Tips, Strategies, and Cheats for Spaceship Sim Game FTL

FTLGame 2012-09-23 22-09-23-29FTL, the sensational new starship simulator from Subset Games, is hard. Really hard. Like trying to cut through a cinderblock with a toothbrush hard. Fortunately, your buddies over here at Growing Up Otaku have become hopeless addicts of this randomized death simulator and cobbled together several of our favorite tips, tricks, and who’d-a-thunk-its in this handy-dandy strategy guide.

Cheating Death – While the concept of save game deleting permanent death is part of what makes a game like FTL so appealing to hardcore gamers, it isn’t for everyone. Using a little copy/paste magic, you can create a backup of your favorite saved games for future replays. Because you’re probably going to die. Horribly.

To create a savegame, you will need to use the “Save + Quit’ option from FTL’s menu. This will create a “continue.sav” file. Copy it and paste it somewhere safe, like your desktop. When you want to restore, copy it back. FTL’s save game file location is:

  • Windows: \My Documents\My Games\Faster Than Light\
  • Mac: \Users\[your user name]\Library\Application Support\FasterThanLight\


Know Your Friends and Foes – Engi are good fixers, but bad fighters. Mantis are good fighters but bad fixers. Rock are immune to fire, but slow. Zoltan give you a free bar of reactor energy, but are fragile while Slugs function like upgraded sensors. Don’t neglect humanity. Humans may not have special abilities, but they also have no inherent weaknesses.

Keeping these abilities in mind will not just improve the performance of your ship, but give you insight into enemy vessels. Fire bombing a Rock ship is wasteful, but damaging life support on a Mantis fighter is priceless.

Timing is Everything – Autofire is a convenience, not a necessity. If you are having trouble getting through an enemy’s shields or drones, hold fire until all your weapons are ready and shoot them all at once. Preferably at the system giving you trouble. A bomb to the shield or drone control system can also work wonders.

A Crewed Station is a Happy Station – Positioning you crew is nearly as important as having them. Having someone in each of the major system’s rooms will grant additional abilities. Crewing shield and weapons decreases the cycling time of these systems. Putting someone to work in the engines grants an additional +5% to evasion. Always have someone at the piloting station. It is necessary for any evasion bonus or to jump system. Don’t switch jobs unless necessary. Crewmen will gain experience working a station, increasing the bonus.

Personal opinions will differ, but I prioritize engines and weapons.Likewise, don’t be afraid to move your crew around in emergency situations. Losing a bonus for a while is better than losing a crewman forever. Usually.

Remember: This applies to your opponents as well! Having trouble hitting an enemy ship? Blow out the piloting station to kill his evasion bonus. A hit to life support will frequently draw enemy crew away from manning shields or weapons.

FTL airflowEveryone Likes Oxygen – As you might expect on a spaceship, managing your O2 is critical to success. More than just life sustaining to your crew, oxygen is life sustaining to fire. Opening an airlock is a good way to put out a fire, but so is cutting life support and letting the fire deplete the air itself. Removing oxygen is also a great way to whittle down enemy boarders. Feeling particularly crazy or desperate? Remember that bombs can be targeted at your own ship.

Manipulating doors can remove air from rooms, but it can also restore air. Let’s say half your ship is unbreathable void and half is full of air, but the life support system is busted in the oxygen-free part. You can open the shortest path from your breathable ship half to the damaged system to make the repair task a lot less deadly.

The Best Upgrade You Never Bought – Doors. Seriously. For a mere 20 Scrap, you’ll slow down boarding parties, fires, and oxygen leaks. Note that subsystems (piloting, doors, and sensors) do not need energy from the reactor.

Upgrading for Power and Armor – Sure, upgrading adds an extra power slot to crank up a system, but that extra power slot also means the system can take an additional hit. It’s worth taking an upgrade to life support, not for the extra power that can be run to it, but for the extra damage it can take before going offline.

FTLGame 2012-09-23 18-22-35-98Beams Can Cut Corners – Beams in FTL work differently than other weapons. You’ll deal damage to every room touched by the beam’s targeting line. You don’t have to cover a room or system for it to count. Just have the beam cross a bit of the room’s space.

Milk the First Sectors – There is a time to rush and a time to grind. The first couple of sectors are fit for scrounging much needed Scrap, gear, and crew for the long fight ahead. Explore every system you can and jump through nebulae to gain extra turns. FTL only gets harder with each subsequent sector.

Evasion Trumps All – Shields block beams. Defense drones stop missiles. Your evasion rating applies to everything, even bombs. Don’t neglect engine upgrades. They’re cheaper than shield upgrades that require 2 bars to be useful.

Know When to Fold ‘Em – He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. An arrogant captain will soon find himself commanding a burning hunk of scrap. Never bother to finish a fight in a Rebel occupied sector. There’s no good salvage to be had due to the pressure of the rest of the Rebel armada bearing down on you. Play like you only have one life. Because you do.

For more on FTL, check out our ‘storyteller’ style review and spoiler laden walkthru for the final boss.


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