Into the Breach |OT| FTL: Fighting Tactical Leviathans

jotun?

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,022
I was expecting to like this a lot after loving FTL and thoroughly enjoying XCom and Mario&Rabbids. But it kind of fell flat for me.

I've had two winning runs, one failed, and abandoned a couple after having bad times on the first island. (normal difficulty)

There's been a lot of focus on how the game doesn't use RNG for accuracy or damage like other tactical games.. but other forms of randomness are really making me lose interest.

The big one is not knowing what type of enemies are about to pop out of the ground. This makes it feel nearly impossible to really plan ahead, and each turn feels like an independent puzzle, largely disconnected from what came before it, that may or may not have have a good solution. In my last game I thought I was in a good position, with only the Volatile Vek alive and two emerging. But then those two emerging were both hoppers -- long movement range, ignore obstacles, high damage, and WEBBING. Together with the volatile scorpion, they webbed all three of my mechs, and I just didn't have any way to handle that at all. It felt really unfair and random.
 

Sixfortyfive

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,381
I was expecting to like this a lot after loving FTL and thoroughly enjoying XCom and Mario&Rabbids. But it kind of fell flat for me.

I've had two winning runs, one failed, and abandoned a couple after having bad times on the first island. (normal difficulty)

There's been a lot of focus on how the game doesn't use RNG for accuracy or damage like other tactical games.. but other forms of randomness are really making me lose interest.

The big one is not knowing what type of enemies are about to pop out of the ground. This makes it feel nearly impossible to really plan ahead, and each turn feels like an independent puzzle, largely disconnected from what came before it, that may or may not have have a good solution. In my last game I thought I was in a good position, with only the Volatile Vek alive and two emerging. But then those two emerging were both hoppers -- long movement range, ignore obstacles, high damage, and WEBBING. Together with the volatile scorpion, they webbed all three of my mechs, and I just didn't have any way to handle that at all. It felt really unfair and random.
When you hover your mouse over the island on the island select map, it will tell you what kind of enemies will spawn on that island for that playthrough, as well as the boss type for each island. You can use this to plan ahead a little bit and avoid specific problem vek until you're better equipped, although I'm pretty sure you can't double-check the list after selecting the island and thus must remember the vek list.

I also find this game more frustrating and generally less enjoyable than FTL, but that should be interpreted more as praise for FTL than criticism for ITB. Since my last post in this thread, I finally achieved the perfect game milestone that I was going for (hard mode, no grid damage, no failed objectives, no lost pilots, all 4 islands cleared).

 

Weltall Zero

Member
Oct 26, 2017
11,359
Madrid
Hearing this
When you hover your mouse over the island on the island select map, it will tell you what kind of enemies will spawn on that island for that playthrough, as well as the boss type for each island. You can use this to plan ahead a little bit and avoid specific problem vek until you're better equipped, although I'm pretty sure you can't double-check the list after selecting the island and thus must remember the vek list.

I also find this game more frustrating and generally less enjoyable than FTL, but that should be interpreted more as praise for FTL than criticism for ITB. Since my last post in this thread, I finally achieved the perfect game milestone that I was going for (hard mode, no grid damage, no failed objectives, no lost pilots, all 4 islands cleared).

This point of view is interesting, because I felt like I was defending FTL from criticism of unfairness and randomness all the time back then, while ITB seemed to be received much better in that regard (probably helps that it's much easier to complete a game). This is basically the first time I've heard the opposite opinion. Even Ma and Davis themselves commented that they tried to tone down the impact of RNG as much as possible this time around. That said, you have played a lot more than I am (I haven't unlocked any of the FTL guys in ITB) so you obviously know what you're talking about. Do you feel there's anything in particular that makes it more frustrating than FTL?
 

Sixfortyfive

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,381
Do you feel there's anything in particular that makes it more frustrating than FTL?
It mostly comes down to the fact that taking grid damage in ITB is far more costly on average than taking hull damage in FTL.

RNG is overstated in both games due to player inexperience. In FTL, decision-making becomes so much easier once you can recognize 95% of the enemy weapons on sight and know exactly which random events show up in which sectors and at what beacons. You should be able to properly assess threats at all times and be proactive about most of them. You'll never willingly go into a Rock sector without level 5 engines if you know what you're doing, for example. In general you should be able to play the odds and succeed in the vast majority of cases outside of sectors 1-2 with the worst ships. ITB is similar in that you should typically be able to plan around the enemy capabilities, especially since it goes to the length of literally telegraphing every enemy move.

But in FTL you get 30 points of hull damage to play with before it's game over. In ITB you get 8 points of grid damage. And in both games, there will just eventually be cases where taking the least-bad option of the moment means that you have to take a hit somewhere, be it a true 50/50 random event in FTL that you just couldn't avoid or an especially bad opening turn on ITB that puts you at extremely poor positioning without the option of rewind.

An FTL encounter where you soak up 5 points of hull damage is pretty bad, but it's usually easy for me to shrug off for a lot of reasons. In general it's very easy to avoid damage altogether in most encounters if you know what you're doing and haven't dug yourself into a hole, and with most ships I rarely have to repair at stores. I usually play for score in that game now, which leads to some crazy decision making that is inadvisable but still feasible. (I literally finished a Crystal B run yesterday where--because the ship starts with no weapons--I'd board oxygen-less auto scouts, tear them down to 1 HP from the inside via system damage, then purposely soak up hull damage on my ship in the hopes of triggering the 10% chance on the Crystal Vengeance augmentation in order to actually destroy the enemy ship. The smart play is obviously to run from these early game encounters until you find a weapon, but I'd literally just spend a third of my lifebar or more to defeat a single enemy that I could easily run from in order to maximize score, and I can typically get away with it. On an especially good run, I can just farm enemy ships behind the red line in a nebula indefinitely.)

I never feel like I have those same luxuries in ITB. You never want to take grid damage in this game because your grid meter is so short. So you're always pigeon-holed into trying to play perfectly in every single encounter. This is compounded by the extra mission objectives in each encounter; you absolutely do not want to fail any of them, both for the individual objective rewards and for the extra post-island rewards that you only get if you run the table on every single objective on the island. This makes those cases where you're forced into something like "Defeat 7 enemies" with a low-damage squad extremely frustrating. I feel like I'm constantly pressured to play perfectly in this game against occasionally tough odds where I feel no similar pressure in FTL and can just shrug off bad encounters. Even though I've logged a "perfect game" in ITB but not in FTL (to my recollection), a big part of the reason why I felt compelled to do so in ITB in the first place is because the pressure to play perfectly is so much greater.

EDIT: I think the thing that really underscores my feelings on how much I'm pressured to play perfectly comes down to how much more willing I am to go for crazy runs in FTL. Like I've completed a No Oxygen run, a No Medbay run, a No Weapon run, a No Shield run, and a Semi-Pacifist run (take every surrender and non-violent option to end encounters), all on Hard mode, and I frequently play low-tier ships for variety's sake. In contrast, I rarely stray from Ice Mech + Mafan in ITB unless I really want to switch things up.
 
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Weltall Zero

Member
Oct 26, 2017
11,359
Madrid
It mostly comes down to the fact that taking grid damage in ITB is far more costly on average than taking hull damage in FTL.

RNG is overstated in both games due to player inexperience. In FTL, decision-making becomes so much easier once you can recognize 95% of the enemy weapons on sight and know exactly which random events show up in which sectors and at what beacons. You should be able to properly assess threats at all times and be proactive about most of them. You'll never willingly go into a Rock sector without level 5 engines if you know what you're doing, for example. In general you should be able to play the odds and succeed in the vast majority of cases outside of sectors 1-2 with the worst ships. ITB is similar in that you should typically be able to plan around the enemy capabilities, especially since it goes to the length of literally telegraphing every enemy move.

But in FTL you get 30 points of hull damage to play with before it's game over. In ITB you get 8 points of grid damage. And in both games, there will just eventually be cases where taking the least-bad option of the moment means that you have to take a hit somewhere, be it a true 50/50 random event in FTL that you just couldn't avoid or an especially bad opening turn on ITB that puts you at extremely poor positioning without the option of rewind.

An FTL encounter where you soak up 5 points of hull damage is pretty bad, but it's usually easy for me to shrug off for a lot of reasons. In general it's very easy to avoid damage altogether in most encounters if you know what you're doing and haven't dug yourself into a hole, and with most ships I rarely have to repair at stores. I usually play for score in that game now, which leads to some crazy decision making that is inadvisable but still feasible. (I literally finished a Crystal B run yesterday where--because the ship starts with no weapons--I'd board oxygen-less auto scouts, tear them down to 1 HP from the inside via system damage, then purposely soak up hull damage on my ship in the hopes of triggering the 10% chance on the Crystal Vengeance augmentation in order to actually destroy the enemy ship. The smart play is obviously to run from these early game encounters until you find a weapon, but I'd literally just spend a third of my lifebar or more to defeat a single enemy that I could easily run from in order to maximize score, and I can typically get away with it. On an especially good run, I can just farm enemy ships behind the red line in a nebula indefinitely.)

I never feel like I have those same luxuries in ITB. You never want to take grid damage in this game because your grid meter is so short. So you're always pigeon-holed into trying to play perfectly in every single encounter. This is compounded by the extra mission objectives in each encounter; you absolutely do not want to fail any of them, both for the individual objective rewards and for the extra post-island rewards that you only get if you run the table on every single objective on the island. This makes those cases where you're forced into something like "Defeat 7 enemies" with a low-damage squad extremely frustrating. I feel like I'm constantly pressured to play perfectly in this game against occasionally tough odds where I feel no similar pressure in FTL and can just shrug off bad encounters. Even though I've logged a "perfect game" in ITB but not in FTL (to my recollection), a big part of the reason why I felt compelled to do so in ITB in the first place is because the pressure to play perfectly is so much greater.

EDIT: I think the thing that really underscores my feelings on how much I'm pressured to play perfectly comes down to how much more willing I am to go for crazy runs in FTL. Like I've completed a No Oxygen run, a No Medbay run, a No Weapon run, a No Shield run, and a Semi-Pacifist run (take every surrender and non-violent option to end encounters), all on Hard mode, and I frequently play low-tier ships for variety's sake. In contrast, I rarely stray from Ice Mech + Mafan in ITB unless I really want to switch things up.
That's interesting. I spent most of the year following FTL trying to teach people how to play the game and minimize RNG effect, so I agree 200% that people blame randomness and "unfairness" when it's just lack of experience, preparation and forethought. This is taken to the extreme in ITB where there's almost always a way to avoid grid damage unless you've messed up early in the encounter. I can see how it would make it more frustrating if you're going for perfect scores, since one single hit messes with that, but you take unavoidable damage more often in FTL, it just doesn't affect your score. While on the other hand, dodging is so RNG-reliant that the same FTL encounter can end up very differently through no real fault of your own.

tl;dr We're saying the same, just assigning different "frustrating" values. FTL can be frustrating due to more reliance on RNG, but ITB can be frustrating because one single mistake is more costly.
 

Sixfortyfive

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,381
you take unavoidable damage more often in FTL
To an extent, yes, but it's still overstated.

For the vast majority of playthroughs, the first 50 scrap you get should be put into level 2 shields. That completely walls the majority of encounters in sectors 1-2 that don't have missile launchers (longer than that if not playing on Hard mode). And for the missile launchers, you set aside somewhere between 85 to 150 scrap for either a drone system w/ defense drone or cloaking, whichever is a better fit for your build. (You can always force drone systems to come packaged with a Defense I drone... unless you consider that to be cheating.) Take care of those two factors early in a run and you should be gold on defense, saving you money on repairs and letting you focus on upgrades elsewhere.

Of course this is easier said than done on lower-tier ships or Hard mode. Sometimes you'll really need to shore up offense (weapons, hacking, teleporter) earlier. Sometimes you just won't get good choices at stores. But that's why you have 30 HP to spend. It's not a big deal to soak up a fair bit of damage early on when repairs only cost 2 scrap per HP. On Hard mode you should be living in the yellow middle-third of your hull meter at almost all times anyway because there's always that chance of a random event that gives you free repairs.

And that's all very generalized stuff. There's a ton of ship-specific strategies to mitigate their individual weaknesses. I also feel like there's just way more depth in general in FTL's micro-management, from precise boarding strategies (manipulating the enemy AI to overcome encounters where you're outnumbered in hand-to-hand combat) to really esoteric stuff like forcing the enemy ships to route their weapon power in such a way that they turn off the most problematic weapons at your most opportune times.
 
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