Starfield – how to disable, steal and target ships

Starfield – how to disable, steal and target ships
Tom Bardwell Updated on by

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Wondering how to target ships in Starfield? Space is rife with dangers, not least the spacers and pirates prowling in the orbit of planets on systems far and wide across the Settled Systems. Learning to dogfight is an important skill to make it through your interstellar adventure.

One of the best tools in your dogfighting arsenal is the ability to target ships. Doing so ensures your various weapons lock on to an enemy ship, dishing out the damage needed to come out on top on any space combat encounter. We’ll walk you through how to target ships in Starfield. If you haven’t already, learn how to change home ship in Starfield and how to get ship parts in Starfiled, crucial repair components to repair your ship mid-fight.

Starfield - how to target ships: ship targetting above planet.

How to target ships in Starfield

To target a ship in Starfield, hover your reticule over the ship and tap the target button – E on PC and A on Xbox Series X|S. After a short lock on sequence, you’ll target the ship. You may need to fly closer to the ship if it doesn’t lock on immediately.

You can also unlock an advanced targeting method by investing skill points into the Target Control Systems skill in the Tech skill tree. Once you’ve unlocked it, you can target specific parts of an enemy ship, such as the engines, lasers, and shields. Disabling them will weaken their attacking power but also give you the opportunity to board the ship, which we come on to below. You only need the first Rank unlocked, but any subsequent upgrades will speed up the process, and also provide buffs against targeted spaceships.

Starfield - how to target ships: advanced targeting system in action.

To use the advanced the Target Control Systems, hover the reticule over an enemy ship, tap E (A on Xbox) to target the ship. Once the target locks on, tap R to bring up the targeting mode. Like VATS in the Fallout games, time will slow, and you’ll be able to target specific parts of the ship using the arrow keys on keyboard or left stick on controller: ballistics, lasers, engines, shields, grav drive, and so on. 

Starfield how to disable ships

One mechanic in the game, which we used a lot during our Starfield review, was disabling enemy ships. Not only does this let you board them and gather valuable loot, but it also offers some of the most intense, and fun firefights in the game, so we fully recommend it.

To disable ships in Starfield you’re going to need to destroy the enemy ship’s shields and target the ship’s engine, and disable them by firing your ships weapon at them. This will render the ship motionless and ready to board. To board, make sure there are no enemy vessels present then dock at the ship. Check out Starfield how to dock guide for more details.

How to steal ships in Starfield

Once you’re on board, now comes the tricky part as the enemy will not take kindly to you trying to take their loot and, if you so choose, their ship. Fight your way through to the cockpit and interact with the pilot’s seat to steal the ship. Note that if you’re targeting a ship with either a grade C or B engine, then you’ll need to make sure your Piloting skill is high enough, otherwise you won’t be able to pilot the ship. You can still steal the ship, though

Once you take over the ship, it’s yours to keep and register with a technician at a spaceport, such as New Atlantis. It will also become your new home vessel automatically.

That covers how to target ships in Starfield. If you want a decent early game ship that trumps the starting Frontier, check out the Starfield Lair of the Mantis puzzle solution. Otherwise, check out our dedicated Starfield factions and Starfield planets guides.

Starfield disable and target ships FAQ

Can you board enemy ships in Starfield?

Yes, you’re able to board enemy ships but you’ll need to make they have been disabled and there are no enemies present.

Is ship combat in Starfield?

Yes, ship combat is one of the main gameplay mechanics in the game and plays a vital part in Starfield.