It’s no secret, skills are at the very core of Starfield’s progression. With so many choices where do you even begin? Well friends, our team has been putting in the work, testing out as many skills as possible so that you know what’s most valuable when you’re out there saving the galaxy. Now, an important note before we get into things. Build your character however you see fit, that’s the whole point of an RPG. We’re not out here to declare a mandate, we just want you to have the knowledge to arm yourself for whatever the galaxy throws out you, and let me be clear, it’s a lot.
How Skills Work
When creating your character, you’ll get the chance to pick a background. This background comes with 3 ‘starting skills’ and all that means is you get the first rank, and subsequent bonuses right out of the gate.
For example, if you choose the Long Hauler background you’ll start with rank 1 Weight Lifting, Piloting, and Ballistic Weapon Systems. Your starting skills don’t lock you out of any future choices, just provide you a foundation for how you build your character.
Once you’re knee deep in completing quests and defeating Spacers you’ll level up and with each new level you’ll also gain a skill point. Here’s the thing. If you want to invest in a new skill, you can do that, but the real magic comes when you ‘rank up’ a skill, and the only way to do that is by completing the challenge associated with it.
Once you complete a skill’s challenge you can then spend a skill point, advancing it to the next rank giving you even more benefits. Sometimes that just means a passive stat boost, other times it unlocks a new functionality so you really have to think about what’s going to make an immediate impact in your playthrough.
That being said we’re going to break things down into a few categories:
Must Get skills are ones we think you need to invest in early as they’ll make a huge impact on your gameplay
Priority skills are ones that we think are valuable but not necessarily the most important within a tree
And Ambition skills are those we think you should plan to get but require sizeable investment in therefore not something you can get super early on.
Physical Skill Tree
First is the Physical tree, and as you might expect everything here ties into your overall hardiness in the game. If you’re a melee focused player, or plan on going that route you’ll most likely spend a lot of points in this tree, but outside of that there are still some valuable skills worth investing in:
Weight Lifting – In the early game, when your ships aren’t great, and your outpost is little more than 4 walls and a storage box you’re going to need space to store your gear. With Weight Lifting you can carry just a bit more, and that maximum threshold increases with each rank.
Stealth – This unlocks the stealth meter which quite literally tells you if you’re actually hidden or not as you’re moving around. Without a point in this stealth you’re flying blind and can easily alert enemies. Regardless of if you want to play sneaky or not, taking advantage of sneak damage is a great way to quickly take out enemies. Whether or not you choose to go beyond rank 1 is really up to you, but we think it’s worth picking up
Martial Arts – If you’re dedicating a lot of points into physical skills then you’re most likely a melee player and martial arts just makes sense. This increases your crit chance while unarmed or with melee weapons, gives you a chance to disarm enemies, provides damage reduction and, at rank 4, gives you the chance to reflect damage back at attackers. It’s a solid option worthy of consideration.
Social Skill Tree
Moving right along to the social tree, this is where things, in my opinion, start to get a little interesting. There is a lot of variety built into this tree, and the skills offer a wide range of benefits that I personally find great.
Commerce – This allows you to buy for less and sell for more and regardless of your experience level in the game this is going to pay off in a huge way. Credits make the galaxy go round and whether it’s bribing individuals for information, stocking up on Med Packs, or expanding your fleet of ships you need credits. Don’t overthink this one, more credits means more possibilities.
Persuasion – This gives you an increased chance of success when persuading someone during a dialogue challenge. For those that don’t know dialogue challenges are manually triggered during a conversation. If you pass the dialogue challenge your target gives you what you want, but if you fail you have to find an alternate way to get what you need. Since I’m playing as a relatively good member of galactic society I use persuade every chance I get and having this skill has made a noticeable difference. Some dialogue checks are downright hard and you really have to roll the dice and hope you pass, so having a little help, especially early on, makes this experience a little easier to bear.
Leadership – If you’re someone that likes to have a companion with you then this skill provides benefits on top of benefits. What I love about this skill is that the benefit is different at each rank. At rank one companions gain affinity faster. At rank 2 they have more health and can carry more. At rank 3 companions will occasionally heal you when you’re low, and at rank 4 their combat and physical crew skill bonuses are doubled. Oh yeah and if that wasn’t enough, they also have a chance to pick themselves back up from a downed state. This is truly an incredible skill; one I think you should plan to get sooner rather than later.
Combat Skill Tree
Next, we have the combat tree. If you plan on taking the fight to the spacers or the Crimson Fleet this skill tree is going to be pivotal to your success, but that might not be the case for everyone, and that’s ok too. That being said combat is an essential part of this game there’s no escaping that so let’s talk about the combat skill tree.
This will really come down to what makes the most impact for you as a player. If you’re using weapons with traditional ammo take Ballistics, if you’re using shotguns take Shotgun Certification, just make sure you actually have a weapon that matches that bonus. There’s no point in taking something like dueling if you’re not using melee weapons or you don’t have a melee weapon. Be smart here and choose what makes sense for your playstyle.
Demolitions – By allocating just a single point you now have access to a throw arc which could come in handy during a firefight. Don’t sleep on grenades, they’re powerful tools to get you through a fight, but without the arc landing that perfect throw is challenging. Rank 1 also gives your explosive 25% increases blast radius so it’s a double whammy.
Sharpshooting – This increases crit damage across the board with rank 4 also increasing crit chance. As you unlock and mod out new weapons this is always going to be valuable and if you eventually want to tackle new game plus, I think this is going to be an essential skill to get you through those tougher fights. It is the final skill within a tree, but that just goes to show how powerful it really is.
Science Skill Tree
If you’re someone that plans on spending a lot of time surveying planets and building outposts then the Science skill tree is for you. I’ve dumped a healthy amount of points into this tree, mainly because there are so many great options to choose from.
Geology – Whether or not you choose to farm day in and day out having at least rank 1 geology is going to pay off almost immediately. With an increased chance of getting more common and uncommon inorganic resources you’ll have more raw materials to work with as you craft mods, expand your base, and build various footholds across the universe. Don’t be afraid to keep investing in this skill too, it’s absolutely worth it
Medicine – Most likely you’re still trying to deal with the new-player challenge curve which means you’ll most likely need a little help staying alive. 10% additional health and a 10% speed increase to healing seems like just the right way to offset some combat challenges
Scanning – Not only does this skill allow you to more accurately locate rare and eventually exotic materials on a planet’s surface, but it also allows you to gain information on the ships you come across in space including, at rank 4, a complete list of their cargo. If you’re planning on a life of piracy, there’s a lot you can leverage here
Outpost Engineering – Everyone at some point and time is going to create an outpost, it’s almost a necessity, and allocating points into this skill means unlocking new and advanced build options for your base. At rank 4 the cost of modules also goes down by 50% which makes building multiple outposts on different planets that much easier.
Tech Skill Tree
Finally there’s the tech tree, probably my personal favorite in the game. There’s a little bit of something for everyone here, but most of the skills revolve around your ship in some way, and as our real base of operations it’s easy to want to invest in your home amongst the stars.
Boost Pack Training – This should honestly be one of the first skills you pick up because rank 1 gives you the ability to use a boost pack. These come in a few different flavors but the long and short of it is this, these allow you to float in the air for a varying amount of time based on the gravity of the planet you’re on. No boost pack training, no floating, no fun.
Security – There are locked things literally everywhere in Starfield and 9 times out of 10 there’s something pretty dang valuable behind whatever locked thing you encounter. Occasionally you get a lackluster payoff, but more often than not you make out like a bandit. This is an essential skill and one that I choose to rank up rather quickly during my playthrough.
Targeting Control Systems – This skill lets you slow down space combat and target the various systems of an enemy ship. This is the best way to knock out an enemy’s engines which will allow you to dock and board their ship, giving you access to all their loot, and if you feel so inclined, the ability to steal their ship and claim it as your own. You will have to register the ship back at a port before you can use it, which still costs a ton of credits, but it sure beats buying something outright. Space combat is actually rather challenging so apart from the benefits of a breach and clear this skill also helps you get through those.
Starship Design – If you’re in the business of building your own ship this is essential. At each rank you’ll gain access to more ship modules which means better ships, more flexibility, and higher functionality. Sure, you can go buy cool ships, that’s fine, but I don’t think I’ve met a single player that wasn’t looking forward to building their own custom starship. As far as tech skills go, strive for this.