I think i invented the most epic way to play the game. Enjoying it greatly right now. But, have i? Please tell what you think.
This Epic way - is this:
1. Install following mods: Captain's Edition, CE Infinite, Endless Loot, and be sure NOT to use "CE Non-EL Enemy Loadouts" mod. This keeps enemies most unpredictable and at times, very tough!
2. Play with AE content enabled and on Hard difficulty;
3. Play with the following additional rule: only advance to next numerical sector (sector 2, sector 3, etc) after you find or buy an "Epic" weapon (or a drone) your ship can use. Advance to the next sector as soon as you are able to use it, and never remove any of those Epic weapons/drones afterwards. I.e. always have them installed into your ship and use them, no matter how good or bad they are and no matter how good or bad they complement each other!
That's it. Simple idea, but it leads to several interesting developments! Namely:
- the mods mentioned (more details about those great mods, and mods themselves - are here) - add great degree of unpredictability and scale up difficulty substantially, dramatically raise prices of ship upgrades, etc. However, with long enough "grind", one ends up creating a "powerhouse" ship, able to kill everything in a few seconds. Usually with powerful beams or craploads of laser vomit. Yet with this approach, the player can't do it! It is completely random which "base" kind of epic weapons and drones - ones with "Epic" note in their affix' description and also unique ones (which have their own individual names and unusual effects) - will be found. Will you get something like "Epic" stun bomb, completely useless vs say AI ships, then "Epic" small beam completely useless vs stronger shields, and then "Epic" anti-drone drone not helping you at all vs most enemies - and end up fighting through Sector 4 already with those clumsy arms? Who knows!
- obviously, you are free to use "non-Epic" weapon / drone slots with any kind of weapon/drone you happen to have, and this means early on, you have plenty freedom in creating powerful combinations of weapons / drones. Early sectors on Hard are the toughest for most ships, so this helps. As you advance to later sectors, less and less of this freedom remains, as weapon/drone slots gets filled with those mandatory "Epic" (and/or unique) weapons and drones. Yet more and higher-level systems of the ship increasingly allow to compensate for this decreasing freedom of ship configuration. By the time you enter sector 7, any ship with drone system installed will get completely filled with Epic/unique hardware, and you will have to find ways to make the resulting setup work. I.e. quite good balance of difficulty through the whole run. Heck, playing this way, there is even a solid reason to postpone buying the ship's 8th (last) system until later sectors - because certain ship setups will favor different systems. I like this;
- then there is yet another challenge: to prevent too early advancement to later sectors before your ship gets developed enough. What if very 1st shop in sector 1 gives you an Epic weapon, very 1st shop in sector 2 gives you another? Odds are low, but it can happen. And then you'd end up in sector 3 with dramatically undeveloped ship (with those mods, it takes many same-level sectors to develop systems even to 1 level higher). And you'll die. Thing is, this can be prevented! Sector 2 is easy enough no matter how early you get there, so if it happens to early, - then you can just avoid shops and do your best to avoid weapon-rewarding encounters, making sure you won't be thrown into sector 3 difficulty too early. It obviously comes at a cost and it may be hard to "stay on the road" for many sectors without getting ship repairs from shops, but hey, that's exactly the challenge;
- the opposite is yet another occasional challenge of this Epic style: all those "Epic" and unique weapons/drones - are extremely rare (rarity = 5), so obviously, sometimes it takes a fair while to find even one, at times. Like, it's been several days in my current Epic run to find an Epic weapon doing those endless "contested deep space" sectors in search for one. I probably did close to a hudred sectors, all in sector 2 difficulty, before i found one, from a multi-stage quest. It's another kind of a challenge with this way to play: if you get "stuck" at certain sector difficulty, not getting any Epic/unique items, - then there is whole different strategy to speed up the process. Avoiding most fights actually become useful feature: you wanna zap through those sectors as quick as possible from shop to shop. But fuel management may interfere. Depends! Further, quests which reward weapons have high chance to give an Epic or unique one - so they also become quite valuable, so gotta keep an eye on those in the process, too. Distress beacons may be worth an extra jump, but not 2-3 extra jumps. Long Range Scanner or other of Captain's Edition sector-revealing augments might become most useful during such times. Etc. Whole new dimension, not unlike "speed running", gets added to the game!
- another interesting consequence is that every successful run ends up being completely unique ship - because of great many hundreds possible variations of those Epic and unique weapons / drones for each slot, and a combination of 4 of those (weapons-only ships) or 6 of those (weapons + drones ships) - is utterly unique in practice! Namely, number of different combinations of 6 items each of which can be one out of a pool of say 500 possible items, - is 500^6, i.e. 15625 trillions. In other words, ~15.6 MILLIONS OF BILLIONS of combinations. Then multiple by possible different ship hulls, which is 26 - and this becomes ~406 MILLIONS BILLIONS ship varieties. Means, you can be quite sure that for every such Epic run, you'll be playing a ship which noone else will _ever_ end up with. Personally, i find it endlessly interesting to see which exactly kind of ship i'll end up getting, doing this Epic way of playing. Never gets old. %) And, if you're tired of ending up playing staple "burst laser" or "glaive" cookie-cutter? Well this is quite an asnwer.
- late-game "raw power" of the ship is another consequence. Those Epic and unique weapons are inididually quite very strong, which is why, well, they are named so. Things definitely not possible with "usual" setups - become possible when using those. Thus while lacking in "proper ship setup", the sheer power of individual pieces will allow to overpower even most fearsome enemies, which tend to show up starting ~sector 6 of Endless Captain's Edition with enemies allowed to be randomly generated (as per above);
- versatility of the ship is another consequence. It is extremely unlikely to get those Epic/unique pieces all being of the same kind (like, all being ion weapons, or all being bombs without hull damage, etc). Instead, it's practically guaranteed you'll have "a bit of everything". This is great for two reasons: 1st, you get to play pretty all kinds of things FTL has, all the different mechanics; then most of things Captain's Edition adds, too. Things you'd otherwise never tried, never use - which sometimes end up being much beter than you'd initially think. And 2nd reason, this is also great to never end up in a situation where your enemy is somehow impenetrable by your "dedicated something" setup. Like for example you're a laser boat, but the enemy has couple of those pesky quick-firing defense drones which just shoot down too many of your bolts, and its 5-bubble shield soaks the rest. Or like if you're an ion boat, but the enemy happens to have 80% ion resistance (one of possibilities of Captain's Edition with said mods), and then he hacks your engine, and you're utterly helpless against them and can't even escape. With this Epic way to play, this won't happen.
So gentlemen, thanks for reading if you made through all that - and if you did, then please tell me what you think about the idea. Thanks!
P.S. Oh and if you'd like to see details about this Epic run i'm now doing, which is the 1st properly Epic run i am doing, - i am taking screeshots of every Epic/unique weapon i find, can post 'em. If this gets any popular, we probably could share end-game "Epic" setups and stories how they fare against the Flagship and all? I imagine this could get wild. %)
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