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The best side quests to do first in Starfield

From New Atlantis to Porrima, here are the side missions to do first

The ECS Constant hovers in orbit over Porrima II in Starfield. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Starfield’s Settled Systems is full of things to do. There are factions to align with, bounties to hunt, outposts to build, and, oh yeah, that whole mysterious artifact thing to sort out. You’ll also run across a ton of missions, faction missions, miscellaneous missions, and various other activities. The sheer amount of side quests in Starfield could fill multiple galaxies, let alone just one.

With so much to do, it’s hard to decide where to go first. Sure, all side quests will reward you some XP, but the very best missions will get other sweet rewards like weapons, spacesuits, or in rare cases even ships. And because Starfield isn’t all about violence, there are some missions that offer no prizes other than a fascinating narrative or closer look into the game’s lore — still worth your time, even if you don’t get a shiny new gun. We’ve compiled a list of the best side quests to tackle first in Starfield.

‘Defensive Measures,’ ‘False Positives,’ and ‘Leader of the Pack’

Starfield Ashta Tamer rare heavy weapon Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Where to find it: In Akila City on Akila in the Cheyenne system
How to start it: Talk to Davis Wilson and Keoni Alpin in Akila City

This trio of Misc missions become available when you head to Akila City for the Empty Nestmain mission. It sparks a quest chain containing the similarly worthwhile “False Positives” and “Leader of the Pack” missions. All three take place not too far from the city walls (though you do have to run back and forth across the city a bunch) and none of the enemies are terribly difficult (they’re all the native Ashta creatures from Akila).

Better yet, your reward at the end of all the running around is the Ashta Tamer Rare heavy weapon that fires incendiary rounds.

‘A Tree Grows in New Atlantis’

An explorer talks to Kelton Frush in New Atlantis during a side quest in Starfield. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Where to find it: In New Atlantis, by the giant tree near The Lodge
How to start it: Talk to Kelton Frush

Not every mission in Starfield is violent, and “A Tree Grows in New Atlantis” is proof. Perhaps one of the earliest examples of a nonviolent quest, you’re tasked with... helping a tree chill out. It “A Tree Grows in New Atlantis,” and its subsequent quests, “Late Bloomer” and “Out on a Limb,” throw you right into the middle of the fascinatingly petty interstellar politics of Starfield’s scientific community. Put your points into the Persuade skill before starting!

‘First Contact’

Starfield ship approaching an unidentified ship in orbit over Paradiso Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Where to find it: In the orbit of Porrima II in the Porrima system
How to start it: By hailing the ECS Constant.

Maybe you read Polygon’s Starfield review and wondered which side quest our colleague Nicole Carpenter was talking about when describing “a storyline that’s interesting enough to hang an entire game on”:

I soon found a massive ship hovering within a planet’s orbit, but there was no way to communicate with it from the surface; turns out, it was a vessel that left Earth 200 years ago. The people on the ship, generations that had lived and died within the confines of its hull, believed themselves to be alone in the world, the only survivors of Earth’s demise.

Wonder no longer: It’s “First Contact.” Nicole is 10,000% correct, by the way. This side quest features one of the most riveting plotlines in Starfield. (Don’t get intimidated by Porrima’s high level and put it off. This mission is mostly just talking!)

The Lair of the Mantis

A Starfield player in the Mantis spacesuit stands in front of the Razorleaf ship Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Where to find it: During the “Back to Vectera” mission
How to start it: By acquiring the “Secret Base!” base note slate off a space pirate’s corpse

You’ll probably find a note about the Mantis’ secret hideout during the “Back to Vectera” mission. The system it points you to is pretty high-level, but don’t hold off on tackling the “Mantis” secret outpost mission for too long. The reward at the end is a powerful suit and a great spaceship.

‘Run the Red Mile’

Starfield inside the Red Mile settlement Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Where to find it: By heading to the Red Mile on Porrima III in the Porrima system
How to start it: By speaking to Mei in the Red Mile

While you’re in the Porrima system visiting the resort town of Paradiso or checking out the “First Contact” mission, head over to Porrima III. There, you’ll find the Red Mile settlement. It’s more of an off-the-books kind of place than you’ll usually visit in Starfield — and you can buy ship parts there if you want to smuggle goods.

Talk to the owner, Mei, to start a run through the hazardous Red Mile while patrons make bets on your survival. You’ll have to fight off some tough alien monsters, but there’s a cash reward and a chance to pick up some good loot off of your fallen co-competitors.