Starfield – how to level up fast

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Want to know how to level up fast in Starfield? Levelling, and in particular, the skill points awarded for raising your character’s level is vital currency in Bethesda’s latest RPG. Skills are a portal to all manner of buffs, abilities, and attributes that will enhance and ease your journey through the Settled Systems.

We’ll explain the best way to knock off levels in Starfield. If you’re in need of some more early game assistance, check out how to unlock powers in Starfield, read up on how to lockpick in Starfield, and learn how to change weapons in Starfield.

Best ways to level in Starfield

Here’s a list of the fastest ways to level in Starfield:

  • Complete quests
  • Discover new planets, cities, and settlements
  • Scan flora and fauna
  • Complete board missions
  • Research
  • Well-Rested bonus
  • Craft weapons, pack, and suit upgrades
  • Combat
  • Craft food and aid items
  • Lockpick and pickpocket
  • Consume aid items
  • Romance an NPC
Starfield - how to level up fast: mission menu.

Complete main story quest, side quests, faction quests, and activities

Completing through the glut of quests is one of the most efficient ways to harvest XP to level up. The main quest alone nets you enough XP to level up over two dozen times. Side quests tend to be fairly contained stories so are a quick way to haul in XP, too. Faction missions are a little more involved, but are an equally good way to level up quickly. We have a soon-to-be-complete Starfield quest list so you can get a sense of how much there is to do quest-wise in the game.

Explore and discover new planets, cities, and settlements

Starfield rewards exploration, and not just in the sense of the thrill of discovery, but with an ample amount of levelling up XP for discovering a new location. Cities, underground bases, refineries, moon bases, settlements, planets, systems, and other landmarks – everything earns XP. Additionally, scanning flora and fauna on planets earns you XP, so pull out your scanner when you’re out exploring.

Starfield - how to level up fast: Constellation mission board.

Complete board missions

You’ll find mission boards and kiosks across the settled systems, mostly in bars, but also in the basement of The Lodge in New Atlantis. The missions range from simple fetch quests delivering cargo and what not, surveying planets, locating planets with specific resources, taking on bounties and pirates, and ferrying NPCs between systems. As mission board quests are randomly generated, there’s no cap on how many you can do, offering up an endless supply of extra XP (and credits).

Starfield - how to level up fast: research laboratory menu.

Research and craft weapons, pack, and suit upgrades

Completing research projects at research laboratories earns you experience points. It’s not a huge amount, but you’ll unlock advanced weapon/suit/helmet/pack mods, recipes, and outpost building options in the process, so projects are well worth doing anyway. You’ll find research laboratories on your starting ship, The Frontier, and in The Lodge’s basement.

Well-Rested Bonus

Sleeping or taking a nap not only recovers all your health and heals many Starfield afflictions, but also provides a Well-Rested bonus, a 10% XP boost.

Ground combat and dogfights

Killing spacers, pirates, and crimson fleet members gives you a decent amount of XP. We recommend landing on a random planet and beaming down to an underground research facility or similar building, then making your way through. It’s similar in a way to XP farming in other games. Alien creatures, high level ones in particular, are also a superb source of XP. Head for a high level system, then land on a planet with fauna. Roam around killing every alien creature in sight.

Starfield - how to level up fast: food crafting menu.

Craft food and aid items

Crafting food items at cooking stations and pharmaceutical labs is probably the least efficient way to get the XP to level up, but, again, you get usable items for your efforts.

Lockpick and pickpocket

Similar to food and aid item crafting, lockpicking and pickpocketing aren’t big XP earners, but are a nice way to tick up your XP. Every little helps and, safes and locked rooms often contain useful items like weapons, aid items like med packs, and credits – all useful in Starfield.

Consume aid items

You can supplement all of the above XP-earning methods by consuming an aid item that boost XP for a set amount of time. You’ll also get XP for crafting the items. Here’s a list of items that will work here:

  • Alien Tea – restores 2 health and +1 XP gain for 15 minutes.
  • Boba Alien Tea – restore 2 health, + O2 for 5 minutes, +1% XP gain for 15 minutes.

Romance an NPC

In Starfield, you can romance several NPCs – Barrett, Sarah Morgan, Sam Coe, and Andreja. Building a relationship with one of not only opens the door to unique quests and adds colour to their story and background, but also unlocks an Emotional Security bonus that gives you a 15% XP buff every time you sleep. You’ll need to romance a companion enough to get married to unlock the buff.

Play on Very Easy difficulty

While the difficulty settings change the damage that enemies deal, and the damage you deal to enemies, this has no effect at all on the amount of XP you gain. Thanks to this, you can find yourself a planet full of wildlife, turn the difficulty right down, and do a quick run where you kill all of the monsters you see. Combined with boosts from sleeping and aid items, you can really ramp up the XP rates on some of these planets this way.

That covers how to level up fast in Starfield. Check out our Starfield powers list, which also details how to unlock powers, and learn how to persuade Leah Casler in Starfield when you visit Akila for the first time.

About the Author

Tom Bardwell

Tom is guides editor here at VideoGamer.


  • 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