One of the most complicated (and fun) new systems in Starfield is the Ship Builder — and before you become a legendary pilot, you’ll need to upgrade your simple ship. The Frontier is hardly a ship built for battle. It isn’t really built for anything. At the start of your adventure, you’ll get absolutely crushed by marauding pirates and deadly mercenaries — in a battle against multiple opponents, you’ll hardly stand a chance. And that’s not even the most important upgrade you’ll want to unlock.
At the start of the game, your ship has a small cargo inventory and a pitiful Gravity Drive fuel capacity. Below, we’re going to explain all the upgrades and additional components you’ll want to buy first for your starting ship, and how to further enhance your piloting skills — either with the right skills or by hiring crew mates. They’re all intensely useful.
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How To Upgrade & Modify Your Ship
Your starting ship is a clunker in Starfield. Early in the game, you won’t be able to afford a new ship — but you can buy upgrades and select skills that will make your life much easier at the start.
- How To Upgrade & Modify Your Ship: Near every Spaceport, there is a Ship Services kiosk or NPC. These NPCs can repair your ship and sell items like Ship Parts that can be used to repair your craft on-the-fly. They will also offer full ship purchases or upgrade and modification services.
- Select ‘I’d like to view and modify my ships‘ from the Technician. You can find one in the very first area of New Atlantis. He’s standing to the right of the ramp leading to the main city.
Select your ship and then open the Ship Builder menu or select Upgrade Ship. The Ship Builder allows us to add new parts to the ship. You can add new Cargo Holds, weapons, switch cockpicks, swap engines and much more. The Upgrade menu is simpler — it is used to upgrade the ship parts you already have equipped to your ship.
Best Upgrades & Modifications To Get First
Now that you can modify / upgrade your ship, you’ll want to grab these upgrades and enhancements first. They can cost a lot of credits, but they’re far (far) cheaper than buying a new and better ship. But, it is imperative you buy upgrades early to save yourself huge headaches.
- Cargo Hold: Cargo Holds add more cargo capacity for your ship and are critical if you want to explore and collect resources. Don’t even attempt to build your homestead until you’ve purchased two extra Cargo Holds.
- Fuel Tanks: Travel can be a pain. With an additional Fuel Tank, you’ll be able to fast-travel much longer distances.
Cargo Holds can be as cheap as 1,000 Credits each. Your starting ship can’t handle too much extra weight and has no extra hard points for attachments. Go to the [Structural] Tab and add a Deimos Hull A to gain more hardpoints or purchase a larger Berth for your ship, deleting the standard starting berth. You may also want more engines.
- Engines: Add an extra engine to your ship to aid in maneuverability. There are engines designed to be mounted on the sides of your ship or the top / bottom. Select a top / bottom engine and place it under your drive to get extra power on your ship.
In the Ship Builder, press the Flight Check command to see what errors or limitations your ship has. If your ship is Nominal, you’re good to fly. You may have Red Warnings — these are critical errors that will not allow you to save the ship. You can also get Yellow Warnings. These are cautionary warnings; you can still save your ship but may want to make some changes. Usually, a yellow warning will appear when your ship’s mass is too high for your engine power, making it extremely sluggish.
Skills & Crew To Get First
As far as weapons go, you can add or upgrade weapons — but it is much easier to gain crew that can increase your weapon power for you. Purchasing a larger berth or cockpit can also increase your crew capacity. Each crew member with ship-related skills will add to your skills, making space combat much easier. The more crew members with strong skills, the better you’ll become at piloting. Even so, you’ll want to unlock one specific type of skill and upgrade early.
- Piloting Skill: Unlock the Piloting Skill early and rank up whenever you can. The Piloting Skill is required to purchase Class B and Class C ship upgrades or better ships in general. While crew can increase your piloting skill, their skills DO NOT COUNT when using the Ship Builder. If you want better ships, you’ll have to upgrade Piloting ASAP.
- Targeting Control Systems: Another critical skill. This skill unlocks the ability to target specific systems on the enemy you’re locked onto. This is essential if you want to pirate ships. Target the engines and you can board any vessel in space.
The piloting skill improves the more enemy ships you destroy. Unlock these early and you’ll eventually get into enough dogfights to rank up Piloting — even at Rank 2, your piloting skills will improve greatly. Very, very important for flying.
Finally, you can find crew by exploring the galaxy. There are named characters or randomly generated crew at every major settlement.
- Where To Find More Crew: Crew are located at bars / taverns at every major settlement. Usually the bar will be located near the spaceport. In these areas, you’ll find named characters that have many skills — they’ll join you for a high price, or you can use Persuasion to lower their demands.
- Cheaper crew members are randomly generated and appear as [Skill Name] Experts. These experts are usually good at a single skill, so hire them if you want better weapons, piloting, or other abilities.
To add more Crew to your ship, you can add additional (or larger) Berths and Cockpits. You can have multiple berths, but only one cockpit. Choose wisely! While on the ground, make sure to assign your crew to the right ship — you can have multiple ships with different crewmates. Assigning is done instantly from the ship menu while you’re on the ground.
Those are the upgrades (and skills, and crew) we think you need to find first to make flying in Starfield so much more tolerable.