Hacking is a system introduced in the FTL: Advanced Edition update. It lets you disrupt an enemy system. When you purchase hacking, the system starts at level 1. It can be upgraded to a maximum of level 3. Upgrading the system increases the duration of the hacking pulse.
Some enemies will use hacking against you. Their choice of system is completely random each time they launch a hacking drone.
Most enemy ships have a maximum of level 2 hacking. Level 3 hacking can only occur on Lanius Scouts, Engi Hackers, and the Flagship in phase 1.
Choosing a hacking target works much the same as targeting your weapons. With power in the hacking system, click on the hacking drone icon, then click an enemy system room. If the enemy has a Zoltan Shield, you must destroy it first; if they are cloaked, you must wait for the cloak to end.
Once the game is unpaused, this choice is permanent: you can only hack one system in a fight, unless your hacking drone is somehow destroyed. If you change your mind while still paused, you can cancel the hack launch by clicking on the drone icon again.
Upon choosing a target, your ship launches a hacking drone towards the enemy. This costs one drone part and takes about 2--3 seconds to reach the enemy ship. While travelling, the hacking drone can be targeted by defense drones and anti-combat drones, or even destroyed by random collisions. If the drone is destroyed, you will be able to send another one after a short delay.
When the drone reaches the enemy ship, it latches onto the hull and becomes invulnerable. It can only be destroyed if the enemy hacks your hacking system.
Hacking confers several passive effects. These apply whenever your hacking system has any power:
- Doors to the room are locked to enemy crew, but allow your crew to pass through freely
- Repair speed of the hacked system is halved
- The system cannot be manned
- You receive max-level sensor information about the system
The purple hacked doors take 10 hits to break down, and will automatically lock again after 7 seconds. You cannot directly control these doors, but you can "open" them by removing all power from your hacking system.
When hacking piloting or engines, you are shown the current enemy evasion. When hacking O2, you are shown the amount of oxygen.
In addition to the above passive effects, hacking allows you to disrupt the targeted system by activating a hacking pulse. The hacking pulse lasts either 4, 7, or 10 seconds, depending on the amount of power in your hacking system. When the pulse finishes, the hacking system enters cooldown and you must wait 20 seconds before activating the next pulse.
The effect of a hacking pulse depends on which system is being hacked:
- Weapons: Drains weapon charge (at the "normal" speed that weapons charge).
- Shields: Discharges shields, taking 2 seconds per layer.
- Piloting or Engines: Reduces evasion to zero and stops the FTL charging.
- Oxygen: Depletes oxygen rapidly (6% per second, i.e 5 times faster than level 1 O2 refills).
- Medbay: Damages enemy crew instead of healing them (your boarding crew are not affected).
- Clone Bay: Shut down the cloning bay, killing potential clones permanently
- Drone Control: Disables all enemy drones, with a chance of destroying them
- Hacking: Ends any active enemy hacking, with a chance to destroy the hacking drone.
- Mind Control: Takes control of a random enemy crew member for the duration of the hack. If the enemy has control of one of your crew, using Hacking will also cancel it.
- Teleporter: Enemy boarders are returned to their ship. Mind-controlled enemies are not returned.
- Doors: Turn all enemy doors into friendly blast doors, hindering enemy crew movement (and enabling free movement of friendly boarders).
- Battery: Disables bonus energy and drain two more energy bars.
- Cloaking: Prevents cloaking and forcibly decloaks the ship.
- Sensors: Disable sensors (only applies to the player, not enemies).
- Defence drones will shoot down hacking drones, although they can miss. Enemies will eventually run out of drone parts.
- Zoltan Shields prevents hacking drones from being launched.
- Destroying or ionising the enemy's hacking system will interrupt the hacking effect, until their hacking system becomes operational again.
- Hacking the enemy's hacking system cancels the active hack and has a chance to destroy the hacking drone.
- Destroyed systems cannot be actively hacked, so it's possible to bomb your own system to prevent the hack. This is generally not useful, however, and will not interrupt a hack that has already begun.
- Due to a bug, ionising an active hacking system will reset the system cooldown to the amount of ion damage applied, instead of 20 seconds. This may not be what you want!