Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (2024)

Welcome to Kenshi. A tidally locked moon that has suffered one apocalyptic calamity after another. A blighted, desolate place where life somehow finds a way and racism persists.

So much so that different races of people throughout the world can be played as, recruited into your faction, or left out completely. Certain factions within the world will react negatively to certain races, others positively or neutrally depending on who they are and your relations to them.

In this guide, we’ll go through the different races that are available to play in the world of Kenshi. As recruitable characters are also playable, the character you start with is not the be-all and end-all. You can vary your faction characters to your whim, so don’t feel obliged to stick with one race per playthrough.

Some races come with experience buffs/penalties to certain skill stats. This reflects that some races and subraces are more suited to certain tasks than others. Still, there is nothing stopping you from putting anyone to work. They just might take a little longer to get better at something if they aren’t suited to it.

1. Humans

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (1)

This writer as his self inserted Greenlander Human.

Humans are the bog-standard, populous race of people in Kenshi. They can be found pretty much everywhere that is accommodating to organic life, and they look pretty much how you would expect them to look. Like ordinary people.

Like most of the denizens of Kenshi, the history surrounding them is shrouded in mystery and hearsay. No one is quite sure exactly what happened in the thousands of years prior, but it seems that the first empire, the space-faring, intergalactic peoples of old, were the ancestors of Kenshi’s modern humans.

They are divided into two subraces. Greenlanders and Scorchlanders. Both subraces of humans are welcomed in most parts of the world. The Shek Kingdom will tolerate their presence. The Holy Nation will welcome them, provided that they haven't got any skeleton limbs or skeletons in their squad. The United Cities will accept all types, humans included.

There aren’t many places where a human can’t travel unmolested by the organised factions. However, Kenshi is still a dangerous place for any unprepared traveller.


Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (2)

Ryan, that Greenlander.

Your bog-standard white dude Greenlander is numerous and easily found all over Kenshi. They have no racial penalties when it comes to stat experience, so you can pretty much build them from a blank slate. Capable of mastering any task.

Greenlanders are the largest populace in The Holy Nation, but that’s generally due to all the other races being sent to rebirth and purged from their lands. If you are a Greenlander man, you will be very welcome there.

As a Greenlander, you will get an experience boost in Cooking, Farming, and Science. Other than that, there isn’t too much of a drawback other than Greenlanders having the highest bleed rate of all the races. I.e. they bleed out quicker than anyone else.

Greenlander Summary

Excel at:

  • Farming
  • Science
  • Expansionist imperialism
  • Anything they put their mind to

Choose Greenlander if:

  • You want a generic all-rounder
  • You are planning to travel through The Holy Nation… A lot
  • You Plan on settling down with a farmstead somewhere


Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (3)

Chad, a highly sought-after Scorchlander recruit found in Flats Lagoon.

Scorchlanders are anatomically similar to Greenlanders but easily differentiated by their much darker skin, yellow eyes that glow in the dark and silvery hair. They have a lower bleed rate than Greenlanders and can heal wounds slightly faster.

Again, found all over Kenshi, they aren’t as common within The Holy Nation as Greenlanders because, lore-wise, they tend to disregard authority and organised governance in favour of freedom to manifest their own destiny. However, you will find them wherever life tends to thrive.

As for their stat boosts, they are natural craftsmen and much more akin to an adventurous lifestyle than their farm-steading Greenlander brethren. With a 20% boost in Armour and Weapon Smithing.

They’re also keenly more athletic and come with a 20% boost in XP to Stealth, Athletics and Dodge skills. Plus, an additional 10% stat boost to Dexterity.

As an added bonus, Scorchlanders are able to eat raw meat without consequence when they are hungry enough. Something that Greenlanders can’t do with their frail, fragile stomachs.

Scorchlanders are also the only other human race that comes with some downsides to their XP stats. They have a 20% learning penalty for Cooking, Farming and Labouring. Plus a 10% penalty for strength gains. None of this prevents them from achieving high stats in these skills; it merely takes them longer to master.

As a Scorchlander, you can travel around Kenshi pretty freely. The Holy Nation will not discriminate against you. Unless you’re a woman. The Holy Nation treats women as second-class citizens.

Scorchlander Summary

Excels at:

  • Dodging
  • Thieving
  • Anything requiring dexterous hands
  • Crafting armour and weapons

Choose Scorchlander if:

  • You’re looking for a more adventurous playthrough
  • You are a freedom-loving grog drinker
  • You’re planning on crafting some masterworks of armour and weapons
  • You value a nomadic lifestyle and don’t mind eating uncooked meat


Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (4)

A group of Shek Hundred Warriors.

The Shek are, unfortunately, not love, and they are not life. They are not the warm, cuddly Ogre of the swamp. They are a hard warrior race of proud and humourless tribes. Mostly unified under the Shek Kingdom, but there are other splinter groups of Shek that are hostile to the player and other Shek.

Boney, exoskeletal growths provide them with natural armour, but many will still wear external heavy armour and carry large, cumbersome blades. To the Shek, physical strength and prowess in battle are paramount above all.

To lose in battle and return alive is a great dishonour for Shek. You may come across Shek with horns removed as you travel the world. A mark of shame for all others to see them as dishonourable outcasts. It is why many of them prefer to die gloriously rather than live in shame. Such is Kral’s way.

If you have a Shek character and they become enslaved, their horns will be removed by their captors to give them the stubby look you can see here on Ruka below.

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (5)

Ruka is a dehorned Shek warrior that you can recruit for free from the city of Squin in the Shek Kingdom.

As with all the races of Kenshi, the Shek’s origins are opaque. From what little history can be gleaned, it appears that the Shek are descendants of augmented humans who were known as “Enforcers” from around the time of the second empire.

Having diverged from regular human genetics, it seems that they can no longer breed with other humans or probably just don’t want to. So, they have become their own species. Either way, they are much larger and tougher than regular humans and other races.

You will have more hit points as a Shek than other organic races. You will also eat a lot more than they do. To support the growing bones and muscles of your horny character.

Naturally, as a warrior race, you will have a 20% boost to your attack, strength and toughness stats. Meaning that you will get harder, stronger and tougher much faster than other races.

Of course, the downside is that the Shek aren’t well-versed in intellectual pursuits. Shek come with a 20% penalty for learning Robotics, Science, Farming and Labouring.

With all those bony protrusions, they aren’t exactly the most agile of people either. A 20% penalty for Athletics, Stealth, Dexterity, Dodge and Thievery will also prevent them from learning these skills quickly.

All in all, Shek make great warriors and heavies that can be clad in armour, wielding a great big penis extension that will crush any of your foes.

They can be found in and around the Shek Kingdom, the Border Zone, the Berserker Coast and other parts of Kenshi. They are not welcome within The Holy Nation unless a human is in their squad to pose as their “Master”. Holy Nation patrols will also randomly attack them as punishment for being “devil beasts” in their bigoted religious views.

Shek Summary

Excel at:

  • Strength
  • Attack
  • Toughness
  • All things fighting with heavy weapons
  • Dying gloriously in battle

Choose Shek if:

  • You value toughness and fighting over all else
  • You want to live that mercenary lifestyle
  • You don’t value your life over glory
  • You detest The Holy Nation


Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (6)

Hives in one of their many villages in Vain.

No one knows who the Hivers are or where they came from, but they are on Kenshi to stay. A humanoid race of stick-like figures, they live to serve their Queen, one of two female hivers in the game.

Western Hive are peaceful and will regard player characters passively. Hive Drones will act exceptionally childishly and giggle when a human is present in their villages.

Southern Hive, however, are extremely hostile to any and all who encroach on their territory. They will attempt to down you and any companions with you before feeding you to the King, a giant robot that is considered a sentient consort to their queen.

For the most part, Kenshi lore states that a hive queen has never been seen by anyone other than the hive themselves, but both the Western queen and the Southern queen are physically located in the game for you to find them. You can even capture or kill them to create interesting world states within the game.

Hivers that can be found and recruited throughout the game world or ones that the player can start as are no longer considered part of the Hive. Hivers who become separated from their queen's pheromones for too long or are outright rejected from the hive

They gain a sense of individuality and free will, although this disconnect from their hive leaves them feeling depressed and purposeless.

Beep is one such Hive drone who was ejected from the hive for being, in his words, “Defective”.

Hivers can eat raw meat and raw foul meat, with the exception of princes who only eat raw meat as foul meat is probably beneath them. They are also immune to acid rain and can swim through acid rivers and lakes.

Hivers, lacking feet, can’t equip anything in the footwear slot. Neither can they wear shirts, although there are special shirts designed for them to be able to wear. They can, however, equip robotic limbs if they lose any of their organic ones.

Despite the Western hive priding themselves on their robotics, their “Modern” robotic economy limbs leave much to be desired. Hive characters that lose their limbs in your squad will sometimes comment to hivers simply throwing their brothers that lose limbs into incinerators rather than waste robotic limbs in a depressing sort of irony.

Hive Princes

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (7)

Zan. Ryan’s favourite hive prince.

Hive Princes are the intelligent right hands to the queen. They run the show and organise the drones and soldiers. The most free-willed of all the hive, they are normally only ejected when they lose position to a rival prince or get exiled as punishment.

As with all hivers, when compared to other races, they are relatively weaker in hitpoints, blood, and limb health. They do have a slower bleed rate than humans, though.

A Hive prince comes with a 20% exp boost to Athletics, Dexterity, Field Medic, Lock Picking, Perception, Science, Stealth, Thievery and Toughness.

On the downside, they have a 20% exp penalty for Labouring and Strength. But as this writer can attest to, it is perfectly possible to turn your hive princes into heavy sword-swinging machines.

Hive Prince Summary

Excels at:

  • Athletics
  • Dexterous activities
  • Medical professions and science
  • Lock picking, stealth, thievery
  • Getting tough quickly

Choose Hive Prince if:

  • You prefer a stealthier playthrough
  • You would like the challenge of a slightly weaker character
  • You still value the sciences
  • You want a good range of all-round skills beyond fighting

Hive Soldier Drones

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (8)

A Hive soldier drone standing next to Ryan. Noticeable by their very distinct “Hammer Head” heads.

As you can probably guess, Hive Soldiers are the queen's loyal soldiers. Commanded by the princes, they exist only as brutes bred for fighting.

They have a 20% stat boost to Toughness and Melee Attack, and that's it. They cannot wear anything on their heads for obvious reasons, making them pretty ineffective in the late-game areas where gas clouds can be just as deadly as the creatures you’re trying to fight off.

They don’t exactly make great labourers for your outposts either, as they have a large list of stats that have a 20% exp gain penalty that include Armour Smithing, Cooking, Engineering, Farming, Perception, Robotics, Science and Weapon Smithing.

Essentially, they are used as the disposable foot soldiers of both the Western and Southern Hive. Such is the life of a hiver; you’re either a part of the hive collective or a depressed, purposeless soul drifting the lands of Kenshi.

Hive Soldier Drone Summary

Excels at:

  • Being tough
  • Attacking enemies
  • Dying for their queen or whatever cause they find themselves fighting for

Choose Hive Soldier Drone if:

  • You want the fighting ability of Shek with the challenge of a weaker character
  • You don’t like wearing helmets or boots
  • You aren’t planning on settling down with a base or pursuing other professions

Hive Worker Drones

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (9)

Beep is a mere Hive Worker drone. Easily spotted by their rectangular heads and rear-facing antenna.

Expendable labour born and bred to toil obediently for the hive. If they become lost or separated from their hive, they usually die, but on occasion, they have been known to become free, albeit clueless individuals. They are more intelligent than Soldier Drones but act more like silly children in the presence of other races.

They have very weak limb health and will more than likely end up needing replacement limbs if you decide to take one into your squad so prepare for some economy limb shopping.

Like the Hive Prince, Hive Workers make great thieves as they come with a 20% boost to their Athletics, Stealth, Dexterity and Thievery stats. As well as a 20% boost to Engineer, Farming, Labouring, Toughness and Turrets stats.

As they are weak and lacking in cognitive ability when compared to princes, they have an exp penalty of 20% to Science, Strength and Cooking.

If you’re putting together your own self-sustaining outpost, Hive workers are the way to go. They can build and farm like there's no tomorrow.

Hive Worker Drone Summary

Excels at:

  • Labouring
  • Farming
  • Building
  • Work work work work work

Choose Hive Worker Drone if:

  • You definitely prefer a stealthy approach
  • You want to avoid all confrontation, especially in the early game
  • You really do love to punish yourself

4. Skeletons

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (10)

Skeletons. Robotic, sentient beings cursed to roam the world for eternity until they are killed by its denizens or themselves.

Skeletons and their origins are shrouded in mystery. Thought to be thousands of years old and dating back to the first empire, they exist now as lost remnants of a forgotten past. One that they themselves either willfully ignore or have purposefully forgotten during “Resets”.

They are fully sentient robotic organisms that are capable of feeling a full range of human emotions, from anger to sadness. Joy, excitement and compassion. However, they cannot express these feelings outwardly to other races.

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (11)

As they are not organic, they are immune to all weather effects and do not need to eat. This means that they can happily survive in any environment. It’s why they tend to reside in peace at the Black Desert City in the heart of the Deadlands, where they can’t be bothered by other races.

Skeletons don’t need to swim either and will just sink to the bottom of a body of water and walk along the bottom of it to reach the other side.

Martial arts is one of the better skills for them to have as their fists and feet are not damaged when used for attacking and blocking. Coupled with the ability to survive without food, they make excellent turret sentries, as they can be left there to man the turrets forever without needing to leave.

At the beginning of a playthrough, getting a skeleton character off the ground can be difficult, as the repair kits to keep them healed are very expensive. They also sustain permanent “Wear and Tear” damage during combat that can only be healed by using a Skeleton Repair Bed. Using these is also quite expensive, and researching how to build your own takes a lot of time.

You will also want to avoid The Holy Nation as they blame the Skeletons for the calamities that blighted Kenshi. They will attack any Skeleton that they see on sight. Although the history remains unclear as to the Skeletons' role in the numerous apocalypses that have happened to Kenshi, it is hinted that Skeletons do, in fact, remember their role in the end of the world and choose to remain silent about it as a collective.

Unusually, Skeletons cannot replace their limbs at will. They must lose their limbs like any other race before a new limb can be equipped.


Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (12)

Your basic Skeleton.

The three eyes protruding from the top of their heads can identify a basic skeleton. They are the most common Skeletons that you will see in Kenshi.

They have a slower bleed rate than human characters and can heal twice as fast from their wounds with 200 hit points to their blood (oil) and limb health.

Their exp boosts come in 20% boosts to Turrets, Robotics and Heavy Weapons while they have 20% penalties to Stealth, Dodge and Thievery. Probably due to them being made of metal and clanking around.

Skeleton Summary

Excels at:

  • Swinging big heavy weapons around
  • Being nigh unstoppable warriors in the late game
  • Longevity and Staying Alive

Choose Skeleton if:

  • You want to challenge yourself in the early game, as their health kits are expensive
  • You don’t want to worry about food or environmental effects
  • You want to pursue martial arts and become the next Tinfist

P4 Unit

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (13)

P4 Units differ from regular Skeletons in a number of ways. Not just aesthetically, as you can see in the picture above. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to start a game as a P4 Unit without the use of Mods. However, P4 Unit characters can be recruited in the game. Thus becoming playable.

They have the same limb health as regular Skeletons and a faster healing rate. Their head has 150 Hit points as opposed to a regular Skeleton with 200.

P4s make excellent crafters as they come with 20% stat boosts to Armour Smith, Weapon Smith and Engineer. As well as Field Medic, Robotics and Science. Penalties come at 20% negative gains to Dodge, Katanas, Stealth and Thievery, making them ill-suited for combat.

P4 Unit Summary

Excels at:

  • Weapon smithing
  • Armour smithing
  • Building
  • Robotics
  • Field medic

Choose P4 Unit if:

  • You want to recruit a skeleton that will be good at crafting
  • You want to settle down with a purely Skeleton faction
  • You need some Skeleton labourers

Soldier Bots

Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (14)

Agnu. A Soldier bot. Not to be confused with Log heads.

Soldier bots can be a starting character and are the only other type of a Skeleton with a guaranteed recruitable character. Agnu is the only one you can recruit and a unique character in the game.

Soldier bots have higher hit chances, a fast heal rate and an exceptionally large viewing range. They also come with a 20% stat boost to perception. Although they are penalised by 20% to Dodge, Field Medic, Martial Arts, Stealth and Thievery.

Soldier Bot Summary

Excels at:

  • Fighting
  • Seeing enemies from further away than any other race
  • Can heal at a faster rate than other Skeletons

Choose Soldier Bot if:

  • You’re looking for the challenge of a skeleton playthrough with a bit of a stat boost to fighting and healing
  • You want the ability to see enemies from miles away before they see you
  • You want to be able to heal faster and get back in the fight


So there you have it. The many different races can be found, recruited and played as in the world of Kenshi. All with their own pros and cons. Whether you decide to fill your crews with a wide selection of different characters from all races or challenge yourself with a small squad or solo run, choose your races wisely.

You may also like:

  • Kenshi Beginners Guide (25 Important Tips)
  • [Top 10] Kenshi Best Base Locations (And Why They're Good)
  • [Top 10] Kenshi Best Armour Shops And Why They're Great
Kenshi Best Races - What To Choose (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated:

Views: 6376

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.