RimWorld contains a lot of different kinds of armor and apparel — knowing which ones to assign to which colonists can be a matter of life and death. There isn’t a single best kind of armor you can give everyone, and recent expansions have changed the meta significantly. Now, it’s more important than ever to keep your armor sets mixed.
In today’s guide, we’re breaking down the best armor in RimWorld. We’ll cover how armor works and why you should wear it, then offer some tips on the best types of armor for certain colonists.
Let’s get started!
RimWorld Armor Explained
Weapon damage in RimWorld occurs in three types: sharp, blunt, and heat. Sharp refers to attacks from bullets, knives, arrows, animal bites, explosions, and a few other rare sources. Blunt damage mostly comes from clubs, mechanoid limbs, or your own colonist’s fists during a social fight. Heat damage refers to damage from fire, Molotov cocktails, or lightning. The vast majority of truly deadly damage comes from sharp attacks, and most later-game armor is built to reflect that.
Whenever your colonists take damage in RimWorld, the game uses RNG to decide if it pierces their armor or not. Each piece of apparel in the game has a defense rating that determines how likely it is to block any given kind of attack, provided it hits the part of the body that the armor is protecting. The type, quality, and material of your apparel determines how much damage it blocks, along with other vital stats, like how comfortable it is and how much it resists extreme elements. Biotech added a pollution mechanic that is also reflected in certain special pieces of clothing like gas masks.
You can check your armor’s defense by clicking on the information button on any particular piece of armor. Typical leather clothing hovers around 20% resistance for sharp damage.
You can also stack layers of clothing on top of each other to improve your block. Damage is applied to the outer layers first, but the defense rating of your inner layers still matters.
Early Game Clothing
Early on, you’ll likely start to acquire quite a large stockpile of leather from your hunting activities. While you could fuse these piles of leather together into patch leather, the material isn’t very resistant to the elements or to damage.
You’ll likely get better mileage out of the synthread clothing you dropped in with. Lightleather that you acquire from small animals like rodents will also not be very effective gear. Try to stick to plainleather or thicker materials for your early clothing — you won’t need to replace it as often.
Even though you should be growing cotton to build a cloth supply, do not use cloth on clothing. It is too weak in every way and doesn’t protect you from temperature damage or attacks. Cloth is better used for armor and utility items, like jetpacks and various flak armor. It’s a total waste to use cloth on clothing in all but the most desperate circumstances. Leather should be more plentiful and has no purposes beyond making clothing.
The first proper type of armor you’ll really be able to acquire in RimWorld will be plate armor. However, don’t sink too much metal into making it unless you don’t expect to upgrade your armor anytime soon. While they’re effective against many attacks, especially at higher levels, they don’t provide nearly any temperature resistance. They also slow your fighters down significantly, preventing them from closing the gap against ranged opponents as quickly.
After you’ve been on your rimworld for several quadrums, you’ll acquire enough technology to upgrade your gear and armor. The ideal next step in your armor plan is having every fighting-ready colonist wear a devilstrand outer layer with a high-quality flak vest and flak helmet.
Devilstrand is a good early tech to pick up since it takes 22.5 days to grow and can’t be grown in hydroponics trays. You really want to get your devilstrand growing zone set up early to maximize production. Devilstrand creates some of the best fabric apparel in the game, providing excellent protection against bullets and significantly more protection against fire than other fabrics.
Flak vests and helmets take components, so make sure you don’t accidentally spend all your components building flak armor before you’re sure that you’ll be able to acquire more. Combat-specialized traders will often have some mid-range quality flak armor for sale at an affordable price.
Avoid using flak jackets, as their ultimate armor rating is frequently lower than a flak vest paired with higher-quality devilstrand gear. Flak jackets take up too many clothing slots and provide too little temperature protection to truly be viable in any phase of the game.
Crafting Higher Quality Armor and Clothing
Acquiring higher-quality apparel happens via having a very effective crafter. The results of any crafting session will be weighed with the skill of the crafter, along with some of their health-related stats like consciousness and manipulation.
If you keep your crafter in a high enough mood for long enough, they could get an inspiration. This allows them to make a single item two levels higher than it would usually be. Make sure they spend their inspiration on something that really matters by moving the work order to the top of the priority list and only allowing them to work on your preferred station.
The Ideology expansion enables the use of a production specialist who can do crafting and construction tasks to a very high degree. They can also inspire others around them to work faster as well.
Best Armor for Melee Fighters
Once you’ve reached the late game stage of RimWorld, you can start to invest some of those hard-earned advanced components into better armor. High-end armor has a much higher level of diversity corresponding to various purposes on the battlefield. We’ll start with the armor you should equip onto your frontline fighters.
The main purpose of melee troops is tying up enemy gunners. As soon as you can, equip them with shield belts and recon armor. This will let them quickly move to charge and occupy the enemy with their swords/hammers. Recon armor is the lowest level of power armor and the easiest to acquire. It can be great armor for carrying your lighter troops all the way to the end of the game.
Meanwhile, if you have an incredibly strong frontline fighter you want to protect, you’ll want to get ahold of some high-quality cataphract armor. It takes a lot of work to build your own cataphract armor, but you can often buy it for a hefty pile of silver.
Pair this with a jump pack so your fighters can get in and out of combat easily. This comes at the cost of a shield belt and a huge penalty to their movement speed, but the combination lets you drop an incredibly powerful tank right in the middle of the fight. This is great for disrupting enemy ranged fighters with a target they won’t be able to take down.
Alternatively, locust armor with a shield belt can give you a bit of the best of both worlds, since it has an integrated jump-pack. Send locust armored fighters with zeushammers and shield belts to the back of a mechanoid line to disrupt their lancers.
Best Armor for Mid-Range Shooters
Most of your troops will, in all likelihood, end up being mid-range shooters, wielding either assault rifles or pulse rifles. These troops you’ll want to put in marine armor or its heavier cousin, cataphract armor.
Marine and Cataphract Armor
Mid-range combatants are likely to be exposed to a lot of shots on the front lines. While the occasional lance bolt will still break through, even normal quality marine armor should keep them safe. Even longer-range troops equipped with sniper rifles or charge lances should probably wear marine armor, as you’ll be fighting a lot of mechanoids that can still target them.
Since you can’t wear a shield belt and still fire a ranged weapon, you’ll likely want to keep these troops behind cover. Any stray bullet could ultimately still cause major damage. Save the cataphract armor for your highest-ranking troops, or the ones you plan on drawing the most fire.
If you have the Biotech DLC, cataphract armor is a great match for a Hussar xenotype, making them nearly unkillable. Putting a cataphract helmet on your Sanguophage means the vampire lord is very unlikely to have their brains blown out, leaving fire as their only weakness.
There are alternative versions of the marine armor and the cataphract armor called grenadier and phoenix armor, respectively. These both come with a utility ability built into them. The grenadier armor allows you to launch a frag grenade with some degree of accuracy, while the phoenix armor comes equipped with a firebolt launcher. This launcher is incredibly effective against massive crowds of raiders and the insects that occasionally tunnel up from the depths. Just be careful using it too close to your base — burning enemies tend to scramble in random directions and can potentially spread a fire.
Utility-wise, you should equip as many low-shield and smokepop packs as you can afford to hand out. Low shields are single-use items and can only be made by disassembling certain shielded structures. They’re worth it, though, as they let your troops shoot out without letting any projectiles inside. Smokepop packs are refillable with chemfuel and simply obscure a small area with smoke, keeping enemy targets from hitting you as easily and raising the chances you can get out of the fight without a scratch.
Royal Armor & Mech-Lord Armor
There are two specialized types of armor that only one or two colonists on your settlement are likely to ever need to get into, and both of them come from DLC. Royal armor (also known as prestige armor) comes from the Royalty DLC, and mechanitor specialized gear comes from Biotech.
These sets of armor come with some big, albeit specific, advantages. Keep in mind, however, that both provide less protection than regular power armor. Assign these special units as support rather than frontline fighters.
Royal equipment is reserved for high-ranking imperial nobles, and you’ll only need it once your own colonists reach the rank of knight/dame.
There are two ways to use your nobles in combat. The first is having them take frontline positions and use their powers directly on opponents. Even low-level nobles tend to get powers like stun and pain block that can increase your effectiveness on the battlefield.
The second is using them as a kind of support wizard, teleporting targets all over the area and casting abilities when appropriate. If your noble isn’t on the front line, equipping them with eltex clothing can actually give them more room to cast more abilities than prestige armor. This does leave them more vulnerable compared to even the weakest armored clothing, so make sure to hand them a shield belt as well.
Mechanitor armor includes a few kinds of headpieces and one suit of power armor that all raise your bandwidth. This allows your mechanitor to control more, or bigger, sets of mechanoids. Having a robot army on your side can be immensely powerful, — to balance out the massive advantage this provides, you can only create mechanitor armor out of the chips you receive from the three mechanitor boss fights.
They decay like any other armor, too, so you’ll need to regularly re-summon the bosses to keep them maintained. It’s easily worth it, though, since your mechanitor can likely fight these bosses all by themselves once they’ve got enough mech backup!
Join the High Ground
One of the most exciting and tragic components of RimWorld is the loss, or near loss, of a treasured colonist. The right armor at the right time can help make sure these tragedies are minimized. We hope our RimWorld armor guide helps you keep your colonists safe! Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more RimWorld (and other) guides!