In this Starfield Beginner Guide I’ll give you my top tips & tricks for a smooth start of the game. Starfield is a truly massive game and you cannot respec or undo your choices, so keeping a few pointers early on could save you a lot of time!
Starfield Beginner Guide
I won’t post anything spoilery about the story, but it’s inevitable to mention some mechanics and I’ll mention some specific quest rewards. If you want to avoid those spoilers, skip based on the headings for each section! Let’s start with Character Creation Tips.
1. Background Selection:
Your Background gives you a combination of 3 Skills that you can use right after you start. This is the equivalent of 3 free Skillpoints, so it can be very valuable early on. You can see a full comparative list of backgrounds on the wiki.
I personally found combat to be quite easy on normal, and with a game this big there’s little reason to pump up the difficulty much, so if you’re going the balanced explorer route, it is best to get backgrounds that save some work on exploration or quest progression:
Bounty hunter: Gives you Piloting, Targeting Control Systems and Boostpack Training. Piloting is absolutely essential for game progression as you have to max it to get the best ships, and you have to defeat ships to unlock the level ups. Targeting Control Systems is good help for that, and Boostpack Training is necessary to complete some missions and very useful for exploration
Homesteader: Gives you Geology, Surveying and Weightlifting. Surveying and Weightlifting are essential skills for exploration, one because you will be able to scan things easier, the other because it gradually but significantly increases your carry weight.
Long Hauler: Gives you Weightlifting, Piloting and Ballistic Weapons Systems. As discussed Weightlifting and Piloting are crucial, and Ballistics weapons is a nice to have.
Space Scoundrel: Gives you Pistol Certification, Piloting and Persuasion. The Pistol Certification is a nice to have if you enjoy pistols, Piloting is a must-have, and Persuasion is another must-have because the vast majority of quests have persuasion scenarios and being good at it can save you a lot of work!
2. Pick your Traits!
Traits are unique characteristics applied to your character. They have positive and negative outcomes, but overall they are pretty balanced.
You can pick any trait that you like for Roleplay purposes for your allegiances or perhaps faction bonuses, but my recommendation is that you take:
Extrovert: Exerting yourself consumes less oxygen when adventuring with human companions, but more when alone. This is a fantastic trait because there’s little to no reason to adventure alone, and you’ll be running around every single world you visit. Running out of oxygen when sprinting can get really annoying, so this is a nice trait.
Terra Firma: Health and Oxygen are increased when on the surface, but decreased in space. This trait is great for similar reasons as the previous one: you will be doing a lot of sprinting and running when on planet surfaces, and this can make it a lot nicer.
Alien DNA: Health and Oxygen are increased, but your food and meds are less effective. This trait can be removed at a doctor as well if you’d like, so it can be a good boost for your early game that you later remove.
3. Take and level up these Skills ASAP!
You will obtain 3 Skills from your background, and then you will gain 1 skillpoint to use to upgrade or unlock skills for every 1 level you gain. Since this is a rather slow process and there seems to be no re-spec option, planning can save you a lot of heartache.
You need to do specific challenges or activities to be able to level up your skills, so taking some of them early on is the best option to avoid getting stuck doing “tedious” stuff later in the game. Full lists of all skills and their unlock challenges and bonuses can be found on the Skills page on the Starfield Wiki. But these are my recommendations:
Recommended Physical Skills:
Weight Lifting is an absolute must-have skill to increase your carry capacity. Besides that, you could look into Fitness, Stealth and Performance, but I personally only took that one.
Recommended Combat Skills:
Ballistics and Rapid Reloading are very useful because they apply to all the ammo-based guns in the game. You’re going to be using many types of guns and ammo based on what you find around and the ammo at your disposal, so they will both be used frequently.
Recommended Social Skills:
Persuasion, Outpost Management and Ship Command. Persuasion should be at the top of your list as it’s incredibly useful. The other two are mid to lategame needs to make your life easier, giving you better outpost performance and allowing you to increase your crew – which is very very nice!
Recommended Science Skills:
This is actually a very important category, because a lot of your activities and progress are locked behind these. I recommend you take Research Methods, Surveying, Weapon Engineering, Spacesuit Design, Scanning and Astrophysics in order to optimize your time scanning worlds and to open up your weapon and spacesuit mods.
Recommended Tech Skills:
You will want to take these as soon as possible! Boostpack training, Piloting, Security, and Payloads. Security lets you hack things and is a must-have that you should take as soon as you can, and Payloads will let you carry more cargo on your ship, which can be valuable for completing missions and exploring.
4. Do These Quests ASAP
Your first step should be to Check your “Activities” tab when you’re first in The Citadel, I mean, New Atlantis, and track each of the “talk to this person” to start a series of quests.
You should also Gather Faction quests so you can get started with them. The first factions available are from United Colonies and you will be sent to pick up Freestar Collective and Ryujin Industries later on. You can also get contracts from the Tracker’s Alliance (first encountered on Mars), Constellation, and random small allegiances.
This game is really massive and it’s very easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. To avoid doing what I did with Skyrim (played 350 hours before I ever did step 2 of the main quest!), I suggest you try to stick to doing the main quest where possible. The progression is necessary to unlock companions and useful bonuses. Don’t get too caught up in planet scanning and landing, as there are skills that make it easier and faster so you should do just what’s needed to level them up then move on until you have it all maxed and can optimize your time.
Generally, I do the main quest then check the other quests in the area and update them if they are nearby, and then I continue with the main quest.
HOWEVER, you should always prioritize your companion quests as soon as they become available, just to be sure you don’t miss any.
One side-quest that you should absolutely aim to complete is called “Overdesigned”, as you get the opportunity to obtain a Top Tier Ship for free. This means you need to max your piloting to 4, however, so make sure you engage and kill enemy ships to unlock the higher levels of the skill.
5. Things to Buy and Have!
I generally ignore vendors in RPGs because I feel I want to get my loot from exploration and drops, not just buy it. However, there are some things you should not go without.
- Buy a bigger ship. Your default ship is nice but it’s pretty weak, has low cargo and only allows two crew. Level up your Piloting as quickly as you can and then buy something more resilient with more cargo like Marathon first, then add more crew and other fancies when your budget allows. You can also upgrade your ship parts, although this gets involved with the Starship Design Skill that is sort of wasted points if you are ok with the basics.
- Buy Digipacks and Med Packs from every vendor you visit – you’ll be using both of those very often! You may also want to pick up wine when you find it, as it gives you +% persuasion that can be a nice and quick boost when in need. I would also buy a suit early on from any vendor that sells one (There’s one in Neon) as that makes you a walking charmer.
- If you track the resources you’re needing for research and mods, you may find them easier in shops than by creating them or scavenging them. Titanium, for example, seems to be needed for a lot of outpost construction and is available from many shops around the galaxy.
6. Quality of Life
The game has many aspects that can feel rather confusing due to controls, UI, and the overall feel that you’re way above your head. This sections covers some tips that may help you navigate your first few hours:
- It’s very likely that you’ll get Lung Damage or other Afflictions while exploring planets. They will self-cure over a long period of time. You can remove them with aid items, but it’s a lot easier to go to a town and pay credits to a doctor that will take care of all of them at once.
- Being Over-Encumbered sucks, but you need to sprint while being at 75% capacity to upgrade your weightlifting skill. To manage your weight, use all your companions as mules for your resources, as well as your ship, and the infinite storage chest in the Constellation basement. Keep in mind items in the storage chest won’t count when you’re Crafting!
The ship’s cargo can be viewed from anywhere from the “Ship” on the left of the wheel menu, but you can only transfer items if you’re near the ship. The skills weightlifting, piloting, payload and leadership can also help, by giving you more carry capacity, increasing your companion capacity, letting you get bigger ships or increasing ship cargo capacity.
- Fast Travel can be confusing! You must first travel to a star system to discover it before you can land on a planet. After that, you can quickly fast travel and to places you’ve discovered, and even pick a “Land” option on those you’ve explored from the Star menu. If you’re on the surface, be it in a city or a planet, using your Scanner (LB) and then RB will prop up a “local” surface map that allows you to travel to discovered areas. This feature often displays local quests too, but not activities. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the quest markers to be placed awkwardly, but hoping this is addressed with a patch.
- Ship Combat is sort of a nightmare at first! You will go to a training Mission to join the Vanguard if you do the UC faction quest. This is highly advisable as you can use this to get some practice. Even so, you’ll find the controls can be very confusing and adjusting elements during combat can be complicated.
There’s a few things you should do to make this smoother:
- 1. Get the Piloting skill and level it up so you can use thrusters and buy better ships!
- 2. Upgrade your ship parts before taking off.
- 3. Invest on the ship skills that improve your performance if you want to focus on this aspect and realize your interstellar piracy dreams.
- Use the Research Station! If you want to craft anything or add mods to your Weapons and Armor, you need to research them first, and this needs materials. Make sure to visit often and take notes of the requirements. Crafting what you need can become a complicated process when you consider you may need to go get materials as well, so it’s not a bad idea to keep track of what you’re after.
7. Outposts & Crew
I actually struggled to understand the controls and systems for the outpost, as it’s too much information all at once. My first recommendation is to not worry too much about this aspect initially, at least until you’ve had enough time to familiarize yourself with other mechanics and gather quite a few materials from going about adventuring.
You’ll then be able to set up Outposts in the worlds you visit, that can work to extract resources from the planet or moon. You can place cargo links that connect outposts to other outposts in the same system, or even in other systems. You can also obtain quests that request specific cargo delivered to specific areas.
All of this can only happen if you have researched the right outpost components so that you can generate power, collect materials, store them and then transport them off world. It’s a rather complex management process so if you need help on how it works and the controls for it, use the “help” menu on your settings and scroll down to the many, many options there are.
You can also recruit and assign crew besides your actual Companions with storylines. The extra crew can join you on your ship or can go to an outpost and improve production there. If you recruit crew as you find them but don’t have outposts, they’ll just wait around the planet they were found on until you have an assignment, but fortunately, you can assign them remotely too!
Starfield is a huge game and there’s a lot to learn and find. I’ll be posting more in-depth and specific guides for how things work, including ships, outposts, etc., but for now, these guidelines should help you get going with the game.