Starfield throws you into an entire galaxy of adventure and doesn’t really explain what skills you’ll really need to survive. Once you’re free to explore the vastness of space, you’ll quickly run into a giant wall of difficulty — the game can be surprisingly tough, with bullet-sponge enemies and pirates that can absolutely devastate your starting ship in seconds.
If you want to last for long in Starfield, there are certain skills that are absolutely integral to unlock first. Every time you level up, you’ll earn a new skill point that you can spend on certain builds. Leveling up takes time, but you’ll be free to build your character to master different fields — you can become a Social expert, a Research afficionado, a Pilot Ace or a killer Gunfighter. If you want to survive, you’ll need to mix and match your skills, and the skills we have listed below are practically required. Don’t miss out on powerful upgrades and abilities you’ll really, really need early.
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Important Early Game Skills
Starfield starts as a much more complicated (and difficult) game than previous Bethesda open-world RPGs. To survive while exploring the Settled Systems, you’ll need to put points in the following skills almost immediately. Some of these skills, no matter what build you plan, are absolutely essential for the day-to-day interactions you’ll experience. Some of these skills must be upgraded to progress, and if you unlock them earlier, you’ll make ranking them up much easier.
NOTE: After unlocking a skill, a challenge target will unlock. By completing the challenge, you’ll unlock the ability to purchase the Rank 2 / 3 / 4 versions of the skill. Each rank is increasingly difficult — and some may require a lot of grinding. Start early and you can skip the grind.
Ballistics: Unlike Fallout 4 or Skyrim, you’ll need to put points into two skills to deal real damage against enemies. It isn’t enough to drop skill points into Pistol, Rifle or Shotgun Certifications. You’ll need to add points to the general Ballistics category. This increases your strength with all non-laser weapons, making them deal more damage. Combine with Pistol / Rifle / Shotgun Certifications, and you’ll finally start dealing damage. If you’re wondering why your weapons are so weak, it’s probably because you didn’t put points into Ballistics — or Lasers if you prefer energy weapons.
Boost Pack Training: Before you can use your boost to double jump, you’ll need to unlock Boost Pack Training. One point in this skill is required for exploration and can make many missions much easier. Without the Boost Pack, you’ll sometimes be forced to take fall damage. Put at least one point in Boost Pack very early.
Weight Lifting: This essential skill increases your carrying capacity. In Starfield, you start the game with a surprising lack of inventory space. Your first spaceship can hardly hold the resources you’ll find while completing main story missions — if you want to explore on your own and collect resources, you’ll need to upgrade fast. I recommend getting at least a few Weight Lifting upgrades to make carrying all that junk less of a hassle.
Persuasion: One of the most useful skills in Starfield, Persuasion is actually essential for many different aspects of the game. In the story, characters will constantly ask for money or force you to persuade — sometimes you won’t be able to progress missions successfully without a persuasion check. You can’t even attempt to resolve problems through dialogue or lower prices without the Persuasion skill. Put one point in very early to unlock this critical function.
Piloting: Another skill that everyone must get ASAP. Piloting determines how maneuverable your ship is and allows you to (eventually) pilot Class B or Class C ships. Most spaceflight skills can be ‘borrowed’ from useful crew members assigned to your ship — your crew ‘shares’ their skills, essentially any skill they have is yours. But when it comes to upgrading your ship, you will HAVE to unlock Rank 2 / 3 Piloting skill. There’s no way around it. Rank up early so you’re prepared to get the enhanced skills later.
Targeting Control Systems: Another absolutely essential skill. Targeting Control Systems is required if you want to pirate ships. This skill allows you to target specific systems on an enemy ship — systems like the Shields, Weapons, or Engines. By targeting the Engines, you’ll be able to disable a ship and board it. Then you can take it for yourself. Without this skill, you won’t even get the option to target.
Stealth: Our first optional skill that’s still incredibly powerful. The x2 stealth attack bonus makes stealth impressively powerful — like Fallout 4, using Stealth and silenced weapons can make your character incredibly powerful. Stealth can be one of the deadliest builds even with ranged weapons. Don’t sleep on Stealth. This is one you can save and unlock later in your run but unlocking Rank 2 / 3 / 4 is surprisingly difficult. Do it early for plenty of stealth attack opportunities.
Security: You don’t need to put points into Security to unlock Novice locks with a Digipick. Any player can crack novice locks — but you’ll usually find Advanced, Expert or Master locks in higher level areas. Being able to lockpick or hack computers gives you a big edge in story missions, allowing you to solve problems in new or creative ways. Don’t miss out. Put a few points into security.
Those are the early skills we think you absolutely need to get. Even if you only put one point, they’re basically essential for your long-term survival.