Best Starfield backgrounds – which one to choose when creating your character

Best Starfield backgrounds – which one to choose when creating your character
Alex Raisbeck Updated on by

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Starfield backgrounds are a crucial part of the character creation process in Bethesda Studios’ newest space-faring RPG. With so many to choose from, there’s a way for every kind of player to customise their game to fit their own playstyle. Choosing the right background can help give a big boost when tackling certain areas of the game, or even add some challenge if you’re feeling up to it.

There are many different ways to tailor the game to you thanks to the expansive Starfield character creator, so be sure to check out what Starfield traits work best with the Starfield backgrounds you’re most interested in. If you’re after some ship upgrades, check out the Starfield ship manufacturers, Starfield best ships, Starfield best ship parts, Starfield starship weapons, and Starfield best reactors. For now though, let’s go through all these backgrounds, what your options are, and which ones are the top-ranked.

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Starfield backgrounds: Player talking to an NPC who has a quest for a Beast Hunter.

What are backgrounds in Starfield?

Starfield backgrounds are titles which act as the game’s version of career paths, relating to certain jobs and offering three particular skills for players to start the game with. For example, if you’re interested in tracking down bad guys, you would pick the Bounty Hunter background over the Diplomat.

As well as starting skills, different backgrounds grant access to unique dialogue options, and even some special missions and paths for you to take. This gives you the option either to choose a background based on the stats you want, or to choose one to roleplay a specific job in the Starfield universe.

What are the best backgrounds in Starfield?

Here are our picks for the best Starfield backgrounds. Keep in mind that these are just our personal suggestions, not definitive fact. Any player can make any background work well for them, depending on gameplay preference and approach.

Our top three backgrounds are:

Diplomat

If you’re planning on talking your way out of trouble, and want some early game bonuses to making Starfield credits, then Diplomat provides what you’re searching for. It’s a great starting platform for more pacifist players, offering some critical early experience that helps you make friends and avoid enemies.

Combat Medic

Combat Medic offers some useful early-game combat bonuses, boosting your fighting potential. Combined with the vital ability to heal yourself more effectively though, this gives you the versatility to outlast your enemies in combat and win asymetric engagements, even when you’re outnumbered.

Industrialist

Two of the most important and useful skills in Starfield are Persuasion and Security – and the Industrialist starts off with both. Being able to pick locks and persuade people from the get-go is incredibly useful, and if you weren’t starting off with these skills unlocked, we’d probably suggest they were the first two to pick. Research methods might not be super useful early on, but it gives you a nice head start for when you want to delve in later in your playthrough.

[File Not Found]

[File Not Found] is just a great choice for those not set on committing to any particular path just yet. It gives you three of the most foundational skills from the get-go, setting you up for maximum versatility without limiting you to any given niche.

Overall, most backgrounds are pretty well balanced in Starfield, so feel free to take a look at our full list of all backgrounds, in case you find something else that better suits your tastes.

Starfield backgrounds: The Beast Hunter background in the character creation menu.

What backgrounds are available in Starfield?

There are 21 backgrounds available to choose from in Starfield. These are:

  • Beast Hunter
  • Bouncer
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Chef
  • Combat Medic
  • Cyber Runner
  • Cyberneticist
  • Diplomat
  • Explorer
  • Gangster
  • Homesteader
  • Industrialist
  • Long Hauler
  • Pilgrim
  • Professor
  • Ronin
  • Sculptor
  • Soldier
  • Space Scoundrel
  • Xenobiologist
  • [FILE NOT FOUND]

Beast Hunter

From the Ashta of Akila to the Terrormorphs that plague the whole of the Settled Systems, hostile alien life abounds. You’ve learned the skills to track them, find them, and take them down.

Starting skills:

  • Fitness – In space, the greatest commodity is oxygen, and the increased lung capacity gained by a regular physical fitness regimen is essential to survival.
  • Ballistics – Centuries of conflict have proven that when it comes to threat elimination, few things stack up to the reliable power of high-speed projectiles.
  • Access to brand new worlds means access to brand new ingredients, and there is almost no limit to the delicious foods and drinks a talented chef can prepare.

There are plenty of hostile planets in Starfield littered with equally hostile alien life, and the Beast Hunter is well equipped to take them on. A boost to ballistic weapons damage will have those monsters dead in no time, while fitness can help you escape any tough situations. Finally, gastronomy gives you the tools to cook up anything you kill into some delicious meals.

Starfield backgrounds: The Bouncer background in the character creation menu.

Bouncer

You’ve worked the line at the toughest clubs in the Settled Systems. Back then, you learned that most non-lethal confrontations can be solved one of two ways: a strong right hook, or a more strongly secured door.

Starting skills:

  • Boxing – Once considered a “sport of kings,” boxing is still practiced as a recreational competitive activity, but its combat applications can’t be denied.
  • Security – While the standardized digital locking mechanism is renowned for its security, any code can be broken with the proper training.
  • Fitness – In space, the greatest commodity is oxygen, and the increased lung capacity gained by a regular physical fitness regiment is essential to survival.

The brawler of the Starfield backgrounds, the Bouncer is focused on getting up close and dealing heavy melee damage. Make use of your extra stamina from the fitness skill to sprint in before throwing a few punches to lay your enemies out before they know what’s coming. An extra boost to lockpicking through the security skills is a nice perk, too.

Starfield backgrounds: The Bounty Hunter background in the character creation menu.

Bounty Hunter

Wherever there are wanted individuals, there are those who profit from their capture. And your quarry knows that in the vastness of space, they can run… but they can’t hide.

Starting skills:

  • Piloting – As more people journey into space, the number of those certified to effectively pilot various types of spacecraft has increased dramatically.
  • Targeting Control Systems – Missile weapons are favored because they can lock onto an enemy ship, but an intimate knowledge of tracking systems can make them even more effective.
  • Boost Pack Training – Specialized training and innovations in personal mobility systems have allowed for unfettered exploration on alien worlds.

In Starfield you’ll repeatedly come up against hostile ships in space, and the Bounty Hunter is well equipped to deal with any that comes their way. Piloting gives you the ability to use more spacecraft and fly them more effectively with components like ship thrusters, while Targeting Control Systems will have you shooting down spacers and Crimson Fleet members like it’s nothing. Lastly, Boost Pack Training is a must when exploring any alien planet.

Starfield backgrounds: The Chef background in the character creation menu.

Chef

While the unrefined masses scarfed down Chunks by the shipload, you catered to those with a more… discerning palate. In your kitchen, countless alien species became true culinary masterpieces.

Starting skills:

  • Gastronomy – Access to brand new worlds means access to brand new ingredients, and there is almost no limit to the delicious food and drinks a talented chef can prepare.
  • Dueling – Considered by many to be a lost art, close attacks with a melee weapon can often be deadlier than ranged combat when carried out by a skilled practitioner.
  • Scavenging – There are those who can find just about anything, and their success is usually dependent on knowing how, and where, to look.

The chef background, unsurprisingly, provides a boost to cooking, allowing you to craft specialty food and drink, as well as researching additional recipes at your research lab. You’ll also get a small 10% boost to melee damage, and the ability to scavenge for unique items and materials.

Starfield backgrounds: The Combat Medic background in the character creation menu.

Combat Medic

Leave it to human beings to fight over something as infinite as outer space. That’s where you come in. You’ve never been afraid to take on the enemy… but you’d much rather take care of your friends.

Starting skills:

  • Pistol Certification – Considering the popularity of the personal sidearm in the Settled Systems, familiarity with such weapons is often considered essential.
  • Medicine – Only through advancements in medical training and technology has humanity been able to withstand the galaxy’s many dangers.
  • Wellness – By embracing an active lifestyle and good nutrition habits, one may improve their overall sense of health, and even gain prolonged life expectancy.

The combat medic has some good all-around bonuses and is a great choice for beginners to the game. They deal extra pistol damage, as well as receiving 10% extra healing from med packs. Finally, a 10kg higher carrying capacity will mean more looting and less inventory management.

Starfield backgrounds: The Cyber Runner background in the character creation menu.

Cyber Runner

From Neon to New Atlantis, the megacorps stand as monuments to power, prestige and profit. You’ve worked both for and against them, on the inside and out, often sacrificing conscience for credits.

Starting skills:

  • Stealth – For a combatant who values discretion above all else, the ability to approach a target while undetected and kill with a silenced weapon is as terrifying as it is effective.
  • Security – While the standardized digital locking mechanism is renowned for its security, any code can be broken with the proper training.
  • Theft – While not entirely honorable, and certainly not legal, it is nonetheless occasionally necessary to discreetly remove property from someone’s person.

The cyber runner is one for those who enjoy stealth and thieving. You’ll start with a stealth meter, and with silenced weapons, you’ll be able to sneak in and out while taking out anyone in your way thanks to additional sneak attack damage. Security will help you hack more advanced locks and bank more auto attempts, opening any doors and safes when looting. You’ll also be an accomplished pickpocket, too.

Starfield backgrounds: The Cyberneticist background in the character creation menu.

Cyberneticist

Robots? Mere toys. Neuroamps? Good for parlor tricks. The Colony War may have made implants and upgrades available to veterans, but you once saw a greater future. Humans and machines, as one.

Starting skills:

  • Medicine – Only through advancements in medical training and technology has humanity been able to withstand the galaxy’s many dangers.
  • Security – While the standardized digital locking mechanism is renowned for its security, any code can be broken with the proper training.
  • Lasers – Personal laser weapons are in widespread use across the Settled Systems, and specialized training can greatly increase their effectiveness.

Combining the best of man and machine, the Cyberneticist is more capable of self healing thanks to the medicine skill, with Med Packs, Trauma Packs, and Emergency Kits healing 10% more. They are also skilled at using laser weapons in combat, and their lockpicking makes them great at thieving, making them a good all-around background choice.

Starfield backgrounds: The Diplomat background in the character creation menu.

Diplomat

The wars are over. Peace now reigns the Settled Systems. But only because there are those quietly fighting to keep it. Because of you, agreements were signed, words were heeded… lives were spared.

Starting skills:

  • Persuasion – In the Settled Systems, the nuanced ability to listen and discuss can often accomplish far more than simply shooting first and asking questions later.
  • Commerce – In the Settled Systems’ free market economy, almost anyone with the right skill set can open and run a successful business.
  • Wellness – By embracing an active lifestyle and good nutrition habits, one may improve their overall sense of health, and even gain prolonged life expectancy.

If you prefer to settle with diplomacy instead of violence, then the Diplomat is the way to go. When it comes to speech challenges, you have an increased chance of success when trying to persuade a target NPC. You also have a penchant for business and earn extra credits when selling loot, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to make some money or likes bargaining for cheaper goods. Finally, the wellness skill means you’ll start off with an extra 30 maximum health compared to other backgrounds.

Starfield backgrounds: The Explorer background in the character creation menu.

Explorer

They said exploration is a lost art. You didn’t listen. As the major factions argued over the space they desperately tried to control, you were busy uncovering the wonders of the Settled Systems.

Starting skills:

  • Lasers – Personal laser weapons are in widespread use across the Settled Systems, and specialized training can greatly increase their effectiveness.
  • Astrodynamics – Advanced technology is one thing, but it takes skill, patience, and a little bit of love to coax even more capability out of a ship’s grav drive.
  • Surveying – Humanity now has access to untold alien worlds, and the ability to decipher all that data while on the ground has become an essential skill set.

A perfect starting background if you’re planning on spending a lot of time exploring space. Specialised training to improve your effectiveness with laser weapons will help you in combat, while you’ll also be able to get more out of your ship’s grav drive thanks to the Astrodynamics skill. Finally, you can also survey the ground on alien planets to gather all the data you would need about them, and get a handy optional zoom and increased scan distance on your hand scanner.

Starfield backgrounds: The Gangster background in the character creation menu.

Gangster

You were always disgusted by suckers killing themselves to make an “honest wage.” As soon as you were old enough to hold a weapon, you took what you wanted from anyone unlucky enough to have it.

Starting skills:

  • Shotgun Certification – The cornerstone of close quarters combat, or CQC, the shotgun has proven a simple, deadly weapon for hundreds of years.
  • Boxing – Once considered a “sport of kings,” boxing is still practiced as a recreational competitive activity, but its combat applications can’t be denied.
  • Theft – While not entirely honorable, and certainly not legal, it is nonetheless occasionally necessary to discreetly remove property from someone’s person.

The Gangster means they like to get up close and personal by using either a shotgun or their fists to demolish their enemies. But they also have a sneakier side to them, with the ability to pickpocket targets as well. A great choice for those of us who like the ‘shoot now, ask questions later’ approach.

Starfield backgrounds: The Homesteader background in the character creation menu.

Homesteader

The discovery of the Settled Systems’ many oxygen-rich planets and moons meant humans could live just about anywhere… if they had the know how. You did, and utilized it to great effect.

Starting skills:

  • Geology – Newly discovered minerals mined from alien planets and moons have directly led to some incredible technological advancements.
  • Surveying – Humanity now has access to untold alien worlds, and the ability to decipher all that data while on the ground has become an essential skillset.
  • Weight Lifting – Weight training can significantly increase one’s ability to carry weapons and equipment both in space and on the ground.

If you’re planning on starting up an outpost on an alien world, then the Homesteader is made exactly for that. Surveying will give you all the information that you need about what resources are present on a planet, Geology will help you collect them, and Weight Lifting will let you carry more of them – what more could you need?

Starfield backgrounds: The Industrialist background in the character creation menu.

Industrialist

There was a time when all you wanted to be was a titan of industry, maybe a ship designer, or megacorp exec. Thankfully, that skillset never goes out of style in the Settled Systems.

Starting skills:

  • Persuasion – In the Settled Systems, the nuanced ability to listen and discuss can often accomplish far more than simply shooting first and asking questions later.
  • Security – While the standardized digital locking mechanism is renowned for its security, any code can be broken with the proper training.
  • Research Methods – By skillfully employing both new and time tested methods, a researcher may complete projects faster, and even gain unexpected insights.

This is a great choice no matter what kind of playthrough you’re aiming for given how useful the Persuasion and Security skills are. And if you’re looking to make good use of the game’s crafting systems, complete research projects to develop new weapon mods, armour, outpost hubs and more, Research Methods will be key to that.

Starfield backgrounds: The Long Hauler background in the character creation menu.

Long Hauler

Let those other hotheaded pilots obsess over laser weapons and manoeuvrability. You’re a space trucker, pure and simple. Pack the cargo, get it there fast, get paid, and repeat. Life is simple and good.

Starting skills:

  • Weight Lifting – Weight training can significantly increase one’s ability to carry weapons and equipment, both in space and on the ground.
  • Piloting – As more people journey into space, the number of those certified to effectively pilot various types of spacecraft has increased dramatically.
  • Ballistic Weapon Systems – While there have been significant advancements in ship-borne weaponry, sometimes the simplest tool is the most effective.

The Long Hauler does what it says on the tin, Weight Lifting lets you carry more cargo on your person while you’re out exploring, while Piloting and Ballistic Weapon Systems will let you build yourself a nice big ship and protect your loot as well.

Starfield backgrounds: The Pilgrim background in the character creation menu.

Pilgrim

Wayfarer, wanderer, seeker… transient. You’ve been called many things during your travels and learned something those others could never understand – the journey IS the destination.

Starting skills:

  • Scavenging – There are those who can find just about anything, and their success is usually dependent on knowing how, and where, to look.
  • Surveying – Humanity now has access to untold alien worlds, and the ability to decipher all that data while on the ground has become an essential skillset.
  • Gastronomy – Access to brand new worlds means access to brand new ingredients, and there is almost no limit to the delicious food and drinks a talented chef can prepare.

If you’re looking to set yourself up alone on an alien planet, then the Pilgrim has everything you would need to do that. Surveying will let you know what resources are around, and Scavenging will net you some rare and difficult to obtain materials. Last of all, Gastronomy will let you develop new recipes to cook up all those alien fauna you come across.

Starfield backgrounds: The Professor background in the character creation menu.

Professor

You always enjoyed learning, but nothing could compare to the joy of teaching others. As humankind spread throughout the stars, there was never a lack of knowledge to obtain, and you gladly assisted.

Starting skills:

  • Astrodynamics – Advanced technology is one thing, but it takes skills, patience, and a little bit of love to coax even more capability out of a ship’s grav drive.
  • Geology – Newly discovered minerals mined from alien planets and moons have directly led to some incredible technological advancements.
  • Research Methods – By skillfully employing both new and time tested methods, a researcher may complete projects faster, and even gain unexpected insights.

One for the researchers out there, the Professor is all about the science of the Starfield universe. Astrodynamics will increase the grav jump range of jump drives, Geology to mine uncommon inorganic resources from surface objects, and Research Methods to develop new technology – the Professor is a true scientific all-rounder.

Starfield backgrounds: The Ronin background in the character creation menu.

Ronin

Masterless and unbound, you wandered the Settled Systems as a blade for hire. To some, you were a simple mercenary. To others, a hero. And to a select few… a nightmare they could never wake from.

Starting skills:

  • Dueling – Considered by many to be a lost art, close attacks with a melee weapon can often be deadlier than ranged combat when carried out by a skilled practitioner.
  • Stealth – For a combatant who values discretion above all else, the ability to approach a target while undetected and kill with a silenced weapon is as terrifying as it is effective.
  • Scavenging – There are those who can find just about anything, and their success is usually dependent on knowing how, and where, to look.

If you were looking for Starfield’s proverbial ‘stealth archer’, then this is as close as you’re going to get. Stealth will help you sneak around undetected, getting in close to deal fatal blows with your melee weapon thanks to the Dueling skills, as well as taking less damage while wielding one. And while you’re sneaking around, Scavenging will net you much greater rewards from all the loot you find lying everywhere.

Starfield backgrounds: The Sculptor background in the character creation menu.

Sculptor

With your knowledge of anatomy and skilled, steady hands, you could have had a lucrative career as a surgeon. Instead, you followed your heart, and created works of art to amaze and inspire.

Starting skills:

  • Medicine – Only through advancements in medical training and technology has humanity been able to withstand the galaxy’s many dangers.
  • Geology – Newly discovered minerals mined from alien planets and moons have directly led to some incredible technological advancements.
  • Persuasion – In the Settled Systems, the nuanced ability to listen and discuss can often accomplish far more than simply shooting first and asking questions later.

The Sculptor is somewhat of a rounded background, not really specialising in anything specific. Medicine will help you heal additional health with healing items, Geology will let you mine rare minerals more effectively, while Persuasion will let you smooth talk your way out of difficult situations. If you’re not looking for a specific playstyle, the Sculptor might be a good one to choose.

Starfield backgrounds: The Soldier background in the character creation menu.

Soldier

The Settled Systems is no stranger to warfare, and if there’s one thing armed conflict relies on it’s trained warriors with guns and guts. You had both. Simple, bloody work… and you were great at it.

Starting skills:

  • Fitness – In space, the greatest commodity is oxygen, and the increased lung capacity gained by a regular physical fitness regimen is essential to survival.
  • Ballistics – Centuries of conflict have proven that when it comes to threat elimination, few things stack up to the reliable power of high-speed projectiles.
  • Boost Pack Training – Specialized training and innovations in personal mobility systems have allowed for unfettered exploration on alien worlds.

A combat specialist, the Soldier comes with all the tools necessary to dominate against your enemies in Starfield’s tense, high-pressure combat situations. Fitness will help you sprint out of the firing line, and Boost Pack Training will get you into the perfect angle to unload those Ballistics-boosted bullets into your enemies from above.

Starfield backgrounds: The Space Scoundrel background in the character creation menu.

Space Scoundrel

Good? Bad? Whose right is it to say? If there’s anything you’ve learned while traipsing through the galaxy, it’s this: space may look black, but it’s really one big shade of grey.

Starting skills:

  • Pistol Certification – Considering the popularity of the personal sidearm in the Settled Systems, familiarity with such weapons is often considered essential.
  • Piloting – As more people journey into space, the number of those certified to effectively pilot various types of spacecraft has increased dramatically.
  • Persuasion – In the Settled Systems, the nuanced ability to listen and discuss can often accomplish far more than simply shooting first and asking questions later.

The Space Scoundrel has all of the tools necessary to stay out of trouble, but is equally as capable of dealing with anything that comes their way. Persuasion can be a lifesaver in the Settled Systems, while Piloting and Pistol Certification will let you make your way safely and effectively around the various planets you’ll be exploring.

Starfield backgrounds: The Xenobiologist background in the character creation menu.

Xenobiologist

The Settled Systems is home to untold alien species. And while none of them have yet proven sentient, that never deterred you. So you sought out and studied them for whatever gifts they offered.

Starting skills:

  • Lasers – Personal laser weapons are in widespread use across the Settled Systems, and specialized training can greatly increase their effectiveness.
  • Surveying – Humanity now has access to untold alien worlds, and the ability to decipher all that data while on the ground has become an essential skillset.
  • Fitness – In space, the greatest commodity is oxygen, and the increased lung capacity gained by a regular physical fitness regimen is essential to survival.

The Xenobiologist is focused on exploring alien worlds looking for rare and interesting alien life. Fitness gives you greater oxygen capacity to get around more effectively, while Surveying will give you a great idea of what life might be present on any planet. Last of all, if you get into trouble, especially out in space, Lasers will let you deal heavy damage with any laser weaponry.

Starfield backgrounds: The [FILE NOT FOUND] background in the character creation menu.

[FILE NOT FOUND]

Oddly, there is no information on file about your past life. Clerical oversight? Deletion by some powerful unknown faction? Or was there just nothing of note to mention? Whatever the reason, your past is known only to you. What’s important is the here and now, and the path you’re about to forge…

Starting skills:

  • Wellness – By embracing an active lifestyle and good nutrition habits, one may improve their overall sense of health, and even gain prolonged life expectancy.
  • Ballistics – Centuries of conflict have proven that when it comes to threat elimination, few things stack up to the reliable power of high-speed projectiles.
  • Piloting – As more people journey into space, the number of those certified to effectively pilot various types of spacecraft has increased dramatically.

The most mysterious of all the available Starfield backgrounds, [FILE NOT FOUND] will give you all the tools you need to survive, without any particular specialisation. Wellness gives you extra health, Ballistics lets you deal extra gun damage, and Piloting lets you more effectively pilot your spacecraft. It’s nothing special, but also a great foundation for the start of any playthrough.

Do you have to choose a background in Starfield?

Choosing a background is a mandatory part of the character creation in Starfield, as it informs a basic element of role playing, giving your character some sort of origin. If you’d rather not bother with this aspect though, we’d suggest choosing the [File Not Found] background, which effectively gives your character a blank slate to work from.

Those are all of the Starfield backgrounds available to choose from. If you’re starting out, why not get familiar with our Starfield tricks and tips and the best Starfield ships? For more guides, check out our SabotageDelivering Devils, Operation Starseed, Surgical Strike, Alternating Currents, and Absolute Power walkthrough, the list of New Atlantis, Akila City and Neon shops, and where to find Jemison Mercantile.

Best Starfield backgrounds FAQs

What are backgrounds in Starfield?

Starfield backgrounds are effectively the game’s version of career paths. They’re titles that each relate to certain jobs, each of which comes with a specific set of starting skills to help guide you at the start of the game.

Can you change backgrounds in Starfield?

You can’t change your background in Starfield. Once you choose a background in character creation, you’re stuck with it for the rest of your playthrough.

How many backgrounds are there in Starfield?

There are currently 21 backgrounds available to choose from in Starfield.