I finally made it to the last stand. I wasn't aware that I was suppose to actively engage the the Rebel Flagship, so instead I wandered around the sector until it made it to the Federation base and I lost. Oh, well. I made it to Sector 8. That was pretty cool.
Seriously, now. You're missing out on the real joy here. Don't worry if you die in the process. Make the most of the ride. Normal is where it's at. Will you die a lot before sector 5 until you learn the ropes of the game? Yes. BUT YOU WILL EMERGE CHANGED.
I did an easy run and made it to the flagship on the second attempt. I do think it's a bit too soft, negating the point of a lot of encounters and the mid-battle fleeing jump mechanic. On easy, you will always have a good chance at succeeding the random away missions, where it seems less than 50/50 in your favor on normal. And, for me with my basic ship at least, some encounters require a retreat, which I never thought of on easy. You really have to weigh your odds on the harder difficulty, making you feel more like a captain, and more of a badass when you succeed.
Yes, yes, Victor, you're awesome at this game, blah blah blah... I still attest that you will learn better on Easy. Figuring out what works, what doesn't, how to react to certain situations, all of that, you get more wiggle room on Easy without necessarily restarting back to zero because you screwed up something.
I just got into the game and decided to do an easy run just to try and unlock ships. Ended up nabbing 3 ships on my first easy run. Awwwwh yeah.
For me, at least, I had a pretty hard time with the game until I started trying out those other ships. I thought the Engi ship sounded weird before I first used it, but that ended up being the first time I ever beat the game.