|Ship type||Kestrel Cruiser|
|Weapons||Artemis, Burst Laser II|
|Achievements||The United Federation, Full Arsenal, Tough Little Ship|
The Kestrel class cruiser was decomissioned from the Federation fleet years ago. After a number of refits and updating, this classic ship is ready for battle.
The Kestrel is the default cruiser in FTL and the only one available when starting the game. It starts with a crew of three humans, an Artemis missile launcher and a Burst Laser II. It's the most iconic ship of FTL and it's fit for many different strategies.
How to Unlock the Kestrel
The Kestrel is the default ship, and therefore does not need to be unlocked.
- Starts with two of the strongest and most useful weapons in the game.
- Ship layout is simple and straightforward.
- Generalized setup means you are not locked into one particular playstyle.
- Three starting crew means that you cannot man every system to start.
- A 100% Human crew makes offensive and defensive boarding very difficult, and provides no blue options at events.
- Fairly generic and boring with no stand-out qualities aside from the strong starting weaponry.
Leaving the Hangar
Many consider the Kestrel great because you can use almost any strategy with it. Being weapon-focused is simple because you start with a decent missile launcher and a great laser weapon. Boarding can be more difficult as you will need to find some better crew for boarding, i.e. Mantis or Rock. Drone focused may be difficult at first, but it is possible, provided you find the right drones. One of the major weaknesses to the Kestrel is its homogenous crew of humans. Humans have no special abilities and provide no blue options for events. Luckily, they also have no major weaknesses such as slow speeds or repair times. Hopefully, you will develop a more multicultural crew by defeating Slavers or completing certain quests and distress calls. Having three crew means you can't man all systems from the start and makes you more vulnerable to crew-loss events as well. Remember, kids: just Say no to giant alien spiders!
The strength of the Kestrel is in the balanced layout and strong starting weapons. You'll unlock other ships which provide a much greater challenge soon enough!
- Abuse your Burst Laser II and Artemis Missile Launcher to avoid damage in the early sectors. Hit the weapons first, then the shields while they are repairing them. For a strong endgame, add an extra Burst Laser II and an Ion Bomb Launcher if possible.
- With only three crew, it is recommended you man the cockpit, weapons, and engines. Leave the shields for a 4th crew member as the evasion helps more, especially early on.
- If you have the extra scrap, consider purchasing a 4th crew member to unlock blue options at events. Consider an Engi, Rockman, or Mantis. Slugs can be useful, but are rarer and mostly for nebula sectors. Never purchase Zoltans or Humans.
- Ion, Beam and Fire Weapons also unlock blue options. If you find one, consider keeping it in a weapons slot, even if you can't power it. Blue options will work regardless if the weapon is powered or not.
- An early drone control can be a valuable tool. The Defense Drone Mk. I is the gold standard as they excel at preventing missile damage, which can add up or even cause disaster if they hit a critical system. However, System Repair Drones, Anti-Personnel Drones and Beam Drones not only shore up the weakneses of the Kestrel, they unlock blue options as well. Boarding Drones are only useful if you are trying a boarding strategy.
- Other useful subsystems for blue options include a level 2 Medbay and Level 2 sensors. However, don't neglect your shields and weapons to get more blue options!
- Shields level 2, due to your strong starting weaponry.
- Drone Control in the hopes of getting a useful drone, such as Defense Drone Mk. I.
- Weapons, especially if you find a decent Beam or another multi-laser such as a Hull Smasher II.
- 4th crew member if you haven't gotten one already.
- Medbay Level 2 to protect from boarders. Sensors 2 if you have a lot of nebulas in your game.
- Decent Engines and Shields 3.
- Cloaking for the boss's power surges.
- Teleporter for the boss if you can afford it.
Useful augmentations include the Automated Reloader, Shield Charge Booster, and, as always, the Scrap Recovery Arm.
The United Federation: This is unlocked by having six unique aliens on the Kestrel at once. If you have a Human, Engi, Zoltan, Rock, Mantis, and Slug on your ship, you will unlock the achievement.
Full Arsenal: This will be unlocked when you have all systems on the ship at once. Purchasing the Cloaking, Teleporter, and Drone Control systems will unlock this achievement.
Tough Little Ship: This will be unlocked from repairing at a store with one hull point left. Try to find an auto-scout directly next to a store, let your hull get to one point left, jump to the store, and repair. Another good strategy is to let your hull get to 1 by standing in an asteroid field with your shields and engine unpowered, for your own safety, wait for your FTL Drive to charge before doing this, or/and get a defense drone ready in the evenience an asteroid hits your shields or engine.
The second layout of the Kestrel is the Red-Tail. It looks more like a rebel ship than a Federation ship, and instead of having a Burst Laser II and Artemis it has four Basic Laser weapons. It also has a different layout than the Kestrel. It may be harder to use drones due to its starting weaponry.