[Top 10] Mechwarrior 5 Best Pilots

The Annihilator is one of the biggest & baddest 'Mechs ever.

[Top 10] Mechwarrior 5 Best Pilots

Pilots are as important as their 'Mechs.

It can’t be denied that most of the focus of Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries is on the battlemechs.  Afterall, these giant stompy things are what we’ll be piloting throughout the course of the game.  Besides, who doesn’t love giant robots of death & destruction?  But as cool as the ‘Mechs in MW5 are, there’s one other element that’s essential to the game… the A.I. lance mates that operate the ‘Mechs that fight alongside us.  

In Mechwarrior 5: Mercs, we will be able to recruit other mechwarriors into our mercenary company.  Some of them join us for free while others require C-bills to hire.  And trust me, players will want to do so since having several skilled mechwarriors piloting some of your best ‘Mechs can make missions a helluva lot easier, especially at higher reputations.  

To start with, every ‘Mech pilot has 2 sets of skills, namely weapon skills & piloting skills:

  • Weapon skills are broken down into 3 proficiencies that have a max level of 10: Ballistic, Energy and Missile.  These affect the pilot’s damage output with ballistic weapons like autocannons, gauss rifles & machine guns; energy weapons like lasers & PPCs and missile weapons like the LRM & SRM.  
  • Piloting Skills similarly have 3 proficiencies, as well.  Shielding affects damage reduction, Heat Management affects heat dissipation and Evasion is dodge rate.  

Pay attention to a potential recruit’s attributes and description to know how good they are.

Ideally, you’d want pilots that have a lot of proficiencies at max level 10.  Typically, these guys have a rank of Major.  But Captains are decent replacements, especially at lower reputation levels.  Majors only start appearing at reputation 13.  Also, the pilot’s description gives you hints about how good they are in battle.  Take Capt. Velazquez for example.  (See pic above.)  Her description includes the line, “She has a reputation as a respected, battle-hardened veteran pilot.”  This means that she is a veteran ‘Mech pilot and will perform better than  a pilot with a description of “He is a freshly minted ‘Mech pilot, whose skills reflect his general lack of experience.”

So without further ado, here’s the 10 best mechwarriors we can recruit.  Keep in mind that all pilots can show up anywhere on the map’s many industrial hubs.  It’s just a matter of RNG.  Don’t feel bad if you can’t find these specific pilots.  There are others similar to these guys.  If you see a pilot you like, I suggest you recruit them immediately.  Or scum save then reload if you’re really into getting these pilots.


10. Major Gilbert

Pay attention to the hiring costs of your pilots.  They can be quite expensive.

In the name of family tradition, Gilbert began training to be a Mechwarrior, but as he grew older, the appeal of Mercenary life became too strong to deny.  He cut ties with all his family and became a wandering mercenary.  He has solely focused his energy into becoming one of the most skilled Mechwarriors currently operating.  


  • High Energy rating makes him suitable for ‘Mechs like the Stalker or Battlemaster.
  • Ideal for brawler roles due to his high Shielding score.
  • Can pilot a missile boat due to his high Missile proficiency. 

Work on his Heat Management and Evasion skills.  Heat Management is a must if players are going to assign him to ‘Mechs like the Black Knight or Awesome.


9. Major Blanton

Work on your shielding and evasion skills to keep your pilots alive until the end of your missions.

Blanton has always dreamt of life beyond his rural Davion system, and had always pictured the life of a swashbuckling mechwarrior.  His involvement in famous battles and conflicts has bolstered his status as a famous, well-regarded mechwarrior.  Blanton has earned a level of reverence that is commanded only by the most skilled pilots.


  • Near perfect Shielding skill makes Major Blanton difficult to kill (especially if he’s in an Atlas.)
  • High weapon skills across the board ensures he can deal decent damage with all weapons.  
  • Decent Evasion helps Blanton survive longer.

Major Blanton can be assigned to any ‘Mech immediately and still do decent damage thanks to his skills.  Raise his heat management skills first then work on his weapon skills until they all max out at 10.


8. Major Bateman

Take high paying missions and do cantina quests to earn more C-bills so you can afford the salaries of your pilots.  

Bateman’s heroes growing up were legendary Marik mechwarriors whose heroics made them legends.  As he grew up, he realized there was little money in being a loyalist, and decided to work as a free agent.  He is such an experienced pilot, he has earned an almost mythical level of reverence.  He is now an elite pilot and a top tier mercenary.  


  • Perfect for SRMs & LRMs thanks to his outstanding missile proficiency.  
  • Good Ballistic & Energy ratings mean Bateman can handle various weapon loadouts well.
  • Decent Shielding and weapon proficiencies make him a flexible pilot.

Like Major Gilbert, work on his Heat Management and Evasion.  Since his missile rating is maxed out, players can focus on his other weapon skills.


7. Major Steen

Heat management is important if you want to fire off those laser weapons faster.  

Steen came from a long line of proud Federated Suns mechwarriors, but instead of continuing on in their footsteps, she turned to the life of a freelancer instead.  She is such an experienced pilot, she has earned an almost mythical level or reverence.  Years and years of combat have perhaps dulled her passion for the mercenary life.  Yet her pure talent ensures that she will always be the most lethal pilot on the field.  


  • Maxed out Shielding score means she can tank more hits than normal.
  • Almost perfect Heat Management rating ensures she dissipates heat faster.
  • High Evasion skill helps her survive the battlefield longer.  

With her Shielding, Evasion and Heat Management, Major Steen can do wonders in the hero Atlas (Boar’s Head) or in a light ‘Mech like the Wolfhound (except on higher difficulties).  Personally, I’d put her in an Atlas and let her soak up the enemy’s aggro while you pick them off.    


6. Major Wolff

Maxed out heat management + Maxed out missile skill = deadly SRM spammer.

No one is truly sure of where Wolff hails from, as no official records have ever been found.  He has survived almost impossible odds, either due to his extreme level of skill, or perhaps due to his extremely good fortune.  Wolff has earned a level of reverence that is commanded by only the most skilled pilots.


  • Top tier Heat Management makes his energy weapons cool faster.
  • Works great with a missile boat due to his maxed out Missile rating.
  • Very high Shielding skill helps him survive longer.

With both his missile and heat management skills at maximum, Wolff is perfect for either the Kintaro, Archer or Catapult.  Although, I’d assign him to a Kintaro or Archer that only has SRMs since he also has an almost maxed out shielding skill.  He won’t be so easily taken down.  


5. Major Polk

A.I. pilots who have maxed missile skills are great with SRMs.

Polk grew up admiring the brave Federated Suns mechwarriors who so valiantly served in battle.  When he was old enough to finally pilot a ‘Mech, he instead chose to strike it out as a freelancer.  An expert battlemech pilot, he has faced off against the most dangerous and fearsome of foes.  And each battle, he has emerged victorious.  His involvement in famous battles and conflicts has boltered his status as a famous, well-regarded mechwarrior.  


Maxed out Missile skill means he can deal exceptional damage with both SRMs and LRMs.

Near perfect Energy skill makes him deadly with lasers and PPCs.

Very high Shielding & Evasion scores ensure he survives longer than normal.

Like Major Wolff, this guy can be a deadly Kintaro or Archer pilot, especially if those ‘Mechs have a lot of SRM launchers equipped.  That said, players still need to increase Polk’s heat management skill so as to not overheat quickly.


4. Major Westbrook

High shielding & evasion skills are essential for mechwarriors assigned as a tank.  

Born on the fringes of Davion space, Westbrook had always dreamt of becoming a mechwarrior.  Having battled in countless missions, he has fine-tuned his skills as a pilot to a truly elite level.  He has been forged into a legendary pilot by surviving the rigors of battle.  


  • High starting Energy skill makes him do more damage with lasers & PPCs out of the box.
  • Able to withstand more punishment thanks to his maxed out Shielding skill.
  • Harder to hit since he has an almost perfect Evasion score.

Major Westbrook can be used to pilot ‘Mechs like the Awesome due to his skills with energy weapons, shielding and evasion.  Put him in any ‘Mech that has lasers and decent armor.  You’ll find that this guy will rack up kills and won’t go down easy.


3. Major Traylor

Shielding skill minimizes the incoming damage your ‘Mechs take.  Raise its level to ensure survivability.  

Born on the fringes of Davion space, Traylor has always dreamt of becoming a mechwarrior.  He has an almost spiritual connection with the ‘Mechs he pilots, and he is rumored to even meditate in his ‘Mech cockpit while not on a mission.  He is such an experienced pilot, he has earned an almost mythical level of reverence.  


  • Max Shielding gives him great tanking ability right off the bat.
  • Deadly missile weapons user with a perfect 10 on his Missile skill.
  • Deals more damage thanks to his high Ballistic proficiency.

With peak shielding and missile skills, Traylor is best used as an SRM spammer from the onset.  ‘Mechs like the Archer or Kintaro are a solid fit for him.  Level up his other weapon skills to make him more versatile.  


2. Major Thomas

Level up your weapon skills first so you can kill things faster.

Like all Capellans, Thomas was raised to revere and admire the brave Liao mechwarriors.  Over the years, however, his bright-eyed idealism was replaced with a world-weary cynicism, and she chose to become a gun for hire, instead of a Confederation hero.  Her skills put her firmly in the rare company of other elite mercenaries.  She cares little about why she’s dropping into battle, or who she’s shooting.  As long as you bring the cash, she’ll bring the pain.  


  • Exceptional damage dealer due to her maxed out Ballistic score.
  • Perfect 10 on her Missile skill means she does well with SRMs & LRMs.
  • High Evasion helps her survive until the end of battle.

You might want to put her in a ‘Mech with Autocannons and/or missile weapons if you don’t have time to level her up.  She’ll do great in an Atlas or Victor.  But like all pilots, I suggest working on her other skills, as well.  For flexibility, if nothing else.


1. Major Fisher

Having high skills in energy and heat management is the ideal combo for a laser boat pilot.

Fisher grew up along the volatile Kurita/Davion border, where the ownership of his planet would change almost daily.  Conscripted into the war, he eventually broke away from military life and became a soldier for hire.  His skills put him firmly in the rare company of other elite mercenaries. 


  • Peak Energy proficiency lets him deal high damage with lasers & PPCs.
  • He’s harder to hit due to his maxed out Evasion.
  • He can fire his energy weapons more thanks to his top tier Heat Management.

Out of the box, Major Fisher is a perfect fit for laser boats like the Black Knight or Awesome.  He’ll probably do well with the hero Thunderbolt, too since he has top scores in both energy and heat management.  Coupled with his high evasion, you can assign him as a laser based brawler.


Majors with a max level of 60 are generally the best pilots.  

There are a lot of recruitable pilots in the Inner Sphere.  While some of these guys can be obtained after finishing certain quests, a lot of them don’t have 10 as the max level of their skills.  Additionally, players don’t have to really go for these pilots I have mentioned.  There are others with similar levels.  The important thing is to find pilots with the rank of Major and that these guys have a total max value of 60 (or as close to 60 as you can get.) Lastly, always remember to upgrade the skills of your A.I. pilots so they can perform well in any situation.  


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As the lone practitioner of the ancient martial art of Kung Pao Chicken, Jonathan trains daily for his inevitable fight with Son Goku.
Gamer Since: 1991
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