Into the Breach is finally out, and it’s pretty good. I’ve been playing it almost nonstop since launch, and while I don’t think it’ll have the lasting power that FTL had for me, it’s addictive and fun as hell. It’s also pretty damn hard, and new players may find themselves struggling to wrap their heads around the tactical gameplay. There’s a tutorial that explains the basics of the game, but I’ve decided to put together some extra tips that I wish I’d known going in:
Tip 1: Start on Easy, but don’t fear Normal
Into the Breach takes a lot from its predecessor, including its difficulty. That said, Into the Breach is actually pretty easy compared to FTL (my win rate is higher, anyway). Play a few rounds on easy to get used to the game, but don’t be afraid to bump things up to normal this time around. You will lose more, obviously—but it feels a lot more balanced.
Or, y’know, don’t. However you want to play the game is on you. Start on easy, and if it feels like it’s a lot more fun than the challenge normal offers, then keep at it. Just don’t play on hard mode. Only crazy people do that.
Tip 2: Protect objectives and important buildings above all else
Think of Into the Breach as a game of Chess. If an enemy targets one of your objectives, consider yourself in check. Sometimes, enemy damage is unavoidable, so the best thing you can do is minimize losses by focusing on these enemies first. Remember that most objectives also have grid power, so you’re going to take the damage anyway.
You can always get some grid power back through objectives or at the end of an island, so don’t fret over enemies hitting regular buildings. You can also minimize damage by protecting buildings that have 2 GP over those that only have 1.
Tip 3: Spend your Reputation Points on Cores first
The first island is the easiest, and you’ll earn a lot of reputation points there each run. As tempting as it is, you should resist the urge to lap up every weapon on sale after the first island. In the early game, it is far more important to buff up your mechs with cores, especially if you’re going for a full four-island run. Enemies will get stronger, and if your mechs only hit for 1-2 damage—even with that fancy acid spear—your life will be miserable.
Think about it this way: a lot of weapons only help specific squads. No matter how cool a weapon sounds, remember the general gist of your team’s setup and ask: Will this truly help me? If the answer is “Yes,” then sure, go for it. If you’re unsure, then buy cores instead. Unlike weapons, cores are always useful.
Tip 4: You can “bank” Reputation Points on Sale Weapons if you don’t want to spend them yet
Generally speaking, you should spend all of your reputation points after each island, since you lose any remaining points once you move on. That said, there is a way around this: weapons that are on sale are half-price, which means you can sell them back after the next island for an even exchange. This is handy since points are better spent on Cores and Weapons than on grid defense. Speaking of which…
Tip 5: Don’t buy Grid Power/Defense unless absolutely necessary
This is more of a personal opinion, but: grid defense in Into the Breach is worthless. Sure, you can raise a building’s chance to deflect a hit up to 25%, which is nice. But you should only rely on RNG as an absolute last resort. Never willingly let an enemy hit a building just because there’s a 1 in 4 chance it’ll tank the hit.
In general, you should only spend reputation points on grid defense if it’s critically low or if you’re about to head into the final battle.
This applies to your pilot too, by the way. If your pilot’s only skill is +3 Grid Defense, swap them out with any fresh pilots you pick up and pray to the RNG Gods for a less useless skillset. A bonus reactor core or more HP is always better than Grid Defense.
Tip 6: Abuse the utter hell out of the Undo button
You can move all of your mechs during a round and undo their movements as long as you don’t commit to an attack or perform any actions. Use this to get a feel for where you can position your mechs and to help visualize your strategy before carrying it out. Pretend you’re that shitty 12-year-old that never took their fingers off of the Checkers piece—don’t attack until you are 100% certain of your move!
Seriously, if there’s one thing you should take away from this article, it’s this: really, really, really think out your moves. Small mistakes like knocking enemies into buildings, setting your own mechs on fire, or, uh, accidentally blowing up a building worth 2GP (killing thousands) will come back to haunt you later in the run.
Tip 7: React to your enemy’s move and outsmart them
Before you take your turn, the Vek will make their moves and line up their shots. If you hover over the Vek icon in the corner, you can even see their attack order. Use this to your advantage and turn the Vek against each other. Push them in front of each other so they block attacks and kill each other before they can strike your buildings. There is nothing more satisfying in this game then watching the enemies slaughter each other, so go all out!
In a pinch, you can also use this to push Vek away from targeting anything. Sometimes, completing a mission just means rendering all enemy damage inert. You don’t have to kill everything, no matter how much the island CEOs guilt-trip you. Protecting objectives and buildings is far more important than getting a kill or two.
This applies to your mechs as well—don’t be afraid to jump in the line of fire if your mech can survive the hit. Remember: Your mechs will repair any damage they take after each mission, but grid power damage is permanent.
Tip 8: Choose your starting placement wisely
At the beginning of each mission, you can place your mechs on a small starting grid to set things off. Take a look at the enemies on the field and try to predict where they will go on their first turn. You can hover over any of them and hold CTRL to see how far they can move and what weapons they have. Generally speaking, enemies will always try to target something in any given round. Use this knowledge to your advantage, and set up a counterattack! Block choke-points to objectives, spread out your mechs so that they can defend each other if needed, and so on. Experiment with this and you’ll master it in no time.
You should also think about your mech’s moveset when you place them at the start of a mission. For example, ranged mechs that shoot lobbing projectiles are usually best placed in the back of the map, especially if there’s a clean line for them to move across. That way they can hit just about the entire map if necessary.
Tip 9: Don’t buy the most expensive squads right away
Unlike FTL, you unlock the other mech squads in Into the Breach with coins tied to the game’s achievements. With normal play you should be able to unlock most of them relatively quickly, so don’t sweat it. That said, you should start off with some of the cheaper teams first. More expensive squads aren’t “better” squads—they’re more like “sidegrades” than upgrades. The more expensive teams have convoluted gimmicks that will be daunting for a new player. Just to give an example: the most expensive squad in the game hits for heavy damage, but all of their attacks hurt themselves as well, and they need to kill Vek to heal. Make sure you know how to maximize damage in any given turn before trying them out.
If you want a recommendation, the Rusting Hulks (the cheapest squad, right next to the starting one on the unlock screen) are a pretty great team for beginners. They focus on filling the battlefield with fog that disables and damages enemies caught in it. I won my first normal mode run with this team. They’re pretty good!
Tip 10: Never accept Game Over
You will lose a lot in this game. It’s okay! You’ll learn from your mistakes and do better next time. That’s how these games go. A lot of the fun is overcoming challenges that once seemed daunting to you.
But here’s the thing: almost any bad situation can be turned around. Sometimes, you’ll be on the final mission with 2 grid power left, damaged mechs, and far more Vek than necessary. Other times, enemies will web your mechs down, target objectives, and threaten to wipe out … just, everything.
Take your time. Look at these situations as objectively as possible. Move your mechs around, envision their attacks, line up every shot you can think of. Wait for that “A-HA!” moment. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone from 1 Grid Power to completely slaughtering every Vek on the screen with no losses.
These moments are what make the game truly special. Just like FTL’s final battle, sometimes victory will feel utterly impossible. It is at these moments that the game is testing you. Ace that test, and then sit back, let out the sigh of relief, and don’t you dare fight that grin. You earned it.
Orrrrrrrr… just say “fuck it” and demolish the buildings yourself. Hey, there’s always the next timeline, right?
Into the Breach is our March 2018 Game of the Month. Be sure to check out the rest of our Into the Breach coverage.