Faster Than Light (FTL) Difficulty Differences Guide

Last Updated on August 4, 2022 by Samuel Franklin

Faster Than Light (FTL) Difficulty Differences Guide

Discover the FTL difficulty differences and specific adjustments to make for each difficulty as you progress through Easy, Normal and Hard modes. Faster Than Light is a difficult video game which challenges players to beat the odds by taking their selected ship from the initial sector to the final sector showdown against the powerful Rebel Flagship. Whether you’ve played roguelike titles before or this is your first time you won’t achieve success.

With failure though comes an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, master mechanics and unlock new ship variants that may just give you an edge if it is one of the best FTL ships available. This article summarises the difference between FTL difficulty settings with some basic tips on how you’ll have to adjust as players go from Easy to Normal and Hard modes. Note that on release Faster Than Light only had Easy and Normal mode with the Hard mode being added with the release of the Advanced Edition and this difficulty guide contains some minor spoilers on game mechanics.

FTL Difficulty – FTL Easy Mode

Easy Mode in game is detailed as: Increased scrap rewards and easier enemy generation.

In practice in FTL Easy Mode:

  • Start with 30 Scrap currency to spend (fuel, missiles and drone parts are not impacted by difficulty). This allows you to instantly add some reactor power or upgrade a system before even the first battle if players choose to do so or gives you a head start on a future upgrade or store purchase.
  • Earn significantly higher scrap rewards from sector events and battles which makes it easier to purchase top tier weapons, systems, augments, crew and other ship utility. This can easily amount to an additional 20 or 30% total scrap compared to Normal from all sources.
  • Enemies are less likely to target systems when firing weapons at players. This gives you more leeway during attacks as you won’t lose shields, weapons or other vital systems as regularly which can quickly cascade into game over if not carefully managed.
  • Enemy ship strength progression is slower which gives you more time to build up your own ship power to battle against them.
  • Players are not attacked by the Anti-Ship Battery (ASB) if they are on an exit beacon to the next sector after the Rebel Fleet catches them.
  • The final Rebel Flagship has 3 shield bars (only if playing the non Advanced Edition or by disabling Advanced Edition content).
  • The Rebel Flagship phase 2 power surge releases the smallest amount of drones of any difficulty.
  • Players receive no score modifier.

If you’re considering FTL easy vs normal mode for your first playthrough starting with Easy Mode is likely your best option even if you are experienced with games similar to FTL as it allows you to learn the basic mechanics and overall game formula while reducing frustration. This mode is also ideal for experimentation with the various FTL ship systems, augmentations and weapons that the game offers.

FTL Difficulty – FTL Normal Mode

Normal Mode in game is detailed as: Standard scrap rewards and enemies.

In practice in FTL Normal Mode:

  • Start with 10 Scrap currency to spend which limits your ability to make initial ship upgrades or store purchases.
  • Scrap rewards are normalised, you’ll still be able to afford most things comfortably with careful spending and management of your time in each sector but won’t be able to indulge in the shopping sprees at stores of Easy Mode.
  • Enemy ship progression is also normalised so ships will generally be closer to your current ship power rather than you having clear advantages in shields, weapons or overall power.
  • Players are now attacked by the Anti-Ship Battery (ASB) even on exit beacons.
  • The final Rebel Flagship has the full 4 shield bars which requires a higher level of weapons to overcome.
  • The Rebel Flagship phase 2 power surge releases a moderate amount of drones.
  • Player score receives a 25% boost.

Normal Mode provides a balanced experience of challenge and enjoyment once you understand the core mechanics and is the standard Faster Than Light difficulty setting. It was also the highest difficulty available prior to the Advanced Edition being released.

FTL Difficulty – FTL Hard Mode

Hard Mode in game is detailed as: Low scrap rewards and harder enemies.

In practice in FL Hard Mode:

  • Start with 0 Scrap currency to spend that severely impacts your ability to upgrade your ship early.
  • Scrap rewards are diminished compared to Normal Mode so players will often encounter limitations on what they can afford to buy for their ship. Careful spending and acquiring of Scrap is vital to success in this FTL difficulty which can be a dramatic playstyle shift compared to the abundance of Scrap in other FTL difficulty modes.
  • Enemy ships will spawn with more systems and upgraded variants that make each battle a difficult encounter.
  • Enemy AI is enhanced on this difficulty and will be less likely to abandon critical systems (notably the Engine system) to repair damage at other systems or if they have low crew members which makes it harder to push your advantage. In comparison on easy and normal shields are prioritised which can make for slippery ship battles given the added evasion from the enemy having engines more often.
  • Enemy ships that are damaged will flee at a faster rate compared to other difficulties.
  • The Rebel Flagship phase 2 power surge releases the largest amount of drones of any difficulty.
  • The Rebel Flagship now has connected rooms for the laser and missile weapon which prevents players from permanently disabling them which is a common boss fighting tactic in easy and normal difficulty modes.
  • Player score receives a 50% boost.

Added with the Advanced Edition the Hard Mode offers the ultimate challenge to space explorers and requires both a sound understanding of mechanics, utilising the best FTL weapons and a bit of luck for success.

Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Sam has long enjoyed Faster Than Light (FTL) and regularly returns to the game for its randomisation and challenging mechanics. He has beaten FTL with all ships and layouts but enjoys the starting Kestrel Cruiser over other options to defeat the Rebels.

1 Comment

  1. Great summary

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