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Starfield Skills Guide

In this Starfield Skills Guide, we’ll be going over how skills work in Starfield, and which are the most useful and Best Skills of the game.

If you are worried about spending your points and want to plan your character for success, make sure to read through and I will help you to prioritize what you should be aiming for first.

How Skills Work in Starfield

When you make your character, your choice of background will give you the first level of 3 skills. After this, you will gain 1 skillpoint per level of your character, which can be used to either unlock higher ranks of the same skill you are already using, or to get new skills.

Starfield Skill Guide

Starfield Skills are not slotted or used actively, they are all passive bonuses for your characters, and they are divided into 5 Core Groups: Physical, Social, Combat, Science and Tech Skills.

Each group then has sub-categories: Basic, Advanced, Expert and Master. You have to spend a certain amount of points in each category to unlock the higher subcategory tiers.

  • Tier 1: No requirements
  • Tier 2 – Advanced: Spend 4 points in previous Skills to unlock Tier 2 Skills
  • Tier 3 – Expert: Spend 8 points in previous Skills to unlock Tier 3 Skills
  • Tier 4 – Master: Spend 12 points in previous Skills to unlock Tier 4 Skills
Starfield Skill Guide - Skills

The Best Skills in Starfield

Since you cannot respec, picking your Skills can be a rather paralizing affair. The best way to go about this is to think about your character and gameplay, and consider what you find the most important.

If your core aim is to excel at combat, then you’ll want to focus on mastering physical and combat traits. If your dream is to be a space pirate, then you’ll need to learn about space combat and starship design. If you just plan to explore and set up outposts, you’ll want to focus on scanning and outposting features.

There are a total of 16 skills in each of the 5 categories, and all skills can be upgraded to max with 4 points. This means you would need 320 points to completely unlock everything – which I don’t think is possible from what I have played as the max level I saw was 70+. Even if it were possible, getting there would take so long that it’d be a waste not to optimize.

Quality of Life

My recommendation is to immediately take these specific skills because of the quality of life they provide:

  1. Piloting: This skill improves the handling of your ship, which is really sorely needed early on, but also leveling up will let you pilot better ships which makes the entire game a lot better.
  2. Weight Lifting: This skill gives you extra carry weight. I do not know one person playing a Bethesda game that’s not over-encumbered with forks and spoons, so take this and start upgrading it asap!
  3. Persuasion: There are so many quests where a persuasion check will determine the legwork you have to do to complete your objective that this feels like one of the most useful skills in the game.
  4. Ballistics: While you may prefer to use different types of weapons, it’s very likely you’re going to be running around with some sort of gun with ammo. The boost you get from Ballistics is quite worth it as it applies to pistols, shotguns, rifles, snipers, etc.
  5. Research Methods: This is a time-saver that makes research and crafting cheaper. If you don’t mind going around looking for materials, then it’s not needed.
  6. Boost Pack Training: Exploration is simply SO much better with a boostpack! And some quests need one, so I suggest you get this one very soon after starting.
  7. Security: This allows you to use digipicks to hack into safes and doors. It’s essential for looting and exploring so do not skip it under any circumstances.
Starfield Skills Guide - Weight Lifting
Utilise Background Skills

You can get several of these skills from your Background, so if you pick right you’ll be able to get them all by level 5. From there, your choices become a lot harder as they’ll depend on what exactly it is you want to do.

The next skills you pick will depend on your playstyle, so I will describe the categories and the best skill within each.

Starfield Skill Guide - Background
Background provides starting skills

Physical Skills

Physical Skills: These are for those of you looking to play stealth or who want physique boosts. They are generally underwhelming or very situational as many of the bonuses are easily achieved via consumables or equipment, so it doesn’t seem smart to put points into them.

Some recommendations for them are:

  1. Fitness: This will give you 10-30% more oxygen and eventually greatly reduce the cost of sprinting. It’s a nice to have if you find yourself struggling with this aspect
  2. Stealth: Yes, I know you want to make a stealth archer, so take stealth and level it up and you can get great damage boosts for sneak attacks!
  3. Pain Tolerance: I didn’t find many enemies coming at me with non-physical damage so this flat damage reduction would work best. It is completely unnecessary on normal, however, so only consider this if you are finding yourself getting more hurt than you like.
  4. Concealment: This is the master skill for stealth gameplay, and it is very very good if that is your style, enabling you to run in stealth and do incredibly high damage from sneak attacks (4x to 10x)

Social Skills

Social Skills: These skills are a catch-all for NPC interactions and questing. Your choices here will heavily depend on how you like to approach situations. I found that persuasion took care of almost everything and I didn’t really need bribery or such.

Some recommendations for Social Skills are:

  1. Commerce: If you want to make credits fast to buy expensive ships or houses, this is a good skill. If you don’t, then it’s utterly useless. I played the game normally and quickly ramped up a fantastic amount of credits, particularly by boarding and taking over pirate ships I had disabled.
  2. Theft: If you are looking to play a stealthy outlaw, this is an excellent skill. For everyone else, not so much unless you’re after a specific item that you want to get from a specific NPC or quest.
  3. Leadership: This is a very useful skill for everyone, as it will help you bring up your companion affinity higher, and increase their carry capacity. Both of those are excellent bonuses!
  4. Outpost Management. If you plan to delve deeply into the outpost system, you cannot skip this skill. If you are unsure, you can wait a while and play and come to it when you feel you’re lacking.
  5. Ship Command: This is a master skill that pretty much everyone should take, as it will allow you to have up to eight active crew members. This is invaluable and a lot more fun than the default, so I absolutely recommend getting to this soon.
Starfield Skill Guide - Ship Command

Combat Skills

Combat Skills: This category features all the combat bonuses for your character. We already mentioned ballistics, but if you want to specialize in a particular type of gun or melee combat, there are plenty of options here. Since this is all very personal to your playstyle, I’ll highlight what may work for most people rather than trying to focus on what each “build” may pick as they are quite self-evident.

Combat Skills: This category features all the combat bonuses for your character. We already mentioned ballistics, but if you want to specialize in a particular type of gun or melee combat, there are plenty of options here. Since this is all very personal to your playstyle, I’ll highlight what may work for most people rather than trying to focus on what each “build” may pick as they are quite self-evident.

Recommendations for Combat Skills are:

  1. Marksmanship: This skill is useful if you aren’t using automatic weapons. Most of the guns I picked up where not automatic and you had to mod them to make them so, making this a good option
  2. Rapid Reloading: This skill makes you reload faster and it’s amazing. Get it!
  3. Targeting: This is a useful skill for those of you who prefer to shoot “from the hip” as it increases your accuracy when not aiming. It’s very specific and not for everyone, but if you are a run-and-gunner make sure to take it at some point.
  4. Sharpshooting: This is one of the master skills for combat but the one that I found the most useful, as it increases critical damage for body parts and in general with all ranged weapons. It’s a great skill to have on any build that uses ranged weapons.

Science Skills

Science Skills: These are skills that cover a lot of very important aspects for exploration and character optimization. I suggest you focus on these and Tech skills early on as they can take a lot of tedium out of the game, and open up new gameplay opportunities.

Recommendations for Science Skills are:

  1. Scanning: This skill should be on everyone’s radar as it greatly improves your planet and ship scanning capabilities, saving your time.
  2. Spacesuit Design: A must-have skill if you want to apply spacesuit mods and optimize your Armor. I suggest taking this early on as leveling it up needs you to create mods, and it’s a resource-consuming affair.
  3. Weapon Engineering: Another must-have skill if you want to optimize your Weapons. You will find legendary weapons and spacesuits so it’s not going to stop you if you don’t get it, but you’ll be missing out on most of the crafting fun if you neglect these two skills.
  4. Astrophysics: This is INCREDIBLY useful if you’re a completionist, as it gives you the opportunity to discover planet traits from orbit, and allows you to scan planets from very far away (up to 30 Light years!). Since traveling to each system or planet to scan can become a horribly tedious endeavor, this was one of my favorite skills to take early on.
  5. Outpost Engineering: If you want to delve into outposting you will need this to make it work, and for the excellent 50% discount for construction resources.
  6. Special Projects: This is a unique master skill that gives you the opportunity to research unique, experimental things. It’s a lategame toy for those wanting to delve deep into the crafting systems.

Tech Skills

Tech Skills: Finally, Tech Skills are all about your spaceship and robotics. Many of these skills have a deep and meaningful impact on your gameplay, so you should be looking to spend your points here from early on.

  1. Payloads: This increases your ship cargo hold capacity by up to 50%, which is massive and incredibly useful when doing quests or if you are a resource hoarder like me.
  2. Starship Design: This skill allows you to upgrade your ship parts with better modules, which is invaluable for optimizing your space combat. Rather than putting points into the specific and individual combat categories, doing this one first could give you a faster edge as you can just make what you have work better.
  3. Starship Engineering: This one is useful as a general defense boost for you ship as it will improve your repairing and give you a flat 25% damage mitigation. It’s not necessary but a nice to have.
  4. Any other combat skill for ships: Depending on how you play, and particularly if you’re a pirate, you’ll need to invest in the many systems here. For normal players, the 3 options above would suffice, but if you are REALLY into space combat you can pick more skills from here.

And that’s a wrap for all the skills available in the game! As a final tip I will mention that companions and crew also have skills, and this will determine where you assign them. Use the Ship menu to assign companions and hired crew to your ship or any outpost with a “Crew Station”. Each companion or crew member provides unique passive bonuses to make your ship or outpost run better.


If you’re looking for more Starfield content, check out the wiki, our Beginner Guide, or our Starfield Review!

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