The FTL: Faster Than Light Survival Guide

How hard can commanding a Spaceship be? If it was anything like what we are faced in FTL: Faster Than Light it would be left for only the most skilled and determined individuals. This game is not fooling around when it comes to slapping you around with missiles, lasers and drones. At one moment you can feel confident in your upgraded ship, only to end up in a Storm, with half your power, boarded, on fire, and leaking oxygen. I cannot even describe how many times I lost what I thought was an excellent setup to a surprisingly efficient foe, and my own mistakes. How to survive in FTL: Faster Than Light then? There are a few things to be aware of so that you cope a bit better, but they will by no means guarantee success. I only hope that by reading this guide you will have an easier time reaching zone 8. What happens after that? Let’s just say you are either that confident of victory, or you will be starting from square one all over again.

Once you are done here, why not check out our 5 Point Tip List for FTL?

We now also have a guide to some of the new tid-bits in the Advanced Edition of FTL.

FTL: Faster Than Light

If you are both very lucky and skilled you could be faced with the very same pleasure of defeating the Rebel flagship! Of course, more often than not, it will be the opposite.

The FTL: Faster Than Light Survival Guide

In order to get a good grip on how to perform better in FTL: Faster Than Light we must discuss two important areas. How to protect yourself, and how to attack the enemy efficiently. Although you won’t be able to have an impenetrable defense you have to to tackle the problem of being under fire in two stages. Not getting hit, and resolving the effects of being hit.

The Defensive

On Shields and Evasion

Depending on the ship you start in you might have access to more or less powerful Engines and Shields. Both of these measures have the important task of not allowing something to damage your ship. This is of course wishful thinking that you will ever have enough Evasion and strong enough shields to stop the enemy from any damage. It is important that you do not completely forget about upgrading or improving them.

Evasion allows you to dodge enemy fire (except for beams). How high your Evasion is depends on your Piloting and Engine. If you have a skilled Pilot and Engineer to man the Engine, together with suitable upgrades you will dodge missiles with the use of barrel rolls and more complex techniques. It should be noted that improving the Piloting Modules does not increase your Evasion, it only allows for the Auto-Pilot to try and dodge incoming fire if no Pilot is present. Only through upgrading your engine can you actually increase your Evasion significantly. Your Crew’s skills will also benefit you, but since you might had noticed just how often and suddenly you can lose crew members best not rely on them purely.

Your shields act as your second line of defense. If they are strong enough (and we are talking about some incredibly strong shields, or Zotan shields) you can even stop missiles. In general, your shields are meant to stop: Beams, Lasers and Ion shots. Each laser shot, regardless of strength, will take away one shield point. Ion Shots will temporarily weaken the shield, by how much depends on the specific Ion weapon. Beams are “softened” by the Shields. So, for example, if you had a Beam with strength two, facing a strength one shield then the beam would be capable of doing damage within the ship for one point, instead of two. Take note that certain weapons ignore Shields. Missiles will punch through any shield, except for 5 point/Zotan Shields. Bombs are teleported inside the enemy ship ignoring shields as well, and only a high enough Evasion can make them “Miss”. In general if you lack a decent Evasion your Shields will only stop certain types of weapons, making you an easy prey for Missiles and Bombs. A sufficient spamming of Ion weapons will also eventually disable your shields, leading to disaster.

Taking these two points into account, what is more important, Evasion or Shields? The simple answer is, “Both.”. Evasion can only be so high (the highest I ever got, without penalizing myself was 40%) so the Shields protected me from almost anything else that I could not dodge. Of course, you are bound to be hit, by something, so what will you do when that happens?

There is a certain alternative to using Evasion, and that is cloaking. When cloaked you get a 60% evasion bonus, for a limited duration. The enemy weapons won’t be able to target you, while your own weapons will be able to load up, and even fire, while cloaked. The problem is that the Cloaking system has a mildly long recharge time, and until it is upgraded you will have only short moments of becoming invisible. Still, the Cloaking system is a good investment, especially if you want to dodge already fired missile salvos.

FTL: Faster Than Light

The Halberd Beam would normally inflict two points of damage per area it hits, but because of the enemy shield this is only reduced to one point per section.

Taking Damage – Never Panic

In an ideal scenario nothing will so much as scratch your hull. In reality, the enemy will have such a wide selection of weapons that you are bound to get hit by something. The first rule of getting hit, do not panic. Follow these few steps in order to cope with any damage that you suffered.

  1. Did the hit damage the Hull (loss of oxygen in section), damage a system or start a fire? If not, continue on. If there was any such damage, proceed to point 2.
  2. Evaluate the importance of the damaged module or hull section. If it’s a non-essential system or sub-system leave the repairs for post-battle, if they are important, proceed to point 3.
  3. How extensive is the damage? How much does it penalize you? If you had some spare “power” points in your System that do not effect your efficiency you can ignore the damage, for now, but it should be fixed if possible.
  4. If the damage was penalizing, and you are under-gunned or exposed move crew members from other systems in order to fix those section as quickly as possible. If you feel that the battle is not going your way at all order your crew to focus repairs on your Piloting and Engine Systems. After you flee to a safe sector can you proceed with efficient and quick repairs of your ship.

About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

12 Responses to The FTL: Faster Than Light Survival Guide

  1. asdf says:

    Just kill the boss :)!

  2. Phil Asheeo says:

    Evasion before shield, never yield! Shield before evasion, a captain of the DEAD persuasion!

    Great game, hard as nails.

  3. apocon says:

    Just beat it with Nisos on Easy does it count? :P

  4. apocon says:

    Hehe that is true. Great job on the guide btw!

  5. Zalym says:

    Thanks for the guide though it was a good read!

    I’ve had this game for awhile and can make it to the flagship most of the time – but I’ll be darned if I can get there with strong enough weapons – or if I do, I’ve spent so much scrap on repairs as I traveled that i don’t have the engines or shields to give me the time needed to use the weapons. Or some other variant of that sob story. ‘Dice Roll’ based games always seem to hate me :)

    That’s alright though – getting there is 98% of the fun in this game anyway. At least for me who is stuck in the cold when it comes to “winning”. Thanks again!

    • WriterX says:

      Not a problem! I hope it will help a bit. And yes, this game is so much like Dwarf Fortress. You either get is super easy and lucky… Or you die in the first five minutes, and you had no way of preparing for it!

  6. Yaro Kasear says:

    Totally disagree with the boarder strategy. All that will do is guarantee lost systems and crew.

    It’s easy: Move all your crew to the medbay, open all the doors but the medbay. Boarders will be forced to take your crew on there where they have no hop eof winning. Bonus is they’ll leave all your systems alone. Only downside is if they came from a ship you have no evasion.

    If you have a fully upgraded door system you could force them to fight their way to the medbay against suffocation. Might also allow you more time to keep systems manned, at least long enough to cripple the enemy ship.

  7. Mweeehp says:

    I managed to get to the boss in my second run in normal. :0 im so badass ^_^

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