How Starfield optimizes one of FTL's best mechanics | GAME3A

How Starfield optimizes one of FTL's best mechanics

The early launch of Starfield has justified the hype and is another major release of 2023. The game features complex, interconnected systems that req...

Zack Zwiezen Sept 02, 2023
How Starfield optimizes one of FTL's best mechanics

The early launch of Starfield has justified the hype and is another major release of 2023. The game features complex, interconnected systems that require the attention and care of players.

The inclusion of spaceships in Starfield adds a welcome strategic layer to dogfights, incorporating the ship energy management mechanics from FTL: Faster Than Light.

Starfield combines the action-adventure RPG genre with strategic elements, providing players with the opportunity to carefully plan ship battles. This adds a new strategic layer to the game.

After years of anticipation and excitement, the early launch of Starfield began on Thursday for premium edition buyers and quickly established itself as another major release of 2023 that largely lives up to expectations. One thing that may not have been clear during the pre-release phase of the title is that Starfield demands a lot from players, with many complex, interconnected systems that require attention and care at all times. One of these is the welcome (and expected for a space adventure) inclusion of spaceships, which feature a unique in-flight mechanism that skillfully incorporates ship energy management from FTL.

FTL: Faster Than Light by Subset Games is the real-time strategy spaceship management simulation that caused a sensation upon its release on Steam, thanks to its incredibly addictive and rewarding approach in the roguelike genre. Surprisingly, Starfield bears astonishing similarities to this highly regarded indie game, as both games require players to manage both their spaceship and crew, with assigning the right person to the right task being crucial. One of FTL's main mechanics during flight is balancing the ship reactor's limited energy, and Starfield adopts this in a simplified manner while adding a welcomed strategic layer to dogfights in the farthest reaches of space.

How Ship Power Management Works in FTL Compared to Starfield

How Starfield Streamlines One of FTL

As one would expect from a strategy game, ship energy management in FTL is significantly more complex than in Starfield. Each ship available to players in FTL has various subsystems that require energy from the reactor. All ships come with a basic set of controls, engines, oxygen, and weapons, but players can gradually add additional subsystems they deem necessary throughout the game, such as shields or sensors. The amount of available energy is limited, which means that survival occasionally comes down to assigning energy to the right subsystem at the right time.

Starfield uses a similar, albeit much sleeker and simplified version of this exact system. Instead of providing players with over a dozen subsystems, all ships in Starfield have the same six areas where energy can be allocated. The starting ship has three weapons, as well as an engine, shields, and gravity drive to manage. The amount of energy that can be allocated to each of these systems is ultimately determined by the reactor of each ship. Energy is limited, but players can skillfully balance their defensive and offensive capabilities by shifting priorities with the left analog stick, either going all-in during a dogfight or quickly escaping a hopeless encounter in the depths of space.

Starfield's Addition of Strategic Layers to its Action-RPG Foundation Is a Win

How Starfield Streamlines One of FTL

At its core, Starfield is very much another action-adventure RPG in the style of other Bethesda titles like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout. However, it represents the realization of several ideas presented throughout the developer's long history to provide players with a truly unique experience. Classic mechanics such as lockpicking and persuasion naturally make a return in Starfield, but they do so in a way that adds a new strategic layer to each system, deepening player engagement and immersion. Ship customization, flying, and combat are no exception to this.

Instead of offering players a superficial "take it or leave it" type of distraction in the game's ship combat, Starfield appropriately relies on its identity as an RPG primarily and gives players the opportunity to carefully plan each encounter. Right from the early moments of Starfield, players are thrown into controlling their newly acquired ship and must quickly familiarize themselves with all the systems involved. Fortunately, Starfield finds a competent balance between the accessibility and fun of a space combat game and the strategy and planning of an RPG or RTS like FTL, offering players the best of both worlds.

Starfield is now available as an early access version for PC and Xbox Series X/S.