Faster Than Light (FTL) Ship Tier List - Best Ship Ranked - Games Finder (2024)

Last Updated on July 1, 2024 by Samuel Franklin

This FTL ship tier list ranks the best ships to defeat the Rebel Flagship for your favourite strategic playstyle whether you’re a seasoned ship captain or new recruit. While all FTL ships can beat the game some ship options have a significantly easier path to victory which make them ideal choices.

In this guide each ship and layout is ranked with a detailed analysis of the strengths, weaknesses and ship strategy. These personal recommendations are based on my hundreds of gameplay hours in Faster In Light where I challenged myself to complete the game with every ship and ship layout steadily over a number of years in between other video games. Given this FTL ship guide discusses all available choices there are spoilers for Faster Than Light below.

Table of Contents:
Best Ship Tier List Summary
FTL Best Ships – What Makes Them Good
FTL Best Ship Tier List Detail

FTL Best Ship Tier List Summary

Further information on the rating of each ship and tier is included in the detailed section of this page with layouts ranked from best (S tier) to worst (D tier).

Ship TierShip Name & Layout Type
SLanius B
Crystal B
AKestrel B
Zoltan A
Lanius A
Mantis B
Crystal A
BKestrel A
Engi C
Federation A
Zoltan B
Slug C
Stealth A
CKestrel C
Engi A
Federation B
Rock B
Rock C
Slug A
Mantis A
Mantis C
DEngi B
Federation C
Zoltan C
Stealth B
Stealth C
Rock A
Slug B

FTL Best Ships – What Makes Them Good

Every ship in FTL can secure a victory although there are some that excel at reaching and defeating the final battle. The top tier options have several features that make them special and allow them to limit the impact of random number generation (RNG) from achieving your victory and in turn allow for larger high scores.

The factors for this best FTL ships tier list include:

  • Layout: A ship layout is permanent with some having clear advantages while others are difficult to use in practice. Ideal layouts include the ability to cut off invaders from key systems, having a central healing location or just multiple pathways to reach particular rooms that might need support during a battle.
  • Flexibility: A ship that can be flexible while utilising the FTL best weapons that you acquire is key to ease of victory. Some ships are simply unable to support a large number of weapons for due to their inherent design while others might start from such a weak point that you need to heavily invest Scrap to increase their power level to a sufficient point. Certain options are also pigeonholed into particular playstyles and if the stores you encounter don’t co-operate by providing key crew or equipment they can quickly crumble as you progress into later sectors.
  • Starting Weapons: Having initial strong weapons is invaluable as it allows you to snowball a strong early game into a powerful late game. With a strong base you can prevent damage and take more fights that ultimately means more Scrap to improve your ship in the long run. This also removes some 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 because you simply couldn’t acquire the right tools for victory.
  • 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 that are expensive to acquire otherwise. This is not as important as starting weapons though as it can be easily corrected after some early success through stores provided you can acquire the necessary Scrap currency.
  • Starting Crew: The least important factor as crew members can be hired and trained relatively easily but still a factor to consider in your choice of starting ship layout. 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 better consistency based on each layout. A summary table is included above for quick reference with limited spoilers with further individual FTL best ship information underneath that discusses the specific elements of each ship.

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FTL Ship Tier List (S Tier)

The S tier ships in Faster Than Light won’t be ones you’re using in your first runs of FTL given unlocking them is a significant journey. Not only are these two options difficult to unlock the best ships are also the B layout variant that requires you to complete some achievements with the A layout first. The S tier is basically easy mode for Faster Than Light even on the hard FTL difficulty and can overcome even the worst luck given their strong initial starting position, crew and late game potential.

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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 while attacking the enemy. Supported with the mind control and cloning bay systems players have an easy time boarding with little risk to their own crew while acquiring high Scrap rewards from combat that can be invested in upgrades. 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.

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Crystal B

While it might seem odd to have no weapons this option is the FTL best boarding ship with three strong crystal crew, a four tile teleporter and the cloak system from the start. With stealth you can easily dodge projectiles while you board your enemy and like the Lanius B earn high Scrap rewards. The starting augment while not particularly useful also provides a healthy amount of Scrap when sold to boost a run further that can allow you to either boost your shields or start filling your weapon slots.

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 and simply don’t reach the overpowered level of S tier. These A tier options are significantly easier to acquire which makes them some of the best beginner ships in FTL to secure your first victories.

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Kestrel B

An easy to play ship that is available quite early on given it is a secondary layout of your starting ship, the Kestrel B has a number of nice quality of life enhancements though that make it stronger than the initial Kestrel A. Most notably is the massive arsenal of weapons that you start with that can easily beat enemy shields to disable their weapons. 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 with your abundance of Scrap for the Rebel Flagship battle. It also starts with a high number of crew so that all your key systems can be occupied while providing protection against enemy boarders.

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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 of this layout is primarily the weapon system that provides a balanced setup of missile to knock out shields and the deadly halberd beam to destroy the enemy ship quickly. This results in no early game progression issues although you might need to micro your Zoltan crew a little until you can beef up your reactor levels as that is a minor initial drawback.

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Lanius A

The Lanius have a specialty for powerful ships with both layouts being top tier options that reflects the effort required to unlock them. While the focus on using the initial hacking can be a little bit of a playstyle shift for those that don’t regularly use it this is key for achieving long term success with the Lanius A. Despite this you do have the teleporter and two useful weapons that let you establish a foothold down other preferred paths as well with a decent crew number of 3 to start with.

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Mantis B

Another high ranking potential option that starts without weapons due to the Mantis B having the deadly and unique four person teleporter that provides boarding options. While you start with only 2 mantis crew this can quickly be scaled up through shops which is relatively easy to do in most games but until this point players will need to be careful. Given the limited weapon slots you’ll need to establish a strong combat crew and also be well practiced with a boarding strategy in FTL as shifting to a weapon strategy is Scrap expensive and you are limited to only 3 weapon slots.

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Crystal A

Your first reward for following the long crystal unlock quest line the Crystal A is a deadly ship to add to your hangar. Likely to be your first experience with the crystal weapons these provide a wonderful offensive opening that can quickly disable and destroy an enemy while you build strength with each sector. In time players can also acquire a teleporter to make use of the two starting crystal crew members that will carry you through the game with limited effort while your human crew can occupy key systems as reliable quick learning crewmembers.

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 be the end of your adventure and as a result you are somewhat exposed to the randomisation of FTL. This means you generally need a little bit of luck on your side to find the right weapons, augments or crew although they can still reach end game with careful tactics if required.

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Kestrel A

The first ship you’ll use in Faster Than Light is average in terms of overall ship power that make it a good training ground that with luck and strategy can be a winner. Serving as the default ship it is designed to introduce you to the basic concepts of FTL and provides a blank slate that allows it to work for many strategies with the right investment. The best part of the Kestrel is its basic but effective starting weapon system although it doesn’t start with anything specialised.

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Engi C

The Engi ships in general can be a bit of adjustment from your initial Kestrel variant as the weapon starting position of this ship is weaker and there are some awkward layout considerations. That being said the Engi C is by far the best of the Engi ship options and overcomes the lack of weapons and maximum 3 weapon slot in other ways with a Lanius crew member, hacking and drones available right from the start.

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Federation A

The Federation A is a fun niche 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 be a factor until late game given the upgrades required to reduce its cooldown this does ensure 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 that is flexible for the challenge the galaxy throws at players and the deadly Burst Laser II for early combat encounters.

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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 early bad luck cascading to significant damage and Scrap repair cost. The Zoltan B has reasonable early game firepower though to compensate with its ion and pike beam blend that give you a foundation of weapons if you can push through the early game where you are exposed.

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Slug C

The best of the Slug ships that in the right hands can be a deadly weapon given its slug crew, hacking and mind control that provide an alternative but reliable approach to victory. This starting combination is unique and means you need to focus on crippling your enemy instead of a direct damage 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 weapon arsenal for success otherwise enemies will quickly out scale the player.

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Stealth A

A unique ship in the FTL universe that starts without any shields that can make avoiding early damage quite difficult although to offset this lack of shields players start with cloaking and high engine levels. Stealth A also has a good mixture of weapons although is capped at 3 weapon slots that limit your end game potential when using this ship. While starting with stealth can save a significant investment in the mid to late game on purchasing the useful stealth system with Scrap you’ll need a strong handle of game mechanics and luck to make it there which means the Stealth A is below average compared to other FTL ships.

FTL Ship Tier List (C Tier)

At this point the weaknesses of ships outweigh their strengths in terms of starting statue and selecting any of these will result in an increased challenge. This sees players needing some initial luck if they hope to acquire the power level necessary to win the game with the amount of luck required increasing based on the level of difficulty you select. If you are not yet familiar with all the Faster Than Light mechanics players should avoid the C tier and below as it will likely be a frustrating experience.

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Kestrel C

The worst of the available layouts for the starting Kestrel ship given it lacks any meaningful strengths to set you up in the early game and results in an adventure of struggle. The best feature in the Kestrel C is the starting Lanius crew member and decent weapons but these still need to be expanded quickly. The lack of starting teleporter also means that the Lanius crewmember won’t be providing significant benefit for some time as their strength lies within their boarding abilities compared to other crew types. Like the other Kestrel options it is still relatively flexible to pursue a range of strategies but the weak starting position makes it inconsistent.

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Engi A

Despite the low FTL ship tier list ranking here the Engi A is quite an easy ship to manage early on given it relies mostly on passive gameplay with the ion and drone combo. 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 limit 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 room for error given the required Scrap to upgrade everything will be high.

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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 starting 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 initial weapon setup is a challenge though as you’ll be going through missiles at rapid pace to take down enemies and needs to be quickly replaced for an effective run.

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Rock B

Despite having a strong rock crew of 4 members the Rock B can quickly suffer depending on the circ*mstances you encounter in your randomised FTL run. 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 with this rock ship. The lack of outside doors to vent atmosphere and general lack of starting doors also just create an odd gameplay flow in the FTL meta as using doors effectively is a vital advanced strategy. 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.

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Rock C

Adding a crystal crew member to your rock layout this ship has another odd layout that can be difficult to manage with your slow crewmembers and limited pathways to key systems. This odd design is also reflected in weapon choices that on paper seem strong but are awkward to use together and places a lot of reliance on missiles that need to be restocked constantly at the cost of Scrap. To have any Rock C success you need to quickly build up a repair crew and better weapon options but without having a reliable method to have Scrap positive enemy encounters this is quite a challenge.

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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 quickly and increases the micromanagement requirements greatly until then. Slug A also has an awkward array of weapons that similarly require high levels of micromanagement although does start with 3 of them to give you a decent amount of firepower. The problem is that all of this effort simply isn’t worth the reward in most cases with vastly superior ships that require less work to achieve victory.

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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 layout that is unable to deal with most foes with initial weapons and there are simply significantly stronger options for boarding focused gameplay in Faster Than Light.

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Mantis C

The Mantis C a weaker Mantis option as a lack of Medbay and reliance on the Cloning Bay instead is difficult with the small initial crew. The lack of direct weapons and limit of 3 weapon slots can also make this ship difficult to progress and relies on finding sufficient crew from stores to fill up your ship and leverage that initial Cloning Bay.

FTL Ship Tier List (D Tier)

The bottom tier is reserved for the most challenging ships and should only be selected if you are seeking a new FTL challenge that tests your luck and strategies. These ships simply lack strengths and have an overwhelming number of weaknesses that rely on early game luck to have even a remote chance of victory.

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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 with a weak initial weapon setup and a limit of three total weapons impacting your 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 although dedicated masterful FTL players can make the drone setup work.

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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 enemies will simply be able to resist your boarding attempts.

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Zoltan C

The weakest Zoltan variant 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 early on.

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Stealth B

Like Stealth A the Stealth B starts with cloaking then can save Scrap funds although reaching that point can be difficult as you’ll be without initial shields, restricted to three weapons and in general be at the mercy of RNG. 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 quickly you will fall behind enemy ship power and simply won’t be able to defeat enemy ships to acquire Scrap currency.

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Stealth C

A strange 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 weapons and drones to ensure it can survive in the depths of the Faster Than Light galaxy although you need some early luck to turn your diverse crew roster into something powerful.

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Rock A

Utilising the weaker missile weapon archetype 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 itself is actually quite strong with 3 rock crew that can transition to boarding parties later with the useful Medbay located right next to the teleporter to help with the slow move speed of this rock crew type.

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Slug B

The worst of the slug ship variants as it suffers similar failings to the Rock A with its single offensive weapon of the Artemis that is reliant on consumable resources that can quickly run out. Although it does have the backup teleporter from the start players need to be 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 has a chance to miss that can quickly derail a potential run.

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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.

As a seasoned FTL captain with countless Rebel Flagship victories Sam has mastered all the game’s challenging mechanics and unpredictable randomisation. With each run offering a fresh and exciting experience through different ship options, weapon loadouts and strategies Sam has hundreds of different FTL runs under this belt. Despite conquering FTL with all the available ships and layouts he consistently returns to the game for the thrill of its complexity where he favours the classic Kestrel Cruiser to explore the galaxy sectors.

Faster Than Light (FTL) Ship Tier List - Best Ship Ranked - Games Finder (2024)

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