the game teaches you is to use missiles to knock out the shields on enemy ships, allowing the lasers to finish the job. Defense drones, however, can shoot down missiles and boarding drones, and bombs can only damage systems and crew, not the hull. Zoltan shields will stop all three.
Artificial Stupidity: A necessity in this game; it's Nintendo Hard even with dumb AI. If the AI could do half the stuff a player can, the game would be unplayably hard.
Enemy ships will fire any and all of their weapons as soon as they become available — this usually means that they'll fire out of sync, giving your shields time to recovernote Unless they have a cloak, in which case they'll often wait until it drops before hitting you with an Alpha Strike.
Enemy ships will also fire weapons that will almost certainly have no effect, like firing ion weapons at empty rooms, or shooting missiles at a defense drone until they run of of missiles. In combination with certain enemy loadouts, this can result in a ship which is literally incapable of hurting you, yet will try to kill you anyway. If you never shoot back, this becomes an experience fountain for your crew to use to their heart's content.
Enemy ships pick targets at random, instead of strategically targeting systems.
Enemy crew members follow a specific pattern when dealing with threats, which makes manipulating their behavior incredibly simple.
They will prioritize the protection of shields and weapons, occasionally even forsaking defending other systems to repair them (this depends on if the system is damaged or not). The former system is the absolute highest priority, allowing you to draw them away from other systems by running into the room.
They won't cease attacking an airlock once they've begun attacking it (at level 2 or higher), even if another door is opened in the same room.
They will immediately retreat from any airless room. While sensible, this makes it trivially easy to herd a boarding part into your medbay, where they are guaranteed to lose.
They only retreat from your ship at low health, even when faced with a battle they can't possibly win.
Asteroid Miners: You can do this is certain events with the Scrap Recovery Arm. You can also find sites left behind by other miners, some of which may be crawling with evil alien spiders.
Asteroid Thicket: Some jump beacons lead to them. Your ship is pelted with rocks, taking out one layer of shielding with each hit and causing damage if they hit the hull. Thankfully, they don't come fast enough to beat more than one layer of shielding, and rarely even that, but it does make fighting enemies more difficult. This damage also applies to the enemy vessel, making any fight very easy if you can take out their shields. Early on, it's possible to destroy certain ships without firing a shot! Alternatively, sometimes you can get resources by escorting damaged vessels out of them or salvaging supplies left by Asteroid Miners.
Attack Drone: Can be used once you have the Drone Control ship system. Comes in either laser or beam varieties. Other drones can defend against incoming fire, repair damaged systems, repel boarders, or be sent over to board the enemy.
The Mk. II Defense Drone fires faster and can shoot down any kind of incoming fire (save bombs), not just missiles and boarding drones like the Mk. I. However, like all drones, it's computer-controlled and has no threat priority system, meaning it will often prioritize a closer, weak laser over the more dangerous missile that will go right through your shielding. It also requires four bars of power to operate, compared to two for the more reliable Mk. I. It's good, just not as good in practice as it is on paper.
Any weapon that costs four bars of reactor power to use, and even some that cost three. They are very easy to disable, since they're power hogs, and often have prohibitively long charge times. A series of weaker, less power-intensive weapons can often do more overall damage.
By extension of the above, the Type B Stealth Cruiser (DA-SR12) is this. A sleek, shiny vessel, it sacrifices engine power, the Titanium Systems Casing augmentation, and the weak but efficient combo of a Mini Beam and Dual Lasers for a Glaive Beam, which, while devastating, takes a full 25 seconds to charge and will outlast the 10-second cloak even if you time it perfectly. Put simply, you're going to take a lot of damage until you can get some shields.
The Federation Cruiser's Artillery Beam. If you can scrounge enough scrap and power, you can reduce the charge time to a very reasonable 20 or 30 seconds. It's especially devastating against the Flagship.
Firebomb-augmented Rockmen boarding crews, as sported by the Rock Cruiser Type B (Shivan). The firebomb can bypass (non-Zoltan) shields and defense drones, setting the targeted room on fire, which is no concern to the fireproof Rocks (just make sure the fire doesn't destroy the ship). The fire and combat damage will send the enemy crew running, while you just march through the flames like the Terminator. Since they can't put the fire out, it will consume the entire ship eventually, unless the doors are upgraded. This is especially useful on medbay-equipped enemy ships, since the fire and the Rockmen will disable it in short order.
Beam Spam: Several weapons fire multiple shots. At the extreme, if you're lucky, you can have a ship that can fire 12 lasers at once, easily overwhelming just about everything. The Final Boss has a triple-barreled heavy laser cannon and a triple-barreled ion cannon, but will lose the second after its first loss. In the second phase, its Power Surge ability launches numerous anti-ship drones that will tear through your shields in seconds, on top of the drones it has already and its heavy lasers. In the final phase of the battle, its Power Surge move launches a barrage of heavy lasers at you, which is practically frivolous in comparison to the previous phase.
Beehive Barrier: Shields are these. The beehive gets more pronounced with additional layers.
Some weapons, like the Glaive Beam, are several times the size of their more basic counterparts, with damage output to match. The final boss has no less than fourBFGs: triple-barreled missile, ion and laser weapons, along with a Halberd beam.
There's also the Artillery Beam system on the Federation Cruiser. In exchange for never being able to use a cloaking device (without cheating) and having no target control over the weapon, you get a beam that can pierce all shields except Zoltan shields, and dish out serious damage as a result.
Bizarre Alien Biology: A Random Event mentions that Rocks have no internal organs, but they're still vulnerable to asphyxiation like any other race. That said, their 150% HP will allow them to survive longer, which is useful for boarding airless automated enemy ships. Crystal aliens, on the other hand, actually are resistant to suffocation, though not immune.
Boarding Party: Some events will result in the player's ship being boarded. Both players and enemies can send in boarding parties if they have the Crew Teleporter ship system. Mantis ships in general are designed around this, since they get bonuses in hand-to-hand combat.
An upgraded door system may seem unnecessary, but it can mean the difference between life and death. Upgraded doors block fires from spreading and force boarders to breach the doors first. This allows you to starve either of air or rally your crew to handle the problem.
Upgrades to the oxygen and piloting systems don't significantly impact their function; however, merely having an extra bar (even if you don't power it) can allow them to sustain an extra point of damage before going offline, which can be crucial when a battle starts going south. A fully upgraded (and powered) oxygen system can also outpace the oxygen drain of a hull breach, which is useful for dealing with boarding drones.
The Burst Laser series. A gun that fires 2, 3, or 5 single damage shots may not sound exciting compared to the bigger guns and missiles, but it doesn't need ammo and chews through shields better than anything short of a missile aimed at the shield generator. The Burst II model is especially practical, using the same amount of power to fire three lasers instead of two.
The best way to level your crew is to find or create a battle where the enemy's weapons cannot penetrate your shields and leave the game running for by itself for some time while you go and do other things and your crew gets some no risk training.
The Kestrel's starting missile launcher will be a mainstay in your arsenal, even as you get lasers that chop through hulls and bombs of radiation.
The Ion Bomb is this. It does nothing more than disable an enemy system, expending a missile to do so. However, as a consequence, it does its task with such reliability (bypassing shields and defense drones) and at such relatively low cost in terms of ship power that as long as you can feed it, it can serve even better than an Ion energy weapon.
Boarding Drones against AI-run Auto-Scouts, for ships that don't start with any real weapons, like the Mantis Cruiser Type B. They will slowly but surely kill every system on the ship, doing one point of damage every time they take the system down, until the ship itself blows up after losing its last hull point. This doesn't work on the scout's larger Auto-Assault cousins though, which are compartmentalized and thus prevent boarding drones from being able to move around within them.
Break Out The Museum Piece: The default Kestrel was decommissioned already prior to the game start and had to be pulled out of mothballs.
Clipped Wing Angel: The third form of the Rebel Flagship; while it can take a lot of punishment, it's a far cry from the murderous second form. With good evasion and a well-aimed shot at the missile launcher, it will be practically incapable of hurting you.
Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each race has a distinct colour scheme for their ships. Even pirates, who use any race's ships but with a crude, distinct purple paint job.
Weapons that can fire multiple shots will only target one room. The computer can target multiple rooms with the same weapons. This can potentially allow them to damage or destroy several systems at once. This is especially bad with the final boss.
While rare, it's possible for enemy ships to have five layers of shielding. Player ships (and the final boss) max out at four.
Certain events begin with your ship being boarded, in addition to entering combat with another ship... which can then board you. The former can even breach Zoltan Shields, which are supposed to block teleporters while active. The game will lampshade this.
The final boss outright ignores most of the game's rules, though oddly does play by the four-shield limit. In addition to a standard Halberd beam, it has a triple-barreled heavy laser, a triple-barreled ion cannon, and a triple-barreled missile launcher, none of which you can ever buy. Each also has its own dedicated control system and crewmember to repair it (though they are mercifully isolated from the main ship area). Killing the crew causes an AI to take over, like that of a drone, giving it unstoppable repair ability. It is immune to Level 3 sensors, which isn't that important but does prevent you from judging just how much punishment a system can take or how efficient it is. It can field four drones (boarding, defense, anti-ship, and beam), not only exceeding the maximum of three only certain ships have but also requiring more power than your drone system could ever use. It can jump even if its engines are offline, since it's a three-part battle and it needs to retreat each time. It has an ability called Power Surge which allows it to either launch a ridiculous number of drones or fire a massive laser barrage (in the second and third phases, respectively), which recharges. Finally, it's the only non-Zoltan ship with a Zoltan Shield (which is several times stronger than normal), and is the only ship able to recharge its Zoltan Shield in combat (an alternative to the laser barrage Power Surge previously mentioned). Exactly how advanced ARE the Rebels?
Computers Are Fast: Specifically when it comes to cloaking and drones. A cloak-equipped computer ship can activate it the instant a battle starts, preventing you from getting a shot off even with a Weapon Pre-Igniter or beaming any crew over. It can also respawn drones the instant you destroy them, so fast in fact that there is no visible interruption in service in some cases.
Continuous Decompression: Averted, insofar as a difference in air pressure will eventually even out. A hull breach or open exterior airlock will drain the air from a room (quickly in the former case and almost instantly in the later) and then air in adjacent rooms (if their bulkhead doors are open) will start to flow into the vacant room. Unless the decompression is contained with bulkheads, eventually all connected rooms will be drained. An entire ship with open bulkheads will drain in seconds. If the ship's life support system is functional and there is no further drain, the air pressure will slowly return to normal.
Cosmetic Award: While most achievements do nothing, each ship has a set of unique achievements that allow you to unlock a new layout.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Cosmetic?: The alternate layouts often feature new weapon loadouts, crew rosters, and different systems. For example, the Kestrel Type B has four crew, two of which are non-human, compared to the three humans of the base layout.
Cowardly Boss: Justified. The Rebel Flagship is attempting to complete a mission that doesn't involve the player's destruction.
The Type B Stealth Ship can One-Hit Kill most enemies in the early sectors thanks to its Glaive Beam. That is, if you can keep the beam online for its 25-second charge time (enough time for many other weapons to fire at least twice) with low-level engines and no shields, with only a 10-second cloak offering any real protection.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Type B Mantis Cruiser has only two crew, two drone slots, and no starting weapons. However, it comes with powerful shields, a 2 X 2 teleporter room, and (per the name) is crewed by Mantises, who are the masters of hand-to-hand combat. They can make short work of most any ship by boarding it. If you wind up against a drone, however, you either have to wait for the boarding drone to slowly break and rebreak all of the robot ship's modules (for the one that has connected rooms) or just escape (for the one that doesn't).
The Slug ship is barely able to kill Sector 1 enemy ships by blowing them up. It needs to use the Breach Bomb and Anti-Bio Beam to clear the crews out.
The Rock Cruiser Type A has two missile weapons only. They are powerful and can take out ships in only 2 or 3 hits, but if you run out you can't hurt the enemy at all. An enemy with a Zoltan Shield or Defence Drones will often cost as much cash in new missiles to blow up as you get in scrap for killing it.
Cruel Mercy: When you damage an enemy's hull enough, they'll usually offer to give you some scrap and other resources, as long as you stop shooting at them. In most cases, they'll survive, but if you've damaged their oxygen they'll die if they can't repair it, meaning you've basically doomed them anyway. A similar thing can happen if you've destroyed their doors system and set a large amount of their ship on fire, usually resulting in them burning to death slowly but surely. Of course, these things can happen to you just as easily.
Crystal Prison: The Crystalmen get a variant of this as a special ability; their Lockdown power temporarily coats the room with crystals, which upgrades the airlocks around the room to level 3. This prevents exit or entry until the crystals are destroyed. Handy for trapping enemies in airless rooms or keeping them from responding to boarding parties.
Damage Sponge Boss: The final phase of the boss fight gives the boss a Zoltan shield with double the power of a normal one and the ability to restore it completely after a while. This is partly to make up for the fact that it's weaker now than in the last two phases.
Death Ray: The Anti-Bio Beam, which does no damage to ships or systems, but does drastic damage to crew (two shots will kill anything short of Rockmen). Very helpful for defeating an enemy ship while leaving the ship itself intact (and thus preserving more salvageable material).
Defeat Means Friendship: If you play your cards right in the encounter with KazaaakplethKilik, you can have him join your crew, direct you to a valuable supply cache, and offer you the assistance of his ships, unlocking the Mantis Cruiser.
Deflector Shields: These are standard on most playable and enemy ships. They block weapons fire, and unlike hull integrity, they regenerate on their own after being knocked down. Normal shields consume power and block lasers, beams and ion weapons, but are momentarily weakened by laser fire and partially disabled by ion hits. Physical projectiles like missiles and boarding drones are not affected by shields and pass right through, as do teleporting bombs and boarding parties. Crystal weapons are a borderline case in that they can pass through weak shields, but get blocked by higher level shielding in a manner similar to lasers.
The Zoltans have a special augment unsurprisingly called the Zoltan Shield, which comes standard on almost any ship they build. It's a non-replenishing green Beehive Barrier that consumes no power, is independent of the ship's normal shielding system, and only gets recharged during FTL jumps. It has limited hitpoints, but as long as it holds, it can block any form of attack and prevent teleportation. On the downside, it takes double damage from ion weapons and can be stripped rather quickly by drone attacks or asteroids.
Desperation Attack: The final boss has an ability called Power Surge it uses during the second and third phases of the battle. During the second phase, Power Surge will launch a massive group of drones (three times what you can manage), though they'll go away after the surge wears off. In the third phase, will fire a barrage of heavy lasers that can overcome even a full set of shields if they all connect.
Probably the best example of this from the player's perspective is if outgunned but with a teleport, transporting everyone to the enemy ship to try and kill their crew before the ship is blown to smithereens. Regardless of their ability to actually fight.
There's a reason the Crystal Cruiser is a considered a Game Breaker. Its weapons ignore one level of shields and don't use ammo, making it trivially easy to beat the early sectors. This is mitigated slightly by the fact that it's the only non-missile weapon which can be intercepted by a Mk. I Defense Drone, but most enemy layouts will not have such a drone in the early sectors. That, and the fact that the Crystal crew members make for a powerful boarding crew should you choose to go down that path - with, indeed, the alt layout of this ship being based around that strategy from the very beginning. That said, the process for unlocking this craft is so convoluted and improbable that you might as well have won a minor lottery if you get it.
The Rock Cruiser Type B "Shivan" starts out with Fire Bombs, a unique Heavy Piercing Laser and a strong Rock crew. The HPL is incredibly effective early on, charging fairly quickly and ignoring one layer of shields, while taking no ammunition and not being vulnerable to Mk I Defense Drones. While it becomes less effective later on, it's strong enough to the point where you can collect the supporting crew and a teleporter to assemble your Rocks into a fire-augmented nigh-unstoppable boarding crew for the late game, or else acquire further weaponry to help combat more heavily defended foes.
The Zoltan Cruiser Type B "Noether" starts with two Ion Blasts and a Pike Beam, which given an experienced weapons officer is actually enough firepower to bring down the boss (albeit not optimally). The two ion weapons can quickly and efficiently disable enemy shields and keep them down, and you can even divert one to disabling enemy weapons once that's done. And the Pike Beam meanwhile can do widespread and severe damage to the now-defenseless enemy, as it cannot be dodged and is the longest and most energy-efficient beam weapon in the game. More heavily shielded enemies take longer but can eventually still be rendered defenseless and cut down. Throw in a laser, an extra ion weapon, and/or an attack drone and you're pretty much set. The downside to the initial firepower of course is that your normal shields need to be upgraded before they can properly function, and you depend entirely on your Zoltan shield and evasion at the start, which can lead to hairy situations in fights against drone-heavy enemies or in asteroid fields.
Almost expecting this, your Mantis calmly responds to the trap. Once a couple of the Slugs have been spread across the walls of their ship, the rest surrender.
Distress Call: One of the main things you'll be looking for on the star map are the distress beacons, at least when your ship is in good repair. On average, they provide better rewards than a regular beacon, and more trouble, too. If you run out of fuel, you can send one out for a better chance at rescue, though this can backfire into a more difficult battle.
Dummied Out: By looking through the Data.dat XML files you can see data for sectors not included in the main game such as abandoned sectors and quarantine sectors which would reduce fleet pursuit speed like in nebula sectors. There's even data left behind to show that each sector was supposed to have a unique name.
Easy Mode Mockery: In a minor way. The in-game achievements list the difficulty level you unlocked them on.
Enemy Scan: Fully upgrading your sensors lets you see the exact state of enemies' systems, along with their power distribution. Level 2 lets you see inside enemy ships.
Energy Beings: The Zoltan. They give one bar of power to whatever system they're currently in, but are more fragile than the other races at 70 health instead of the usual 100.
Energy Weapons: Three main categories. First there are the "lasers" which fire one or more projectiles of energy that do hull and system damage, can be blocked by shields but weaken them, and like all projectiles, can be dodged. Then there are the "beams" which actually fire energy beams that cannot be dodged and do damage based on the number of rooms they hit, often requiring careful aiming of the beam path. Their damage is reduced by 1 for every layer of shields they have to pass through, however, and they don't have any weakening effect on the shields themselves. And finally, there are ion weapons, which fire blue projectiles of energy that can partially (and with enough firepower, completely) disable enemy systems on impact but do no hull damage. If they hit shields, it's as if they hit the ship's shielding system, and hence their disabling effect is applied to the shield generator.
Escort Mission: Some ships you encounter along the way will give you some payment if you agree to lead them to a certain area in space and usually fight someone for them when you get there. Luckily you don't have to actually take care of said spaceships and they don't mind if you agree to help and don't bother jumping to their destination.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Everything in the universe seems to have a grudge against your poor ship - from slavers and pirates to asteroids and suns. There are some exceptions - occasionally you'll encounter Federation loyalists who give you free stuff, people thanking you for saving them, and some aliens who will be nice to you if you help them (Engi, generally) or prove your worth to them (Rockmen, generally).
Explosive Decompression: Averted. Hull breaches and open airlock doors will cause air to leak out complete with hissing sound effect, but won't affect your crew until asphyxia starts draining their health.
The Rebels are very human supremacist; on occasion they'll let you go provided your crew is entirely human, and it's mentioned that the war has made things hard on the Engi.
The Rockmen tend to be very distrustful of other races, and find them "repugnant".
Faster-than-Light Travel: It's in the game's name. The "jump drive" variety of FTL seems to be in effect, with the common subtrope of a ship being stuck in harm's way while waiting for the jump drive to charge playing a major role. You progress through the game by jumping from one "navigation beacon" to the next, encountering a random event at each. If you get into a dangerous situation, you can try to hold out long enough for your engines to charge, and then make a Hyperspeed Escape — as long as your FTL drive doesn't get disabled, and as long as you have fuel.
Final Death: For crew members and for the ship itself. You can only save if you exit the game. On the plus side, destroyed systems can always be repaired, and as long as you've got a few hull points left, you can repair up to full.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Of both the "incremental bursts that are actually projectiles" and the "slice through a ship's armor like a knife" varieties.
Gadgeteer Genius: The Engi, who are themselves ambiguously mechanical lifeforms.
Game Mod: Although the game doesn't have official modding tools yet, the files are very open, simple, and easy to work with. Images are .png files, and most data is held in .xml or .txt files. Modders have already successfully modified ship layouts and added new weapons. The official game forums have a subforum dedicated to modding the game.
Glass Cannon: The Stealth Cruiser starts out with a cloaking device, strong sensors and powerful weapons, but no shields. Its Type B variant takes this Up to Eleven, trading engine strength and a defensive augmentation for the devastating Glaive Beam. See Crippling Overspecialisation above.
When your ship is invaded by more attackers than you even have crew, suddenly setting off a firebomb inside your own ship seems like a good alternative.
For the Type B Rock ship, it could actually be considered beneficial to use a breach bomb on an empty room so you have a way to vent the ship of air in an emergency.
Guide Dang It: Several of the ships have quite specific requirements to unlock, and the game gives sparse — if any — hints as to what those requirements are. The Crystal Cruiser is a particularly notorious example.
Hello, Insert Name Here: This is the case for your starting crew, opening the floodgates for players to go for obvious choices such as Mal, Wash and Kaylee, or Spike, Jet and Faye. Sadly, as of the game's first release build, you can't rename subsequent crew members you pick up along the way. The same is true of your ship's name. That dusty old Kestrel can very well be named Serenity.
Hit Points: Your ship's hull integrity. Individual crew have their own hit point totals as well.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Opening the airlocks to asphyxiate fires or boarders can easily turn into this. If you door control unit goes down, you can't close the airlocks, and if your oxygen gets shut off, you can't repressurize.
Hold the Line: To unlock the Rock ship, you have to meet the ship at a node with a nearby sun, then wait for it to jump away and follow it to its base. Destroying it or killing the crew nets you nothing, and it will shoot at you while its jump drive charges. You can shoot it to disable its weapons, so long as the ship survives.
Horde of Alien Locusts: The Mantis, giant alien... well, mantises that are stated to be the most aggressive and antagonistic race in the game. One random event lets you board a station to fight back an invasion of giant alien spiders.
Hyperspeed Ambush: Everyone in space apparently uses the same hyperspace beacon coordinates so it's not uncommon to find yourself in an ambush after a jump. Pirates and Slavers also occasionally set up fake distress beacons to lure in victims.
Hyperspeed Escape: If a battle gets too tough and the player waits long enough for the engines to get ready again he can jump to hyperspace mid-battle. Enemy ships will sometimes attempt the same, unless you disable their piloting or engines.
Jack of All Stats: Humans have no particular perks or penalties (see Humans Are Average above), which makes them good for manning stations. Also the Kestrel, the default ship, has average stats across the board, is crewed by three humans, and can make good use of almost any gear you find (and you can remove the 'almost' once you get Drone Control). The Type B version gets a more rounded-out crew (a Zoltan and a Mantis plus two humans).
The Slugs are just as average as humans, but have the extra benefit of Psychic Powers.
Keystone Army: Destroying the Flagship of the Rebels cripples the fleet trying to destroy the last Federation base, winning the game.
Kill It with Fire: There are several weapons designed to light an enemy ship on fire, the most prominent being the Fire Beam. Fire destroys equipment, consumes oxygen, hurts crew members and worst of all, spreads. That small fire in the security room can quickly turn into a blaze consuming half the ship. One achievement requires setting every square of an enemy ship on fire.
Lampshade Hanging: Even if you are in a Zoltan ship with your special Zoltan shield holding (which is supposed to prevent missiles, bombs and boarders teleporting onto your ship), you can still get the "attackers board your ship" events, with the game only mentioning, "You don't know how they got past your Zoltan shields!". That said, you still can't be boarded by actual enemy ships while your Zoltan shields are up, just by random events.
Last Stand: Sector 8. It's even called "The Last Stand" in-game.
Lawful Stupid: The Zoltan. They are members of the Federation your ship is on a mission to help save and are considered peaceful. They will also constantly harass you with legal requests and government business, up to and including attempting to arrest vital crew members or trying to kill you over customs disputes.
Law of Alien Names: Played With since the default name pool seems to apply to all characters regardless of species. This sometimes creates weird situations like having a female human called Pipaluk and a (genderless) Engi called Elizabeth on the same ship. Played Straight with alien NPCs, however; the Mantis in particular stand out, with names like KazaaakplethKilik.
Level Grinding: If you happen upon an enemy ship with a loadout that is incapable of damaging you (Rebel Rigger with one laser and a Defense Drone, for example), you can soak up their attacks indefinitely while letting your crew gain experience for it. With enough patience, your entire crew can be experts in multiple systems.
Lightning Bruiser: Mantis crew members, who have a bonus to movement speed and do double damage in hand-to-hand combat, at the cost of halved repair speed. Except when fighting a boarding drone, one Mantis can usually kill a member of any other species one-on-one, though Rockmen will be a very close call.
Where weapons are concerned. In the later levels, higher enemy shield strength can render the starting sets of weapons unable to penetrate, while missiles will run out quickly if you're forced to fall back on them. Add on to that the larger weapon arrays, amounts of scrap necessary for upgrades and repairs, and other resource factors, and winning takes a considerable amount of favor from the Random Number God. And even if you've managed to scrabble together a decent ship, that won't guarantee that you can do any major damage to the Rebel Flagship. Normal is worse in this regard, since scrap is harder to come by. Easy, by comparison, often lets you build up a decent surplus.
The sector map generation can screw you over if you see what should be a link of sectors to jump to the exit, only to find one link is broken, forcing a backtrack to the start. Unless you are incredibly well armed you will die, or at the very least have your end-game wrecked.
Most ships can be unlocked simply by finding the relevant homeworld (Stealth, Mantis, Slug, Rock, Zoltan) or beating the game normally (Engi, Federation), though the Stealth and Zoltan ships are somewhat counter-intuitive. The final ship, however, is much, much worse. First you have to find the Damaged Stasis Pod, an event which can only be found in specific sectors and even then doesn't always produce the pod. Then you have to open it, which is also an event only possible in certain sectors. Then you have to find the Rock Homeworlds, which may not even appear. Then you have to find an event in Homeworlds that will allow you to finally unlock the ship. Each attempt can take from 30 minutes to an hour. Perhaps in recognition of the fact, it is easily the best ship in the game.
One achievement for the Federation ship requires you to use your crew in four blue events by sector five. Even with your diverse crew, you just have to hope you run into events which allow you to do so.
One last explosion marks your fate as your ship is torn apart.
All crewmembers have died. Your ship will continue to drift for eternity. Or until looters destroy it.
The Main Characters Do Everything: Oh, you've just jumped across half the universe, surviving by the skin of your teeth to bring us this vital information about the rebel fleet? Well here's some scrap. Now go defeat their Flagship for us.
Martial Pacifist: The Zoltan at their best. At their worst, they're Lawful Stupid. But not always. The quest to unlock their cruiser reveals this to be their ideal, which they hope that you also strive for.
Mighty Glacier: Rockmen move at half speed, but have 150% health and are immune to fire. Crystalmen are this to a lesser extent, being slower than average but faster than Rockmen, with 125% normal health and resistance to suffocation.
Mook Chivalry: Only one ship will ever attack at a time, even if the rebel fleet catches up, though in the latter case you "won't have time" to pick up any scrap, and the ships you do engage will be pretty strong, leading to a net loss of resources even if you defeat them.
Lasers never need ammo and better ones can fire multiple shots, but each laser shot can be dodged or absorbed by one layer of shielding, requiring a fairly large number of lasers to overcome shielding in later levels.
Beams never miss and do enormous damage, but have longer charge times and their damage is reduced by 1 for every shield layer it must pass through, and they cannot damage shields at all. Only two beams (Halberd and Glaive) can even penetrate a one-layer shield, which means you need other weapons to supplement them.
Missiles ignore shields, but have limited ammunition and can be dodged or shot down by defense drones. The bigger ones also take a fair amount of time to charge.
Bombs ignore shields and defense drones, but share ammo with missiles and never inflict hull damage. Some can start fires that can potentially cause hull damage, but that's only one point. Breach bombs can create hull breaches to make the system harder to repair and drive weakened crew members to retreat. All bombs take longer than missiles to charge, too, and are just as likely to miss, wasting the ammo and the long charge time.
Ion weapons disable systems, but their effects are temporary and deal no actual damage. On the plus side, they generally charge faster than most weapons, with one ion weapon having the fastest charge time of four seconds.
Offensive drones attack continuously, but are limited by your supply of drone parts and are computer-controlled.
Boarders allow you to wreak havoc inside an enemy ship, but Anyone Can Die - often in stupid ways such as them destroying the enemy ship while inside it (causing their deaths), the ship getting destroyed by your own weapons if you're not careful, or the enemy jumping out with your crew members still on board.
The Federation Cruiser's Artillery Beam is independent from your other weapons, cannot miss, and ignores anything short of Zoltan shields to deal massive damage, but can't be manually controlled and prevents the ship from mounting a cloaking device. It also starts with a 50 second charge time, which takes a lot of scrap (and power) to upgrade into a more reasonable 20 seconds.
The Crystal cruiser has weapons which can bypass one layer of shielding, but even though it doesn't use ammo, it fires physical objects that a Mk. I Defense Drone can shoot down.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When you reach the Crystal Home Sector. Before you went there, the inhabitants were peaceful and happy, relatively speaking. And then you came along, and the Rebel Fleet followed you there. Now, presumably, the entire Crystal fleet is in disarray, and their home has been taken over by nasty Rebel forces. All for a shiny new ship.
No Biochemical Barriers: One of the Random Encounters consists of a human-inhabited planet sending a distress signal regarding a plague. While Engi and Rockman crewmates can help out with no ill effects, other alien crewmates can't (including Zoltan).
No Item Use For You: Or system use, rather. Certain events or environmental hazards negatively effect systems. A plasma storm halves your reactor output, drones may occasionally knock out a layer of shielding, Rebel ships disable engines every so often, and Slug vessels target your medbay or oxygen (pray you have upgraded it). If the system has enough power, it may only be limited instead of disabled.
Non-Action Guy: Engis and Zoltan aren't very good fighters, on account of doing half damage or having 30% less health than average, respectively.
Percussive Maintenance: The Rockmen style of repair. Also possibly the only depiction in fiction that has ever applied this to fighting fires, since the Rockmen jump on fire to put them out. The same goes for Crystalmen, being a reskin of them.
Ramming Always Works: One hostile encounter involves a Mantis pirate ship decorated with Rock body parts. If you're flying the Rock Cruiser, you get the option to "ram the bastards" before the fight, disabling their engines. Justified in that the Rock Cruiser's Rock Armor can totally take it.
Random Event: You almost get one at every jump beacon, which can result in everything from combat, to trading options, to situations that present you with an option to intervene or ignore it and keep moving. You can, however, get no activity at all, and the final boss is not a random event, for obvious reasons.
Red Alert: Downplayed; all rooms are equipped with a red light that blinks in case of fire or hull breach.
Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Systems can be repaired, but hull damage can only be restored by events, going to a store, or using one of the rare and moderately expensive Hull Repair drones - which can only be used if you have a Drone System and consumes one Drone Part to restore between 3 and 5 hull.
Resources Management Gameplay: Not only will you need to watch out for your fuel, missile and drone-part supplies, but also for the power distribution of your ship. Careful management is critical in order to achieve victory (or even survival).
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Rebels are the bad guys. At the beginning of the game, they've already defeated The Federation. Now you're on a run through alien-controlled space to reach and regroup with whatever little Federation-loyal forces remain.
A common encounter in Slug sectors. Many events involve suspiciously generous offers, most of which turn out to be ruses to sabotage your ship. On the other hand, choosing the exact same option in said situation in a different playthrough CAN give different outcomes. For instance, a Slug trader talks to you about special deal for his wares for a while only to be revealed as distracting you from his mates looting your ship. The next time you meet him, choosing to talk to him instead have him appreciate your trust in him and give you some extra bonus. So the only way to know whether it's really a Schmuck Bait or not is to take it.
The giant spiders encounter. Your crew is given the option to aid against giant spiders. More often than not, helping rewards you with no scrap and a dead crewmember. Since the reward tends to be a pittance at best, if you can't Take a Third Option, it's best to leave them to their fate.
Scratch Damage: Every shot that hits a room will do at least one hull damage, provided the weapon has some sort of base damage. Bombs, the fire beam, and the bio-beam are exceptions. Rock ships have a chance to negate hull damage every time they are attacked, although the systems hit are still damaged. The Stealth ship inverts that, having a chance at protecting the system but still suffering hull damage.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Both you and your enemy can do this, though it takes time for the jump drive to charge. It's generally unwise for the player, because retreating doesn't reward scrap (though it is useful for running through Rebel nodes which give almost no reward and are more difficult than normal). The enemy occasionally does it right at the start of the battle (either out of fear or to warn the Rebels, making them advance faster), or when they've been damaged enough, but you can stop them by disabling their engines.
Secret Test of Character: In the Zoltan Homeworlds, you can encounter a ship preaching a message of pacifism. Listen to what they have to say and they'll direct you to another beacon, where you'll find a hostile rebel ship waiting for you! Talk to them instead of fighting and push for a peaceful resolution, and they'll eventually reveal themselves to be the Zoltans from earlier. They will praise you for taking their message seriously and offer their support, unlocking the Zoltan Cruiser.
If you blank the ship's name and press enter, the name will automatically change to "The Nameless One".
If you're stranded and out of fuel, you will get a wait option in your map screen. This causes random events to happen until the rebel fleet catches up to you. In one random event, a ship arrives with this subtle nod to Han Solo of Star Wars:
A modified YT-1300 Freighter jumps to an area near your sector. Your gut tells you these people are smugglers, but they seem to be feeling altruistic and present an offer of assistance.
The effect shown when a ship jumps (a spark-like flash that quickly moves along the length of the ship) bears a striking resemblance to the FTL jump effect used by the Colonial ships in the new Battlestar Galactica series.
Single Gender Race: The Engi and the Slugs. All races beside human lack an alternate gender graphic, for that matter.
Players can come across distress beacons set up by other (often slightly deranged) spacemen who survived crashing into an alien world. These survivors can be brought aboard the ship and either become new crewmates, hurl themselves out of the airlock, or kill one of your crew at random.
If something goes drastically wrong, one of your crew members can become this.
Space Clouds: Nebulas, which cover certain jump points. Within, sensors are useless, obscuring vision of your own and enemy ships (Slug Psychic Powers still work). Certain nebula jump points also contain a plasma storm, which cuts reactor output in half for the player and any enemy ships. Some sectors are one giant nebula, generally inhabited by Slugs, which don't impede the Rebels quite as much.
Space Pirates: If you're not fighting Rebels, you're likely fighting these. Usually they're a random type of NPC ship with a mix of the different races as crew, although some are exclusively Rockmen.
Space Whale: Never seen in-game, but mentioned off-hand in a random store description.
A Mantis crew here has hunkered down in the abdomen of a long-dead space-whale - the only way, presumably, for them to operate their black-market trade without detection. Worth a look?
Standard Human Spaceship: The Kestral and other Federation ships play this straight, with their designs dominated by simple flat lines. The Rebel ships avert this, being moderately sleek and colorfully painted with no visible engines. Also, the Engi-built but Federation-run (and human-crewed) Stealth Cruisers avert this, being very sleek and glossy (for the Type A) or shiny (for the Type B), which is strange given that the ships the Engi build for their own use are extremely utilitarian and boxy.
Stern Chase: You're only ever a few jumps ahead of the Rebel Fleet.
Stone Wall: The Mantis Cruiser Type B, at least early on. It had no weapons, and a crew of 2 Mantises, and your early combat tactics involve sending them both over to board enemy ships. This means that your own ship just lies dead in space in the meantime with no evasion whatsoever, but to counteract this it starts out with level 2 shields and a defense drone, and just sits around taking fire while your crew kills the enemy crew.
Subsystem Damage: All systems and subsystems can be individually damaged. Systems with more than one reactor capacity have reduced effectiveness when damaged and can be disabled entirely if hit hard enough; systems with only one bar of reactor capacity are either working or not. This applies to enemies as well as players; deciding which system to target is one of the biggest tactical parts of the game.
Suspend Save: You can save and come back later, but this only lets you resume your progress once.
Take a Third Option: Called a 'blue option' in game, these allow you to use your crew, weapons, or ship upgrades to get around random events; for instance, using an advanced medbay to cure an unknown virus, or using an ion gun to disable a defense system gone haywire.
Taught By Experience: Your crewmen become better at the stations they're assigned to, become better at repairing the more they do it, and do more damage by killing enemy crew.
Theme Naming: Standard beam weapons are named after polearms, while standard missile launchers are named after things in Greek mythology.
Thrown Out The Airlock: Downplayed. You can't suck them straight out into space, but you can open up the airlock doors to suffocate enemies to death. If you've got upgraded blast doors, they'll be pounding to be let in while they die of asphyxiation.
Total Party Kill: Damage to your ship's life support and/or door controls, especially when combined with fire, hull breaches or doors you left open to fight a fire or enemy boards but were locked open by an attack, can easily result in this if not addressed quickly. The same is true for your enemy.
Unblockable Attack: Bombs are unblockable (except by a Zoltan shield), but don't do hull damage. They can also miss and arrive in empty space if the target is moving fast enough. The Artillery Beam is even more unblockable - except for the Zoltan shield, it can pass through any defenses and cannot miss.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Last Stand suddenly has you move in from the right side of the map to intercept the Rebel Mothership. Justified because instead of the Rebel Fleet chasing you, you are now chasing the Rebel Flagship. Your roles have reversed, and so has the direction you have to move.
The Rebel Fleet takes over systems piecemeal and randomly; and you have to take down the boss within a strictly limited number of jumps.
Ungrateful Bastard: It is possible to ride to the rescue of some harassed ship, only to have it jump away without offering anything as thanks. The game doesn't seem to mind, though — it points out that they wisely fled while you were keeping their attackers busy.
Unlockable Content: Only one ship, the Kestrel, is available for play at first. Eight other ships can be unlocked, either by playing through the gamenote Reaching sector five, and killing the final boss, unlocks the Engi and Federation cruisers respectively or by completing certain events. Each ship also has a 'Type B' variant which can be unlocked by earning ship-specific achievements.
Pick up lots of scrap, take a minimum of damage, and have good encounters, and you have good chances to go far. On the other hand, taking lots of damage and being forced by the Random Number God into poor encounters where you can't get much scrap will force you to use that scrap in repairing and hobbling on with poor equipment, which will further lower your chances of survival.
Getting into a fight while orbiting a star can quickly become this if you can't manage the fires created by the solar flares. If your pilot control or jump drive is knocked out, defeating the local enemy will quickly become the least of your worries; add to that a hit to your door controls, and you'll never get ahead of the flares...
Variable Mix: With the exception of Sector 8's special music, each music track has two versions: calm and spacey most of the time, but incorporating more rhythm and percussion when you're squaring off against a hostile vessel. One version automatically fades into the other as the situation changes.
Video Game Caring Potential: You can easily get attached to individual crew members. Rescuing hapless space travelers from rebels, pirates, asteroids, giant alien spiders, and anything else that pops up can give you the warm fuzzies as well. Especially when you encounter another Federation vessel, usually heavily damaged and always in trouble.
You can accept bribes from pirates to leave them alone when you find them attacking another ship, agree to hand over one of your crew to slavers in order for the rest to go free, and cruise right on by desperate pleas for help without stopping. For more hands-on cruelty potential, you can deal with enemy boarding parties by opening up your airlocks and letting them suffocate. Some of the game's achievements actually encourage cruelty to your enemies — such as one that requires you to drain an enemy ship of oxygen, while another requires you to Kill It with Fire by having every single square of an enemy ship ablaze at the same time.
There is also an event that encourages cruelty where you meet a pirate who is trying to extort resources from a planet-side colony and can "show him how it's done" by igniting their villages with fire bombs, should you choose to, granting better rewards.
One of the achievements to unlock the Type B Mantis Cruiser requires you to defeat the last enemy crewmember on their ship with your last crewmember. The easiest way to do this is to kill all but one of their crew, beam back, suffocate your entire crew save one, then finish the job on their ship.
Wave Motion Gun: The Artillery Beam. It takes up its own module instead of being incorporated into your weapons, and bypasses all shields except Zoltan shields. It also cuts across multiple rooms like all beam weapons in the game, dealing 4-5 damage to most ships, and sometimes more.
The Type B Rock Cruiser lacks airlocks; this makes asphyxiating boarders or fires in any of your vulnerable areas impossible (unless you start launching breach bombs at your own ship) to artificially create a vent. The crew has to drop whatever they're doing and deal with such threats in person.
The enemy Slug Interceptor has isolated oxygen and engine compartments, neither of which will be crewed. One good hit and they're doomed to suffocate, if you can outlast their attacks or non-lethally disable them.
The Rebel Flagship has a big one. It's weapons are located in isolated compartments. Once the crew manning them are dead, they can never be repaired (during that phase of the battle). To a greater extent, if you can manage to kill the entire crew except the one manning the triple laser during the fight phase of the battle, you can teleport in and destroy every system unopposed while preventing the AI from taking over in the next two, making the Flagship completely vulnerable to attack.
What You Are in the Dark: The game doesn't have an explicit Karma Meter, but many events will test your morality. Do you take the bribe of a pirate and let him go after some ship, or do you take him on? When a slaver offers gifts in exchange for letting them live, do you accept and let him live to continue his dirty work, or do you finish the job? Do you help when asked for it, even if it may cost you health, ammo or crew? There's no one around who will judge you, only your conscience. Choose, skipper.
Wire Dilemma: You can run into one of these during a special event in which your ship has to dodge an active mine. Fail to dodge it or be unable to Take a Third Option and the mine will attach to your ship, forcing a crew member to go outside and try to defuse it. You are then prompted to cut a red or blue wire. Cut the right one, and the mine is disarmed and you deconstruct it for scrap. Cut the wrong one, and the mine explodes, doing significant damage to your hull as well as ending the unlucky crew member tasked with disarming it.
With This Herring: You have an old, clunky ship with hand-me-down weapons and a small crew. Your mission is to save the struggling Federation. Good luck.
Averted once you've played a while and unlocked better tech. That old clunky ship can be replaced by a more advanced warship with different propensities and different crew, but your mission is always the same.
Accidentally depressurizing half your ship by forgetting to close an airlock.
Screwing up the anti-fire door shuffle, and watching your oxygen, door control and/or medbay get burnt by the fire or hit by enemy weapons. Which can result in a crew that get a choice of dying from asphyxiation or being burnt to a crisp.
Boarding an enemy ship in a heated combat can result in a number of stupid deaths for your crew as your attention is drawn to one area when you need it on another:
Teleporting your crew onto an enemy ship, only to see them warp out of combat.
The Federation Cruiser's special weapon Artillery Beam is not controllable by the player in anyway except powering it down. This can lead to situations when boarding a ship (which the Cruiser can have as an add-on) where it shoots the beam at a compartment your boarding party is attacking, and your crew are at low health, being killed by friendly fire.
Flat out blowing up the ship with your crew on board.
Watching your boarding team get taken out because the enemy has a cloak and they got stuck in a combat situation they can't win, unable to get back to your ship because the cloak blocks teleporting.
Teleporting crew onto an AI Drone Ship with a Level 1 teleporter. They have no atmosphere, and will die before the Level 1 teleport recharges. Level 2 is fine, but cuts it close. Rockmen can last a little longer with their 150% health.
Zerg Rush: Certain events can result in six boarders appearing on your ship. This often exceeds the amount of crew a player will have under their control for the majority of their attempts.
The end-game of most play-throughs of the second Mantis Cruiser. Four angry, fully-trained Mantis will tear through any crew in their way.