The Advanced Edition’s gameplay is still fickle, but improvements and new content made FTL easier to put up with.

User Rating: 7 | FTL: Advanced Edition PC

INTRO:

Since releasing the game after obtaining a huge success at its Kickstarter pitch at a time when crowdfunding was a fad, Subset Games appeared to have done little to add more to the game, other than intermittent patches for problems which had been encountered by players.

Fortunately, suspicions and worries that Subset Games had done nothing productive with the crowd-funded money were allayed when it revealed the Advanced Edition for FTL: Faster Than Light.

The Advanced Edition brings additional content to the game, in addition to consolidating improvements in user interface designs and other gameplay features.

TRANSITION FROM PREVIOUS VERSIONS:

The Advanced Edition comes as a package of its own; its installer cannot be used to update existing installations of FTL.

This might have been a sign of trouble, but the Advanced Edition can and do indeed fetch the data which earlier versions of the game has used. It will reconfigure this data, virtually flawlessly, for use in play sessions with the Advanced Edition (AE).

The Advanced Edition derives a new profile from the player’s profile for the older versions of the game.
The Advanced Edition derives a new profile from the player’s profile for the older versions of the game.

The player can even continue playthroughs which had been started using the earlier versions of the game but which had yet to be completed. This is incredibly convenient.

ADVANCED EDITION CONTENT TOGGLE:

There had been rumblings by less-than-satisfied veterans of FTL that the additional content which the Advanced Edition packs has made the experience of the game rather unfamiliar for them.

Perhaps in response (or anticipation) to these complaints, the Advanced Edition does come with a toggle to include or exclude said additional content from new playthroughs.

However, the toggle does not reverse improvements which had been made to the game, such as the revamping of the human race of crewmembers and the rebalancing of some pre-existing gameplay elements.

Disabling AE content for a new playthrough will also not make progress files which had been made with the Advanced Edition compatible with earlier versions of the game.

(Having said that, playthroughs which had been imported from previous versions of the game is rendered incompatible with said previous versions too.)

Still, it has to be said here that even if the player does not like the content which is associated with the Advanced Edition, having playthroughs with the AE content toggled off is still a better experience than playthroughs with the older versions of the game. This will be elaborated shortly.

Any playthroughs which had been ‘imported’ from the previous versions of the game has Advanced Edition content disabled by default.
Any playthroughs which had been ‘imported’ from the previous versions of the game has Advanced Edition content disabled by default.

BEVY OF MINOR CHANGES & IMPROVEMENTS:

In addition to introducing additional game-changing content, the Advanced Edition addresses many deficiencies and glitches with the previous versions of the game. It also introduces a lot of conveniences which make the game more user-friendly. Changes have also been implemented for the sake of gameplay balance, at least as perceived by Subset Games itself.

It has, however, done nothing about the pervasiveness of RNG scripts in the core gameplay designs of FTL, such as the RNG rolls for evasion ratings.

(Note: Before the sections on AE content, the screenshots are made using a playthrough with AE content toggled off.)

ADDITIONAL METHOD TO UNLOCK SHIPS:

The early versions of FTL are incredibly fickle at giving opportunities to players to unlock cruisers and alternative types of cruisers. The player had to cross fingers and hope for the chance to start quests which lead to the unlocking of cruisers.

Therefore, it is fortunate that the Advanced Edition provides an additional way to unlock ships. After scoring a successful playthrough with a particular kind of cruiser, the player will unlock the next cruiser in the main list. This can be very pleasing to players who do not like chasing quests.

The Advanced Edition informs the player early on about the new method to unlock cruisers.
The Advanced Edition informs the player early on about the new method to unlock cruisers.

However, unlocking the “Type B” variant of a cruiser still has to be done by obtaining the achievements which are associated with that cruiser. As veterans of FTL would recall, the effort to obtain many of these achievements is counter-productive to a playthrough.

Fortunately, the “Type C” variants which are introduced by the Advanced Edition do not have to be unlocked with achievements. Instead, the player only needs to reach the Last Stand sector with either the Type B variant of a cruiser and with Advanced Edition content toggled on.

An additional quest has also been added as part of the rework of the unlocking process for the Federation Cruiser, which was perhaps a little too easy to unlock previously.

A harsh player can argue that the reworking means that players are shoe-horned into playing every other ship just to obtain the Type C variants, of course.

HUMANS ARE NO LONGER BORING:

The early versions of the game have a rather condescending attitude towards humans. Where there is narrative exposition about how other races view humans, almost every non-human will make a denigrating remark about humans. The attitude even extended to gameplay: humans had no bad qualities, but also no good qualities either.

Most importantly, there are very, very few special options which humans can provide in order to deal with certain encounters or events.

This made humans undesirable in the eyes of experienced players whenever they are given a choice between choosing humans and non-humans for their crew.

In the versions of the game leading to Advanced Edition, humans had been revamped; they now improve their skills faster than other races.

They still do not provide a lot of special options for events and encounters (there is only one documented special option thus far), but decisions to ditch them for crewmembers of other races would be a lot harder to make now, especially if existing human crewmembers have gained much experience in many things.

The gameplay designs of human crewmembers have changed, but they are still described as dull and bland.
The gameplay designs of human crewmembers have changed, but they are still described as dull and bland.

MANNABLE SENSORS AND DOOR SYSTEMS:

In the versions of FTL leading to the Advanced Edition, the sensor and door systems have been revamped to be operable. The revamp also changes some rules about upgrades for them, namely that Level 3 Sensors no longer see the power usage of enemy ships. There is a way to do so, and it will be described shortly.

Anyway, the player can now assign crewmembers to either system. There are no skills which are associated with their use though, but the benefit comes from just having someone operate them. The benefit is that the systems are counted as one level higher than their actual level. Having someone operate them is the only way to access the Level 4 benefits of these systems. (Of course, the player must upgrade them to Level 3 first.)

This additional feature is useful if the player has more than four crewmembers but does not yet have a teleporter to use crewmembers for boarding actions.

ADDITIONAL VISUAL DESIGNS FOR SECTOR MAP:

Before the Advanced Edition, there had already been updates which improved the sector map screen which the player uses to make jumps. They had been consolidated in AE.

The sector map screen is now a lot bigger and the player is shown the jump connections of the next beacon.
The sector map screen is now a lot bigger and the player is shown the jump connections of the next beacon.

SAVING & “LOADING” CREW ASSIGNMENTS:

In the earlier versions of FTL, making sure everyone is at their correct stations after an intense engagement could be a chore. It was made all the more tedious by the lack of variations in the sprites for crewmembers.

The Advanced Edition finalizes the feature to “save” the positions of crewmembers aboard their own ship. With a click of a button, the player can have them returning to these positions (assuming that they are on board their own ship and not on an enemy ship). Of course, there is the caveat that they must move their asses, so this feature is more useful after battles than during them.

LESS TEXT:

There were a lot of text pop-ups in the previous versions of FTL – and Advanced Edition is not any different.

However, in place of boring text, there are now icons and other images. For example, the results of salvaging is no longer completely presented in text, but are presented with icons and numbers representing the stuff which have been scraped together.

MORE DETAILED TOOLTIPS:

The tooltips for many things have more information now. Of course, this improvement had already been implemented before the Advanced Edition.

Being able to see the important details of weapons during battles is much appreciated. The text for fire rates is missing though.
Being able to see the important details of weapons during battles is much appreciated. The text for fire rates is missing though.

SAVING & QUITTING REVAMP:

Saving and quitting has been made a lot more convenient than ever.

In the previous versions of the game, when the player’s ship is in danger from anything, the option to save and quit is disabled. This limitation has been removed in the Advanced Edition.

Progress-record files which are made during dangerous scenarios are consequently bigger in order to retain data about the scenarios. However, the files remain mere kilobytes in size.

This revamp also makes save-scumming a lot easier for players who have no qualms about cheating.

Perhaps the most important change is that the game no longer consumes the progress-record file during a session. It only deletes it when the player suffers a game-over or forces a restart.

The progress-record file is also updated after every successful encounter. The game also lets the player return to the main menu without forfeiting the playthrough.

(There is a rare glitch where continuing a playthrough causes the game to execute the outcome of the event at the beacon where the player is at, if the player has resolved the event already.)

EXPERIENCE GAIN VISUAL INDICATORS:

The mechanisms for experience gain among crewmembers are not exactly clear to every player; those who did not do research by looking at third-party information such as the wiki for the game would take a while to figure them out, if they ever can.

To mitigate this issue, the game now has visual indicators for when any crewmember gains experience in any skill. This makes it easier for the inexperienced but observant player to make association between experience gains and in-game occurrences.

The huge icons for experience gains can seem a bit gaudy, but they are otherwise not visually intrusive.
The huge icons for experience gains can seem a bit gaudy, but they are otherwise not visually intrusive.

LAYER SHIELD RECHARGE PROGRESS:

The player can now see a bar which fills up as the player’s ship makes progress toward regaining one layer of shields. With level 3 sensors, the player can also see the recharge progress of the layer shields of an opposing ship.

Considering that shields recharge rather quickly, this visual indicator is not of much use because it is too fast to track.

SQUARE HIGHLIGHTS:

In the earlier versions of FTL, when the player sends crewmembers into this or that room, green dots appear on the squares of the room; these dots depict where they will stop at. This visual indicator has been changed to a subtly glossy green highlight of the squares in the Advance Edition. This is not exactly easier to see.

This change could have been more impressive if the player can choose which square in a room a crewmember would move to, but at this time of writing, there has yet to be such a convenience.

DRONE CONTROL SYSTEM PURCHASE:

When the player purchases the installation of a drone control system, the player gains one drone blueprint for free; this blueprint is randomly picked from low-level blueprints, which include examples such as the Defence Drone Mark 1. In the earlier versions of FTL, this is only known to the player after he/she purchased it. This is no longer the case in the Advanced Edition.

In the Advanced Edition, the player can see which drone blueprint comes with the drone control system.
In the Advanced Edition, the player can see which drone blueprint comes with the drone control system.

GLITCHES FIXED:

Many glitches and exploits which were in the earlier versions of the game have been fixed.

For example, saving, quitting and continuing at a “store” location no longer resets the fee rates for repairs. The glitch which allows an unscrupulous player to grant permanent protection from defence drones has also been addressed. The game also considers the power provided by Zoltan crewmembers to weapons after continuing a playthrough, where previously it did not.

DRONES NO LONGER DRIFT:

Attack drones lose their momentum a lot quicker after they are de-activated. Defence drones are now strictly limited to an orbital path around their parent ship.

These changes mean that drones no longer drift out of the screen and are counted as lost.

ADDITIONAL CAVEAT FOR DRONE CONTROL:

In the previous versions of FTL, any ship with a drone control system can immediately deploy another drone after the previous one has been destroyed.

Although the player can indeed use this convenience to his/her advantage, not every player finds drones worth using. Rather, this convenience is more useful for the computer-controlled opposition. Veteran players might remember how ships like Rebel Riggers or the second form of the Rebel Flagship can spam boarding drone after boarding drone, which would have been an unpleasant experience.

In the Advanced Edition, this has been balanced. When a drone is destroyed, its parent ship cannot create a replacement until close to a minute later. This mainly applies to boarding drones and anti-personnel drones, but also to attack and defence drones too, if they are destroyed by stray fire.

Learning about the additional limitation for drones for the first time while having it happen to oneself might be a bit unpleasant.
Learning about the additional limitation for drones for the first time while having it happen to oneself might be a bit unpleasant.

SOLAR FLARE HAZARD TONE-DOWN:

Particularly unlucky players may have unpleasant memories of one too many forays into beacons which are too close to suns.

Little has been done about the frequency of such beacons, but the hazard itself has been reworked to be less nasty. Specifically, the rate of solar flares has been pared down; there can be close to a couple minutes between two consecutive flares. This is a very welcome change.

SKILLED CREWMEMBERS FOR RECRUITING:

In the previous versions of the game, new crewmembers were always rookies. This simplified the player’s decision if and when he/she has to decide who to ditch in favour of the new crewmember to just a matter of species. (Humans invariably tended to get the airlock.)

In the Advanced Edition, new or prospective crewmembers already come with some ratings in skills. This is the case regardless of whether the player hired them or obtained them as rewards.

The ratings which they have appear to be randomly generated; the player can come across oddities such as Engis being particularly skilled in combat or Mantises who have high repair skills.

It is also worth noting here that the benefits of the ratings are now displayed in the tooltips for crewmembers in the crew or “store” screen. However, the tooltips do not appear in the dialogue box for events and encounters; the player gets icons instead, fortunately.

STORES HAVE MORE STUFF ON-SALE:

Stores can now offer more than just two categories of goods. They can offer up to four categories, shown in two pages on the “store” screen. “Stores” may also offer an expanded list of items of the same category.

Subset Games did not revamp the screen to display everything on sale and has instead crammed stuff into “page” tabs. This is a small complaint, of course.
Subset Games did not revamp the screen to display everything on sale and has instead crammed stuff into “page” tabs. This is a small complaint, of course.

REBEL STRONGHOLD:

An additional sector has been added into the pool, mainly with the intention of implementing the re-balance for the process to unlock the Federation Cruiser.

In addition, it is also intended to expand the backstory on the Rebellion, though the extra bits of lore would not surprise any veteran of FTL who paid attention to the story. It should suffice to say that not everyone in the Rebellion’s homeworlds adhere to its ideals.

As to be expected, most of the enemies in this sector are Rebels. However, there is often the addition of the hazard of Anti-Ship Batteries. These will be described later, because they are more associated with the re-design of the Rebel Fleet advance. These hazards can occur outside of those scenarios though.

NEW RULES ON LAST STAND:

In the early versions of FTL, the Last Stand sector has the player chasing down the Rebel Flagship for a confrontation, while it makes jumps towards the Federation’s main base.

The problem is that whenever the player defeats the Rebel Flagship, it immediately makes an emergency jump, usually towards a randomly selected beacon. This jump is made independently of its jump/wait cycle.

This means that unlucky players can have the Flagship jumping closer to the base, regardless of their efforts to defeat it. Since all that was needed for a game-over is the Flagship reaching the base, the player could still lose by a hair’s breadth – which would have been aggravating.

In the Advanced Edition, the rules for the Last Stand have been revamped. The flagship no longer has to just arrive at the base to cause a game-over; it must also stay at least three consecutive turns on it. This means that the player can attempt to get towards some beacons with Federation repair bases to resupply.

Speaking of which, these particular beacons have lower probabilities of being overrun by the Rebels. They also provide a lot more resources now.

Also, due to the requirement of three consecutive turns, the player can reverse the Flagship’s progress by defeating it and chasing it away from the base after it has reached it.

SEEING HOSTILE WEAPON CHARGE:

It has been mentioned earlier that the player must have someone operate the sensor system – which has to be upgraded to Level 3 - in order to be able to see the power distribution of enemy ships. The benefit of the Level 3 sensor system has been reworked to address the complaint of not having a more reliable visual indicator for when enemies are close to firing their weapons.

(Previously, there are lights which change colour on the sprites of weapons, but the visual indicators for bomb teleporters are not so clear.)

The Level 3 sensor system helps if the player wants to micromanage power distribution for defences against the weapons on enemy ships.
The Level 3 sensor system helps if the player wants to micromanage power distribution for defences against the weapons on enemy ships.

REBEL ADVANCE TWEAK:

One of the key elements of FTL’s gameplay – other than the terribly pervasive RNGs – is the sense of urgency from the advance of the Rebel fleet. As veterans of FTL would know, if the player’s ship is caught by the Rebel advance, he/she would have to fight a powerful Rebel vessel.

Yet, players who had managed to get themselves some very powerful weapons and crewmembers which are devastating at close quarters combat can still tear through Rebel vessels anyway, perhaps even with no damage to the ship and little to no expenditure of drones or missiles if the ship has been heavily upgraded too. Furthermore, the “reward” from Rebel vessels which are defeated in such a manner is still one point of fuel.

Thus, the player can risk going to the furthermost beacons, if only to squeeze more events and encounters out of a sector and hopefully more opportunities to power up the ship. Having to traipse back to the exit through the Rebel advance is not an issue when the player’s ship has enough fuel and strength to overcome them.

This has been rectified in the Advanced Edition. If the player is caught in the Rebel advance, he/she would come under attack by Rebel ships which are armed with anti-ship batteries. Much like solar flares, the player is given some time before the attack comes. When it does, it can hit for a considerable amount of hull damage and also causes a hull breach. The player’s evasion rating helps, but this is of course a matter of luck.

This change means that getting caught by the Rebel advance now comes with a very certain risk.

However, the player can still resort to using powerful engines and cloaking to hide while charging a jump. On the other hand, the player will be having a net loss of fuel.

The things in the background are no longer all pixel artsy stuff.
The things in the background are no longer all pixel artsy stuff.

HARD MODE:

The Advanced Edition comes with an additional difficulty setting, though perhaps this could have been foreseen by veterans of FTL who noticed the conspicuous absence of a difficulty setting called “Hard”.

Anyway, the “Hard” setting tosses more powerful enemies at the player much earlier on. It also applies a fractional multiplier to the scrap which the player gains as rewards.

Enemies also have their behaviour scripts changed, usually to make them nastier. They are more likely to target weapons more carefully, such as firing weapons which inflict more damage when they hit empty rooms at empty rooms. (In earlier versions of the game, the computer-controlled opponents pick their targets in a seemingly random manner.)

Enemies which resort to boarding do not so just once in Hard mode. They still recall badly wounded boarders so that they can be healed, but after they had been healed, they will return to the teleporter of their ship for boarding action again.

The most important difference is perhaps the change in the layout of the Rebel Flagship. It has its layout subtly changed, making two of its most powerful weapons a lot less isolated and thus more difficult to knock out.

Considering the fickleness of the gameplay, “Hard” is obviously for the more sadomasochistic of players. Learning about them the hard way is not pleasant either, if the player had gotten used to the capabilities of computer-controlled opponents at the “Normal” difficulty setting.

Completionists, in particular, would be irked by the fact that the game tracks achievements according to difficulty settings.

In Hard mode, there are rooms which connect the control rooms for the plasma and missile batteries to the main body of the Rebel Flagship’s interior.
In Hard mode, there are rooms which connect the control rooms for the plasma and missile batteries to the main body of the Rebel Flagship’s interior.

EXPLODING ZOLTANS:

In the earlier versions of the game, enemy Zoltans are pretty much push-overs in boarding combat, mainly due to their low hitpoint counters. Even Engis would perform better, mainly because they can still at least hold off enemies longer than Zoltans can.

In the Advanced Edition, they have become a lot more dangerous, mainly to enemies. When a Zoltan dies, he/she blows up and damages every enemy in the room for considerable damage. Interestingly, friendlies are unaffected.

However, in practice, this change works more against the player than for the player. That is, unless he/she makes use of some rather cavalier tactics which have Zoltan crewmembers acting like suicide bombers (which is viable if the player has an upgraded Cloning Bay; more on these later).

REVAMPED PILOTING SYSTEM:

In the earlier versions of FTL, there was really no good reason to upgrade the bridge system (called “piloting” in-game) other than to provide some buffer to absorb damage. This was because the benefit, which was that there will always be an evasion rating if the pilot is away, is just too small.

This has been reworked in the Advanced Edition. The bonus can reach up to 80% of the evasion rating provided by the presence of an actual pilot. Although this is still far from the benefit provided by a skilled and undistracted pilot, this does allow for some tactics which take the pilot away to do something else.

ADDITIONAL NON-A.E. EVENTS:

Some new entries have been added into the pool of events which the game uses to seed beacons with when the next sector is procedurally generated.

These events are not programmed to be associated with the Advanced Edition, so using the aforementioned toggle to disable Advanced Edition content will not prevent them from appearing.

Yet, it is probably not in the player’s interest to avoid these additional events. Many of them appear to give the player more options than the events in the original pool.

For example, there is an event which gives the player an opportunity to hire crewmembers for fees lower than those charged at ‘stores’.

One of the best non-A.E. events is an offer to upgrade one of the ship’s system for costs which are lower than usual.
One of the best non-A.E. events is an offer to upgrade one of the ship’s system for costs which are lower than usual.

ADVANCED EDITION CONTENT:

The main appeal of the Advanced Edition is of course its content which has been tagged as “Advanced Edition”. This includes a new race, additional systems, weapons, drones and augments, and additional events and encounters.

Some existing content is also modified. Most enemies sport the ship assets which have been mentioned. The Rebel Flagship is also guaranteed to have them. Some events also have special options which can be performed with the new things.

All of these things are obviously game-changing, so their impact will have to be described in detail.

ADDITIONAL SECTOR:

An additional sector has been added into the pool of sectors which the player might come across. This additional sector, simply called the “Abandoned Sector”, is used by the game to introduce the Lanius race, which will be described later.

In terms of narrative, the Abandoned Sector was supposed to be yet another sector to be caught up in the war between the Federation and the Rebellion. However, it turns out that it was the home of the formerly dormant race that is the Lanius. The chaos of the war stirred them awake and they wasted no time feeding on the wreckage left behind in the wake of the changing frontlines.

The problem is that they also attacked operational ships. This hunger of theirs, coupled with the unfamiliarity of the Lanius, spooked the inhabitants of the sector enough to get them to leave. Of course, this led to the name of “Abandoned Sector”.

Players who did not follow Subset Games’ announcements which lead up to the release of the Advanced Edition might not realize this of course. However, if they do spend some time to read the text which comes up when they enter the Abandoned Sector for the first time, they may be better informed of this bit of lore.

Anyway, in this sector, there are a lot of encounters with the Lanius, as well as more chances to recruit Lanius crewmembers.

Other than its name, the sector map for the Abandoned Sector looks just like any other sector map.
Other than its name, the sector map for the Abandoned Sector looks just like any other sector map.

THE LANIUS:

The Lanius is an additional race which is associated with the Advanced Edition. Toggling AE content off prevents them from appearing in the playthrough.

Even with AE content toggled on, encounters with them are rare outside of the Abandoned Sector; this is much like the Crystals.

In terms of gameplay, they function like other crewmembers, but with the significant benefit of not needing to breathe which is in turn balanced by the major caveat of them depriving any room which they are in of oxygen. They are also a bit slower than other races (mainly because they are practically living metal).

Obviously, this makes them incredibly effective at strikes against specific systems on enemy ships or defence of specific systems on the player’s own ship, provided that they do not need to move around (and thus deprive other rooms of air).

In terms of narrative appeal, there is some humour to be had from the Lanius, though this is not due to attempts at humour on their part. As mentioned earlier, the Lanius are relatively new to the current state of the galaxy; the consequence of this is that the comprehension of their methods and language (if they use any in the first place) is sparse among the “known” races. Communication is only possible through hastily programmed translation devices.

Thus, complications such as mistranslations and misunderstanding of Lanius culture result in hilarious conversations, such as Lanius referring to ships and vessels as “metallic opportunities”.

The Lanius’ hunger for minerals is also used to hilarious effect at times, such as a Lanius crewmember absorbing inanimate objects when the player picks special options to resolve events with.

Of course, such humour is nothing new in FTL. There had been hilarious scenarios in which backstory about the other races is given, such as how the Engis build new ships.

Lanius ships often turn out hostile if the player lacks any Lanius crewmember to talk to them.
Lanius ships often turn out hostile if the player lacks any Lanius crewmember to talk to them.

LANIUS CRUISER:

In addition to introducing the Lanius race, the Advanced Edition also introduces their cruiser. It can be unlocked by unlocking at least four other ships, not counting the default cruiser.

Of course, less-fascinated veterans of FTL will point out that the Lanius cruiser, like the other cruisers, has starting configurations which are balanced against each other.

However, it has a few appeals: it is probably the first cruiser with a Clone Bay and a Hacking system which the player would unlock. It is also likely the first cruiser to have weapons which are marked as A.E. content. Most importantly, the cruiser starts with two Lanius crewmembers, and an Emergency Respirator system which makes certain oxygen-depriving tactics possible.

If the player wants to experience the A.E. content as soon as possible, the Lanius Cruiser is the best way to do so.

Interestingly, like the Crystal Cruiser, the Lanius Cruiser lacks a Type C variant. Also, both variants of the Lanius Cruiser starts with A.E. content, whereas the Crystal Cruiser does not.

Starting the Advanced Edition for the first time with well-filled-out profiles from earlier versions of FTL immediately unlocks the Lanius Cruiser for use.
Starting the Advanced Edition for the first time with well-filled-out profiles from earlier versions of FTL immediately unlocks the Lanius Cruiser for use.

LANIUS-ASSOCIATED EVENTS:

The Abandoned Sector has the most events which are associated with the Lanius, which is obvious because this sector is where they are most active.

However, the Lanius, like the Slugs, tend to be unpredictable; encounters with them can turn out plenty beneficial (such as them gifting augmentations after sating their hunger) or degrade into a fight.

Having Lanius crewmembers helps, because they provide special options which invariably involve them talking to their own kin. However, the player would discover that the Lanius can be mercurial when they are hungry.

ADDITIONAL HAZARDS:

The A.E. content includes additional hazards which imperil the player’s ship.

The most prominent of these are Anti-Ship Batteries. These actually have been mentioned earlier and they do appear when AE content is toggled off, but with the A.E. content enabled, they appear more often.

Sometimes, the player can use the Hacking System (more on these later) to turn the batteries against enemies instead. This is great if the player intends to destroy the other ship.

Next, there is the pulsar. The beacon happens to be close to a celestial anomaly which periodically emits ion waves. Each wave inflicts temporary ion damage on a system, chosen at random, on each ship.

Ion pulses are not as bad as solar flares, but losing the use of a system at an inopportune time can be costly.
Ion pulses are not as bad as solar flares, but losing the use of a system at an inopportune time can be costly.

STUNNED CREW:

If the A.E. content is toggled on, the mechanism of stunning crewmembers is turned on too.

All weapons have a chance of stunning crewmembers who happen to be in the room which they hit. This can add a lot of uncertainty to battles, which is not always desirable because they were already quite fickle before this.

Still, the player can attempt to make use of this mechanism, usually by using weapons which happen to have much higher chances of stunning crewmembers.

ADDITIONAL DRONE SCHEMATICS:

The A.E. content includes some additional drone schematics, which change gameplay concerning drones rather considerably.

Some of these are upgraded versions of existing drones. For example, there is the Mk II Beam Drone, which is an upgraded Beam Drone. It is a lot nastier, and for just an extra power bar requirement too; it should be understandable that it is flagged as A.E. content.

There are a few additional types of drones which fill niches that the original drones do not fulfill.

There is the Ion Intruder, which specifically targets systems and periodically emits ion pulses. In addition to inflicting ion damage on systems, the pulses also happen to stun enemy crew.

Having hostile attack drones flit around the player’s ship can be annoying, so there is the Anti-Combat Drone. It orbits around a ship like the Defence Drone does and it stuns hostile attack drones which have been sent over. Stunned drones might explode after a while, with the consequences from destroyed drones as had been mentioned earlier.

Even if they make the RNG roll to avoid explosion, they can be hit by the Anti-Combat Drone again.

Finally, there is a way to deal with irritating hostile drones.
Finally, there is a way to deal with irritating hostile drones.

For players who like to set enemy ships on fire, there is the Fire Drone, which is essentially a drone with the Fire Beam weapon.

Super-shields are usually the purview of the Zoltan. The A.E. content, however, does include a drone which adds a point of super-shield onto its parent ship over time during battle.

This is incredibly useful, mainly because the last remaining point of a ship’s super-shields is still guaranteed to absorb one shot of any amount of damage. On the other hand, it is only useful if the player can stall the weapons-fire of the other ship.

NEW SYSTEMS:

The A.E. content introduces a handful of systems. Many of these are very entertaining to use; they also introduce many new tactical options to FTL, which is welcome.

However, the A.E. content also introduces a new caveat concerning systems.

Before explaining this caveat, there has to be a reminder that the previous versions of FTL do let the player install just about every system on his/her ship.

The Advanced Edition has imposed a limit on the number of systems which a ship may have, usually eight. Installations are permanent; only the Medical Bay and Cloning Bays are interchangeable (oddly enough). The player must decide which systems to install and which to forgo.

This bolsters FTL’s theme of opportunity costs, which is welcome in the eyes of players who believe in gameplay balance which works against the player who tends to min-max things.

The player is not allowed to make his/her ship overpowered by installing just about any system in it.
The player is not allowed to make his/her ship overpowered by installing just about any system in it.

The A.E.-associated systems, especially Mind Control, can also be used for some special options in non A.E. events. For example, in the earlier versions of FTL, there are potential enemies who obstruct the player in some events; in the Advanced Edition, the Mind Control system can be used to pull off mind-tricks (pardon the Star Wars reference).

HACKING:

The Hacking system can be used to periodically shut down one system on an opposing ship; the consequences differ from system to system. Generally, the hacked system is intermittently turned against its own ship.

The keyword here is “periodically”. The worst of the hacking’s adverse effects can only be triggered every once in a while.

For example, hacking the door system of the opposing ship periodically locks all doors on the opposing ship; the crew of that ship have to bash through the doors in order to get anywhere. As another more hilarious example, hacking the Med-bay of the opposing ship makes it lethal against its own crew – if they were in the Med-bay in the first place.

Perhaps the best target for hacking is the bridge of a ship; it drastically reduces the evasion rating of the other ship.

Whichever system is hacked, the doors to the room with that system will be always locked, regardless of the periodicity; the doors will, however, allow access to boarders, conveniently enough. This can be more important than actually targeting which system to hack; targeting a strategically-located system can prevent enemy crew from getting to somewhere important.

Hacking is indeed very powerful. Therefore, it has the price of consuming a drone part each time it is used. Thus, it competes with the Drone Control system for resources. Considering that both systems offer a lot of mutually exclusive benefits with the A.E. content, this can be a tough choice to make.

Furthermore, once the hacking drone has attached itself to the enemy ship, it can only mess with the system which the player has targeted. The player cannot redirect the drone elsewhere; the drone cannot be recovered too.

MIND CONTROL:

Having a crewmember turn against his/her/its own ship can be either amusing or unpleasant, depending on who is using the Mind Control system on who.

When the player has a Mind Control system, he/she can pick who on the other ship to mind-control first. That person stops what he/she was doing and starts attacking his/her own ship.

The pilot of the enemy ship is usually a good target for Mind Control.
The pilot of the enemy ship is usually a good target for Mind Control.

Unfortunately, the player has no control over the mind-controlled enemy crewmember. This is an odd omission. Furthermore, the system requires a view of the interior of the other ship in order to work. These limitations make the system less useful than it could have been.

(Hostile boarders on the player’s own ship can be targeted however – of course, the player will need to have a view of his/her own ship in the first place.)

If anything else, Mind Control can be used defensively; using it on a mind-controlled friendly crewmember immediately cancels the mind-control.

(There were some exploits which can be performed using mind-control, such as gaining additional crewmembers beyond the limit of eight. These exploits will likely be patched over though.)

Also, Slugs are immune to mind-control, of course.

BACKUP BATTERY:

The Backup Battery is considered as a subsystem, so it does not need power. This is just as well, considering that it is a source of power, albeit a temporary one. When triggered, it provides 30 seconds of extra power; its cool-down is 20 seconds by default.

It is incredibly useful for repeatable short-term tactics, especially cloaking. When the Backup Battery is used to power cloaking and the cloaking system goes into cool-down, the system locks up backup power instead. As soon as the Backup Battery goes into cool-down, the locked-up backup power is returned anyway.

CLONING BAY:

The main appeal of the aforementioned Type C variants of the cruisers (and the Lanius cruisers) are that they all come with Cloning Bays (in addition to other systems and weapons which are associated with the A.E. content).

Cloning Bays are alternative systems to Medical Bays; they are mutually exclusive, so the player can only decide whether to have one or the other. This is just as well, because the player’s ship would have been too overpowered otherwise if the benefits of both bays can be stacked on top of each other.

(They can, however, be switched from one to the other, if the player has the scrap to purchase the other system to replace the existing one.)

In previous versions of FTL, death is very much a finality. With the Cloning Bay, crewmembers can cheat death, though not without a price and some risk of dying permanently anyway.

After killing all of the crew on an enemy ship and knocking out its Cloning Bay, the player will need to wait a while for victory to occur.
After killing all of the crew on an enemy ship and knocking out its Cloning Bay, the player will need to wait a while for victory to occur.

The Cloning Bay cannot heal crewmembers. Instead, it can only heal the crew every time the player’s ship jumps. This hardly contributes to the combat-readiness of the crew. However, it would appear that this minor benefit of the system is always available, even if the system is not powered.

Rather, the main purpose of the Bay is to revive any crewmember who dies. The process takes a while, but if any other crewmember dies in the meantime, they are added to the queue and will eventually be resurrected.

However, if the cloning bay is knocked out, it starts to lose its data on dead crewmembers quickly. Once data on a person is lost, he/she/it is gone for good. (This limitation is disregarded if the ship has a certain augmentation.)

This also means that enemy ships which are equipped with Cloning Bays cannot be defeated until these systems have been knocked out and after the data on the enemy crew has dissipated.

When a crewmember is resurrected, he/she/it loses some experience in his/her/its skills. This is intended to prevent the player from becoming too cavalier with the crew.

All in all, the Cloning Bay does change up the way which the player has to play the game with. It is more forgiving of carelessness on the part of the player. More conservative players would scoff at it though, because at least the Medical Bay can keep everyone at tip-top health before making a jump.

ADDITIONAL WEAPON TYPES:

The A.E. content includes several additional weapons, some of which can be categorized into the following overarching groups: chargers, chains and flaks.

Chargers are actually variants of existing types of weapons; there are charger variants for pulse emitters, missile launchers and ion emitters.

Chargers can charge more shots over time if the player lets them. Otherwise, the player can have them releasing whatever shots which they have accumulated. They are obviously a lot more tactically useful than most other variants of the same weapon type, though they do take more power to use.

Similarly, chain weapons are variants of existing weapons. During a battle, chain weapons generally increase their rate of fire the more they are fired. The only exception is Chain Ion, which increases its damage; this is just as well, because a rapid-firing ion weapon would have shut down just about any enemy. That is not to say that the other Chain weapons are not incredibly powerful though.

Once the Vulcan Laser reaches +5 shots, it becomes one of the most devastating weapons in the game.
Once the Vulcan Laser reaches +5 shots, it becomes one of the most devastating weapons in the game.

However, if a Chain weapon gets unpowered in any way, the progress which it has accumulated is lost; an example can be seen here. Therefore, Chain weapons require more micromanagement to preserve and manage than one would think.

Flak cannons are a peculiar category of weapons. They are the most unreliable weapons, but also potentially some of the most devastating.

Flak weapons fire clusters of shots, all of which reach the opposing ship at the same time. However, the evasion roll for each shot is rolled separately.

If they do manage to make the rolls, the shots may or may not hit the intended target: they may shift one room away, hitting adjacent rooms instead.

If the player is lucky, the flak shots can hit and damage multiple systems at once. If the player is not, the flak shots concentrate on the same room and overkills any system there, or they may just disperse all over the place except where the player wants them to hit. This makes flak weapons even more luck-dependent than other weapons.

Since each flak shot can take out one layer shield, flak cannons can take down shields quickly too – if they make the rolls.

Besides chargers, chains and flaks, there are some additional weapons which have their own effects. For example, there is the Ion Stunner, which is designed more for incapacitating enemy crew instead of knocking out systems with ion damage.

There are also some additional bombs, such as the Repair Bomb, which is intended to be targeted at the systems on the player’s own ship. There is also the ion stunner bomb, which is mainly intended to incapacitate enemy crew.

In practice, flak cannons are rather niche weapons due to their relative lack of reliability.
In practice, flak cannons are rather niche weapons due to their relative lack of reliability.

ADDITIONAL AUGMENTATIONS:

The A.E. content introduces some augmentations which work around limitations in the gameplay of the earlier versions of FTL. Some of these bolster specific devices further, while the others are more general-purpose.

The Explosive Replicator grants a 50% chance that a missile weapon will not use missiles. Despite its benefits though, it is a chance-dependent augmentation, so the player might not want to rely on it too much.

Some of the augmentations further bolster other A.E. content. The Hacking Stun bolsters the Hacking system by imparting secondary stunning effects to active hacking. The Backup DNA Bank augmentation allows the player to turn off the Cloning Bay, because it stores data for dead crewmembers instead of the system itself. The Battery Charger augmentation improves the Battery Backup system by reducing its cool-down time.

Of course, these particular augmentations are obviously useless if the player’s ship lacks the appropriate systems.

Before the Advanced Edition, there was often no other reliable way to get past enemy defence drones than to damage the enemy’s Drone Control system, which is easier said than done. With the Advanced Edition, there is the Defense Scrambler augmentation, which just simply shuts down enemy defence drones, with the exception of the drone that creates super-shields.

Suffocation is an incredible danger, yet despite the sci-fi setting of FTL, there was not anything like space-suits or devices to withstand vacuum. In the Advanced Edition, there is the Emergency Respirator augmentation, which reduces suffocation damage to merely 25% of their original damage.

Having crew run around trying to put out fires can be aggravating. Therefore, there is the Fire Suppression system, which puts out fires automatically over time. Of course, if the player is not planning to fail, this augmentation might seem unnecessary.

The A.E.-content-only Zoltan Shield Bypass augmentation makes a mockery of the Rebel Flagship’s final stage. Watch out for its mind-control system though.
The A.E.-content-only Zoltan Shield Bypass augmentation makes a mockery of the Rebel Flagship’s final stage. Watch out for its mind-control system though.

The Distraction Buoy augmentation always delays the Rebel Advance by one jump for every sector. This is just a miniscule contribution of course, but if the player gets it early on, the contributions can accumulate to grant a great pay-off – assuming that the player could not get a more useful augmentation of course.

Slug crewmembers are often desired for their ability to detect lifeforms regardless of anything which blocks sensors. However, slugs are the third rarest race in the game; getting one is not always a guarantee in every playthrough. Therefore, there is the Lifeform Scanner augmentation, which serves as a useful substitute until it is rendered obsolete by the presence of a Slug.

The Reconstructive Teleport augmentation requires that the player’s ship has both a Cloning Bay and a Teleporter. However, if the player does have them, this augmentation practically heals any crewmembers which have been assigned to boarding action. This will greatly please players who resort to boarding a lot.

Having two or more of the same A.E. augmentation does not confer stacked benefits though. This is just as well, because there would have been balance issues otherwise.

VISUAL DESIGNS:

In the Advanced Edition, some sprites have been reworked to be more detailed and impressive-looking. One of the most prominent examples of these is the sprite for a missile; it is no longer the dull-looking white tube it was, but rather a sleek silvery-black shell. The artwork for the player’s cruisers have also been similarly reworked to provide better-looking illusions of shadows and illumination.

(There is no actual shadow or illumination shaders in the game, of course.)

However, some of the “new” visual designs are little more than palette swaps. This can be seen in the sprites for crewmembers, especially the non-human ones, whose sprites are little more than changes in shades.

Moreover, the Advanced Edition does appear to reuse some visual effects for the additional content. An example is shown in the screenshot which shows an exploding Zoltan.

The explosion of a dying Zoltan appears to use the same animations as the explosion for teleported bombs, albeit with a different colour.
The explosion of a dying Zoltan appears to use the same animations as the explosion for teleported bombs, albeit with a different colour.

SOUND DESIGNS:

Additional music tracks have been added; they are still composed by the talented Ben Prunty, and the audio files for them still do come with the game.

Next, there are sound effects which have been made for the additional systems, weapons and drones, which help the player know when they have been used.

CONCLUSION:

The content in the Advanced Edition does nothing to alleviate the issue of fickleness in the gameplay of FTL; in fact, much of the additional gameplay provided by the Advanced Edition is just as fickle as the gameplay in previous versions of the game.

However, the extra options provided to the player by the additional content are much welcome, because they can go some ways to work around bad luck. At the very least, the additional content has freshened the gameplay of FTL after almost two years since its debut (barring third-party mods like the Captain’s Edition). The Advanced Edition has also consolidated a lot of improvements to the user interface.

Most importantly, the Advanced Edition has been provided free-of-charge to customers, and this makes for good value.

Has it been mentioned that Chris Avellone actually contributed to the writing too?
Has it been mentioned that Chris Avellone actually contributed to the writing too?