Starfield tips and tricks – beginner’s guide to survive the Settled Systems

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Our Starfield tips and tricks beginner’s guide, packed full of useful tips and tricks, should set you up nicely to start your interstellar playthrough in the Settled Systems. We’ve tried to be as tactful as possible to not insert any spoilers, so rest assured we aren’t giving away any major story spoilers or anything that’s worth discovering yourself.

We’ve played through the game extensively for our Starfield review. As a team we have clocked hundreds of hours in this game, and will continue to update this article with new hints and tips as we come across them.

If you’re looking for more granular early game guides, check out how to sell items in Starfieldhow to get ship parts in Starfield, how to remove a bounty, and how to increase carry weight in Starfield. If you’re finding the game daunting, make sure to check out the full Starfield quest list and the best Starfield ships to hep you navigate through the Settled Systems.

Starfield beginner's guide: character on planet.

Play on normal difficulty or higher

Having messed around with all the difficulty settings in Starfield, we recommend starting the game on normal difficulty or above. The lower levels are simply too easy and don’t really pose much of a challenge when it comes to fighting off spacers, whether in space or on the ground. You’ll give yourself a far more satisfying experience with a slightly higher difficulty level.

Starfield beginner's guide: Activity menu in Missions menu.

Complete activities to unlock faction and side quests

When you first load up the Mission menu, you’ll see quests divided into categories: main, faction, miscellaneous, and activities. While activities may seem skippable, they often are the starting point for side quests (or misc quests in the menu) and faction quests. If you get a pop and you’re close by, investigate, which often involves chatting to this or that NPC. More often than not, these unravel into some of Starfield’s best optional side quests, which is, in our opinion, where the game’s best moments lie. The United Colonies and Freestar Collective factions are good places to start, and this can also be a great way to unearth new crew members.

Starfield tips and tricks: Digipick in the Trade Authority shop.

Stock up on Digipicks

Lockpicking is a huge part of your journey across the cosmos and you’ll need a steady source of Digipicks – Starfield’s version of the Fallout bobby pin. You’ll find these as loot items throughout the game, but you can also buy them from vendors across the Settled Systems. They cost a measly 34 credits, so stock up whenever you get a chance.

Starfield tips and tricks: The player selling a boost pack in the sell menu.

Sell looted items for cash

Credits are one of the most important resources in Starfield. Whether you’re looking to buy weapons, stay stocked up in ammo, or purchase the most extravagant the various staryards of the Settled systems have to offer, you’ll need cash – lots of it. One of the best early game games to fill your coffers is, alongside completing quests, selling looted items for cash. Within a few hours of playing Starfield, you’ll come across mountains of junk that’s worth looting to then sell off at vendors in New Atlantis, and later on, Neon and Akila City. Individual items don’t turn much of a profit, but it’s about volume. Sell lots and often, and you’ll quickly build up a nice stack of credits.

Starfield beginner's guide: Missions menu.

Travel to quest locations from Missions menu

You’ll do an awful lot of grav jumping in Starfield and having to systematically jump to the star map to find your next location can grow a little tedious. To save time, you can plot courses directly from the Missions menu. Select the quest you want to follow, then hit the Set Course button (R on PC). You’ll then fast travel immediately to the quest location.

Starfield tips and tricks: The player using the scanner to look at directional arrows on the ground.

Use your scanner for directions

Quest markers are great, but sometimes you just can’t seem to find what direction you’re meant to be going in. That’s where your scanner comes in. As well as being a great tool to scan your surroundings and see what resources are nearby, opening your scanner also provides a line of arrows along the ground that point you towards your objective. A great tip for whenever you’re lost.

Starfield tips and tricks: The player's bed in their room in The Lodge.

Get some rest for an XP boost

One of the easiest ways to get XP is through resting in the game. Sleeping makes you Well Rested , a temporary effect perk which boosts XP gain by 10% for the next 24 minutes. Note, this can only be achieved by sleeping and not waiting.

Starfield tips and tricks: The Mark I Spacesuit in the basement of The Lodge.

Get this spacesuit and ship early

Once you’ve reached The Lodge in New Atlantis and can access the basement, head down and make your way to the room at the back with a painting on the wall. Inside, you’ll find a glass cabinet containing the Mark 1 Spacesuit. Normally, you need a few points in your Security skill to lock pick the Master lock. But, if you position your reticule on right-hand lip of the glass door at about the height of the mannequin shoulder, you can glitch through and grab the spacesuit.

As soon as the Mantis quest pops up in your missions list, follow it through to pick up an excellent early game ship that with a few upgrades can last you the whole game. Check out our Lair of the Mantis puzzle solution guide for all the details.

Starfield tips and tricks: The starmap showing a path to a previously un-visited star system.

Star map navigation

Each system on the star map is colour-coded to help you keep track of which ones you’ve visited:

  • White dot with a halo – denotes a system you’ve already visited.
  • White dot – denotes a system you’ve yet to visit but can grav drive to directly in a single jump.
  • Red dot – denotes a system you haven’t visited and you’ll need to plot a grav drive route with two or more jumps to reach.
Starfield tips and tricks: The player's weapon inventory sorted by damage.

Sort guns by damage output

As you explore space stations, board starships, dive deep into underground bases, and just generally explore, you’ll come across a huge range of weapons. Sorting through to keep the best can be a little taxing, with a sort of stats fatigue settling in. To help, you sort through them, pop into your inventory and sort them by damage. This will give you a solid sense of what weapons pack a punch and which ones are best selling off. Additionally, it’s worth keeping an eye on the bonus and mods of certain weapons, especially rarer purple and gold guns. You’ll find this info by selecting a weapon in your inventory and then looking below the main stats window on the right of your screen. If you’re looking for some better weapons, our best Starfield weapons guide will help you out.

Starfield tips and tricks: An Emergency Kit in the player's healing items inventory.

Use the right healing items

You’ll probably come across Med Packs more often than every other healing item, but that doesn’t mean you should use only Med Packs. Other healing items might be much better in certain circumstances. Trauma Packs and Emergency Kits heal more health, and do it faster than a Med Pack does, and should be used in the middle of combat for a quick health boost. Save your Med Packs to heal up outside of combat when the time pressure isn’t so great.

Starfield beginner's guide: Weight Lifting skill in skill menu.

Get these skills early

As with RPGs like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, Starfield features quite a few skills, offering all manner of benefits, bonuses, and bonus, but they also unlock certain skills your character won’t have as standard at the start of the game, such as pickpocketing. Picking the right Starfield background during character creation can be a big help. Here’s a list of skills we recommend getting as a priority in the early game.

  • Persuasion – Increases your chance of success when persuading someone. This isn’t for everyone, but if you want some variety in how you approach problems and quests, then this is a must have.
  • Weight Lifting – Increases carry capacity. At rank 4, it swells to an extra 100 kilograms and 50% resistance to stagger. You’ll need the extra capacity to haul around all the loot you’ll pick up, along with enough to wear a decent spacesuit, helmet, and pack combo, along with all your guns and ammo.
  • Fitness – Increases oxygen available. You’ll quickly run out while darting around so any help here is worth the skill point. At rank 4, you get a massive 50% boost.
  • Wellness – Increases your maximum health. Grants an extra 40% at rank 4. A no-brainer given the enemies and alien creatures you’ll be battling.
  • Boost Pack Training – Unlocks the ability to use boost packs, or, in other words, jet pack short distances. It’s useful for getting around especially on planets with hills and mountains, but the main appeal here is that nothing beats boosting and bobbing around on a low gravity celestial body like the moon.
  • Ballistics/Pistol Certification/Lasers/Shotgun Certification – Increase the damage of that particular type of weapon. Take your pick depending on which weapon class you use most. The extra firepower really helps in tough fights.
  • Security – Unlocks the ability to hack advanced locks, then expert locks, and finally master-level locks. Starfield is littered with safes, locked doors, and containers full with some quality loot that you won’t want to miss.
  • Astrodynamics – Increases grav jump range and reduces fuel cost of each grav drive. This one will allow you to fast travel further and, by extension, access the furthest reaches of the Settled Systems.

Don’t waste your skill points

While it can be tempting to pump your skill points directly into a new skill immediately after ranking up, take the time to think about what you want from your build. Later on in the game, it takes a fair amount of time to level up, and with no way to respec your build, every skill point is incredibly valuable. If you’re looking at a particular higher-tier skill, save your skill points to level up the skill required for it. You don’t want to be grinding to rank up Xenosociology after wasting some skill points on something like Boxing early on.

Docking at spacestations and ships

In the early game, you won’t be able to dock at spacestations and ships, but don’t worry, it comes soon enough. If you’re still not there, push through the main story a little and it’ll come. For more detailed step-by-step instructions, check out how to dock at spacestations and ships in Starfield.

Use the right weapons during space combat

With three types of weapons, it can be tempting to spam them all at random in an attempt to overwhelm enemies, but a bit of tact can make things much easier. Your laser weapons deal extra damage to shields, while ballistics and missiles deal more damage to a ship’s hull. Break down the shield first with your lasers, and then use the targeting control systems to lock-on before dishing out some major damage with your other two weapon types, and those space pirates won’t know what hit them.

Starfield tips and tricks: Quick Keys menu.

Use Quick Key to switch between weapons, items, and powers

To make things easier, you want to make sure you use the ‘Quick Keys’ dial. Assign a hotkey to a weapon, aid item, or power you want to use by finding it in your inventory and marking it as a favourite (B on PC). You can then quickly switch between your favourite items and weapons by pressing the aside key or by bringing the dial by either pressing the D-pad on Xbox or by holding Q key on PC.

Starfield tips and tricks: The Frontier at the New Atlantis Spaceport.

Don’t worry about ship mods and outposts in the early game

While tempting to set up shop on a planet and piece together a resource mining venture on a distant planet or deck out your ship with the best mods, note that these are late game pursuits. Bethesda has said as much, and you’ll really struggle to get things up and running early on. You’ll hit skill roadblocks and won’t have enough credits, so it best to leave these fun, but time-consuming and expensive activities, for a little later on in your adventure.

Starfield tips and tricks: Lithium in the player's resource inventory.

Collect resources for crafting

While you shouldn’t set up an outpost on the first planet you see, you should start collecting resources early for when you inevitably do set one up. Building up your outpost, as well as the various crafting, cooking, and research mechanics you can use there all require materials, and you’ll want to make sure you have plenty by the time you get there. Survey planets to find out what local flora and fauna there are, as well as any rare minerals knocking about.

Quick Tip

You don’t have to have your materials in your inventory to craft with them. Having them stored in your ship storage is enough, so just make sure you have plenty of room on your ship to store your things.

Starfield tips and tricks: The player looting a robot.

Loot tactically

While it can be tempting, especially early on, to just loot everything you find, you’ll quickly find yourself encumbered and running out of stamina all the time. Take a look at what there is to loot, and only take what you actually want. Whether that’s resources you need, or high-value items that you want to sell, there are items that are worth looting, and there are items that are absolutely not worth it.

Starfield tips and tricks: The research lab in the basement of The Lodge.

Don’t ignore researching

In the basement of The Lodge is a research station which can be accessed from as soon as you join Constellation, and you should make good use of it. Head down there regularly to see what research projects are available, as some of these projects provide powerful upgrades that will help you throughout your entire playthrough.

Mainline to the Into the Unknown quest then play slow

Although it can be tempting to want to rush through Starfield, it’s a game that’s best experienced at a slower pace. That said, we highly recommend focusing on the main story quest until you reach a quest called Into the Unknown. It unlocks one of Starfield best features – superpowers.

After that, embrace the notion of exploring and discovering, take the time to visit far-flung planets, chat with NPCs, pursue side quests, and just generally take in the atmosphere. Some of the game’s best bits surface when you let go of the need to blaze through the main story quest.

Starfield tips and tricks: Nova Galactic Flight Manual Skill Book in inventory.

Skill Books

Left on desks and counters across the Settled Systems are Skill Books, colorful magazines that are far more than eye candy; each one grants a permanent boost or buff. These enhance everything from carry capacity to damage output. Others reduce store prices or the fuel cost of grav jumps. Keep an eye out for them whenever you’re exploring a new building, base, or settlement.

Starfield tips and tricks: The player using the cargo hold on their ship.

Use companion and ship storage

With so much to steal and loot in Starfield, you’ll max out your carry weight before long. To help avoid being overencumbered and having to deal with the stamina penalties, use companion and ship storage. Talk to a companion, then select the ‘Let’s trade gear’ option. You can then store items in their inventory. The sames goes for your ship’s cargo hold, which is considerably larger than your on-character inventory, great for heavy resources, spacesuits, packs, and helmets. For more on how to access it, check out our Starfield ship storage guide.

Starfield tips and tricks: The lobby to Ryujin Industries, one of the factions in Starfield.

Join any faction you want

There are four factions you can join in Starfield – Vanguard, Crimson Fleet, Freestar Rangers, and Ryujin Industries. Pledging allegiance to them unlocks quest lines for each faction, but it’s worth noting that you can join all factions at the same time. This won’t affect your standing with the other factions or lock you out of any quests. Each faction has quests that will test different mechanics each time. So while the Ryujin Industries Sabotage quest tests your stealth, the Crimson Fleet Absolute Power quest will test your persuasion.

That covers our Starfield beginner’s guide. We also have more focused early game guides, such as how to lockpick in Starfieldhow to pickpocket and steal in Starfield, how to level up fast in Starfield, and how to change home ship in Starfield that should be helpful.

If you’re after some quests, check out the Starfield Delivering Devils and Starfield Entangled quests. And if you’re looking to upgrade your ship, make sure you start off with on of our Starfield best reactors. We also have guides covering the Starfield Mysterious Captain, the Starfield The Den location, and where to get Microsecond Regulator in Starfield. We also have guides covering the Starfield Mysterious Captain, the Starfield The Den location, and where to get Microsecond Regulator in Starfield.

About the Author

Tom Bardwell

Tom is guides editor here at VideoGamer.

Starfield

  • Release Date: 06 September 2023
    • - 06 September 2023 (PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S)
  • Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox Series X
  • Genre(s): Adventure, RPG, Science Fiction, Space