Let’s get one thing straight: Into the Stars is not some sort of space sim. I think there’s been some confusion around that aspect, probably due to the direct control players have over the main ship.
It’s better to think of Into the Stars as a game very much like FTL, but played from a slightly different perspective. You’re still the ship’s captain though, and your task is to choose and manage your crew in an effort to flee across the universe map from the evil Skorn and save humanity in the process. It’s also nothing like Bridge Commander either, just in case you were wondering.
If you’re a new player and still a bit flummoxed, don’t worry. In this guide I’m going to attempt to explain how the game works. Hopefully it’ll help.
The very start of the game can feel a bit daunting, because you’re immediately asked to select this, that and the next thing to create your ship. You also have to select the six crew members who will accompany you on your voyage. Yes, that means there’s some reading to do here.
Ship Systems Selection
The premise behind the game is to make it from A to B (where B is the other side of the universe map,) keep your passengers alive and avoid being blown up by the Skorn. The only way you’re going to make it is by carefully balancing your play style with the choices you make here.
Every important system on the ship requires resources, and selecting a specific variant of a system will drain more or fewer of those resources. Select a Hydrogen-heavy set of systems, for example, and that’s what you’re primarily be burning through. As you travel the map resources can be mined and traded for, but you have to actually be able to make it to each resource point which will either be a planet or a trader.
The key to Into the Stars is to keep moving, so if you have to stop and mine resources at a planet frequently there’s a higher risk of being spotted by the Skorn. This increases the risk of being killed and knocked out the game.
Fuel consumption will be determined by which engine you choose and that choice will depend on how much you want to squeeze out before having to resource collect. Every system, whether it be core, exploration, or combat, works in a similar, trade-off, fashion.
To start with, just go for the middle of the road options. Not the cheapest and not the most expensive. You need to get a feel for how far you can go before having to stop and collect resources; achieved by effectively hopping between the different planets en-route.
Cargo capacity is important for storing your resources, so in the set-up below I have opted for two cargo bays at 50 credit each. The config looks like this. It’s by no means the ‘optimal’ config I’m sure, but it’s a good way to start and get to grips with the game (click for a larger version of the image.)
Think of this setup section as your starting fuel for all systems on the ship. How you set these up will depend on what you did in the previous section. Just make sure that if you use any resource for more than one system you allow for that when allocating each amount. Life support, food and fuel are all very important here, so make sure you allocate more to these accordingly.
Each crew member specialises in a specific area, but it’s advised to have at least two solid engineers on the crew. This is because you will always need two during combat when it arises.
A good pilot is essential to stop probes and mining rigs from crashing on the way a planet. You do not want to to lose anything when mining because that costs resources. You won’t collect anything, and you’ll lose the resources used to create the probe or mining rig as well.
A solid medical officer to stop any medical disasters and a crew member with high strength to suppress any passenger unrest is also advised.
There are six primary character statistics and six slots but, as I mentioned, two engineers are always a good idea. Shuffle the roster around and make sure you pick at least one character who can double up in another role. You can click the top of the roster to sort by highest stat.
A quick tip on selection. Use the rename button and rename each character to their role such as Medic, Engineer or Pilot. This is a little dull in the roleplaying department (you can spice it up by making the role their surname or something,) but makes it much easier to identify roles when you need a character to undertake a task and assign them quickly.
In the initial release of the game you had to make this selection every time you restarted a run. Thankfully, the next patch will allow players to reselect a preferred crew line-up when starting a new game after death. You’ll just need to click the big restart button. This has still to be added as of writing, but it’s coming and it will be a huge time saver.
Combat looks complicated when the Skorn first appear, but it’s more simple that you’d think. Any Star Trek fan will remember episodes where they had to toggle phasers to match a certain frequency. Well, much the same applies here with your weapons and shields.
As the enemy appears in front of the ship, you will notice a coloured outline around the enemy. This is the shield colour they are using.
You need to select a weapon colour on your lasers and torpedoes that does NOT match this colour. This means your weapons will penetrate their shields.
When the enemy attacks you, you can raise your shields. You have to select a colour that MATCHES their weapon colour. It’s not easy to determine the colour they will fire with, but there is a pattern.
Each enemy ship will always fire the same colour every round. However, if there is more than one ship it can be tougher because each ship can fire a different hue. You need to be aware what colour each one is firing and switch your shields accordingly.
This can be quite tricky to get the hang of when there’s more than one ship, but it gets easier.
One tactic to try is to knock out one ship’s weapons first, then concentrate on the other ship and it’s hull. You can select which part of the ship to target by selecting it at the top of each ship. Alternatively, just try and take out one ship completely as quickly as possible. How successful you are will depend on reaction time to incoming fire.
The system is quite simple, but handling more than one ship is challenging (especially if you’re already damaged from previous encounters.) It’ll probably take a few goes to master this, which means a few restarts will probably have to be made. Nobody said saving humanity was going to be easy.
As you travel across the map you will have to interact with planets. These provide valuable resources such as food, fuel and ship enhancements.
There are three options to choose from when you arrive at a planet. Note that when the planet gets covered in a yellow grid you are close enough to interact with it (press F when you’re close enough).
Option 1: Deploy a mining rig
This requires 2 crew members to head to the planet and use a rig. It also opens up a mini-game.
To collect as many resources as possible you have to guide your drill through the coloured blocks avoiding all red/solid blocks. The longer you can keep the rig moving, the more resources you collect. You can see the different resources to collect as the screen scrolls down by their colours and labels. Once you hit more than 2 red blocks the rig is destroyed.
Even though the rig is destroyed you still get the resources you collected. You now need to move those resources on to the ship and how much you can take will depend on your ship’s storage capacity.
Option 2: Mining Probe
A probe launches from the ship and automatically gathers resources. This is less risky than option one, and cheaper, but overall you will receive fewer resources.
With option one and two there is a chance the pilot will fail, meaning you lose the resources needed to send the rig or probe down. It’s a risk so make sure to choose a good pilot to increase your chances of success.
Option 3: Away Team.
Select a team to head to the surface and explore. Once they land you are given multiple options and each has a higher or lower chance of succeeding. Again you need to choose which mission to accept based on the resources you need.
You can only select one mission on an away team launch and that’s your lot, so choose wisely. You cannot send another crew down to the same planet to undertake the missions you didn’t select.
As you travel across the map you will see friendly ships highlighted in green. Approach these and you can start a trading dialogue. They will ask for something in return for resources, which may even include your passengers if you’re desperate enough. Humans are apparently quite tasty to alien races.
You need to get quite close to these ships and, when you’re close enough, a dialogue will open up.
Movement and Map
The Into the Stars map allows you to set waypoint markers which you need to guide your ship towards.
On the map you will see yellow or red zones, these are potentially hostile zones to avoid. You have a higher chance of meeting the Skorn in these areas.
The outside camera view is essential for spotting the waypoint markers, so be sure to use it. Just because a marker is placed in front of your current zone on the map it doesn’t mean it’s going to be directly in front of your ship. By using the camera view you can easily spot the marker and guide your ship towards it.
Between gathering resource there will be events taking place on the ship. You need to assign a specific crew member to deal with these. Always chose the best character for the job depending on the emergency. If there’s an illness, send your best medic. Engineering issue? Send your best engineer.
It’s worth noting that characters do level up as they become more proficient in their area of expertise so there’s even more reason to use the right crew member at the right time.
As you progress deeper into the uncharted universe, ship augments can be collected and assigned to the ship’s core systems. These augments will last for a certain period of time to boost whatever you assign them to. These can be picked up after successful combat encounters, or on away missions.
Ships systems such as the engines also need to be repaired and this is done by assigning the cog augments to the damaged system. Keep an eye on the ship HP, especially after combat, and assign these repair cogs (if you have them) to fix things up. This is done on the engineering screen.
Into the Stars is not an easy game. It’s simple to play but hard to master, and at its heart is all about resource management. Should all your passengers die the game will be over and your race wiped out. Run out of fuel and you will be stranded. Run out of food and passengers will die.
Remember, once you die, that’s it. You have to start over.
Good luck captain!