FTL: Love it or Hate it?

Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

I had never played a "Roguelike" before FTL. (And how about the most obtuse genre name ever conceived? From now on I'm calling Elder Scrolls like open world fantasy games "Elderlikes." Who's with me?) But I went ahead and picked FTL up on Steam a month ago based on Bombcast reactions to it. The guys sounded awfully excited about it, so I had to check it out. You know, I wanted to be in with the cool gamer crowd, after all.

The thing is, I can't tell if I love it or hate it. The style and sounds are all good, I'm feeling the retro space stuff. The mechanics are interesting enough, and I like the different routes you can take in terms of upgrading your ship.

But I don't know if I can really handle the level of difficulty. And not difficult in the sense that I necessarily did something wrong, but just that a couple bad random events can end even a good game in a heartbeat. You can have a run where you're doing everything right, making the right choices when choice is available, happening across the right free weapons and upgrades, have a crew that just keeps surviving and improving, and just generally feel like you really have it going on, and BAM! You get a tough opponent near a star. He manages to hit and take out critical systems before you even know what's happening. Then a solar flare sets half your ship aflame...

Ugh. Just ugh.

But then...you restart. And you hope that THIS time you can avoid the perils of the RNG just long enough to get to the overwhelming, nearly impossible boss.

Is this fun? I don't really know. A dozen hours and many games in, and I just don't know. Is the fact that I've played it for a dozen hours testament to it being a good game? Or is it just about my stubborn resiliency and "need to win?"

FTL, how do you feel about it?

#1 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

I had never played a "Roguelike" before FTL. (And how about the most obtuse genre name ever conceived? From now on I'm calling Elder Scrolls like open world fantasy games "Elderlikes." Who's with me?) But I went ahead and picked FTL up on Steam a month ago based on Bombcast reactions to it. The guys sounded awfully excited about it, so I had to check it out. You know, I wanted to be in with the cool gamer crowd, after all.

The thing is, I can't tell if I love it or hate it. The style and sounds are all good, I'm feeling the retro space stuff. The mechanics are interesting enough, and I like the different routes you can take in terms of upgrading your ship.

But I don't know if I can really handle the level of difficulty. And not difficult in the sense that I necessarily did something wrong, but just that a couple bad random events can end even a good game in a heartbeat. You can have a run where you're doing everything right, making the right choices when choice is available, happening across the right free weapons and upgrades, have a crew that just keeps surviving and improving, and just generally feel like you really have it going on, and BAM! You get a tough opponent near a star. He manages to hit and take out critical systems before you even know what's happening. Then a solar flare sets half your ship aflame...

Ugh. Just ugh.

But then...you restart. And you hope that THIS time you can avoid the perils of the RNG just long enough to get to the overwhelming, nearly impossible boss.

Is this fun? I don't really know. A dozen hours and many games in, and I just don't know. Is the fact that I've played it for a dozen hours testament to it being a good game? Or is it just about my stubborn resiliency and "need to win?"

FTL, how do you feel about it?

#2 Edited by HerbieBug (4208 posts) -

I like FTL a lot and I also understand the frustration. I haven't managed to actually see the boss yet. Things did get better once I unlocked the Engi ship. I think it's a better set of starting equipment to work with.

It like it, and have fun playing it, but it's not a game that really pulls me in. It's more of a play a few times once every couple weeks sort of deal for me.

#3 Edited by C0V3RT (1380 posts) -

I played it a few months ago and hated it. I kept dying super early, nothing was clicking, and the game just seemed impenetrable to me.

I revisited it this last weekend and after watching some casters on twitch and some youtube videos, I started to pick up on things I wasn't doing. I gave it another run and things started to fall in place and I saw the allure of the game. Before I knew it, I'd lost track of time and it was 4 AM. I scuttled off to bed and the first thing I did when I woke up was boot back up FTL. My long term goal is to beat the end ship, but in the meantime am content trying to unlock all the ships and their variants.

In short, it's since grown on me and love it.

#4 Posted by Synaptic (310 posts) -

The fun lies in the challenge. You have to expect the game to screw you over a few times each run, at least. Where the challenge comes in is working with the tools you have to overcome those random events or bad ship spawns. It can be frustrating, but it's also rewarding.

#5 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19388 posts) -

Definitely both. It's an engaging game and when I fail, I want to try again over and over again, but the random nature of FTL can be very frustrating at times.

#6 Posted by Ravenlight (8011 posts) -

I love FTL. The pacing is just fast enough that I don't feel like I have to grind through anything when I restart. There are enough ways to screw yourself over in the game that the times when it truly is just bad luck seem far between. Finally, that first time the stars align and you beat the game, that makes all the previous failures worth it. Now do it on Normal.

#7 Posted by fox01313 (5089 posts) -

Still mixed, will enjoy playing it for a while to see some of the random stuff but after a few times of ship getting blown up I will want a break from it. I don't mind the roguelike feature of this but I hope that in the future of this game that a mission report text compilation of what happens shows up at the end to document all the crazy stuff that happened. Just glad that this game is such a fun time for the price paid for it, if it was a disc based game on the 360 or ps3 I'd find it hard to recommend this game but for steam, definitely get it to see if you like it.

#8 Edited by Zeik (2776 posts) -

I guess I'm somewhere in-between. It's nice game to jump into every now and then and have a brief adventure to see how far I can make it, but I'm not as obsessed with it as some people.

One thing I learned early on is that this not a game designed for you to "win". Obviously you can, and once you learn all the tricks I'm sure you can do it more consistently, but given how the RNG can screw you over it feels to me like a game where you just try to see how far you can make it. If the game screws you over you try to keep your struggling crew going as long as you can until you inevitably get blown up.

I think it's a good idea to not actually try to win in the beginning though. Better to have shorter term goals like unlocking new ships. Not only will that help you actually win, but it also allows you to actually achieve something without actually having to win.

#9 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

I nearly gave up on the game immediately, as I was playing it just on normal at first and just getting my butt handed to me in the first sector. Switching to easy helped, as did getting the Engi ship, much better than the human ship IMO. How DO you unlock more of the ships? Just keep playing?

#10 Posted by xxNBxx (982 posts) -

After hearing everything the GB crew said, I started on ez from the get go. I almost gave up myself after a few times after the game screwed me. With its lack of info on how the save system works. What ever you do don't just close the game unless you don't want to keep the save you had.

In my first game I got to sector 5 then died. Got the Engi Ship and started playing with that. I got unlucky for 3 or 4 games and keep dying before sector 5. Then I got extremely lucky and found the Crystal ship and It (after about 8 more games) helped me beat the last ship. The ship you get for beating the game is awesome for taking out the last ship.

Right now I am having fun trying to get all the ships.

Verdict? I love the game.

#11 Posted by BBAlpert (1580 posts) -

It's a vicious cycle that happens every single time I play FTL.

  1. I start it up, thinking "Alright, this time is going to be different, this is the time I'm going to have a ton of fun."
  2. I play for some period of time.
  3. I say "fuck this game" and close the program, making an empty vow not to let FTL trick me again.
  4. Go to step 1.
#12 Posted by killacam (1278 posts) -

more like FML, right guys?!

nah, i love it.

#13 Edited by mlarrabee (3064 posts) -

The randomization is both its strength and its weakness. A good deal of its draw is the realization that you'll never know what's going to happen next, and the struggle to overcome what does. But there's nothing more frustrating than to have a good run suddenly go bad, not because you did something wrong, but because rand() happened to roll against you four times in a row.

#14 Posted by Sackmanjones (4762 posts) -

I love to hate it!

#15 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

Whatever I feel about it, I keep on playing.

#16 Posted by Giantstalker (1729 posts) -

It was fun for about three days. I guess that's good for a game that's ten bucks?

It basically boils down to how much you like uncontrollable shit wasting your time. The randomness breathes intrigue and variety into an otherwise simple, repetitive game - and this is genuinely cool when you see it like this.

After many playthroughs the whole thing started feeling like a slot machine, though. I was trying to maximize my chances for good rolls, to get more crew, to get good weapons, even to reliably hit in combat, but it all hinged on the rolls.

Once I started looking at the game that way, I kinda just stopped playing. Certainly not bad, but it is what it is. I really hope FTL spawns some bigger, fuller sequel that's less about the random and more about the stuff you can actually control.

#17 Posted by awesomeusername (4219 posts) -

I hate that I love it!

#18 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

Success in the game does hinge an awfully lot on randomness. Do you get a good event that gets you free crew? Or did you roll poorly on said event and actually LOSE a crewmember? Do you happen across a wrecked ship with a good weapon upgrade, and scrap/missiles/droid parts? It goes on and on.

That being said, is the actual strategy pretty thin? In combat, what are you targeting? 4 things maybe? Shields, weapons, Droid control, maybe the captain if they are trying to get away? I have yet to even buy the teleporter, so maybe that's a whole different way to try to play it. But crew is so precious. :)

#19 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4498 posts) -

indifferent

#20 Posted by rentfn (1288 posts) -

When I get bad guys on my ship it's game over for me no matter how much of a roll I'm on.

#21 Posted by Gamer_152 (14113 posts) -

I think FTL is a pretty good game. I have some major problems with it in a way that other people just don't seem to, but at the same time I really appreciate the unique sense of exploration and a dangerous, uncaring universe the game gives you.

Moderator
#22 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

@Gamer_152: What are the major problems you have with it, out of curiosity?

#23 Edited by Ares42 (2800 posts) -

I generally like the game, but it comes with some caveats.

First off the game is way too unreliant on giving you essential upgrades. I've had way too many games end early because I didn't get any new weapons or ship modifications before it was too late.

Secondly the game is too obtuse about unlocks. The game became extremely more fun when I started getting new ships to play with, which basically allows you to use completely different tactics from the start of the game. However unlocking ships is more or less completely random unless you use guides, and even then you need a good deal of luck to get it going.

Thirdly it lacks a bit of balance. While this isn't as much of an issue I've had a good amount of games end just because I met an incredibly overpowering foe. Things like meeting a ship in something like the second or third jump with dual shiels, 2 rocket launchers and a triple (or more) laser. Sometimes you just meet ships that end your game even before you can jump away, no matter how well you've played.

Overall the game just relies too much on "random" to become great, but at the same time that's also what makes it replayable. I guess it's just one of those problems that's hard to approach unless you have infinite money to throw at a project.

#24 Edited by Breadfan (6590 posts) -

FTL is, a more or less, an abusive relationship. I love it. Also, Elderlikes is going into my vocabulary. Thank you.

#25 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3998 posts) -

I like it quite a bit.

However, I have to say, I think I would like an adapted game that featured a longer, more traditional style campaign. As in it would have a plot, RPG elements, etc.

Things would have to be tweaked quite a bit of course, but I think the core combat is good enough to support this. Imagine something like Wing Commander, Tie Fighter, Freelancer but with an extra focus on crew interaction in a larger ship. It'd be great.

FTL is great as is I just think I would like that game more. And honestly it would probably find a larger audience.

#26 Edited by HerbieBug (4208 posts) -

I do think the criteria for ship unlocks is needlessly strict, aside from the engi of course. Would be interested to see numbers on percentage of players actually unlock anything beyond the engi one. Probably large chunk of playerbase who put in their ten or twenty hours worth before quitting with no additional ships unlocked. Seeing as the ships are a part of the incentive to keep playing, I think the game holds back too much in that regard.

#27 Posted by triviaman09 (804 posts) -

FTL is good for short stints. I play it. I get tired of dying. I stop playing. I forget about it for a few days. Then I have the sudden urge to boot it all back up and repeat the cycle.

The fantastic soundtrack helps.

#28 Posted by paparoach (70 posts) -

FTL is not a Roguelike, I have no idea why they keep calling it that.

#29 Posted by Nictel (2441 posts) -

@Irishdoom said:

But I don't know if I can really handle the level of difficulty. And not difficult in the sense that I necessarily did something wrong, but just that a couple bad random events can end even a good game in a heartbeat. You can have a run where you're doing everything right, making the right choices when choice is available, happening across the right free weapons and upgrades, have a crew that just keeps surviving and improving, and just generally feel like you really have it going on, and BAM! You get a tough opponent near a star. He manages to hit and take out critical systems before you even know what's happening. Then a solar flare sets half your ship aflame...

Funny, this is exactly why I like it so much. Just the continuing tension of hoping to survive every jump. Still, every time I run into long range sensors I throw a little party.

#30 Posted by LackingSaint (1856 posts) -

I love FTL but i'll agree elements of the difficulty are just downright unfair. Things will happen that are just unavoidable and it makes all prior fortunes and good decisions totally meaningless.

#31 Edited by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

@Synaptic said:

The fun lies in the challenge. You have to expect the game to screw you over a few times each run, at least. Where the challenge comes in is working with the tools you have to overcome those random events or bad ship spawns. It can be frustrating, but it's also rewarding.

This is a perfect summation.

I've made almost exact statements towards the new Xcom (classic difficulty and up).

The challenge is at mitigating and surviving the random fuckups such games throw at you. That's exactly where your own personal skill, strategy and preparation come in. If you are good almost everything is possible to overcome. If you're not, que complaints about game's unfairness.

#32 Posted by Tennmuerti (8174 posts) -

@HerbieBug said:

I do think the criteria for ship unlocks is needlessly strict, aside from the engi of course. Would be interested to see numbers on percentage of players actually unlock anything beyond the engi one. Probably large chunk of playerbase who put in their ten or twenty hours worth before quitting with no additional ships unlocked. Seeing as the ships are a part of the incentive to keep playing, I think the game holds back too much in that regard.

Doing a fast wiki look up on ship unlock requirements and keeping them in mind as you play really helps get a lot of ships fast. It's possible to be unlocking a ship almost every full run, either a variant or a completely new type.

I believe on of the patches also made some of the requirements for ships less stringent.

The only ship with overly harsh requirements still is the crystal one.

#33 Posted by Jeust (10860 posts) -

Sounds cool but I never played it... 

#34 Posted by Irishdoom (333 posts) -

@Jeust: Well get out your five or ten bucks and fire it up! :)

#35 Posted by Yodasdarkside (302 posts) -

I hate it. Nothing about it draws me in, I cannot see the appeal of getting fucked over, again and again, in the hope that the random nature of the game won't screw you 'this time'. I only dropped $2.50 on it, so I don't really care, but the game eludes me.

#36 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3508 posts) -

I love it.

You need to accept death to enjoy this game. I can't tell you how many near perfect, slowly-managed 2 hour runs were instantly ended when _____ happened. But that's cool. I like dying, like seeing the list of all my ships that didn't make it, like making a new crew, picking a different ship, and going at it again. This is a great game to play on the side of a bigger game. I was putting lots of hours in X-com then jumping into FTL for a breather now and again. Pretty great fun.

It's the journey guys! Not the destination.

#37 Posted by Pepperooni (11 posts) -

I hate the lack of progress I feel like I'm making with it. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it goes badly. Either way I end up back at the start screen with the feeling that I haven't really accomplished anything.

They're not really the same type of game but I guess Rogue Legacy is slightly similar in that you're expected to die and start over again, only the effort I put in to having a good run pays off in making my next run a little more powered up. That's the type of game I enjoy. Challenging but rewarding. FTL doesn't feel rewarding to me.

Maybe I'd feel better about FTL if it wasn't invisible dice rolls that kept fucking me over. If it was 100% my fault I could get more behind it, but that's just me.

#38 Posted by Pepperooni (11 posts) -

I hate the lack of progress I feel like I'm making with it. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it goes badly. Either way I end up back at the start screen with the feeling that I haven't really accomplished anything.

They're not really the same type of game but I guess Rogue Legacy is slightly similar in that you're expected to die and start over again, only the effort I put in to having a good run pays off in making my next run a little more powered up. That's the type of game I enjoy. Challenging but rewarding. FTL doesn't feel rewarding to me.

Maybe I'd feel better about FTL if it wasn't invisible dice rolls that kept fucking me over. If it was 100% my fault I could get more behind it, but that's just me.

#39 Edited by The_Hiro_Abides (1270 posts) -

Success in the game does hinge an awfully lot on randomness. Do you get a good event that gets you free crew? Or did you roll poorly on said event and actually LOSE a crewmember? Do you happen across a wrecked ship with a good weapon upgrade, and scrap/missiles/droid parts? It goes on and on.

That being said, is the actual strategy pretty thin? In combat, what are you targeting? 4 things maybe? Shields, weapons, Droid control, maybe the captain if they are trying to get away? I have yet to even buy the teleporter, so maybe that's a whole different way to try to play it. But crew is so precious. :)

I know this post is over a year old...

I find the teleporter invaluable in most strategies for survival. For one you always get more scrap for taking out a ship's crew as opposed to destroying the ship. Although going that route does endanger your crew, to mitigate that you either have to upgrade your teleporter up to a 10 second cool down or (in advanced edition) use the cloning bay.

I just recently beat the end boss, on easy, 3 times. It felt like that would never happen, but finally did. That was rad.

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