PC Gamer
FTL Faster Than Light review


The fellow nursing the mug of Roc ale in the corner of the cantina doesn’t have to tell you he’s an FTL captain. The laser burns on his jacket, the monkey wrench in his belt, and the broad grin creasing his craggy, careworn face give him away.

Sit down opposite him and you invite a torrent of torrid tales.

“See this scar? I got that when I targeted my own bridge with an incendiary missile. Had some Mantis boarders running amok – it was the only way to take them down.

“Buy me a pint and I’ll tell you about the time my ship, the Belle Guano, tangled with a pirate cutter twice its size near the Slug homeworld. Trust me, you don’t know fear until you’ve had to shut down your own shields, life-support system, and sensors in order to summon the power necessary to launch an anti-ship drone.”



Every one of FTL’s evening-sized odysseys bulges at the bulkheads with dramatic dogfights, tough trading decisions and bittersweet twists of fate. If you’ve ever yearned for a randomness-heavy 2D Firefly game – a top-down Star Trek or Blake’s Seven turn-based strategy game – then yearn no longer.

Adventures begin with ship selection. Initially there’s just one vessel type available. Completing enigmatic quests widens the choice on subsequent playthroughs.

Whatever craft you’re captaining, the ultimate objective is always the same: deliver a vitally important message to the Federation fleet by battling, trading, and upgrading your way through a randomly generated web of sectors. Every sector is its own navigable web of unscripted surprises.



Because a powerful rebel armada is always hot on your heels, you can’t linger in any sector indefinitely. Speed is of the essence, but so too is scrap – FTL’s precious currency. Knowing that resistance stiffens the closer he gets to his goal, the sensible skipper loiters for as long as possible in order to maul and recycle the maximum enemies.

It’s rare that a turn passes without a hard choice or a satisfying skirmish. One minute you’re looking on as your lasers and missiles steadily savage the systems and unstitch the hull of an outfought/out-thought foe, the next you’re deciding whether to intervene in an intergalactic mugging, rescue a mad castaway, or send crew to investigate an eerie space hulk. Pauseable combat and multiple-choice event texts mean there’s always limitless time for mulling over options.



There are hundreds of possible encounters, and countless ways of improving your ship. Bad luck and poor decisions regularly lead to heartbreaking setbacks and sacrifices. So far I’ve refused to hand over any crew to bullying slavers, but have on several occasions had to sell indispensable kit in order to finance essential repairs or fill an empty tank. Running out of fuel is one of the game’s scariest situations. You’re forced to drift forlorn and regret-wracked waiting for either a good Samaritan or a rebel coup-de-grace.

FTL feels like a project that’s been thoughtfully tweaked over several years. Features work hard and are well meshed. Texts are trim and nicely phrased. Even Ben Prunty’s twinkling soundtrack fits beautifully. Scanning the game’s impressive superstructure for vulnerable exhaust ports and shot traps, just about the only weakpoints I’ve managed to identify are the lack of personnel histories, and the painfully slow rate of vessel unlocks. A few lines illuminating the backgrounds of new crewmen, and some more generous blueprint dispensing would nudge this unmissable sci-fi story generator even closer to perfection.


Expect to pay: £7 / $11
Release Out: now
Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Steam
Multiplayer: None
Link: www.ftlgame.com
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Having a number one

These were the voyages of the Starship Moggy. Its eight-sector mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new weapons and new system upgrades, to boldly go somewhere no-one has come back alive from before (apart from save-scummers).

Sector 8. The end of the line. > (more…)

PC Gamer
Steam_Software


Valve quietly updated its Steam storefront today with its "Software" tab, selling utility, development, and benchmarking tools. Although Valve announced its move into non-game products as early as August, today marks the public availability of visual and structural development apps on the digital distribution giant.

Valve is still slowly furnishing its software catalog, but a few choice items for purchase include GameMaker: Studio, 3DMark 11, and ArtRage Studio Pro. Coupled with the recently launched Greenlight indie voting platform, and it appears Steam is gradually transforming into a one-stop destination for every facet of a game's creation process.

All software is 10% off for the first week. Additionally, GameMaker: Studio is free to use without purchasing a license, and has Steam Workshop integration. Aspiring developers, go make the next FTL, would you?
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Captain as of Star Trek Nemesis I THINK YOU'LL FIND

And so my FTL campaign, the flight of the starship Moggy, limps to the game’s penultimate sector. It seems impossible that we’re still alive at this point – let alone that we now have seven crew, three guns and NO-ONE IS DEAD. The looming question is whether or not we’re anything like equipped for the final showdown in Sector 8 – but then again it’s foolish to go asking that before we’ve survived Sector 7.

Ah, we’re in the Engi sector. Home, in a sense. I have four Engi on my crew, we’re in an Engi ship and we’re attacked by roaming Engi a whole lot less than by any other species. Home. But better not get too comfortable. (more…)

PC Gamer
steam top sellers

Valve did a sneaky, small-but-significant thing recently: it expanded its "Top Sellers" list on Steam to include one hundred games. The sales leaderboard doesn't tell us exactly how many copies a game sold, but it gives us a vague idea of how well certain games are doing on Steam in a given moment.

It's an inherently misleading metric—take that as a disclaimer. Still, as we sit in the shadow of some of 2012's biggest releases, I'd like to take a crack at gleaning what we can from this moment in time.

2K's having a great end of the year.
The $50 pre-sale of XCOM is outselling everything but Borderlands 2 on Steam. We might be able to chalk that up to fairly generous pre-purchase incentives (which could include a free copy of Civ 5 if enough people pre-buy it). It might be mild evidence that demos still work, too. Borderlands 2's high concurrent user count over the past few days (reaching 123,758 last weekend) is also evidence that 2K will win the weeks connecting September and October on Steam.

Digital pre-orders are a thing.
XCOM isn't the only thing-you-can-buy-but-can't-play-yet doing well. Joining the unreleased are Dishonored at #7, War of the Roses at #12, Football Manager 2013 at #17, Company of Heroes 2 at #29, and Hitman Absolution at #51. Even though there's no chance of a game going out of stock, Steam users don't seem to mind putting money down in advance, especially if they're rewarded with bonus content or a small discount for doing so.

Where are the MMOs? Oh, right.
Zero MMOs appear in today's top 100. I might consider that unsurprising—we wouldn't expect too many people to be picking up competitors while Guild Wars 2 and Pandaria are drawing the attention, and neither are available on Steam. Still, it's a little surprising not to see RIFT ($10) or EVE Online: Inferno ($20) popping up anywhere.

Call of Duty remains a PC fixture.
The sense that Call of Duty remains a fixture for PC gamers is supported by SteamGraph data. Some form of Call of Duty make up 10 whole entries of the Steam's top 100. Many of those are map packs, but the performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition (#41) is interesting to me. It released yesterday, September 27, and it's outperforming stuff like Civ V: GOTY and Natural Selection 2. Modern Warfare 3 is 50% off until October 1, and it's sitting comfortably at #5.

DayZ continues to have a long tail.
I don't think Arma 2: Combined Operations (what you need to play DayZ) has left the top ten of Steam's Top Sellers since it caught on in May and June. It seems to be outperforming other games that released in May and June like Sins: Rebellion (#56), Max Payne 3 (#76), Civ 5: Gods & Kings (#20), and Spec Ops: The Line (unlisted).



Below: the data, captured at 6:05 PM PDT. Ctrl + Fing encouraged.



Top Ten
Borderlands 2
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Total War Master Collection
Torchlight II
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission
Dishonored
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Arma 2: Combined Operations
Empire: Total War



#11-25
Castle Crashers
War of the Roses
Borderlands 2 Season Pass
FTL: Faster Than Light
Cortex Command
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Football Manager 2013
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard
Garry's Mod
Sid Meier's Civilization V - Gods 'n Kings
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition
The Binding of Isaac
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy
Left 4 Dead 2
Hell Year! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit



#26-50
F1 2012
Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
Rome: Total War - Gold
Company of Heroes 2
Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai
Sid Meier's Civilization V
Counter-Strike: Source
Borderlands: Game of the Year
Worms Revolution
Total War Mega Pack
Terraria
The Walking Dead
Rocksmith
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 3: Chaos Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition
Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Portal 2
McPixel
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year
Total War: SHOGUN 2
The Sims 3
Counter-Strike Complete
Hearts of Iron 3 Collection
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition



#51-100
Hitman: Absolution
Borderlands
Train Simulator 2013
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
Medieval II Gold
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Orcs Must Die! 2 - Family Ties Booster Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The Amazing Spider-Man
Orcs Must Die! 2
Saints Row: The Third
Dead Island: GOTY
Natural Selection 2
Orcs Must Die! 2 - Complete Pack
Half-Life 2
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Rome: Total War - Complete
The Orange Box
Borderlands 2 + Official Brady Guide
Batman: Arkham City GOTY
Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead
Grand Theft Auto IV
Endless Space
Killing Floor
Call of Duty: World at War
Max Payne 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
SPORE
I Am Alive
Fallout 3: GOTY
Fallen Enchantress
Valve Complete Pack
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
Mount & Blade: Warband
New Star Soccer 5
Portal Bundle
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 2
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion
Counter-Strike
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 3 Collection 1
Arma 2
Might & Magic Heroes VI - Danse Macabre Adventure Pack
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD
STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Planets Under Attack
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Age of Empires III: Complete Collection

Reiterating: We don't know what formula or data drives Steam's Top Sellers rankings. It's probably safest to consider them a representation of what games are selling well in one moment of time on Steam.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Captain of the Excelsior as of Star Trek VI I THINK YOU'LL FIND

I’m feeling pretty good, which is exactly the sort of thing one should never say in FTL. Doom, disaster and dismay inevitably looms, but having pulled my ship and my crew back from the brink of disaster at least I’ve got a war story out of it. Now, let’s see what’s out there in Sector 6 – this needs to go well, as I’m now just two sectors away from the final f(l)ight – presuming I survive that long.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Previously. Now:

Crew: 5Shields: 3Guns: 2 (only one of which can be used at once)Fuel: 5Hull: 1%Scrap: 2Location: Parked outside the exit from Sector 4Situation: desperate> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Continuing my FTL journey into the heart of doomed space-darkness. Read the earlier installments here. >

Jump 1

A new sector! We’re down to 25% hull, still don’t have a proper gun and have spent all our money on repairs that didn’t last long. Damn, we’re in a tight spot. So do we exercise extreme caution or take big gambles in the hope of big pay-offs?

Here’s the first dilemma. We run into some rebels, who miraculously don’t attack us on sight. Wusses. Shall I demand surrender of their goods? You never know, maybe they’ll be afraid of men called Steven and just cough up without a fight. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

beyond staring eyesWith two sectors survived, things don’t look to good for the good ship Moggy, crewed by two Engis and a human named after cats I have known. The hull’s taken a beating, we’ve almost no cash and we don’t yet have any upgrades to speak of. Meantime, our enemies forever snap at our heels, and the challenges we’ll face in this next, Zoltan-ruled sector will likely be stiffer than that we’ve yet faced. Anything could happen, though. After all, space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. It might even be big enough that I’ll find a gun in it somewhere. Oh, please dear lord let me find a gun.>

(more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Continuing my imperilled escapades in spaceship sim/roguelike FTL: Faster Than Light. With a crew named after cats I have know, I’ve survived the first sector but at the expense of 50% of my starship’s hull and I have no meaningful upgrades. No-one is dead, though. Repeat: no-one is dead. I’m going to keep on saying that, because it’s the only thing I’ve possibly got to brag about here.> (more…)

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