28 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Playing Starfield

An image shows a Starfield astronaut giving a thumbs up
An image shows a Starfield astronaut giving a thumbs up

Starfield is finally here and it is big, complex, and often overwhelming. There’s a lot of stuff in this game and it’s easy to get lost trying to do it all and see everything the game has to offer. So to help you avoid getting lost in space, we’ve collected over two dozen tips and tricks to help you get started in Bethesda’s massive space RPG.

Starfield, out now on Game Pass, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, might not be Bethesda’s best RPG, but it’s definitely its biggest and most sprawling one yet. One minute you’re haggling with a barkeep 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 minutiae to get lost in, from confusing menus to maps that don’t tell you where anything is. Use this quick guide to help kickstart your journey into the outer reaches of the galaxy.

Read more

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 full-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.

An image shows an astronaut exploring an alien world.
An image shows an astronaut exploring an alien world.

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.

Look for beds when clearing out space dungeons

Battles in Starfield can be tough, especially early on. And if you don’t have many medpacks to heal your wounds, you might end up in a bad situation. However, many outposts and enemy camps contain beds that you can sleep in to heal back up to full HP.

You can’t sleep in active combat so you’ll need to hide from the AI a bit if enemies are around, but that’s usually pretty easy. You can also sleep after big fights, before moving deeper into the location, so as not to waste medpacks.

Be careful with contraband

In Starfield contraband items—marked with a yellow icon—are very valuable but also tricky to sell, as any time you warp into UC or Freestar space you’ll be scanned for these items. And if you have some on your ship, you’ll be in a lot of trouble.

However, you can install (or find a ship that includes) a shielded cargo hold that will let you smuggle these items around with less threat of being caught and sent to space jail.

Get drunk (or take certain chems) before trying to persuade

There are moments in Starfield where you’ll need to persuade an NPC, perhaps to get what you want or to make them change their mind. While I recommend leveling up your Persuasion skill, you can also make these moments easier by consuming chems or booze that boost your Persuasion ability for a short time.

Also, always carry some Amp on you

Speaking of chems, always carry some Amp on you. This chem lets you move faster for a short amount of time and is very useful for exploring planets, as Bethesda didn’t include any ground vehicles in Starfield.

An image shows a large spaceship resting on a landing platform near some people.
An image shows a large spaceship resting on a landing platform near some people.

Go grab a better ship early on via a simple questline

Your first ship in Starfield isn’t great! But that’s okay because there’s an excellent spaceship just waiting to be grabbed via a short and fun questline involving a legendary slayer of pirates.

Check your inventory for heavy items like ship parts

Being overencumbered sucks! And it can happen easily in the early hours of the game. To avoid this, make sure you check your entire inventory for heavy items. You can do this by selecting all items in your inventory screen and then sorting everything by weight.

Keep an eye out for ship parts, which are useful on your ship, but worthless and very heavy paperweights in your character’s inventory.

Don’t ignore the main quest (seriously)

No story spoilers here, but trust us: Play the main questline. You don’t necessarily need to finish it right away—even if there is some cool stuff waiting for you in new game+—but definitely make progress in it. Not only are the story quests pretty good all around, but you’ll unlock some…extra things worth having.

Use your jetpack on low-grav planets to move quickly

Once you unlock the jetpack (or the boostpack as it’s called in-game) use it! This can help speed up traversal on planets with low gravity as you can fly long distances by timing your jets properly, letting your stamina recharge in the process.

Level up lockpicking early

If you’ve played a lot of Bethesda games, you know that being able to lockpick and hack anything can be extremely useful. And that’s the case here in Starfield. Even better, the digital lockpicking skill covers both doors and computers. Level it up ASAP so you can unlock better loot and find easier routes during some quests.

Also, always buy lockpicks and medpacks at stores

Another tip I’ve picked up from past Bethesda games: Always be buying lockpicks and health kits. Seriously, make it a habit to check for these items every time you arrive at a shop or meet up with a merchant.

Slap some extra cargo on your spaceship

Being able to drop off all your resources and heavy, valuable loot at your ship is handy! However, you’ll quickly run out of room in your cargo hold if you don’t upgrade it. While there is a perk you can upgrade to improve your ship’s cargo capacity, I recommend installing more storage units on your ship.

You can do this at any port with a ship tech NPC, and it’s not very expensive. Just open up the ship builder, grab some cargo storage containers, and attach them to your starship. Now you can carry even more random junk you find during your galactic adventures.

Update 9/7/2023 4:05 p.m. ET: After playing more Starfield, we’ve added 11 more tips to this list!

More from Kotaku

Sign up for Kotaku's Newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.