Starfield is finally here. The game launches on Xbox Series X|S and PC (with Game Pass) today – and we at Xbox Wire have been lucky enough to play it early. This is an enormous game, full of overlapping systems, mysteries, and mechanics. We’re sure you want to know more and, in the spirit of getting you ready to play it yourself, we’ve put together a series of articles focused on getting you out into the galaxy prepared for what’s to come. Allow us to present Starfield Starters, a four-part, spoiler-free guide to some of the game’s most important, complex, and lesser-known features – and how to succeed with them.
For more Starfield Starters, make sure to check out our guides on character customization, planet hopping, and space combat:
Welcome to space. Like… a lot of space. As you’ve started to step out into the final frontier you may just be starting to get a handle on all the things Starfield has started to throw your way – and some of it you may have just flat-out missed because you were too busy taking in the scenery of Neon to realize that you just picked up a half-dozen side quests, or that your inventory is full of spacesuits and coffee cups, and oh yeah, you have this huge starship to take care of.
Yes, there’s a lot to unpack in the early hours of Starfield and much of it will come in time. To help close that gap a bit, we’ve assembled some of what think are the more important things to know as you begin your adventure in Starfield. Is this all-encompassing? Hardly. But we feel these “things to know” will steer you in the right direction should the vastness of all that space feel a little overwhelming.
1: Invest in Yourself
Character progression is a bit different than previous Bethesda RPGs like Skyrim and Fallout 4. You still get XP for actions, like a successful persuasion, but you need to focus on Skill Challenges to really unlock those benefits for your characters. For example, if you want to play as a Stealth-based character, you need to invest in Stealth to “unlock” the Stealth meter for your character. If you want to then upgrade Stealth further, you’ll need to complete specific challenges to unlock the subsequent ranks. This applies to many skills. You’ll also see in the UI which ones are ready for a progression upgrade, as they’ll be flashing for you from the in-game menu.
While there are a bunch of areas you’ll want to dive into, some of the first we think you should unlock (if not already done so from your initial character build) would be Stealth (gives you a Stealth meter), Wellness (increases max health), Commerce (better prices at shops), Boost Pack Training (allows you to use Boost), and Persuasion (helps with conversation bonuses). You could also invest in Medicine (more effective healing) and Surveying (unlocks a zoom feature on the hand scanner).
2: You Can’t Take the Sky from Me
Perhaps you’d like to postpone your search for mysterious artifacts and the possible meaning of all life in the universe. Then you’re in luck, because Starfield pretty much lets you run wild after you get your starship in orbit. Following the “critical path” of the story will net you some companions and crew members, and progress the overall story of the game, but it’s not strictly necessary should you wish to explore this wide-open universe yourself.
Some of the many features that unlock for you early on, and will get you out into the universe, would be looking over the Mission boards dotted around port cities (which can allow you to hunt bounties, transport goods, or ferry passengers), or taking on one of the many Faction quests, each with their own standalone storylines. That said, our recommendation would still be to get a few of the core story missions under your belt first so you can get your bearings, and then really decide where to go from there. It’s a big game.
3: My Cargo Runneth Over
We like looting. Grabbing items from containers, cargo holds, lockers, and yes, even bodies. You can pick up pretty much everything in Starfield, and before you know it you have 37 pens, 17 coffee cups, and seven space helmets. Opening the Ship menu, and then hitting the button to see the cargo hold will let you shift items from your inventory to your ship’s (much larger) cargo hold — and you only need to be near the ship to transfer your accumulated wealth; you don’t have to be on board. Now you’ll have even more junk to sell at your next location! One recommendation – regularly empty the Resources section of your inventory into your ship’s cargo hold, as many of these items are a) heavy, and b) come in large numbers.
If you do find yourself maxing out your capacity far faster than you’d like, one trick we found – other than unloading surplus inventory on your companions — is that you can throw excess items from your inventory on the ground of your ship as a temporary solution. It will remain there and doesn’t incur a penalty for being in your ship’s cargo hold. But be warned, if you play around in Ship Builder and start to modify any components of your ship, those items will automatically go into your cargo hold, maxing out your ship’s capacity to take on anything more.
You can also play around in Ship Builder and tack on a few cargo containers to help build up your ship’s inventory. Just make sure to compensate with some additional thrusters so as to not impact your maneuverability too significantly.
4: You’re All My Favorites
To cut down on how often you’re cycling back and forth between your inventory and the game world, we recommend you get acquainted early on with the Favorites bar, which can be accessed far more easily. You have three items you can store in each major direction of the D-Pad (or if you’re playing on PC, these can be assigned across the number rows on your keyboard; pull up the radial dial with the Q key).
The Favorites bar can vary on what you’d like to put in there, and everyone will approach this in their own way. For us, a good overall set up will have you assigning one bar of key weapons, one bar of throwables, and one bar of aid. This leaves you with three more slots you can use to hot-swap equipment, which can be very useful when you’re in the middle of a firefight with some Spacers, like equipping a helmet that provides a -15% reduction in ballistic damage, for example.
5: Fun with Factions
As we mentioned earlier, you get a lot of freedom in the game very early on. To help focus that effort a bit, it wouldn’t hurt to take on some Faction Quests to not only start making some money but to help orient yourself a bit more in the universe. These Faction Quests can also lead you into discovering a variety of side quests as well (and some of these can be very involved!).
The way you find these missions varies a little. In many cases, you’ll be alerted to the beginning of a quest by overhearing conversations in the game’s major cities; New Atlantis, Akila City, and Neon — these will automatically land in your Activities tab in your Mission menu. Once you’ve started the quests proper, they’re assigned to a specific Faction section in your Mission menu. You can join the UC Vanguard, keep the peace with the Freestar Rangers, commit corporate espionage for Ryujin, and much more. We highly recommend checking them all out.
6: Resource Hunting
While you can go out into the wild and scan just about everything looking for that one precious resource, a much easier way for you to look for what ingredient you’re missing is by buying up the resources from the kiosks at starship ports and many other vendors you come across. Even tiny citizen settlements will have merchants with a wide array of goods.
Alternatively, upping your Surveying skill will let you detect the locations of harder-to-find resources from orbit, letting you know exactly where to land and scoop up what you need. And if you’re looking for a particular ingredient for a crafting recipe, make sure you utilize “Track” from the Resource menu — this little option will add an icon to any item you’ve designated while exploring.
7: Dress for Success
Clothing in Starfield isn’t just designed to make you look cool. Many of these outfits also carry with them stat bonuses to help improve your character. It’s very useful for swapping in and out as needed (see Favorites bar), whether you want an improvement to Persuasion, Stealth, or Oxygen consumption.
For example, early on you may come across some scientists wearing research uniforms, which… let’s just say they won’t be needing them anymore. Wearing them while conducting research holds a great perk: increasing the chance your player will have a Sudden Development. When contributing items towards research, like a new medicine, weapon mod, or starship part, Sudden Development allows for advances in research even if you don’t yet have all the necessary materials.
Just be sure to switch into that outfit before engaging in research and honor the memory of NPCs who paid the ultimate price for your convenience. So, make sure to check out all the apparel you find — you never know how it might help you.
8: Leave Your Friends Behind (if You’re Up to No Good)
There are many different quests and quest types that you’ll get a chance to explore. One of the more precarious are Stealth-based missions in which you’re tasked with breaking and entering areas where, if you’re caught, guards will shoot to kill.
To help ensure you’re not setting off alarms or drawing any unneeded attention, make sure you ask your followers to “wait” or simply dismiss them. If you ask your follower to wait, remember to come back for them before you head off on your next adventure – you’ll get a handy quest marker to track them down if you stray too far.
9: Get a History Lesson
Getting dropped into 24th century spacefaring may be a bit of a shift for us earthbound folk. Who are these Factions? What happened to Earth? Terrormorphs, you say? Here’s a great way to catch up on Starfield’s lore the old-fashioned way: in a museum!
If you take up an early offer to join the UC Vanguard on New Atlantis, you’ll gain access to an interactive orientation which shares a lot about what’s been going on these past few centuries, as well as the UC’s view on other factions such as the Freestar Collective and House Varu’un, including major conflicts, and (one perspective on) why things are the way they are in this brave new world.
10: Don’t Leave Home Without Them
If you’ve completed a few of the story missions thus far in Starfield, you should have four to five Companions tagging along now on your adventure. They each have something useful to bring to the table on your adventure and it’s vital for you in the early going that you ensure you have one accompany you on a majority of your journey.
Not only are they all wicked shots when you find yourself in a firefight with some Spacers, but bringing them along on these adventures will unlock their own unique story arcs for you to play out. This is vital if you’re hoping to build any meaningful relationships with them.
They also have a knack for finding useful things for you to use on your journey. Kinda like when Dogmeat would fetch ammo for you in Fallout 4, but now it can range from gigantic space minerals to an alien sandwich (it’s quite tasty). Just walk up to any of your Companions and ask, “Do you have anything for me?” and they will bestow their offerings upon you.
Bonus: Additional Tips from the Stars
On top of all the other fun things we’ve shared with you here today, we also have some quick tips to help you along the way.
- Sort your weapons by ammo types so you can see where you’ve doubled-up on weapon and ammo capacity. We recommend keeping one weapon per ammo type to maximize both your carrying capacity and ammo.
- While in space, you can quickly jump to your next mission objective by bringing up your Scanner and locating the blue nav beacon, selecting it, and then jumping away. Saves you a few clicks going in and out of the galaxy menu.
- Disoriented on a planet or in a building and not sure where to go next? Bring up the Scanner to have a zipper arrow trail appear on the ground leading to your destination.
- Pay attention to system levels. To have the best playing experience, make sure these align closely with your current player level.
- Building your base and not understanding why you don’t have any power to anything? You need wires connected to your structures. Highlight your power generator, hold A, and then select “Wire” and tether it to what you want to power.
- Make sure you create Output Links from your harvesters to your Transfer Container to store your resources. It’s not an actual component you have to craft; it’s a feature found in the Build menu tied to RT on your controller when highlighting your Transfer Container or Harvester.
- Use the game’s Photo Mode! Not only is it fun to find that perfect shot, but your gallery will begin to be cycled onto the game’s loading screens, which is always a nice surprise.
Play Starfield Exclusively via Samsung TVs – No Console Required!
For those with an active Xbox Game Pass membership, you can start playing Starfield on September 6 through the Samsung Gaming Hub on supported 2023 and 2022 Samsung TVs, monitors, and the Freestyle 2nd Gen portable projector. You can also play Starfield through the Xbox app on eligible 2021 TVs worldwide and – starting today – 2020 Samsung TVs in the US – no console required! Samsung exclusively offers players a new way to discover and stream Starfield instantly on devices they already own.
Plus, Game Pass members can save up to 10% on the Starfield Premium Edition Upgrade and to receive the Shattered Space Story Expansion upon release, the Constellation Skin Pack, and access to the Starfield Digital Artbook and Original Soundtrack.
Hang Out with Friends While Playing Starfield
The new Play Together widget on Windows 11 Game Bar powered by Microsoft Teams (free) lets you see your friends’ videos overlaid directly on top of your game. Friends can join from any device for free to connect, chat, and more while playing Starfield along with many of your favorite games on this new widget. Download the Play Together widget here for free or click here to learn more.
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