Faster Than Light (FTL) Ship Tier List – Best Ship Guide

Last Updated on April 26, 2022 by Samuel Franklin

Faster Than Light (FTL) Ship Tier List- Best Ship Guide

This FTL ship tier list will help you find the best ship for your Faster Than Light playthroughs to ensure you can defeat easy, normal and hard modes. While each of the diverse ship options are capable of finishing the game some offer a significantly easier path to victory that can be ideal for new players or for those wanting to achieve higher scores. If you are tired of having bad RNG on your FTL runs then selecting from the top tier ships can give you an easy run to defeating the final Rebel Flagship.

Each ship in FTL offers a unique experience with some focused solely on stealth while others are offensively minded. Most ships in FTL also come with three different layouts that further alter your starting weapons, crew and systems for additional variety and new challenges. Given this the FTL best ship for you in terms of fun will often be closely tied to your favourite FTL ship strategy and playstyle with this tier list designed as an initial starting point with a focus on ease of victory.

FTL Best Ships – What Makes Them Good

As noted above every ship in FTL can secure a victory although there are ships that excel at reaching and defeating the final battle. These top tier ships have a few things that make them special and allow them to remove the random number generation (RNG) from the equation in achieving your victory.

The factors for this best FTL ships tier list include:

  • Layout: A ship layout is permanent in Faster Than Light with some having clear advantages. This might include the ability to cut off ship invaders from key systems, having a central healing location or just multiple pathways to reach particular rooms that need support.
  • Flexibility: A ship that can be flexible and respond to the FTL best weapons that you are able to acquire is key to long term success. If you’re starting ship cannot utilise the weapons or systems you find along the way through the stores you’ll be unable to achieve your maximum potential.
  • Starting Weapons: Having initial strong weapons is invaluable as it allows you to snowball a strong early game into a powerful late game ship. With a strong base you can prevent damage and take more fights that ultimately means more scrap to spend and improve your ship. This also removes reliance on finding the right weapons for a playthrough which is the biggest RNG hurdle of Faster Than Light. Like other games like FTL that use roguelike mechanics many runs can be doomed from a failed start even if you limp through many sectors before meeting your end.
  • Starting Systems & Power: Similar to weapons your starting systems and power can impact on a FTL run with certain ships starting with the FTL best systems. This is not as important as starting weapons though as can be easily corrected after some early success without relying on randomisation.
  • Starting Crew: The least important factor as crew members can be hired relatively easily but still a factor to consider. Starting with a higher number of crew and the right mix of crew does give you unique options for random events and allow you to start levelling system skills early.

This FTL ship tier list is split into five tiers based on the above factors and how each of them allows you to achieve victory or high scores with that ship with better consistency. A summary table is included below for quick reference with further individual FTL best ship information underneath.

faster-than-light-hangar-ships

FTL Best Ship Tier List Summary

This table is a quick reference guide for FTL tier list, refer to the below sections for further details. Ships within each tier appear based on the left to right order they appear in the hangar (Kestrel, Engi, Federation, Zoltan, Lanius, Stealth, Rock, Slug, Mantis, Crystal) and the order of the layout (A, B, C) and are not ranked within tiers.

Ship Tier Ship Name & Type
S Lanius B
Crystal B
A Kestrel B
Zoltan A
Lanius A
Mantis B
Crystal A
B Kestrel A
Engi C
Federation A
Zoltan B
Slug C
Stealth A
C Kestrel C
Engi A
Federation B
Rock B
Rock C
Slug A
Mantis A
Mantis C
D Engi B
Federation C
Zoltan C
Stealth B
Stealth C
Rock A
Slug B

FTL Ship Tier List (S Tier)

The S tier ships in Faster Than Light won’t be ships you’re using in your first runs of FTL given unlocking them is a significant journey in their own right. Not only are these two ships difficult to unlock the best ships are also the B layout variant that requires you to complete some achievements with the A layout first (although these are also quite strong). The S tier ships here are basically easy mode for Faster Than Light even on the hard FTL difficulty and can overcome even the worst luck.

ftl-ships-lanius-layout-b

Lanius B

With an almost fool proof design for boarding parties the Lanius B provides players two deadly lanius crew members that can be teleported to your enemy to sap the oxygen out of their ship while attacking the enemy. Supported with the mind control and cloning bay systems players have an easy time boarding with little risk to their crew to acquire high scrap amounts. Alternatively players also have the backup option of the advanced Flak weapon which is highly effective given its a special version of the Flak I which is already a top tier weapon to acquire.

ftl-ships-crystal-layout-b

Crystal B

While it might seem odd to have a ship with no weapons this option is the FTL best boarding ship and is absolutely overpowered given it provides players three strong crystal crew, a four tile teleporter and the cloak system from the start. With this you can easily dodge projectiles while you board and defeat anything that comes your way and earn high scrap rewards in the process given you won’t be destroying ships that you encounter. The starting augment while not particularly useful also provides a healthy amount of scrap when sold to boost a run further.

FTL Ship Tier List (A Tier)

A tier ships are powerful and like the S tier above are rarely going to be impacted by bad luck in a FTL run on their way to success. They are only held back from the S tier by the lack of overpowered setups that place the S tier options in a league of their own.

ftl-ships-kestrel-layout-b

Kestrel B

An easy to play ship that is available quite early on in FTL given it is a layout of your starting ship. Kestrel B has a number of nice quality of life enhancements that make it more devastating than the initial Kestrel A though. Most notably is the massive arsenal of weapons that you start with that can easily eat through enemy shields and disable their weapons to prevent you taking damage in the early game. This initial setup means the first few sectors offer little challenge as you battle on almost auto pilot until you can replace them with more powerful weapon variants for the Rebel Flagship battle.

ftl-ships-zoltan-layout-a

Zoltan A

The Zoltan ships are quite powerful and unique for their starting Zoltan Shield augmentation that prevents a significant amount of damage but the Zoltan A stands above the others in this FTL ship class. This advantage over the other layouts is primarily in the weapon system that provides a balanced setup of missile to knock out shields and the deadly halberd beam to destroy the enemy ship. The result is no early game issues like the other top tier ships although you might need to micro your Zoltan crew a little until you can beef up your reactor levels.

ftl-ships-lanius-layout-a

Lanius A

The Lanius have a specialty for powerful ships with both layouts being top tier options due to their strong starting layouts. While the focus on using the initial hacking can be a little bit of a playstyle shift for those that don’t regularly it is key for achieving long term success with the Lanius A. Despite this the ship also has the teleporter and two useful weapons that let you establish a foothold down a preferred path as well.

ftl-ships-mantis-layout-b

Mantis B

Another high ranking FTL ship on the tier list that starts without weapons due to the Mantis B having the deadly and unique four person teleporter that provides a wealth of boarding options. While you start with only 2 crew this can quickly be scaled up through shops which is relatively easy to do in most games. Given the limited weapon slots of this ship you’ll need to establish a strong boarding party to see success and also be well practiced with boarding strategy in FTL.

ftl-ships-crystal-layout-a

Crystal A

Your first reward for following the long crystal ship unlock quest line the Crystal A is a deadly ship to add to your hangar that will see you succeed in many adventures. Likely to be your first experience with the crystal weapons these provide a wonderful offensive opening that can quickly disable and destroy an enemy ship while you build strength. In time players can also acquire a teleporter to make use of the two starting crystal crew members that will carry you through the mid to late game with limited effort.

FTL Ship Tier List (B Tier)

The B tier for Faster Than Light ships is where you start to encounter some weaknesses that if not overcome during a run will spell the end of your adventure. This means you generally need a little bit of luck on your side to find the right weapons, augments or crew although the ships can slog through to the end game if they have to with careful tactics.

ftl-ships-kestrel-layout-a

Kestrel A

The first ship you’ll use in Faster Than Light is middle of the road in terms of overall power. Serving as the default ship it is designed to introduce you to the basic concepts of FTL and serves as a blank slate that allows it to work for all playstyles and strategies. The best part of the Kestrel is its basic but effective weapon system to get you through the start of a FTL run although it doesn’t start with anything special overall.

ftl-ships-engi-layout-c

Engi C

The Engi ships in general can be a bit of adjustment from your initial Kestrel ship as their weapon starts are quite weaker with some awkward ship layouts. That being said the Engi C is by far the best of the bunch and overcomes the lack of weapons and maximum 3 weapon slot in other ways with a lanius crew member, hacking and drones available.

ftl-ships-federation-layout-a

Federation A

The Federation A is a fun ship archetype with the ship having access to the artillery beam which is a slow but high powered beam that pierces enemy shields. While this is unlikely to kick in until late game given the upgrades required to bring its cooldown to a reasonable level this ensures players have an end game weapon for the final fight regardless of their luck along the way. The starting position in general of the Federation A is also decent with a diverse crew roster and deadly Burst Laser II for early systems.

ftl-ships-zoltan-layout-b

Zoltan B

Like other Zoltan options the Zoltan B starts with the Zoltan Shield that is always a useful augment to have and will ensure your survival in a broad range of situations. The downside of the Zoltan B variant though is that it starts with no other shields in reserve which can result in some early bad luck cascading to significant damage and scrap repairs. The Zoltan B has pretty good early game firepower though with its ion and pike beam blend.

ftl-ships-slug-layout-c

Slug C

The best of the Slug ships that in the right hands can be a deadly weapon with its slug crew, hacking and mind control that provide an alternative approach to victory. This starting combination is unique and means you need to focus on crippling your enemy instead of a direct approach which requires a strong understanding of game mechanics to succeed. The Slug C does also have the support of a laser weapon but needs to quickly progress their arsenal for success.

ftl-ships-stealth-layout-a

Stealth A

A unique ship in the FTL universe that starts without any shields that can make avoiding early damage quite difficult and running into an early asteroid field a game over sentence (although using the long ranged scanners it starts with should prevent that). To offset this you do start with cloaking and decently high engines although that relies on luck to dodge attacks. Stealth A also has a good mixture of weapons although is capped at 3 weapon slots. While starting with stealth can save a significant investment in the mid to late game on purchasing this system you’ll need a strong handle of game mechanics and luck to make it there.

FTL Ship Tier List (C Tier)

At this point the weaknesses of ships start to outweigh their strengths in terms of starting status. This sees players needing some initial luck if they hope to acquire the power level they need to win the game with the amount of luck required increasing based on the level of difficulty.

ftl-ships-kestrel-layout-c

Kestrel C

The worst of the available layouts for the starting ship given it lacks any meaningful strengths to set you up in the early game. The best feature is the weapons which are average at best and starting with a Lanius crew member although the lack of starting teleporter means they won’t be providing significant benefit for some time. Like the other Kestrel options it is still flexible enough to pursue a range of strategies but can sometimes not even make it to mid game with the weak starting position.

ftl-ships-engi-layout-a

Engi A

Despite the low FTL ship tier list ranking here the Engi A is quite an easy ship to manage given it relies mostly on passive initial gameplay. While this is often sufficient to get you through the early game without issue you’ll need to quickly transition to something more powerful which can be difficult with the cap of 3 weapon slots. The weak crew also makes them susceptible to boarding attacks so you’ll need to bolster crew members at the same time as upgrading systems that can leave little scrap reserves.

ftl-ships-federation-layout-b

Federation B

Starting with a diverse crew the Federation B embodies the empire having a far reach across the galaxy although they aren’t a particularly strong crew. While not the best of the Federation archetypes it still comes with the artillery beam that provides a reliable end game weapon once it is sufficiently upgraded. Reaching this point with your average at best weapon setup is a challenge though as you’ll be going through missiles at rapid pace to take down enemies.

ftl-ships-rock-layout-b

Rock B

Despite having a strong rock crew of 4 members the Rock B can quickly suffer depending on the circumstances you encounter. While rock crew are fantastic for avoiding fire damage and boarding due to their general durability their poor repair abilities can quickly lead into cascading problems in battle. The lack of outside doors to vent atmosphere and general lack of starting doors also just create an odd ship in the FTL meta. Once you acquire a teleporter this ship definitely sky rockets in effectiveness but you can expect many games to end before you even have that opportunity.

ftl-ships-rock-layout-c

Rock C

Adding a crystal crew member to your rock layout this ship has an odd layout that can be difficult to manage with your slow crewmembers. This odd design is also reflected in weapon choices that on paper seem strong but are awkward to use together in practice and places a lot of reliance on missiles that need to be restocked. Overall to have any Rock C success you need to quickly build up a repair crew and better weapon options without having a reliable method to acquire scrap.

ftl-ships-slug-layout-a

Slug A

Another unique slug vessel that starts with only 2 crew members that can cause problems if you can’t fill out your crew by the mid game and increases the micromanagement requirements greatly until then. Slug A also has an awkward array of weapons although does uniquely start with 3 of them that need to be cycled which again requires more micromanagement and doesn’t even reward players for their efforts in most cases.

ftl-ships-mantis-layout-a

Mantis A

The Mantis A actually has a reasonable early game thanks to the mantis crew members and initial teleporter although with the lack of starting sensors and the late game cap of 3 weapons hurts the ship potential dramatically. Outside of the teleporter option you’ll find a ship that is unable to deal with most foes with initial weapons and you are often better choosing a different ship for boarding focused gameplay.

ftl-ships-mantis-layout-c

Mantis C

Seems to operate as the opposite of Mantis A given this has the unique four tile teleporter that makes it a late game boarding beast but at the cost of early game power. That being said the initial lanius and mantis do give you an okay initial boarding crew although the lack of medbay and reliance on the cloning bay results in some awkward situations. The absolutely lack of direct weapons can make this ship a slow slog towards filling up your 3 capped weapons and hoping you find enough crew to throw them relentlessly at the enemy.

FTL Ship Tier List (D Tier)

The bottom tier in this FTL ship tier list is reserved for the most challenging ships available. If you want to challenge your luck and FTL abilities than selecting one of these ships will provide the challenge you’re after. These ships simply lack strengths and have an overwhelming number of weaknesses that rely on early game luck to have a chance of success.

ftl-ships-engi-layout-b

Engi B

If you want a challenge then the Engi B can provide that with one of the worst ships in the entire Faster of Light game. Starting with only a single crew member you’ll be joined by a full suite of drones on board to assist you instead which simply don’t provide the same flexibility as real crewmembers that can perform multiple roles and level up their abilities over time. The Engi B really has nothing else going for it either with a weak weapon setup and the cap of three total weapons in the end game. It’s often better to sell all your starting drones and drone augmentation at the first shop to try transition into something workable.

ftl-ships-federation-layout-c

Federation C

Taking the Artillery Beam concept to the next level is the Federation C that doesn’t come with any other weapons and instead alters the Artillery to be a Flak based weapon. The obvious problem here is the massive cooldown of this weapon initially which even with upgrades is never as effective as the Beam of the other Federation ship layouts. The Federation C does start with a teleporter but its crew is fairly weak and requires you to rely on the cloning bay to recover health which will only get you so far before enemy ships will simply be able to shrug off your boarding attempts.

ftl-ships-zoltan-layout-c

Zoltan C

The weakest Zoltan variant by far where the only redeeming feature is the Zoltan Shield augmentation that gives you some hope of a decent late game if you can last that long. Expect to rely heavily on the shield throughout the game with a lack of initial weapons and weak crew members to defend against any boarding. The largest weakness of the ship though is it was designed around using the Zoltan crew members to power systems given the extremely low reactor power which requires insane micromanagement and even with the starting battery is simply insufficient to operate enough systems to be a viable ship in the early game.

ftl-ships-stealth-layout-b

Stealth B

Like Stealth A the Stealth B starts with cloaking then can save you some late game scrap funds to purchase. Reaching that point where this is even a factor though can be difficult as though as you’ll be without initial shields, restricted to three weapons and in general be at the mercy of the RNG roll of the dice. This ship does come with an okay weapon in the Glaive beam but due to the long cooldown if it is not supported by other weapons rapidly you’ll fall behind and unable to recover.

ftl-ships-stealth-layout-c

Stealth C

A weird variant of the Stealth ship given it starts without cloaking or shields that makes any FTL attempt particularly challenging. Thankfully the Stealth C does have a reasonable arsenal of offence and defence in weapons and drones to ensure it can survive in the depths of the Faster Than Light galaxy though and is arguably better than Stealth B because of that.

ftl-ships-rock-layout-a

Rock A

Utilising the weak missile weapon for its two starting weapons the Rock A needs some initial success to acquire other weapons before it runs out of consumable missiles and is literally left unable to fight. It does start with a higher stockpile than most ships but given these are your only damage source you’ll quickly eat through them. Outside of this the Rock A ship itself is actually quite strong with a good starting position and 3 rock crew that can transition to boarding parties later with the useful medbay located right next door to the teleporter to help with their slow move speed.

ftl-ships-slug-layout-b

Slug B

The worst of the slug ship variants this ship suffers similar failings to the Rock A with its single offensive weapon of the Artemis reliant on consumable resources that can quickly run out. Although it does have the backup teleporter from the start players need to bee careful as this ship lacks a medbay and relies on the healing bomb instead which uses the same missile resource as your main attack and can equally miss when used that can quickly derail a potential run.

Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Sam has long enjoyed Faster Than Light (FTL) and regularly returns to the game for its randomisation and challenging mechanics. He has beaten FTL with all ships and layouts but enjoys the starting Kestrel Cruiser over other options to defeat the Rebels.

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