FTL preview

Tom Francis

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In combat, you can see inside the enemy ship.

Slave traders! And they're jerks! They demand I hand over one of my crew, and I'm not nearly well equipped enough to take them in a fight. I have no choice. We draw straws, and Jack goes. Sniff. Jaaack!

FTL is a randomised space adventure in which you manage a ship and her crew, jumping from star to star. Your first encounter could be a free weapon, or a bunch of slave-trading lamewads. And losing a crew member is a big deal: your main interaction is ordering them around your ship, telling them to repair damaged systems, pilot, or heal up in the sickbay.

I have just two left. I put Emily at the helm, and Alison in the engine room ready to repair it if we take damage. We jump, and run into a small scout ship. It's an easy fight, and we get a good amount of scrap from the wreck. In the next system though, there's an asteroid field and a pirate vessel.

I target their shield generator with all my lasers and missiles, while chunks of rock batter away my own. As their shields go offline, it's fun to watch their own crew scramble around inside their ship trying to fix the generator while other systems catch fire. When they finally explode, the scrap from their vessel is substantial.

You can use scrap to upgrade, so I make a major investment to double my shields. And in the next system, I find a spare combat drone. It turns out to be a lethal combination: in every fight thereafter, my drone zaps away their shields in time for my main lasers to take out their generator.

I run into another slaver ship. Hand over a crew member? How about you hand over... your... hull integrity! Shoot them before they overanalyse my smacktalk!

We're both double-shielded, I have a combat drone and they have a defence drone. It's close. I use my lasers to take out their drone control system, and that lets my missiles get through to their shield generator. But by the time I take out their weapons systems, my engine is on fire. Luckily, they surrender – and offer me a slave to leave them alone.

Most encounters give you decisions to make.

Hah! No way, assholes! I don't slave. I destroy them, but my ship is a mess. The fire in my engine room would kill my crew if I sent them to put it out, so I open the exterior doors and vent the oxygen into space. That puts out the fire, but not before it spreads to the, er, oxygen room.

Alison has to run through the airless engine room to save the life support system. She does it, but suffocates before I can bring the repaired system back online. Emily is left to pilot the ship alone.

This game is brilliant, and brutal, and different every time.

It suddenly occurs to me that the slaver ship I just destroyed might have been the same one that took Jack. In fact, the slave they offered me might have been Jack. And I destroyed him. Jaaack!

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