Written by - Codiak
Updated: September 10, 2023
Posted: September 9, 2023
We’ve clocked over 300 hours with the game, and at the time of release have stumbled across a number of excellent tips and tricks we think you need to know about. Realize that Starfield is massive, and it’s very possible there will be a part 2 to this article somewhere down the line, but we feel these tips are a great place to start. As always, no story spoilers.
One of the most valuable things I can think of to share has to do with the game’s fast travel system. Starfield is an immersive RPG and you can choose to play it straight and walk or fly pretty much anywhere, but if you’re like me and you appreciate a little quality of life don’t be afraid to fast travel.
First the ground rules. To fast travel to another star system, you need to have previously visited that system. If you’ve made the grav jump once, fast traveling becomes possible. Touching down on a planet’s surface now activates that planet as a new fast travel destination. Most planets have various points of interest and so long as you’ve been to the planet’s surface you can quickly fast travel to those hot spots, which is a huge time saver when doing quests or just exploring looking for salvage.
The only catch 22 here is that you can’t fast travel to a planet if your grav drive doesn’t have enough fuel to make the jump. You don’t spend fuel when you jump, it’s just a soft check to make sure you have a good enough grav drive to go from point A to point B. A bonus tip, if you assign Sarah Morgan to your ship’s crew she reduces your fuel consumption by a staggering amount, something to consider.
As you’re traveling the galaxy consider one of the most important rules of any Bethesda game, loot everything…within reason. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a new player is constantly running out of space to store your gear. We touch on this in our Ultimate Beginner’s Guide, but let me really talk about this from a strategy perspective.
Using your surveying ability, you can scan the area around you in real time. This is a great way to spot any item that’s interactable. It’s going to be overwhelming at first, but as you’re learning the game focus on picking up items that will make an immediate or future impact on your gameplay. This largely comes down to anything that you could consider a resource, like crafting components, raw materials, and of course gear upgrades.
Things like space suits weigh a ton and it can be tempting to pick up every rare and epic piece of loot you find, but the chance of you actually bringing back anything valuable with that strategy is not great. Remember that in a pinch your companion can hold on to gear for you, but they’re nothing more than a glorified pack mule. Anything you give them you’ll have to retrieve and sometimes that can be a real pain.
If you do want to quickly sell items you’ve picked up look for these greenish-yellow kiosks near the landing pad in any major city. It’s actually a vendor that lets you buy and sell goods quickly. They won’t offer you the best price and the inventory is lacking, but it’s effective.
As you’re searching don’t get bogged down by items that have no flavor text. Sure they might have a decent sell value, but unless that item is denoted as something used for crafting, it’s hardly worth losing the inventory space. There are some exceptions to the rule, but it really depends on how you plan to invest your time.
Basic food items like bread, onions, pears, celery and packages of synthetic meat take up inventory space but you will need *tons of these to research new tiers of cooking, and as base ingredients for the variety of cooking recipes in the game. The kicker, these aren’t always labeled as crafting resources when out in the world.
Fun fact, even though I’m not deep into the food progression loop yet, I’m already discovering some recipes, like teas, that grant small XP buffs. I have to imagine further down the line, there are significantly better buffs.
It’s going to be hard to balance your inventory space, that much I can say is fact, but focus on what you need now, and turn an eye to the future and what your potential needs are, and you’ll be ok.
If you’ve never played a Bethesda game before you might not be wise to how guns and ammo work in the game. Early on, when you’re still dealing with the new-player challenge curve there’s a likely chance you’ll run out of ammo, often. The key here is to diversify the weapons that you use. If you find 3 awesome guns, but they all use the same ammo type, 7.77mm for example, you’re going to burn through ammo faster than a supernova. What you want to do is pay attention to the weapons you pick up, their ammo type, and then assign a variety of weapons to the quick-slotting system.
To do this go into your inventory, locate the gun you want to make accessible and assign it as a favorite. You can then choose where it goes on the quick slot menu, giving you access to it quickly mid-combat. To pull up the quick-slotting menu simply tap Q on keyboard or UP on the D-pad and you’ll have your full arsenal at your disposal.
If you choose a selection of guns that use a diverse range of ammunition, and remember to salvage ammo along the way, I guarantee your reserves will rarely, if ever, run dry. Ammo is weightless, so regardless of what you’re using, pick up any ammo packs you find while exploring.
Alright, here’s a little tip I bet you didn’t know. Sleeping gives you an XP bonus. Yep, that’s right, by interacting with a bed, cot, sleeping bag, whatever, you gain a passive XP bonus that lasts for a period of time. I wish I had known this way earlier on in my adventures, but my pain is your gain. Finding a bed isn’t hard, and I’m pretty sure every ship has one somewhere on deck. Sleep for an hour or two until you get the “well-rested” pop-up notification in the upper right-hand corner. Then head into your status menu to confirm that you do indeed have a 10% XP bonus. This lasts for a decent while, so take full advantage of the perk, and remember to refresh it every now and again if you want to level up more efficiently.
One thing that rings true across most RPGs is that early-game skill development is a huge part of a player’s progression. Taking a skill like ‘Security’ early on gives you access to more loot which, in turn makes you stronger, faster. Really focus on what skills are going to be valuable right then and there. It can be tempting to take a bunch of combat skills, but the truth is you probably only need one or two based on the weapon you’re currently using as your primary. Things like “Commerce” that impact your buy and sell prices are going to have a better long-term impact.
Speaking of skills think we should talk about Bethesda’s new take on a progression system. You’re most likely familiar with a talent tree system, but what you might not be accustomed to is a challenge system that determines when you can upgrade specific talents. I really enjoy this system because it connects your skills with actions and forces you to use that skill you invested points to make them stronger.
The key here is to be aware of the skill challenge associated with each skill you unlock. You can identify this once you unlock a skill in the bottom left hand corner of the skill panel. Don’t lose sight of these challenges because without completing them you can’t unlock the next rank of a skill.
There’s nothing better than exploring space with a friend. Starfield features over 20 companions you can recruit and a vast majority of them can be brought with you as you’re racing across the stars. There’s a couple things I want you to be aware of here.
First is that companions can actually be equipped with gear. If you’ve a spare weapon, spacesuit, and helmet lying around you can transfer it to your companion and then, using the equip key, have them put that gear on. This matters because each companion comes with a variety of skills, some of which are only activated when using specific weapons. For example, Sam Coe has rifle certification, which means he needs to be equipped with a rifle to take advantage of the effect. It doesn’t matter which rifle you equip him with which means find your best spare and let him do the rest.
Companions also make great pack mules, if you’re running out of inventory space. We talk about this issue at great lengths in our Ultimate Beginners Guide, so definitely check that out, but the long and short of it is this. Your companion has a limited inventory that you can utilize to store some items. However, you will have to manually retrieve whatever they’re carrying if you want to eventually utilize the items in an outpost or on your ship. Nothing on a companion is counted when using a crafting station so they’re good in a pinch, not for long-term storage.
Finally, pay attention to when your companions are asking to talk. This is tied directly to their backstory, which sometimes opens up unique quests. Other times they’ll just thank you for being a good captain and give you a gift. Each companion gives something a bit different, but it’s usually within a theme. Barrett for example gives food items, while Sam usually gives some sort of inorganic resource.
You’ve heard the developers talk about it before, but one of my favorite things to do in Starfield is capture enemy ships and add them to my fleet. This is a great way to expand your arsenal, or make a few thousand credits, but how exactly do you pull it off.
For starters you’ll want to invest one point in the Tech skill, Targeting Control System. This will allow you to slow down time during a dogfight and select which enemy ship subsystem you want to attack. The key is to use this to take out an enemy’s engines, which will immediately leave them floating in space. Once you do that the option to ‘board’ becomes available and you can attach your ship and make the assault.
Once inside an enemy ship, you know what to do, clear the decks of any and all crew and then, if you want to claim the ship, climb into the captain’s chair. This will immediately give you command of the ship and will automatically be added to your armada.
There’s one more step however, you’ll need to land at a major city or have a large landing platform at your outpost in order to register the ship, which is easy enough to do. Simply touch down at your favorite nearby city, or outpost and talk to the Ship Technician. Ask if you can see the ships available to buy and sell. Head over to your ships, navigate to your new vessel, and then notice in the bottom left, your ship is marked as unregistered. Register your ship by spending a few thousand credits and now you can officially make full use of your ship. If you just want to steal ships and sell them that’s fine and you can make a few thousand credits off those escapades, but you do need to register every ship before selling it. It will always sell for more than the registration cost.
Speaking of Ship Technicians, I bet you didn’t know that each space port features an entirely different selection of ship parts. If you’re planning on building a custom ship, you’ll want to remember this before buying and expanding your ship. The selection of ship parts varies wildly, both visually and functionally, depending on what port you’re visiting so be sure to shop around before just jumping in.
I think the trap here is really slanted towards new players that don’t often leave New Atlantis. You might think those are your only options, but that’s exactly what I’m trying to warn you against. Other places like Akila City and Neon both have an entirely different inventory of parts so check them out before spending your hard-earned credits.
A bonus tip, whenever you visit a space port make sure to check the Trade Authority kiosk for any available ship parts. Likewise hailing trade ships while out in space is another great way to scoop up some parts. These are heavy to store in your cargo hold, but allow you to repair your ship mid-combat. Whenever you take damage you can use a ship part to essentially heal, just like you would a medpack and despite when the tooltip pops up, if you have ship parts you can repair at any time. To be completely honest the only time I’ve actually died in this game was when I was fighting in space, mainly because I didn’t have any way to repair, so don’t be bad like me, and stock up on parts.
When it comes to your outpost, prepare to be sucked in for hours on end. It’s a fun and engaging system, building a home amongst the stars, but it’s a time-consuming process, so we need a little help. Research Methods, a science skill, is an insanely good early game investment if you are doing anything outpost/crafting related.
Not only does this reduce the number of resources required to craft items and complete research projects, but you also gain a passive ability called Unexpected Insights. When researching something, you have to click on the project and allocate resources in the required spots. Here’s the kicker, whenever you allocate resources in one category, a Sudden Development has a chance to proc and cause your research progress to overflow. This can fill in materials that you don’t even have, which is nuts. When researching anything, try and fill in the resources you have the most of first, and hope that ‘unexpected insights’ triggers, filling in or even completing the remaining resources for you. This can save you a massive number of resources in the long run and can quite literally kickstart your outpost development.
And speaking of outpost development you want to be smart about where you choose to place your outpost beacon. This process starts in space with a full scan of the planet. By allocating points into the Science skill, Scanning, you can actually see where more valuable resource pools are on the planet’s surface. The key to placing an outpost is being close enough to areas where resources are abundant. Try and find the intersection of multiple resources, this will allow you to passively generate resources of multiple types via extractors.
Oh, and fun fact, your outposts can be attacked by pirates while you’re actively on the planet, working on your base, so keep an eye out and a gun handy. This is actually a decent way to score some free loot if you can sneak onto their ship, but be ready to fight because pirates can disrupt and even damage your operations.