Captain’s log:

Stardate… Wednesday night.

I’ve just been given a mission. I’m carrying data vital to the success of the remaining Federation forces. The rebels have overtaken most of the Federation’s defenses and are poised to wipe us out. Well, not if I have anything to say about it. Lets get this data back to the fleet in Sector Eight and- what? What’s that helmsman Ricky? Sector Eight is on the other side of the galaxy? Well, this might be a problem.

Ricky’s Personal Journal:

Cap’ says that I’m going to be the helmsman. I guess I’m as good a choice as any, seeing as the rest of the crew knows just as little about the ship’s systems as I do. I’m sure I’ll pick it up as I go. I mean, how hard can it be? We’re just going to Sector Eight. Let’s see… Sector Eig- Aww dang. Cap’s not going to like this.

All the way across the galaxy is a long way to go with just a gunner and a pilot. It’s not like this was the only ship and Bradley was the only other willing crew member, but when I asked Cap’ he said that the other ships and crews were “locked” and that he didn’t have the right ”Achievements.” I hope Cap’ doesn’t have space fever.

Captain’s log:

Cruising through Sector One, totally without space fever.  I take a look at my crew. Lieutenant Brandon and Helmsman Ricky seem to be competent enough at all things space travel. But, holy crap would it be nice to have some more experienced crewmen. We pass several pilgrim vessels and colonists in need of aid. We pause our journey to help out as many as we can, but with our own fuel and supplies running low, we can’t help everyone. I order the helmsman to move on. Passing by those in need weighs heavily on my conscience, but we have the future of the Federation to think about.

Entering Sector Two, we take a look at our upgraded long-range sensors. Sure enough, we intercept a distress signal originating in the neighboring system. A hunch tells me this system may hold much needed supplies, weapons, and tech needed for our journey. Ordering Lieutenant Brandon to the weapons station on the off chance of trouble, we jump towards the signal.

2013-09-22_00002

Ricky’s Personal Journal:

I’ve got to hand it to Cap’. He managed to salvage enough scrap material to upgrade a few of the ship’s internal systems.

Cap’ says he’s picked up a distress call from a nearby system. We’re making a jump there now. Signal says it’s just another stranded ship. Maybe they’ll be grateful enough for the rescue that they’ll give us some fuel. I’ve been leaving Cap’ memos that we’re getting low, but I don’t think he’s paying much attention to that.

And jump complete- Shit, a pirate ambush. I think they tried to hail is, but Cap’ just closed the transmission without even reading their offer. That is a lot of guns.

Crap! Crapcrapcrap. First volley knocked out our shields, med bay, and I think our engine is on fire. Why isn’t Cap’ doing anything? Does he not realize that we’re engaging the enemy? Our guns are primed and ready to fire, if only he’d give the command. Here comes the second volley. Come on girl, hold together, hold toge-

Captains log:

Stardate… Easy Mode.

So that didn’t go well. Normal Mode was in no way “normal.” I mean, if normal is supposed to involve getting your butt thoroughly kicked, then… that’s stupid.

This time around I have a better sense of space combat, what upgrades to get, and how to maneuver around the system. Shields. Definitely shields. Lots of ‘em. That and a more maneuverability through upgrades to the engines and helm, and our Kestrel is a force to be reckoned with.  We fly through the first few sectors with ease, slavers and pirates alike doing little to harm the ship or the crew’s morale. Even in the dark of the nebula (author’s note: sweet title for a movie) we feel safe and ready for nearly anything.

2013-09-22_00007

We pick up a few crew members along our journey, the Engi and Mantis crewmembers lending their enhanced repair and combat skills to our cause, propelling us forward. It’s only when we reach Sector Six that we begin to experience troubles.

Helmsman Richard’s Journal:

Cap’ seems to know what he’s doing. He got us through the first five systems without too much trouble. Sure, there were close calls, but hey, most of the original crew is still here. Perhaps we’ve just been getting lucky and picking the systems that hold less danger than the others?

I guess I don’t care much one way or the other. I’m still alive, the ship’s in great shape after we patched it up at that merchant’s place a few systems ago. We even bought a new gun. I have to admit, I get sort of jealous of head-gunner Bernard, some of the weapons we’ve picked up along the way are just plain cool.

Some of these Mantis pirates we’ve been encountering have been giving us a run for our money. We’ve had to flee from fights a few times. And as much as I hate leaving pirates alive, Cap’s right, we’re too close now to risk it all. Only two more sectors left before we reach the Federation headquarters.

 Captain’s log:

Stardate… later Wednesday night.

It seems our journey is coming to an end. As we make the final FTL jump to Sector Eight, a weight lies heavy on our hearts. The last of the Federation vessels lie in open combat with the rebel forces. We deliver the data, but what use will it be if the Federation fleet is wiped out here! We receive our new orders: “Destroy the rebel flagship.”  The crew, tired, and ship, battered and worn, Helmsman Richard points us towards our new goal.

Suddenly a rebel ship uncloaks directly ahead. The klaxon sounds. Rebels are boarding the ship. I scramble on-board defenses, the security drone and Borman, our Mantis crewmember, beelines for the incursion and quickly engages the enemy; Markel the Engi is gunned down in the crossfire. All the while, head-gunner Bernard fights off the rebel vessel as it dodges back and forth, our laser and missiles firing wide; we have no time to resolve firing solutions.

Our security forces are gunned down, suddenly overpowered by the rebel forces. I order our remaining forces fall back to the med-bay. Heavily stocked with medical supplies, this is where we will make our stand. Bernard barely makes it attempting to maintain engine stability as he falls back from the weapons bay. Stumbling in with several laser burns, he attempts to hold back the rebels, but to no avail. The ship goes dead as the rebels lay waste to the engine room. Without power, the rebel vessel hammers us with several missiles, knocking out our shields and sending most systems offline. With engines out, helmsman Richard makes his way to the corridor, in a last effort to force the rebels off the ship.

The last moments play out in slow motion. My crew falls one by one while the ship burns.  Several ports are open and bleeding O2 in an attempt to put out fires in the engine room and save life support systems. The ships drifts without a pilot while missiles slam into the hull and lasers set fire to the ships systems. Richard is shot down in the corridor, just meters from the cockpit. The crew is dead. Whatever is left by the rebels will no doubt float through space for an eternity.

Dang.

Zander’s Closing Thoughts:

Sure, your crew’s death and/or ship’s destruction can be disappointing, but in the end, it really is a great journey. The difficulty, length, and randomization only make the game more interesting, add tension, and force the player to make decisions and adapt quickly. Unfortunately, many problems are solved after a few deaths, though the players’ journey of becoming a better captain by learning from mistakes and exploring more of the sectors is a powerful one. While it’s an overall great experience, the linear nature of the game leaves something to be desired. Specifically, I desired more exploration elements or time to explore things. I mean, what is space without exploration?

Jon’s Closing Thoughts:

I think that “Dang” is the best way to describe the end of literally every single one of my FTL playthroughs. The random encounter generator is not a merciful entity. You’re just as likely to breeze through the first four sectors before getting torn apart by pirates as you are to be viciously mauled by an angry group of Mantis raiders in the very first sector. It’s a fun game that has a ton of replay value. My biggest gripe with the game is that the story isn’t really there. It only functions as a means to provide a challenge and push the player through the systems without having time to fully explore each one. I would love to see this game get a patch for balance and new content. I feel like this game has a lot of untapped potential.

About The Author

Long time fan of comic books, video games, and movies. Zander is often no where to be found because he's marathoning movies and tv shows or playing video games till all hours of the night as most disillusioned twenty-somethings are wont to do. Polar opposites are the game: action/comedies and dramas, FPS games and turn-based strategy, science fiction and historical fiction. Why pick one thing when there are so many good things?

One Response to Experience Points: FTL: Faster Than Light