Starfield is finally here and it is big, complex, and often overwhelming. There are tons of menus to navigate, cities to get acquainted with, and skill trees to invest in, not to mention resource mining, base building, and ship customization. Before you get into any of that, however, let’s go over some basic tips and advice to get you started.
Currently live for fans who purchased the Deluxe Edition or Game Pass upgrade, Starfield is a sprawling sci-fi RPG where one minute you’re haggling with a bar keep for information and the next you’re shooting a bunch of space pirates and stealing all of their credits. But there’s a lot of minutia to get lost in, from confusing menus to maps that don’t tell you where anything is. What follows is a quick guide with some tricks and shortcuts for surviving Starfield’s opening hours and beginning your journey into the outer reaches of the galaxy.
Don’t worry about how your character looks
You can change it anytime by visiting an Enhance! shop and paying 500 credits. The nearest one at the start is in the commercial district in New Atlantis.
Make hard saves all the time
You never know when things might go wrong in Starfield. You might fail a persuasion roll or get jumped by giant aliens, or even accidentally crash your ship into the space station you’re trying to dock on. The game auto-saves but it’s not foll-proof. It’s a Bethesda game, after all.
Lower music volume and raise voice volume
Starfield comes out of the gate with very loud and intense music. And that’s fine. But after about 20 minutes, I struggled to hear what people were saying. Looking at the default settings, voice volume isn’t as high as it probably should be, so knock that up a bit and turn music down a little, too. Trust me, you’ll still be able to hear it fine.
Loot the pirates after the first fight for an assault rifle
The first big fight in Starfield isn’t very hard and the game quickly pushes you to leave. But first, go grab at least one assault rifle (and some other goodies) off those pirates you just wasted.
Loot everything and give it to Vasco
Speaking of looting stuff, feel free to grab everything and just dump it on the robot who partners up with you in the early hours of Starfield. Like in previous Bethesda games, your companions are pack mules with dialogue trees. Use ‘em! To do so, just chat with the bot (or other companions) and ask to trade items.
Use cover like a modern shooter
Aiming near cover will have you pop out in a way that feels unlike any previous Bethesda RPG. Sure, dynamic cover like this has been around since 2012-ish, but hey, I’m not going to complain about Starfield having good combat compared to Fallout 4 and Skyrim.
Use the laser mining tool for killing
The Cutter you get at the very beginning is deceptively great in battle. It works on a cooldown with unlimited ammo, and can stun-lock enemies at close range. Pull it out every now and again to save precious bullets early on.
Set your helmet and space suit to disappear when not needed
Early on in the game, Starfield tells you to go into your menus to put on your helmet. You might be mistaken and think you have to do that every time you want to take it off or put it on. (And you need it out in space to live.) But nope! Just leave it and your suit on, then go into the inventory section for each. You’ll find an option at the bottom of the screen letting them disappear automatically when not needed, like in towns or stations. No more running around cities looking like a giant dork!
Pump up your persuasion trait ASAP!
If you don’t want to waste all your resources fighting through every encounter, make sure to put some points into persuasion. It will increase the odds that you can talk people down from fights and generally make it much easier to manipulate people, which is why you’re playing this game, right?
Careful you don’t sell your equipped gear
The game won’t check you while you’re pawning off all your loot so spam that sell button with caution.
Save time by fast-traveling directly through the quest menu
You don’t always have to navigate through your cumbersome star chart to get to a new planet. If you want to go to the next location for a mission and you’ve already been there before, simply use the “select course” option from the pause menu to automatically head to the destination.
Scan everything all the time
Starfield basically gives you detective vision. In addition to scanning planets, your helmet sensor will also scan everything right in front of you, highlighting nearby enemies and valuable loot. This is also how you survey fauna for extra XP. Plus, you can use it to find your ship’s location on the horizon and instantly fast travel to it.
Don’t forget to take a nap
Sleeping will fully heal you and also give you a “well-rested” bonus that increases the rate at which you earn XP.
Use the research station on your ship to get access to more craftable stuff
You can upgrade guns, suits, and helmets as well as cook food in this game. But you’ll need to do some research first. You’ll need some materials, like iron and fiber, but once you have some you can unlock new mods and things to craft, letting you improve guns and make good suits even better.
Hitting undo while lockpicking still spends a digipick
So be careful, they’re hard to come by!
Use your ship inventory
You don’t just have to give all of your extra items to companions or throw them on the floor, you can also store them in the ship’s cargo hold by selecting it from the ship part of the menu (bottom left). It’s not unlimited but it has more than enough room in the beginning.
Designate weapons and healing items as favorites to save time
As far as I can tell, in the first few hours of the game at least, Starfield doesn’t say anything about favoriting weapons. But you should totally do that! Like in past Bethesda games, you can map guns, medkits, knives, and more to your d-pad and then quickly switch weapons during combat without needing to open the game’s (not great) menus. Simply replace an item with something else to change up your favorites.