In real life, space is a mostly empty void in almost all directions. This isn’t the case in FTL: Faster Than Light. In this game, space is filled with hundreds of alien vessels, strange planets, and even environmental hazards. Those hazards can be particularly devastating for the unwary, because they are the hardest to prepare for. There is no perfect way to deal with all environmental hazards in FTL: Faster Than Light, but the following guide will help you handle the worst dangers as efficiently as possible.
Asteroid Field – As the name suggests, an asteroid field is filled with giant rocks that occasionally pelt your ship. These rocks can be deflected by a shield, but they occasionally strike quickly enough to remove a shield bubble and then damage your ship as well. They are even more devastating when you are in a battle with an enemy ship, though the effects of the asteroid field also affect the enemy ship. The damage from a asteroid is exactly equivalent to the damage from a Basic Laser, including potential fire and breach. The best way to handle an asteroid field is to have good shields. A two bubble shield will hold off an asteroid field completely, though you will still be vulnerable when engaged in a battle. If your shields aren’t strong enough, you should jump away as quickly as possible, even if you still have damage on your ship.
Red Star Giant – This environmental hazard occasionally sends out solar flares. The game will flash a warning just before the flare strikes. When it does strike, it sets random fires on your ship. Unless your crew is Rockmen and the fires happen to be set in rooms they are in, it is basically impossible to put out the fires, repair any damaged systems, and heal injured crew members before the next flare strikes. Put out the fires as quickly as possible and then either repair or heal, depending which is more important, until you see the warning for the next flare. Jump as soon as you see that warning. If your ship is in rough shape, jump to a safe beacon. Rockmen and a Fire Suppression augmentation are the best defenses against a Red Star Giant.
Nebula – When you enter a Nebula, your sensors are completely negated, as if they didn’t exist. Slug telepathy still works, though, if you have any Slug crew members. This makes combat with enemy ships slightly more difficult and makes boarding maneuvers against your ship incredibly difficult to counter. Since you can see where enemy crew appear, unless they appear in a room with one of your crew members, you need to look at your system symbols and see which one has a sabotage symbol over it. Nebula can be identified on the main map because the beacon is purple. Additionally, when you enter a Nebula, the rebel fleet is delayed in its pursuit of your ship, so there is at least one advantage to entering this environmental hazard.
Plasma Storm – Plasma Storms can only appear in a Nebula. This is one of the most devastating environmental hazards in the game and the main reason to avoid Nebula unless you have Long-Ranged Sensors. When you enter a Plasma Storm, your reactor is halved in power while you are at that beacon. This automatically drains power from randomly chosen systems. You need to pause the game as soon as you enter and redirect power as needed. Be especially wary that the game will often depower your oxygen system. Plasma Storms do not effect backup batteries or the extra power from Zoltan crew members and having a Zoltan crew member or two is the best way to handle this hazard, other than avoiding it completely. If you do enter one, be sure to pause the game regularly to redistribute power as necessary. If you are in a battle, keep in mind that you can run without an oxygen system for almost a minute before your crew members start taking damage.
Pulsar – A Pulsar randomly deals ion damage to your ship. This hazard is similar to the Red Star Giant. You get a warning just before the pulse strikes. When it does strike, one system is hit for two to three ion damage and a second is hit for one ion damage. Shields will absorb the first ion damage but not the second. If you are engaged in a battle, you might want to turn off your shields just before the pulse, so that two other systems are hit and your shields can absorb enemy attacks normally. This puts a greater risk to your other systems, but could save you from taking hull damage. This event is not particularly dangerous if you aren’t engaged in battle. The only meaningful defense against it is to have systems that have been upgraded a lot.
Anti-Ship Battery – This environmental hazard is incredibly rare, though you can assure it in two different ways. If you let the rebel fleet overtake you or enter a rebel controlled beacon in sector 8, there will be Anti-Ship Batteries. The batteries fire shield piercing projectiles at your ship that always deal 3 hull damage and cause a breach. You will get a warning just before the Anti-Ship Batteries fire, but unless you have cloaking, there isn’t much you can do about the warning. Cloaking is, by far, the best defense against these shots, because it gives them a high chance of missing. In general, you should simply build up your FTL and jump away from this hazard as quickly as possible, even if you are winning a battle against another ship. Hull damage just isn’t worth any rewards you may get from the battle.