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The best skills to get first in Starfield

Invest in these abilities to get an early edge

Two Constellation explorers navigate a lunar satellite in Starfield. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

They say every grain of sand on every beach on Earth represents a star in the observable universe. That saying could also apply to the dizzying amount of skills you can unlock in Starfield.

You’ll start Starfield with three predetermined skills, based on the background you choose, but the game features more than 80 skills across five trees (Physical, Social, Combat, Science, and Tech). Each skill can further be upgraded through four ranks, with each rank increasing its potency. Whether you’re unlocking a new skill or upgrading an existing one costs one skill point. Skill trees is divided into four tiers, but you need to put a certain number of points in the tree to unlock skills beyond the base tier.

In other words, you’ll want to allocate your skill points carefully. What follows is our recommendation for the best skills you should get first in Starfield — all of which are at the base tier, so you can unlock them from the get-go.


Best skills to get first in Starfield

The Boost Pack Training skill in Starfield Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

When you start Starfield, you shouldn’t worry about allocating set number of points into a certain skill tree to reach the higher tiers of that skill tree. You’ll earn enough XP and skill points — particularly in the earlier levels — that you can determine a long-term strategy soon enough. But at first, you should focus on the skills that’ll make your life easier in the short term:

  • Boost Pack Training (Tech)
  • Medicine (Science)
  • Persuasion (Social)
  • Security (Tech)
  • Weight-Lifting (Physical)
  • Scavenging (Social)
  • Fitness (Physical)
  • Ballistics (Combat)

Depending on the background you choose, you might start the game with some of these skills already unlocked. Industrialist comes with Persuasion and Security, while Soldier has Fitness, Ballistics, and Boost Pack Training. Our list of the best backgrounds highlights which skills come with which backgrounds.


Boost Pack Training (Tech)

The boost pack in action in Starfield Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

You can’t use a boost pack — that’s Starfield-speak for “jetpack” — without acquiring the Boost Pack Training skill. At first, it’s little more than a glorified double-jump, but if you’re on a boring old 1g planet, and you time it right before hitting the ground after a long fall, you’ll offset fall damage. Further investments in the skill turn your boostpack into, well, not quite a full-on jetpack, but at least something closer to what we were promised.


Medicine (Science)

Starfield trauma pack item Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

It’s a hostile universe out there full of pirates and Spacers and automated security turrets and hungry alien monsters (not to mention the hazards of high gravity). You’re going to take damage. Eating something will get you a few point of health here and there, but real healing comes from med packs, trauma packs, and emergency kits.

These heal you for a percentage of your health across a period of time — like 8% health per second for four seconds. The Medicine skill makes these healing items 10% more effective and take 10% less time — meaning you get healed even faster.


Persuasion (Social)

The player persuades their way into Slayton in Starfield Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

You don’t need any skills to attempt to persuade people, but you’ll find it a lot easier with the Persuasion skill. Every rank increases your chance of success by 10%, allowing you to smooth-talk your way through (or out of) encounters before they turn violent.


Security (Tech)

Starfield using a digipick to hack a lock Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

As you’d expect from Fallouter Space, Starfield is full of locks — locked doors, locked crates, locked computers, locked safes. Nine times out of ten, these locks gate helpful items or important info. Anyone can hack into Novice-level locks. But if you put skill points into Security, you can attempt Advanced locks, and also make the accompanying minigame way easier. (Higher levels allow you to attempt Expert and the elusive Master locks.)


Weight-Lifting (Physical)

An explorer loots a pirate’s corpse in Starfield. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

You begin Starfield able to lug around 135kg of loot. Between the weapons, spacesuits, resources, sandwiches, healing items, and other junk you pick up, your inventory fills up fast. Getting Weight-Lifting increases your carrying capacity by 10kg, with subsequent levels beefing that up to 25kg, 50kg, and 100kg


Scavenging (Social)

An explorer looks at a container in Starfield and sees a lot of credits because they have the Scavenging skill, one of the best skills to get first. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Starfield, like the rest of Bethesda’s oeuvre, compels you to open literally every container in every corner of every room. The Scavenging skill increases your likelihood of finding credits in those containers — helpful early on, since you’ll want as much money as you can get. Later skills make it more likely that you’ll find ammo or med packs. And the challenges to reach those higher ranks comes second-nature: You simply have to... open a bunch of containers.-


Fitness (Physical)

An explorer stares at a gas giant while standing on a lunar satellite in Starfield, the 2023 game of the year. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

In a game that’s about space exploration, you sure do spend a lot of time just hoofing it between waypoints on a planet’s surface. And when you add in the fast travel mechanic’s quirks, having the ability to sprint for extended periods of time will save you a lot of headache. The Fitness skill increases the amount of oxygen you have available — basically, it increases your stamina.


Ballistics (Combat)

An interstellar traveler holds a gun in Starfield. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

You could nab Pistol Certification or Shotgun Certification, which increase your damage output for pistols and shotguns by 10% respectively. Or you could simply unlock Ballistics, which increases your damage for all ballistic weapons (y’know, like pistols and shotguns, and also rifles) by 10%.

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