Faster than Light
While travel between systems at sublight velocities is possible, it is often a slow proposition. Thankfully, multiple methods of FTL travel exist to allow your fleets to respond to threats faster.
All forms of faster than light travel require FTL Energy to operate. The crystals that generate this energy are rare and can only be found on a select few planets in the universe.
Empires start with a small FTL Energy generation rate. Capturing planets with and leveling them up, mining asteroids with FTL Crystals or researching FTL ShardsFTL Tuning provides more generation. Mechanoid races can also construct FTL Breeders to increase their FTL generation.
Researching FTL Containment or building FTL Storage on planets (Star Children must construct orbitals instead) will increase an empire's FTL storage capacity. Certain anomalies can increase either your generation rate or your storage capacity.
To use your hyperdrive, select a fleet and press the F key on the keyboard. Alternatively, click the icon in the Action Bar. Left click the position in space to FTL to.
Hyperdrives are the most versatile type of FTL travel. Ships shift in and out of hyperspace to travel to their destination, and can move from any point in space to any other point at will - provided sufficient FTL energy is available.
Unfortunately, hyperdrives are also the slowest method of FTL, and using it at any acceptable speed requires flagships to be equipped with large hyperdrive subsystems.
Fleets require a 15 second charge-up period to plot their course and transition into hyperspace. In addition to the charge-up period, the fleet must turn towards its destination before it can enter hyperspace.
To create a slipstream, select a flagship with a slipstream generator and press the F key on the keyboard. Alternatively, click the icon in the Action Bar. The flagship serves as the starting point for the slipstream, left click on a point in space to select the end point.
Slipstreams are a potent, if expensive, FTL travel method. A Slipstream Generator tears a rift in space which stretches from the origin point to the selected destination creating an ad hoc wormhole. While the rift is open ships of any empire can see and travel back and forth between the endpoints of the rift at will. Unlike Hyperdrives this method of travel is practically instantaneous.
Each Rift will eventually destabilize and collapse on its own. The larger the slipstream generator and the larger the ship carrying the slipstream generator the more stable the rift becomes and the less additional FTL cost there is over long distances. Like Hyperdrives, Slipstream Generators require a 15 second charge-up period to accumulate energy and saturate their destination with hyperfield particles before the rift is formed.
The greater the distance between the origin and destination points, the more inaccurately the rift will be placed. The area within which the destination aperture will be opened is indicated by a blue circle underneath your mouse cursor. In order to minimize inaccuracy, you can target a location outside the star system you wish to reach, then create a second rift from that location; however, this will incur an additional FTL cost and should only be performed when great accuracy is required. (For example, during a surgical strike, where you want to be able to get in and out as quickly as possible without having to bother with too much sublight travel.)
One thing to keep in mind is that inaccuracy also affects the size of the FTL effect at the destination while the rift is forming. In extreme instances, this can make it enormously easy for an enemy to notice you're coming - yet another reason to consider targeting interstellar space when attempting surprise attacks of any kind.
To create a gate, design and construct a station with the 'Gate Module' subsystem. Gates start as unpacked by default. To unpack a gate, select it and press the G key on the keyboard. Alternatively, click the Unpack Gate button in the Action Bar. Finally, left-click on the point in space where you want the Gate to deploy. Once the Gate is deployed, you may repack it by selecting the Gate and clicking Pack Up Gate in the Action Bar.
Gates are one of the most powerful forms of FTL travel available. Unlike other FTL methods which utilize point-to-point travel each Gate is a Node on a Gate Network. A ship which enters one Gate may exit any other Gate in that Network. Furthermore, Gates may be traded and colonized through. These advantages allow your Empire to grow in a non-linear fashion with non-contiguous borders. However, each gate you own adds FTL maintenance cost to your FTL Generation rate.
Packed gates can accelerate at a rate of 1 u/s^2, but cannot fire weapons, and cannot be traded, colonized or moved through. Unpacking a gate has a fixed cost of 100 FTL.
Only ships you permit may enter and traverse your Gate Network. In gameplay terms: You may only traverse your own Gate Network.
To fling ships, you must first deploy a Fling Beacon orbital. Once deployed, ships within the Fling Beacon's radius may be Flung. To Fling a fleet, select it and press the F key on the keyboard. Alternatively, click the icon in the Action Bar. Left click the position in space to FTL to.
By wrapping ships in a 'jacket' of highly charged FTL energy to protect them while warping local space to create a massive flux, ships may be literally 'flung' vast distances at relatively minor cost. The cost of flinging an object is only dependent on the object's mass - moreover, flinged objects will always move at such a speed as to reach their destination precisely 10 seconds after entering FTL.
Though more difficult to wield than other FTL methods as flinging to an area of space which does not have a Fling Beacon on the other end will leave the ship traveling at sublight it is nonetheless strategically potent. Like Hyperdrives, Fling Beacons require a 15 second charge-up period to accumulate enough energy and make the necessary calculations for the object to reach its destination.
Fling Beacons are the only FTL method capable of moving an orbital, and can even move planets. While Tractor Beams can be used to tow an orbital through a Gate or Slipstream Tear, Fling Beacons do not require the assistance of a Tractor Beam unless the object is not within range of the beacon yet.
<More information needed>Can planets with Planetary Thrusters fly through Gates, Slipstream Tears or Wormholes?