Starfield is here, and it’s already shaping up to be one of the best games of 2023. The massive space roleplaying game from Bethesda Game Studios launched widely last night and is now available on Xbox Game Pass.
There’s a lot to Starfield, with more than 1,000 planets to explore and hundreds of missions available. I’ve played more than 40 hours of Starfield, and these are some of the useful tips I wish I had known when I started.
Don’t grab everything: It’s tempting to pick up whatever you find during your adventure in hopes of selling it or using it for later. Just don’t.
For the first few hours, I was constantly picking up items that clogged up my inventory and made me over-encumbered, preventing me from fast-traveling. The stuff I picked up also wouldn’t sell for much anyway. Considering the big purchases in Starfield are spaceships that cost 100,000 to 300,000 credits, that paperweight worth 10 credits isn’t going to help.
Use your companion or ship as a pack mule: If you just have to grab everything not bolted down, have your companion carry some of the junk for you. Talk to them and ask to trade gear. Then load them up with whatever you don’t need on your person. This is a quick way to not be over-encumbered so you can fast-travel. When you get to the ship, check for a display unit that shows the inventory of the ship. This is where you want to unload any resources, since they’ll be available to use wherever you do some crafting.
Make sure to sell: Different cities and colonies have merchants, but to save yourself a walk, look for a yellow kiosk at the respective spaceports. This is a Trade Authority kiosk where you can sell whatever you have. Equipment such as space suits and weapons sell for a good price, but you’ll make most of your credits completing missions.
Learn the shortcuts: There are a lot of menus in Starfield, but the big one is the star map. This is where you plan out your next destination. Instead of going through the multiple menus just to pick out what planet you’re going to for a mission, go to the list of missions and click on the one that’s active. There will be an option to set a course directly to the planet you need to go to instead of going through multiple menus and wasting so much time.
Try to be more persuasive: One of the first skills you can learn is Persuasion. This opens up the “Persuade” dialog option, which leads to a minigame. You’ll have to try to persuade the person you’re talking with to do something they don’t want, like handing over a precious item needed for a mission. This ability saves so much time, money and effort when done right. It becomes easier once it’s leveled up or by using items to improve the chances of succeeding.
Become The Mantis: In one of the early missions, you’ll come across a note dropped by space pirates about a secret treasure. Following the clues will lead you to Denobola I-B and the base for The Mantis. Think Batman but in space. This is a tough mission with high-level enemies, powerful robots and various traps. But the reward is worth it. For completing the mission, you’ll get a set of Mantis armor, some of the most powerful equipment you can find in the game, and the Mantis ship, which can annihilate multiple other ships in a space battle. It also has the bonus of scaring away space pirates who might try to get the jump on you while traveling through the universe.
Kill aliens for crafting material: Crafting in Starfield is vital if you want to make your own outpost, upgrade your space suit, helmet and pack, and develop useful healing items. The materials required for crafting tend to be metals or gases that can be found on different planets. Some merchants may have a few resources available, but if you need more organic resources such as fiber, sealant and nutrients, you’ll need to kill some of the alien life you find. Most of these creatures are easy to take down, but there are some monsters out there to be aware of.
Get a boost: One of the best skills to get early on is Boost Pack Training. Once unlocked and equipped, your pack has thrusters that will give you a little boost by pressing the jump button while jumping. Boosting not only mitigates any fall damage you might get, but it also lets you get to higher platforms in order to find more items, get an advantage on enemies or just traverse areas faster. Another bonus is how effective it is when trying to escape from enemies.
Take cover: It might not be obvious at first, but Starfield does have a cover system. When you’re behind a corner of a wall or crouched behind an object, aiming your gun will let you peek out to shoot. It’s not obvious at first, but how your character holds their gun will change when you’re behind cover. This helps in big firefights, since the enemies use cover all the time.
Pick your favorites: Starfield’s inventory UI leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that intuitive. One way to get around that, at least for weapons, is to favorite your most-used weapons. This will keep those weapons in the quick slots that let you switch between different equipment. Items can also be added to the quick slots, so healing items like Med Packs can be placed there for easy access.
Remember to auto-hack and auto-persuade: After the Lockpicking and Persuasion skills have been unlocked, every successful use of the skills will count towards an auto-hack and auto-persuade option. When available, selecting this option will automatically fill a slot when lockpicking or make a successful dialogue choice when using Persuasion on an NPC, at no extra cost to the player nor any negative ramifications.
Get some sleep: It’s very easy to play the entire game without taking a nap, but you’re missing out on some benefits. You get a well-rested bonus of 10% of the experience points you earn in the following 24 hours. That’s as well as getting full health and removing any status effects.
Break out the scanner: The hand scanner is a tool used primarily when exploring planets to record the different lifeforms, plants and resources, but it has another useful purpose. If you have an activated quest and use the scanner, it will show arrows on the ground to where you need to go next for your quest. This was helpful to me in larger facilities where the stairs weren’t easy to find.
Power up your companions: Every companion in the game comes with their own weapons, but they’re not that great. To give them a new weapon, start a conversation to trade some gear. Give them whatever gun you like, but you have to make sure you select “Equip” once the new weapon is in their inventory. When you exit out you’ll see the companion break out the new gun.
Buy your resources: Metals needed for upgrades and crafting are incredibly cheap. Almost every merchant you come across will have resources for sale, so if you have a need for a certain metal, just buy it and save yourself some mining.
Starfield is available now on PC and Xbox Series X and S consoles, starting at $70 (£70, AU$99). It’s also included in Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service.