Into the Breach features units composed of two core pieces: a mech and a pilot. Mechs provide the core playstyle of the unit while the pilots enhance and adjust that playstyle with their special skills. Learning which pilot pairs well with which mech or mech squad is a valuable skill and can greatly enhance your success in the battle against the Vek. This guide will focus on the pilot half of the equation, highlighting the mechanical advantages of each pilot and the mechs that they fit best. This guide will cover all sixteen pilots in the game in the order they are listed on the pilot select screen. If you want to skip to a particular pilot in the guide, simply press CTRL + F on your keyboard and type in the pilot’s name.
Ralph is the first pilot in the game, the one with whom you begin your journey…into the breach (I’ll try not to make that joke too many more times). It’s appropriate, then, that Ralph’s special skill is one perfectly suited for beginning players. Ralph’s skill is called Experienced, and it gives him two addition XP whenever he defeats a Vek in battle. This means that Ralph levels up more quickly than other pilots and therefore more quickly gains his extra skills. Because he levels up quickly, he’s a great replacement pilot when you lose someone else you were investing in because it won’t take him long to catch up with other characters.
Since Ralph’s skill doesn’t actually impact the way your mech plays, he pairs somewhat well with any type of mech. However, there are a couple of different strategies I’ve used with Ralph to get the most of it the mechs in my squad. Many mech squads have a science mech that isn’t focused on damage so much as positioning. These kinds of mechs rarely get kills and so the pilots inside of them level up quite slowly. Ralph makes a great pilot for these sorts of mechs because when he does get experience, he gets extra, allowing him to stay roughly even with other pilots even when getting smaller number of kills. Another strategy I’ve utilized with him is to place him in a mech that gains lots of experience from kills, such as the combat mech or the ramming mech, so that he levels up extremely fast. Once he is maxed out, I then place him in a mech that rarely gains experience – like the defense mech – so that other pilots can benefit from the mechs which get kills more often.
Camila has been my favorite pilot to use during my time with Into the Breach, and it’s all about her special skill Evasion. Camila is immune to the effects of two very aggravating effects in the game: webbing and smoke. Webbing is a weapon utilized by the Vek to stop a unit from moving, and it is most often utilized by leapers and scorpions to pin your unit to a tile and then attack them for big damage. Smoke prevents your pilot from attacking or repairing, making them unable to act on the smoky tile. Smoke is a bit easier to avoid but there can be plenty of situations where a smoky tile is the only one where you can get the right angle on an opponent to damage or move them.
Camila’s resistance to webbing makes her an excellent pilot for baiting the enemy AI. When you begin a battle, look at the movement range of scorpions and leapers and make sure that Camila is somewhere they can reach – try to have her cover any spots where the Vek could web a building. If you manage to block of any buildings (and sometimes even if a building is an option), they’ll try to web Camila to no avail. Now there’s an enemy on the field that you can completely ignore in favor of fighting other Vek. I’ve used this strategy to great effect with Camila, and I prefer to use it with prime mechs such as the aegis mech or lightning mech because they fight up close and personal. Camila also pairs very well with the Rusting Hulks, a squad that relies on smoke but is not immune to its effects.
Lily was one of the first pilots to join my forces when I began playing Into the Breach, and I quickly learned to appreciate her great sense of humor. Beyond that, I learned to appreciate her special skill Impulsive, which gives her an additional three squares of movement on the first turn of battle. This is a great ability for getting into a beneficial position early in the game, as even the slowest mechs in the game will still be able to move six spaces on the first turn with Lily behind the controls.
Lily’s ability is another one that works pretty well with any type of mech, but when possible I like to utilize her for prime mechs or any other mech that can only attack an adjacent tile, such as the pulse mech. It’s easier with ranged units to move to a position where they can attack, but if a melee attacker gets too far away from the action then they are effectively useless. Lily also combines well with mechs that fly, as the ability to pass through enemy units is complimented by her expanded movement range. What are some ways that you can take advantage of Lily’s wide movement? One of my favorites is putting Lily on the very back line of the battle when placing my units. Her extended range still allows her to reach the enemy on her turn, but during their turn they cannot reach her to tie her up in webs or prepare an attack against her.
Kazaakpleth is the first of three characters from Subset Games’s previous title, FTL. Like the others, he is obtained by finding a hidden glowing beacon in a damaged mountain or ice and then protecting the time pod that arrives after collecting the beacon. Kazaakpleth’s special skill is called Mantis and it completely replaces his repair ability with a two-damage melee attack that pushes the target backward one square. This sacrifices the ability to repair in exchange for what is essentially a free weapon, and you can use this weapon to great effect in combination with specific mechs.
I’ve enjoyed Kazaakpleth most on science mechs, as they are generally not able to deal damage with their attacks. This gives him an additional option on the battlefield, allowing you to finish off a weak or damaged Vek rather than just pushing them out of the way to cause trouble on a future turn. He also pairs very well with ranged mechs. Ranged mechs lob their attacks, which means they lack the ability to hit the tile adjacent to them. This can be problematic in situations where a ranged mech gets webbed or is trapped by enemy positioning and unable to move. Kazaakpleth allows ranged mechs to deal with those circumstances by giving them a weapon in a situation where they would have previously had none.
Gana is the first of four robotic pilots available in the game. These pilots have a trade-off of sorts with their special skills as they require a mech reactor in order to power their abilities. In exchange, these abilities are theoretically more powerful or useful than those which don’t require a reactor to use. Gana’s ability is called Preemptive Strike, and it allows it to be deployed anywhere on the map at the beginning of battle. The four tiles adjacent to its landing are blasted with explosive force, dealing a single point of damage if a Vek occupies the tiles. This allows you to deal damage to the Vek before the match even starts.
Preemptive Strike is great for dealing with basic leapers, whose single point of health means that they die instantly when Gana lands next to them. I also like to use it to chip one health off of frustrating psion Vek that give helpful boosts to their allies – against the psions who give armor to the Vek, that psion is going to be your only viable target for this attack. The other strategy I utilize with Gana is to choose a target that would have one health left if attacked by one of my other mechs. If I can do three damage with a mech but an alpha Vek has four health, Gana can chip off that first bit that will allow my other mech to finish the job. Because using Preemptive Strike in this way puts Gana right in the heart of battle, I prefer to have him use prime or brute mechs.
Another robotic pilot, Archimedes takes only one mech reactor to power its ability. That ability is Fire-and-Forget, which allows the mech to take an additional movement action after firing its weapon. There are lots of great applications of this ability as Archimedes can line up a shot, move or defeat a Vek, and then move somewhere else afterwards. This means you can move into dangerous territory like a cataclysm tile or an air strike tile to hit an enemy and then move off of it again so that you don’t lose your mech and pilot, but there are plenty of other applications too.
With ranged mechs, my strategy tends to be to keep them on the opposite side of the map from the Vek, lobbing attacks at them from far away. Archimedes helps that strategy by being able to move to a position to hit an enemy and then return back to a neutral, middle position where you can pretty well head left or right if you need to. Some mechs have attacks which put them in compromising positions after using their weapon, such as the judo mech or the unstable mech. If the judo mech throws a Vek that was attacking in the opposite direction, that attack will now be aimed at the mech; the unstable mech’s attack sends it reeling backward and deals damage to it, so it can land on a dangerous tile with only one health remaining. Archimedes allows these mechs to make their attacks and then move into less compromising positions afterward, making it a great partner for them.
Isaac is the first pilot to survive a timeline with me – I brought him from my first game into two or three more before he fell during a particularly horrid battle. Isaac was my pilot of choice during the early game due to his nifty Temporal Reset ability, which allows you to reset the turn from the beginning one additional time during battles. Isaac’s skill doesn’t add a new skill so much as amplify an existing one, so let’s talk about the benefits of being able to reset your turn during combat.
At any point during a turn, you can press the “ – “ button on the Switch controller to restart your current turn. This puts all of your mechs back in their original place, undoes any damage that was done and even restores to life Vek or pilots who were killed during the turn. It’s a fresh start, a chance to undo mistakes from your previous attempt. The obvious purpose of reset turns is to fix a mistake, but there are some other applications too. Sometimes a turn isn’t a mistake so much as you wonder if you could have executed it in a way that would put you in an even better position – in these cases, you may be tempted not to use a reset turn because you want to save it for a true emergency. Isaac gives you the flexibility to reset for these more exploratory reasons. One of my favorite tricks with reset turns, though, is to use them for achievement farming. Sometimes, getting the squad-specific achievements on a given map may require you to make moves that are dangerous or to ignore the defense of your grid in order to execute a specific maneuver. What’s great about reseting is that it does not cancel out achievements you earned, so you can make the crazy and unwise move that unlocks the achievement and then reset, keeping the achievement while continuing the actual battle unharmed. Overall, if you’re struggling with a particular mech squad, Isaac is a great resource to have on your team.
Henry Kwan was the second pilot I ever obtained after Ralph Karlsson, and I got so used to using him that I didn’t even realize I was taking advantage of his skill until I played a future game where he wasn’t in the party. But the first time one of my mechs couldn’t move anywhere because it was surrounded by Vek, I came to appreciate Henry’s skill for its value. Henry is Maneuverable, which is to say he can pass through tiles that are occupied by enemy units. This prevents enemies from blocking him in so that he can’t reach other parts of the map.
The ability to pass over units of the opposite team is a bonus that all flying units have by default, so Henry isn’t a strong choice for mechs like the swap mech or the ice mech. I also don’t like to use him on mechs that are always far away from the action, like the artillery mech or the gravity mech. The best fit for Henry are mechs which are up close and personal, primes like the flame mech or brutes like the cannon mech or mirror mech. Henry’s ability is particularly great for countering Vek that litter the fields with small obstacles, such as goo or the spider leader. While other pilots might get trapped between the multitude of eggs or goo, Henry can easily zip between them to get where you are trying to go.
I think Bethany and Isaac are related, and I kind of assumed they were siblings, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen any text in the game confirming a connection between them. Bethany’s ability is a skill called Starting Shield that allows her to begin each battle with a shield around her mech. Shields fully absorb the damage from one attack, whether it’s a one-damage bump from blocking a Vek or a four damage blast from an alpha Vek. The first hit against Bethany in every battle is nullified by her shield, which opens up lots of strategic options when it comes to positioning your units defensively. If you have a Vek you can’t move out of the way, just stick Bethany in its path instead. Bethany can safely block emerging Vek one time, or be used to lure a scorpion or leaper to waste its attack on her while your other units clear out the remaining Vek.
Any mech can naturally benefit from having a free shield, but there are some who enjoy it more than others. Low health mechs like the swap mech or boulder mech can use this shield to add a much-needed layer of defense to their vulnerable chassis. Mechs who generate shields as part of their set of abilities, like the aegis mech or the pulse mech, can also be a good fit for Bethany as it allows her to start with a shield before attacking and then to continuously replace it throughout the battle. My favorite strategy with her, though, is to put her on mechs like the battering mech, the leap mech, or the unstable mech in order to negate the damage they suffer from their first attack. The hazardous mech squad is all about mechs that damage themselves as they damage the enemy – Bethany gives these dangerous machines a much-needed layer of protection by causing them not to suffer damage on the first turn.
The second pilot from FTL to join the Into the Breach cast, Ariadne is obtained when you find a mysterious glowing beacon inside a mountain or ice tile and then save the time pod that is called down by the beacon. Ariadne is an alien being with the ability Rockman. Not to be confused with the Blue Bomber, this ability actually gives Ariadne’s mech a three-health boost as well as an immunity to fire. This fire immunity is great for mechs that create flame with their weapons but do not naturally have a fire immunity, such as the meteor mech on custom or random teams with no flame mech. The meat of Ariadne’s tactical potential is in the extra health, though.
Like Bethany’s shield, there’s really no such thing as a mech that wouldn’t benefit from a few more health points. However, some need the boost more than others, and Ariadne is a great choice for these mechs. Self-damaging mechs such as the leap mech, battering mech, and unstable mech all benefit greatly from the additional health as it allows them to spend more consecutive turns attacking rather than wasting time healing. This is also a good ability for mechs that can find themselves repositioning the enemy into attacking them, such as the judo mech or the aegis mech.
Our third robot pilot, Silica is the most expensive of the four companions with an ability that costs not one but two mech reactors to activate. For such a costly power, surely it must be good, right? Silica’s power is called Double Shot, and it allows Silica to take two actions (firing a weapon or repairing) as long as the mech doesn’t take a movement action that turn. Being able to attack twice in a single turn can be a very helpful tool when facing multiple Vek, but which mechs make the most of this tool?
I started out using Silica with ranged mechs, whose lobbed shots often have an area of effect all around the area where the shot impacted and thus would be the most likely unit type to be able to attack twice from a single position. I’ve had a lot of luck with Silica in the siege mech, for example. But what about the ice mech? Every time this mech fires it freezes itself in a block of ice that may very well cost it the next turn. With Silica, if you don’t move before starting your turn then you can freeze and opponent and yourself, then immediately repair to break out of the ice. The real secret, though, is to put Silica inside of mechs that already travel as part of their weapon attacks. The leap mech or the fully-powered swap mech are both great examples of this. Mechs that travel with their weapon attack get the best of both worlds from Silica, able to travel the map while also dealing damage and pushing enemies – and doing so twice in a single turn. Even if you use one of the movement actions just to get somewhere else on the map and don’t actually attack, often these movement-based weapons allow you to get to places that the mech could not realistically travel with a movement action. I’ve had plenty of times with the leap mech and Silica where I jumped once to reach a spot that I couldn’t walk to, and then used the second jump to actually attack. Being able to repair twice in one turn is also a valuable skill on the leap mech since it damages itself with each jump.
Been a day or two since I read Shakespeare! This nature-focused robot is our final mechanical pilot of the guide, and once again we’re back down to a cost of one mech reactor to activate that ability. Prospero has a straightforward ability with a straightforward name: Flying. When Prospero equips a mech reactor, the mech it pilots gains the ability to fly if it didn’t have it already. Naturally, this means you don’t want to use Prospero with, say, a nano mech or a jet mech, since the Flying ability will go to waste.
Flying mechs have a couple of different advantages they can utilize in combat. Like pilot Henry Kwan, they can pass by enemy units and thus cannot be boxed in just by being surrounded by enemies. However, there are other advantages too. Flying mechs are not affected by the dangers presented by certain tiles. Water, acid water, and lava all do nothing to flying mechs, so they can float over those positions without being weakened/burned and they don’t lose their ability to attack. This flight ability also grants immunity to hazards like cataclysms, and being pushed over a chasm does not immediately kill a flying unit. There are lots of advantages to flight, and it works well on any unit that doesn’t already have it. However, I particularly recommend it with prime and brute type mechs.
Abe was my first favorite pilot in the game, the one I grew most attached to before I found Camila Vera. His ability, like hers, is one that I think has a lot of useful applications and is beautiful in its simplicity. His ability is called Armored, and it does exactly what you think – it gives his mech a point of armor. This allows Abe to soak up the damage of weak attacks from Vek such as basic fireflies, hornets, and scorpions without actually sustaining damage to his mech. Of course, it also reduces the impact of bigger attacks too, making it more likely that Abe’s mech will survive blows from serious threats.
Here’s what makes Abe truly special, though – armor actually reduces the damage taken from self-harming weapons used by the battering mech or members of the hazardous mechs. We’ve talked about a couple of different characters who can pair with those tricky mechs in order to mitigate the threat of using them, but Abe flat-out stops them from taking damage unless you spend reactors on upgrades that also increase the self-damage. This makes him an essential partner for those teams, but he combines well with any mech that will regularly be in the way of enemy attacks. One quick achievement tip: Abe is a huge boon in getting the Steel Judoka achievement called Unbreakable, as placing him on either the siege mech or gravity mech gives you two armored units and makes it much easier to absorb five damage in a single battle.
Chen was the last standard pilot I found in the game and is probably the pilot I have used the least. Fortunately, Chen’s ability has some similarities to another we’ve discussed and it’s pretty simple to understand its applications. Chen’s skill is called Sidestep, and it allows the mech to move one tile after firing its weapon. If you’ve read the entry on Archimedes and its Fire-and-Forget ability, this is a lesser version of that ability that has the advantage of not costing a mech reactor in order to gain the advantages.
So in what situations can a single tile of movement be useful after firing? Mechs like the judo mech and unstable mech often find themselves in difficult positions after using their weapon, and generally one tile is enough movement to get out of the way of that danger. This ability also allows Chen to move into a dangerous position (such as an air strike or lightning storm tile), make an attack against the Vek, and then move off of the dangerous tile again. While it is easy to dismiss Chen as an inferior form of Archimedes, the difference between one and zero is much greater than the difference between one and three. I mean, not mathematically, speaking, but – the thing is, even just having one space of extra movement after firing, Chen has most of the strategic options available to Archimedes with no cost in mech reactors. He may not be “as good” if we were to establish a tier list, but he gets the job done and can be a valuable member of your team.
Every group of time-traveling mech pilots need an old guy, and Harold Schmidt certainly delivers for the crew of Into the Breach. He’s pretty spry for his age, though, as indicated by his special ability Frenzied Repair. When Harold performs repairs on his mech, adjacent tiles are pushed, allowing him to move enemies away from him while he conducts repairs upon his mech. The name Frenzied Repair along with his text when repairing basically implies that he just runs all over the places waving tools around while he’s working on the mech, and for that reason alone Harold will always be a fun pilot for me.
Frenzied Repair has some tactical applications, too. It’s a great skill on self-damaging units because it allows them to still push Vek around while taking turns to recover from bashing into enemies. It also combines well with ranged mechs or ones like the gravity mech that have no viable form of melee attack, allowing them to push enemies in melee range rather than being helpless. If Harold gets webbed, he can both restore some health and push his would-be attacker out of the way at the same time. Harold’s ability is essentially free healing attached to the pulse mech’s attack, allowing him to combine offense and defense into a single maneuver.
Mafan is the final pilot on the list but it was actually my first pilot from FTL that I discovered by locating a glowing beacon in a mountain and then rescuing the time pod that fell after collecting it. These beacons can also be found in ice tiles. Mafan’s special skill is the most extensive in the game, made up of three component parts. Zoltan sets the health of Mafan’s mech to one, grants a bonus mech reactor, and grants a shield at the start of every turn. The extra reactor is a great way to jump-start your battles in a new timeline, allowing you to immediately upgrade a mech even if you don’t have a fully-trained time traveler up your sleeve. The real essence of Mafan, though, lies in its shield.
If you read the section on Bethany, you know all the advantages of shielding. It protects vulnerable mechs from losing their limited health, it allows safe blocking of emerging Vek or of a single attack of any power. It also protects from the self-harm caused by the hazardous mechs or the battering mech. The fact that Mafan automatically gains a new shield at the start of every turn makes it a force to be reckoned with, but you do have to be careful to never get caught in the path of two sources of damage. If Mafan takes a single hit without that shield, it’s a goner. Playing as Mafan is a risky trade-off, but in my case the risk felt like it was worth the reward.
That brings an end to this pilot guide for Into the Breach. I hope you found this guide helpful, and if you have any questions you want to ask about a particular pilot I would encourage you to post your question below. If I know the answer, I’ll be more than happy to provide my perspective! I also encourage comments if you know of a tip or trick that I didn’t discuss in today’s article. Despite thirty trips into the breach (shoot, there’s another one), I still have plenty that I can learn about this game. If you’re interested in any of my other Into the Breach guides, just click on that very phrase in the sidebar to the right to see what else I’ve written on the subject!