I’ve waxed on about the storytelling in 13 Sentinels and shared my favorite moments in the game, but that only focuses on one of the two games modes available. 13 Sentinels is not just a visual novel or adventure game – the tactical battles of destruction mode are an important piece of the whole picture of the game. They’re a piece that I enjoyed quite a bit, so for my send off of the game I want to spend some time reflecting on which mechs and pilots were my favorites to use.
The Sentinels are divided cleanly into four generations, with three or four pilots per generation. The generations represent broad specializations while the pilots have unique abilities as well a different selection of specific weapons from within the tools available to their generation. To organize this article, I’ll be ranking the generations in order from my least favorite to my favorite and then doing the same with the pilots within the generation.
One final note: while this article will include mechanical spoilers for 13 Sentinels, story spoilers will be limited only to those details about characters which may be included in their skill descriptions. I won’t be digging into the events of remembrance mode at all here. So with that out of the way, let’s dive into my least favorite group of sentinels: generation two.
#4: Second Generation (G2)
The G2 Sentinels are described as all-rounders, the most balanced units on your team. This is somewhat true I find in the sense that their basic abilities (those which do not cost energy points (EP)) have both a melee option and a ranged option. However, this generation does have a specialization: support units. G2 Sentinels have multiple types of smaller robots they can deploy in order to offer assistance in combat. The most basic types are sentry guns (which autofire on enemies) and guardians (which draw aggro, forcing enemies to attack them), but there are a couple of other support units as well.
My issue with the G2 Sentinels is that as jacks of all trades, they are masters of none for most of the game. They exchange potency for versatility and their focus on support units means that the Sentinels themselves don’t bring much to the table. More specifically, as enemy units get more access to armor and shields, G2 Sentinels do not have viable solutions for dealing with these defensive measures. Late game (when you’ve spent enough meta-chips to unlock their most powerful skills) they do get some solid armor piercing weapons, but they never have access to EMPs (which both clear shields and drop aerial targets). G2 Sentinels were consistently backups for me, clearing small hordes of weak enemies or dealing decent hits against ground-based armored foes but never making the game-changing plays that turned battles in my favor.
G2 #3: Iori Fuyusaka
Iori is the G2 pilot that leans hardest into the support units, having access to the widest variety of supports as well as multiple pilot skills that buff supports. In addition to the guardian and sentry gun that all G2 pilots have, she can place shield emitters and repair emitters to heal or protect allies. This seems great in theory but in addition to being able to be destroyed by enemies, these emitters only last for 8 seconds. And what Iori loses in exchange for the additional support units is access to some of the more effective weapons available to G2 Sentinels. Until you hit the max meta level and unlock the plasma blades, Iori has less offensive potential than her teammates and that kept me from wanting to use her much at all.
G2 #2: Juro Kurabe
If Iori is the support unit specialist of the G2 pilots, Juro is the weapon specialist. He has the lightest variety of support units and the most weapons. This gives him some solid offensive options like being able to debuff groups of foes, fire armor piercing anti-ground missiles into a large crowd, and of course the plasma cutter. Compared to Iori he also gets the guardian avenger, which is a guardian that explodes when destroyed to deal some big damage to nearby Kaiju. The big things that hold Juro back for me are his situational pilot skills, a couple of which only activate in some very specific circumstances.
G2 #1: Ryoko Shinonome
Ryoko is the most balanced of the all-rounders; she doesn’t have the most weapons or the most support units. But I find that she has the most effective of each. She can use a guardian avenger which explodes when enemies destroy it (an advantage over Iori), and thanks to her hyper condenser passive she can place two sentry guns at once if you want to emphasize support units (which neither Iori nor Juro can do). If you don’t like supports, Ryoko gets the anti-ground piercing missiles (which Iori does not) which are great for wiping out a large group of mid-tier armored foes in addition to the plasma cutter that all G2 Sentinels get. So already Ryoko has the best features from both Iori and Juro. On top of that, her pilot skills are probably the easiest to take advantage of as they basically all kick in when she’s getting the shit kicked out of her. This means they can work in any battle (unlike Juro) and they aren’t tied almost exclusively to support units (unlike Iori). Out of my least favorite class of Sentinels, Ryoko is the pilot I don’t mind too much to bring along.
#3: Fourth Generation (G4)
Fourth generation Sentinels have some pretty useful features right out the gate. They are the only generation of Sentinels who move by flying, allowing them to travel directly to a destination in a straight line rather than having to navigate the city streets and risk being boxed in by kaiju. They are also technically the only Sentinels with lasers (although let me tell ya, some of those third gen weapons look an awful lot like lasers to me), which means their basic attack that does not cost EP is also armor piercing. Being able to move more freely than other units and ignoring armor by default is a pretty nice set of features and help this generation to stand out early.
What I have found broadly with the G4 Sentinels – the thing that ranks them only at third place on this list – is that most of the things they do well can realistically be done better by the other generations. Deal heavy ranged damage in a straight line? G3. Deal heavy melee damage to a single huge target? G1. And while the shields that G4 brings to the table are certainly useful for preventing some trouble on the battlefield, their mines aren’t nearly as useful a utility weapon as the EMPs carried by other generations. I also find G4 to have the wildest variance in terms of pilot usefulness; these four pilots have the least amount of overlap in terms of their abilities which means you may be using them in very different roles on the battlefield.
G4 #4: Renya Gouto
Honestly the bottom two slots for me are almost interchangeable, but I have placed Renya at the bottom based on his pilot skills and utility weapons. Three of the four G4 Sentinels have my preferred weapons for the generation: the armor-piercing converging lasers and the leg spikes. Renya is one of those three, which means what separates him from the others are the utility weapons and passives available to him. Renya’s hyper condenser increases the amount of interceptors (support drones) he can release, making his interceptor ability a bit stronger than the other characters, and he gets access to a gravity bomb that can be used to group kaiju together to make them more convenient for someone else to attack. His pilot skills though are primarily focused on stat boosts, specifically stat boosts for factors where you don’t have as much control like the number of kaiju that spawn or whether or not a certain character contacts you.
G4 #3: Shu Amiguchi
Shu and Renya have a lot of overlap with one another, with their main distinctions coming from their skills and utility tools. Where Renya focused on interceptors and the gravity bomb, Shu has an advantage when it comes to mines and to his shielding tech. The latter is the game-changer here as Shu’s shields also repair the targeted Sentinels, not only protecting but also healing allies. But Shu doesn’t just have good support abilities; his pilot skills help to highlight him as a character that can also jump into an offensive role. Shu’s attack power increases when more units on the field are women, and it also increases when he uses each weapon in his arsenal for the first time. Notice the difference between Amiguchi and Gouto? You as the player have a lot more control over when Shu gets benefits from his pilot skills, and I personally prefer to be able to intentionally utilize my character’s abilities rather than leaving those benefits to chance.
G4 #2: Megumi Yakushiji
Megumi is the most unique G4 pilot. She is the one character missing the core weapons I discussed before – both the converging lasers as well as the leg spike. But she makes up for that by having a laser focus (eeeyyyy) on support abilities. Like Renya, she has access to a passive that grants her additional interceptors as well as access to the gravity bombs to manage enemy formations. Like Shu, she has access to healing shields. Unique to Megumi to make her role as a support unit even more effective is her forced cooling tech. This enables her Sentinel to have reduced wait times (WT) on all abilities, allowing Megumi to take more actions than another character doing the exact same moves as her. This allows her to get her support abilities out more quickly and devote her energy fully to the role. Two things keep her from first place. One, I’m more of an offensive player than a defensive player in this game. And two, she has a whopping four pilot skills which depend on another character being on the field. Three are for Juro, so if that guy isn’t around, most of Megumi’s passives just got thrown out the window.
G4 #1: Yuki Takimiya
The best defense is a good offense, and of all the G4 units Yuki brings the most aggressive offense. She doesn’t have any of the great utility tools available to the other characters like special mines, healing shields, gravity, or extra interceptors. But what she does have are two custom passive armaments that together make her dangerous to approach. One is a special armor that cancels the impact of attacks dealing less than 500 damage. The other is a counterattack which deals 400 damage to all kaiju in melee range when she gets hurt. These abilities mean that Yuki is better equipped than any other G4 Sentinel to get in the middle of a scrap, and her pilot skills ensure that when she does, she’ll also be doing big damage. All Sentinels get damage bonuses for attacking kaiju from behind, but Yuki’s skill makes that bonus bigger. Additionally, another skill allows her to do increased melee damage. Yuki gets in close and does massive damage from behind with her leg spike, and if the enemy tries to retaliate, she’s got the defenses to endure the hit as well as a counterattack that is ready to go.
#2: Third Generation (G3)
The third generation sentinels are long range attack specialists. They can fire missiles further than any other Sentinel generation and they have access to huge not-lasers that deal big damage in a straight line. Out of all the Sentinels we have met so far, the G3 models are the first to be equipped with EMPs, one of the most important utility weapons (I would argue THE most important) in 13 Sentinels. EMPs put aerial kaiju on the ground so that ground-based attacks can harm them, temporarily immobilize them so they can’t move towards your terminal for a short time, and it blasts any shields off of their bodies so you can attack them with impunity. Once you get past the first couple of missions, EMPs are essential to victory.
Third gen Sentinels are ideal for taking out huge groups of annoying twerps in a single action. Depending on the pilot they may specialize in anti-air versus anti-ground. And two of the three pilots have access to what I believe to be the most busted weapon in the game, a giant missile that can clear roughly 25% of the map in a single shot in exchange for a lengthy recovery time. Technically this attack also costs an obscene amount of EP, but I have found that as long as you are sure to aim the missile at an area where the damage range is full of enemies, the recovery from the defeated enemies will refill your EP bar all the way. Where these Sentinels falter for me compared to the winning generation is that for the most part, they are lacking in tools for piercing armor, which means that their most effective blows are often cut in half during later parts of the game where pretty much everything has reinforced armor. Still, when it comes to clearing out enemy hordes, there’s no better tools in your arsenal.
G3 #3: Natsuno Minami
Honestly Natsuno lands in the bottom spot because of one unforgivable sin. Remember how I said two of the three G3 Sentinels have access to a giant missile that blasts a quarter of the map to smithereens? Yeah, Natsuno is the character who doesn’t get it. In exchange, she has access to a forced cooling device similar to Megumi, allowing her to take action more often when equipped to her Sentinel. It’s a useful boon and thanks to her anti-air missiles and anti-ground missiles, Natsuno can still accomplish the essential function of a G3 Sentinel effectively. But when you’re choosing between having access to the most broken weapon in the game versus not having access, well, the most broken weapon is probably going to win out.
G3 #2: Keitaro Miura
At this point I’ve already established that the remaining G3 pilots both have the super missile that really makes these Sentinels excel on the battlefield. What separates the remaining pilots, then, are the other weapons in their arsenals as well as their pilot skills. Miura has an advantage in the weapons department. He has access to anti-air missiles that Kisaragi does not, and he also gets the mega heavy railgun that is essentially a suped-up version of the standard railgun that all three G3 Sentinels possess. But the railgun advantage is mitigated somewhat by Tomi’s hyper condenser, and more significantly, Keitaro has key pilot skills that are dependent on factors either outside of your control (like being contacted by a specific character on comms) or factors you don’t want to happen (like his Sentinel being destroyed). And while Miura’s attack-boosting skills are within your control, they require attacking in a specific order, making them a bit more situational.
G3 #1: Tomi Kisaragi
At this point we know a big selling point about Kisaragi is her access to the super missile, but what else does she have going for her? One key tool in her arsenal is her hyper condenser, which helps to make up for the fact that she doesn’t get the mega railgun by giving her two shots with her standard railgun. This lessens the distance between her and Miura in the weapons department. Beyond that, her pilot skills have some key advantages. The big one is “Get Lost!” which gives Tomi a damage boost when attacking at a long range. Not only is this easier to activate than Keitaro’s attack boost (which requires him to attack after a specific character) but she also gains access to it much earlier (level 15 versus level 30). Additionally, remember how I mentioned that the missile has a really long WT after being used? If Nenji Ogata is simply on the strike team alongside Tomi, her WT recovery will be higher and allow her to get back into the action more quickly. Finally, Kisaragi has significantly better EP than Miura, which means that at high levels she can use more abilities prior to the super missile while still having EP for the missile itself. With a simpler damage boost, higher EP, and access to faster WT recovery, Kisaragi is the best candidate for firing frequent, powerful super missiles into the enemy forces.
#1: First Generation (G1)
Please feel free to insert your Pokemon “genwunner” jokes here. I spoke earlier about how the best defense is a good offense in 13 Sentinels and there is no better offense in a broad sense than the G1 pilots. With powerful armor-piercing attacks and the ability to disable shields and drop fliers with EMPs, there is no better option than a G1 when your goal is to wipe out a single powerful kaiju. While their no EP basic attack the Rush Attack is melee only and has a harder time wiping out big groups than other Sentinel types, it’s a great way to still deal respectable damage to mid-tier enemies without burning through your energy.
G1 Sentinels also have a very customizable approach in terms of prioritizing offense or defense thanks to their Defense Mode or No Limiter mode. Defense Mode prioritizes durability in dangerous circumstances in exchange for slowing the unit down, while removing the Limiter enables these Sentinels to be more mobile and have higher attack power. What’s wild about this group is that even without ever really experimenting with swapping between these modes, I’ve still found the G1 Sentinels to be the most useful on my team pretty consistently. In other words, this crew is still quite reliable even if you only focus on their basic abilities and don’t expand into the risk/reward mechanics of switching modes.
G1 #3: Nenji Ogata
Ogata might play a part in making Kisaragi the #1 G3 pilot, but that’s not enough to get him out of the bottom spot for G1. On paper it seems like Ogata has some good stuff going on. He’s got a pilot skill for making his Rush Attack stronger and his hyper condenser boosts the number of hits and the attack range of his demolisher blade, the go-to attack for piercing armored enemies on the ground. However, I find that generally the expanded range isn’t really worth the extra EP cost from the hyper condenser. Additionally, Ogata doesn’t have access to EMP Surrounding. You see there are two EMP weapons for G1 Sentinels, one which fires in a cone in front while the other hits a circular area around the Sentinel. EMP Surrounding is not only easier to aim because it allows you to move your Sentinel to a new position as you use it, but it also does a lot more damage than the cone-shaped EMP Attractor. As such, Ogata’s weaker EMP and less useful passive armament set him behind the other two pilots.
G1 #2: Takatoshi Hijiyama
Hijiyama has a powerful passive combo that I have already discussed liking on a previous character: Yuki Takimiya. He doesn’t take damage from hits under 500 and he retaliates with a 400 damage counter. Additionally, Hijiyama has a pilot skill which increases the range in which his attacks count as back attacks. Add to that his access to EMP Surrounding and you’ve got the makings of a great pilot. Despite this, Hijiyama has a couple of key disadvantages that prevent him from being my number one pilot. His pilot skills for increasing attack power are dependent on situations you really don’t want to be operating in: high levels of city damage and fewer members on the strike team. Additionally, Hijiyama is the only member of the G1 crew who cannot deploy ground missiles, meaning that out of all the G1 pilots he is the most representative of the generational weakness for dealing with hordes. Hijiyama is great, but there are quite a few ways in which he is ultimately outclassed by…
G1 #1: Ei Sekigahara
Here he is, my favorite pilot of my favorite generation. What exactly does he bring to the table? First off, he covers the main weaknesses of each other character. Unlike Nenji he has EMP Surrounding and unlike Hijiyama he has anti-ground missiles for dealing with crowds. His passive armament is the forced cooling device, reducing his WT and allowing him to take actions more frequently than the other two G1 pilots when using the same abilities. And his WT can be further reduced – as well as his attack power increased – by keeping him a further distance away from ally units on the map. And that isn’t his only good pilot skill. Sekigahara has one skill each for increasing his power against melee targets and ranged ones. CQC Specialist increases his damage the closer he is to the target in melee combat, while Marksman increases the likelihood of a critical hit when making an attack against kaiju in the air. With a solid kit, lower wait times than his allies, and pilot skills that are easy to activate and buff his whole arsenal, Sekigahara has punched his way straight to my heart and become my favorite pilot in the game. Mechanically, anyway!
There you have it, adventurers, my favorite Sentinel generations and pilots all ranked in order. I’ve had a great time with 13 Sentinels and am happy that I finally dove in to see what all the fuss was about. If you read this article and you haven’t checked it out for yourself, I recommend you check out my write-up on the game mechanics to see if you think the game might be for you!