Four basic types
In Galactic Starfighter, there are four basic ship types. They are the Strike Fighters, the Scouts, the Bombers and the Gunships. Each of these types fulfills a specific role in combat. Each ship type has three ships to its name that can be bought for requisition, and can thus be acquired through playing the game. There are ships available for Cartel Coins as well. Each of these CC ships is the same as one of the ships available for requisition in all but looks.
Opinions on how to kit out a ship can vary, therefore the descriptions of the ships below try to give a general overview of how the ship can be used and what its obvious strengths and weaknesses are. For guides on how to get the ships to reach their deadly potential, I gladly refer to guides specific to this topic. A few of those are listed below with a hyperlink.
Bombers: the bricks
Bombers, as a rule, are slow, have hardly any engine power, and have no turning rate whatsoever. So why fly a bomber? Because it is a flying fortress. True, it is unimpressive when it comes to dogfighting, but that is not the point of a bomber. The point is to capture a point or an area and defend it for all you’re worth. The bombers excel at this. Their mines and drones will keep enemies at bay while they move in for the attack. Are they being attacked in turn? No problem, the shields will hold for a bit. No shields? Still masses of hull health to eat through. After the attack has been deflected, all the bomber has to do is put up a new mine field and find a repair drone. They can keep that cycle up forever if they have to. So yeah, they’re bricks alright. They are sturdy enough to weather any storm.
If there’s one ship that honors its main purpose, it’s the Razorwire. Mine-layer extraordinaire, if one of these has taken hold of a satellite, it will take more than a few ships to get it off. Since it can be equipped with a Hyperspace Beacon, a defended satellite will hardly ever be without backup. However, low engine power makes it hard to use outside of defending. If you plan to take a satellite, bringing one is smart, but never go in alone.
The Legion/The Onslaught
One tricky bomber to be sure. If the drone it carries is placed correctly, this ship has no problems in topping the charts for the sheer amount of kills it makes. If the Repair Drone is launched as well, this ship can hold out almost indefinitely while it stays close by the drone. Using Seeker Mines makes sure you only have to leave a safe position to drop a new drone. In other configurations, this bomber can make flying close to a satellite rather nasty for opponents with its interdiction options. Even so, where this bomber really shines is in Deathmatches. One Legion can defend an area where they drop their Repair Drone, thus creating a safe haven for all the other players.
The odd one out when it comes to bombers is definitely this one. Though it carries mines, it also carries missiles and has more in the way of engine options. It combines the strengths of the Strike Fighters and the Bombers, though opinions about how well this worked out vary greatly. The one big advantage it has over other bombers is the ability to break missile locks. This bomber also becomes an annoying opponent when kitted out specifically with interdiction options.
Scouts: the flies
Fast and nimble are the first words that come to mind when thinking of the scout class. Scouts can be tricky, since a single hit from a fully upgraded railgun may put them out of commission. However, they are unrivaled in speeding across maps to get to the control points or enemies first. Their capability for Rocket Pods makes them unrivaled in killing those selfsame gunships and their railguns. No one can escape a good scout, which makes them ideal for hit and run tactics.
One of the two standard unlocked ships, not many players are ever happy about this ship except when they use it to kill turrets and Gunships. Rocket Pods are indispensable for this purpose. The Blackbolt is fast though, and if people are asking you to scout a satellite, the Blackbolt can do it. There is not a satellite in the game it cannot reach on one fill of engine power when kitted out right. In fact, if speed is all you care about, this ship was made for you.
The Sting/The Oculus
The personification of a hunter, that is the Sting. It honors its name when used correctly. Hit and run tactics are the best for this Scout no matter the configuration. It’s the most nimble of the Scouts, and can do high damage, while stacking evasion makes sure you survive to fight another dogfight. Get in, make the kill, get out. Repeat.
If you want to fly support, this is the Scout for you. This whole ship must have been designed with only this purpose in mind. The unique ability called Tensor will speed up friendly ships. If you use it right after spawning, you give your team the chance to get to satellites first. Other helpful attributes are the EMP Missiles and the Shield Projector. Of course, the ship doesn’t have to be used as support, but it is most definitely where it shines. This is emphasized by the fact that it is one of only two ships that can employ a repair drone.
Gunships: the snipers
These things don’t rely on their engines. They rely on stealth. The way to win with gunships is by staying undetected while you bring to bear the weapons with the longest range and greatest power: the railguns. If you can’t stay undetected, make sure you are not alone. A fleet of gunships can handle almost anything. Fully upgraded, any enemy would do well to fear your railguns, whether it is the type to drain their power or the full-on damage dealer.
This ship boasts the best engines in its class. With the option to evade two missile-locks, it can even save itself after being discovered. There’s trade-offs to be made for this, though. The Jurgoran can only equip one railgun at a time, which makes it a little less useful as a sniper. Think of this ship as the mix between the Strike Fighter and the Gunship. The railgun can, after all, at any moment be switched out for any of three types of missiles.
The Mangler/The Mailoc
King of the Gunships, that’s the Mangler. It boasts two of the Gunship-class’ ultimate weapons, which can be switched out at a moment’s notice. The Ion Railgun, standard equipment for this monster of a ship, drains an enemy ship’s power, while either of the other two options will grind the now helpless enemy to dust. The shields available are unparalleled. But as it goes for Gunships: do not get caught. Even with your impressive shielding, Rocket Pods will put a quick end to you if you’re not careful.
The Dustmaker/The Demolisher
Widely regarded as the least among its peers, it nonetheless boasts some impressive options. It can be used to balance the options of the Jurgoran and the Mangler, or to specialize to be like either. It’s not the prettiest ship around (quite the opposite), but in the right hands, it is downright devastating.
Strike Fighters: the dogfighters
These ships are a bit of everything. They’re all-rounders. What they’re good at is supporting the team. Attack the enemy that is attacking one of your friends. Scouts may outfly you, but if you can get the drop on them, your more impressive shields will certainly keep you alive while they go up in a ball of fire and smoke. Bombers and gunships are likewise at your mercy.
This ship has something any other ship is envious off. It has double secondary weapons. That means it carries a load of missiles that make you a flying bomb for anyone that gets too close. It also means that running out of ammo is not something you worry about. There’s a lot to choose from for the missiles, and the options for other parts are also rather impressive. That makes this ship one to watch out for.
The Rycer/The Gladiator
This is the second of the ships you unlock without even playing. Like the Quell, it has something unique. The Rycer boasts double primary weapons, switched out easily while you play. You can combine two primary weapons based on range, or, better yet, on damage to shields and hull. Combine it with some hard-hitting or fast-locking missiles, and none will get away from you unscathed. With maxed out speed, you will rival the Scouts when it comes to going places.
The real support of the Strike Fighters. The Imperium can equip devastating EMP Missiles, especially effective against minefields, or shield draining Ion Missiles, so you and your teammates can finish your target with laser cannons. Repair Probes helps you and nearby allies regain hull strength, or Remote Slicing leaves the opponent dead in the water. If you want to play as a team, the Imperium will oblige.