Starfield Best Skills Guide: Piloting, Security, Persuasion, More

When it comes to creating your character and molding them into your person, there is a considerable part of the game you’ll have to sift through: skills. The skills you have in this game are way too many, which can make it overwhelming for any player trying to create an exemplary character for them. Fortunately, I am here to break down the ones you need to unlock in this Starfield best skills guide.

There are nearly 100 skills for you to unlock in Starfield, and each one varies considerably from the others. Some of them do simple tasks like boosting stats, like giving you more health. Others unlock entire features you would not have available otherwise, such as the ability to pickpocket enemies or pick the locks of doors or computers. Find the ones you should focus on in this Starfield best skills guide.

starfield skills to unlock

Bottom Line Up Front

Starfield features more than 80 skills for you to go through and rank up throughout your adventure across the entire galaxy. That is far more than the perks and abilities you would find in other past Bethesda games like Skyrim and Fallout 4. These skills are spread out across five main categories.

Each of these categories generally has to do with a specific portion of the gameplay, such as the combat in the game or social aspects. Regardless, if there is a single skill that is the best among them all that I would recommend to everyone, it would be the Persuasion skill.

There are some other skills, like the Security one, that are neck-and-neck with Persuasion, but there is something impressive about entire fights, quests, and endings you can get just because of this one skill. Without it, you are missing out on so much of what you can do in this game.

Selection Criteria

Before we dive into the several skills I have picked to recommend to you as the best ones available in Starfield, there were some tough selection criteria I had to use to narrow down this list to a small fraction of the overall number of skills available in the game. Here is what I used to come up with this list:

  • Skill Use: The actual point of the skill and what it does matters more than anything else. If I wasn’t a massive fan of what the skill does, such as some of the lesser skills, it certainly didn’t have a chance to make this list.
  • Flexibility: There is also the critical factor of when and how the skill can be used. Some skills can be used much more often and in a wider variety of scenarios than some of the others.
  • Necessity: Let’s be honest: it isn’t necessary for most players to get more materials from items they gather or scan. But being able to pickpocket someone is something that everyone could theoretically benefit from. The necessity and importance of a skill played a massive role in making this list.
  • Variety: Finally, I tried to include various skills here. Some are related to combat, others are for social aspects, even more for the trickster and stealthy players out there, and even some for the space fans. There is something for everyone here.

Tips for Picking Which Skills to Level Up

Before we dive into my list, here are some tips I have for picking the right skills to level up in Starfield:

  • Don’t be afraid to look ahead in the game. The game doesn’t shy away from letting you see all of the skills from the start, including the ones in the deepest tiers of a category. All you need to do is click on it to see what it does. This is great for planning ahead.
  • I think it is OK to plan ahead for a particular deeper skill and try to unlock it. But don’t waste skill points on skills you don’t like to unlock that one you want. Carefully pick your route there.
  • After all, your skill points and levels are severely limited in this game. It takes time to level up, so you don’t want to waste a single skill point.
  • Also, consider what type of player and character you want to be, as this can help determine what skills to focus on. For example, a thief would need skills like Stealth, Theft, and Security.
  • Try to rank up a skill you care about as soon as you can. For instance, as soon as you unlock the next rank in Security, go for it. This is because of the challenges each skill has associated with it. If you leave Security alone and don’t upgrade it, all the locks you pick won’t count towards it until you do.
  • In the same vein as the last tip, always prioritize a skill you have the challenge completed for (that you care about) over unlocking a brand new skill unless you genuinely need that new skill. This way, you are always passively progressing in the game even when you don’t have a skill point ready. Trust me, the skill challenges are highly annoying.
  • Finally, you can use this list to determine which background you should start with. Some backgrounds include three skills that show up on this list, which makes them much better than the rest.

Best Skills in Starfield Ranked

Without further ado, let’s dive right in and take a look at the 15 best skills you’ll find in Starfield. Some of these are later skills you have to unlock through various tiers, while others are starting ones. I tried to include a nice mix. I’ll be sure to note how to find this skill, what category it is in, what it unlocks for you, why you need it, and what types of players benefit from it the most. Let’s get started.

15. Commerce

commerce starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Social
  • Skill Type: Passive
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You learn how to be better with money, getting more credits for the items you sell and decreasing the price for items you purchase from traders.

We are starting off this list of the best skills in Starfield with a banger. This is one that I picked at the start of the game with the Diplomat background, which is included with it. You’re going to be starving for credits at the beginning of this game.

You’ll want to ensure you have enough credits to buy the ships, weapons, properties, gear, and other items you want in this game. Commerce helps with that in a two-fold way by getting you more money back for the goods you sell and less money required to buy the items you want.

I highly recommend this skill to any player who is annoyed by their weapon that is worth 10,000 credits, but the game’s vendors will only give you 700 credits for it. The different ranks of this skill give you better deals overall. However, I should note that this skill is best used in the earlier parts of the game. It is quite easy to be drowning in credits by the endgame, which is why it is the lowest on this list.

14. Weight Lifting

weight lifting starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Physical
  • Skill Type: Passive Stat Boost
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You have worked out, and your body is now trained to carry more weight.

This is a reasonably straightforward skill you can upgrade in Starfield. It allows you to carry more items and weight with each rank you upgrade for it. Yes, Starfield continues the Bethesda trend of having a limited inventory weight that you can carry around in the game.

Once you reach your max mass in this game, your character will drain their oxygen with all running, and it will be pretty hard to move from place to place. Worse still, you won’t be able to fast travel anywhere, outside of going from planet to planet while in the cockpit. It is also notoriously easy to fill up your inventory and tough to expand your space.

This is the primary way to do this, so it is worth upgrading as soon as you can. This is another case of a skill that is best in the earlier parts of the game, in which you’ll want to carry around a lot of stuff to sell for credits. This also mixes quite well with the previous skill of Commerce.

13. Leadership

leadership starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Social
  • Skill Type: Companion
  • Tier: 3
  • Description: You are a natural-born leader, and everyone follows your command.

The general idea of the Leadership skill is bettering your relationship with your companions. Characters like Sarah Morgan, Barrett, Andreja, and others are companions you can recruit throughout your adventures. They’ll have their own thoughts and feelings about your actions and choices during the game.

This skill speeds up the process of someone liking you the more time you spend together. If you want to romance someone, this is the fastest way to go about it. However, I find that this part of the Leadership skill isn’t that necessary, as simply traveling with a companion gets them to like you quite fast.

Instead, what I care most about is the second half of this skill’s ranks, which involves improving your companions. They will occasionally heal you while you are low on health, they’ll recover from a downed state more efficiently, and so on. These are valuable tools for combat and survival, and the challenge associated with this skill is relatively easy to complete.

12. Theft

theft starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Social
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 2
  • Description: With this skill, you can steal directly from the people you meet in the galaxy.

It is pretty odd to me that Starfield locks specific gameplay features that Bethesda games are known for via some skills. Such is the case with Theft, which is the skill you need to unlock if you want to pickpocket NPCs in the game. No, you can’t pickpocket without it for some reason.

Pickpocketing is a great way to get some easy credits through the money itself that someone is carrying or even by taking valuable items the person might have and then selling them to a shady trader. But there is a little bit more to pickpocketing’s usefulness than meets the eye.

There are certain quests where pickpocketing is quite helpful for taking someone’s key card or quest item from them without having to pay anything. The higher ranks of this skill make it easier to pickpocket without being noticed, though you can just save before attempting it to avoid any problems.

11. Stealth

stealth starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Physical
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You learn how to sneak around in the shadows and benefit from a stealthy approach.

Unlike pickpocketing and some of the other gameplay features you can unlock through the skills in Starfield, stealth is available from the beginning of the game. Yes, you can (for my fellow controller users) click B on the gamepad to crouch down and be in the sneak position like other Bethesda titles.

However, there is something odd you might notice: there is no stealth meter to tell you if you are hidden or not. To get this, you have to unlock this particular skill, which makes it unbelievably valuable for that reason. Good luck knowing if some random NPC or camera is watching you unlock that door and steal that valuable item without it.

The value of this skill doesn’t end there, though. You also get access to the sneak attack, which isn’t the most useful in this game but can be helpful on some rare occasions. At the very least, the later ranks also help your sneaking to be more successful.

10. Targeting Control Systems

targeting control system starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Tech
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You now unlock the ability to use the targeting control systems on your ships.

This is one of the oddest skills in Starfield for the simple fact it won’t make much sense without an explanation, which the game doesn’t really give you. You might be wondering why you need to unlock the ability to lock onto enemies when you already have that automatically. Well, that’s because these are two different features.

This target lock-on is more similar to the VATS system for my Fallout fans out there. While you are staring at an enemy ship, you can press the Y button on the controller to go into a zoomed-in VATS-like mode. Here, you can switch between the different parts and features of the enemy ship.

This lets you choose to fire at the grav drive, for instance. While it is difficult to use in combat, this feature is powerful for allowing you to target a ship’s engine, for instance, and disable the ship entirely. This is one way to board a ship and take it over if you want to be a proper space pirate.

9. Wellness

wellness starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Physical
  • Skill Type: Stat Boost
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: Your character now has better health after training for some time.

The idea here is quite simple: your character now has higher health points than before, and that’s pretty much it. There is a slight variation with this skill, but that alone is all you need for this to be one of the most important in the entire game. This is doubly so if you’re on those higher difficulty levels.

If you die in this game, you experience a game over. There is no waking up in a hospital somewhere; you want to win every fight, or else you’ll be losing some progress. Wellness is there to give you extra health points to ensure you are able to survive long enough to win that particular fight.

The later levels increase this even more, and the difference is quite notable, especially if you are able to reach the maximum level with it. Fortunately, this is quite easy as the challenge is one that most players should easily do. I appreciate this particular skill because every player, no matter the type or background, can benefit from it.

8. Ship Command

ship command starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Social
  • Skill Type: Companions
  • Tier: 4
  • Description: They say a ship is only as good as its crew, but that is contingent upon that crew having the right captain to lead them.

There are some highly limited parts to Starfield, namely the fact you aren’t able to bring more than a couple of crew members onto your ship at the start of the game. This is unfortunate since you’ll gather a plethora of characters in your party over time as you do more quests.

Thankfully, there is a way to increase the number of crew members you can carry around in addition to making your ship bigger. The late-game Ship Command skill allows you to increase the party members on your ship to various numbers. As you likely know, it begins with only two on your ship.

But with this skill, you can increase it to four active crew members on your ship at once. This goes up with each rank you upgrade this skill until you reach the maximum of eight possible active crew members. This is an excellent way to keep track of most of the companions in the game without having to find them in the galaxy when you want to chat with them.

7. Rejuvenation

starfield Rejuvenation skill
  • Skill Category: Physical
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 4
  • Description: Using ancient techniques, it is possible to unlock the body’s natural healing ability.

One of the most unfortunate parts about Starfield is the health recovery system. Med packs are so unbelievably helpful in this game since they are one of the only ways to recover health when you are out in the field. Sure, you can recover all your health by sleeping in a bed for an hour, but you won’t always have access to a cot.

Fortunately, Rejuvenation is a valuable skill that helps alleviate the need for med packs. With this skill, you will regain health automatically outside of combat, though it starts out quite slowly. With the upper ranks, though, it recovers much faster, and you can even learn how to recover health in the middle of combat, which is incredible.

6. Boost Pack Training

boost pack training starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Tech
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You are now trained to use boost packs wherever you are.

By far, one of my favorite skills in this game is the Boost Pack Training, which you should get as soon as you can. This is the classic jet pack-like feature you can see in some of the gameplay trailers for the game. If you want to make use of this, you’ll need this skill sooner rather than later.

Boost packs work a bit differently than you might be used to. They boost quickly, and you have to mash the button over and over to keep boosting. It isn’t usually a jet pack in the sense that you can hover with it for an extended period of time initially. Also, the fuel is quite limited for this feature at first.

Boost pack is a feature you want so you can take full advantage of the gear in this game from the start. It also has some solid ranks that involve using less fuel and recharging faster, which make it a worthwhile addition to your skills.

5. Planetary Habitation

planetary habitation starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Science
  • Skill Type: Exploration, Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 4
  • Description: You learn specialized training to aid in building outposts on worlds.

One of the massive features in Starfield that doesn’t get talked about enough is the outpost system. I will be the first to admit I played this game for more than 40 hours before I created my first outpost on a planet. This feature is so deep that you could consider it like its own game in a way, with all of the customization, research, and crafting involved.

But there is a problem with outposts you should know about. You won’t initially be able to build an outpost on every planet you visit, especially if they have extreme conditions like extreme temperatures or gravity. This includes some planets I know many players like myself will want to build a home base on.

That is where the Planetary Habitation late-game Science skill comes into play. Each of its ranks allows you to build an outpost on new types of planets until basically nothing is off-limits. This is the main reason I’ve waited to build an outpost until I max it out, which I recommend to other players.

4. Pain Tolerance

starfield skill Pain Tolerance
  • Skill Category: Physical
  • Skill Type: Stat Boost
  • Tier: 2
  • Description: You train to be strong enough to endure pain.

Survival is crucial in Starfield, as already mentioned, since you don’t want a game over. Pain Tolerance is one of the essential Physical skills since it makes you more resistant to pain in the game. With it, you start to resist small amounts, like 5% of all damage at first.

This may not seem like much, but pair this with Wellness and other similar skills, and you’ll be unstoppable. Not to mention, the final rank in this skill makes it so you have a decent chance to ignore all of the damage whenever your health gets low.

3. Piloting

piloting starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Tech
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You are now specialized in piloting ships and can unlock various features because of it.

You could argue that nearly half of Starfield (or more, depending on the player) is all about space exploration and combat. In this game, you will spend so much time in your ship, going from place to place and battling against other enemy ships among the stars. As such, you shouldn’t be surprised that the Piloting skill is one of the most crucial in Starfield.

Yes, you can pilot ships without this skill in the game. However, you’ll want it as soon as you can. This is because this skill features various gameplay elements regarding ships you won’t have access to otherwise. This includes the ability to maneuver better and use the ship more refinedly.

But that isn’t what I care about as much here. Instead, it is the final two ranks that matter so much. They unlock the B and C-class ships, respectively, for you to be able to pilot.

Too bad if you happen to clear out a mighty space pirate ship for you to take if you don’t have the C-class license to pilot it. Worse still, it takes forever to level up this skill with its challenge, so this should be a skill you get first, second, or third in this game.

2. Security

security starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Tech
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: Your technological knowledge means you now excel in picking locks.

It is a shame when gameplay features are locked behind skills, but that is commonly the case in this game. One of the most annoying is Security, which makes it the second-most important skill you could get in Starfield. Yes, you are unable to pick locks without this skill.

If you want to sneak into a locked room and steal their belongings or make that story quest so much easier by breaking into that computer, this is the way to do it. You’re going to need the Security skill pretty much from the moment you boot up the game, so it is best to get it as soon as possible.

There is no downplaying how important the Security skill is. I have literally skipped entire objectives and fights in quests by breaking into something and getting the item I needed without going through a whole dungeon. It is also fantastic for earning tons of credits, so get it immediately if you can.

1. Persuasion

persuasion starfield skill
  • Skill Category: Social
  • Skill Type: Gameplay Feature, Conversations
  • Tier: 1
  • Description: You can use your words to influence and change the course of a conversation.

To be clear, no skill is as important in Starfield as the Persuasion skill. Yes, that even includes Security, which is neck-and-neck with it. There are an unbelievable number of options and things you can do once this skill is unlocked for you. Persuasion is an option you will occasionally get in this game, which is similar to past Bethesda games.

You can convince someone to do what you want them to, such as tell you crucial information or provide you with some credits for a job upfront. You can even use it to save money on hiring crew members by cutting their expenses in half. But this is only scratching the surface of this skill.

I have skipped entire sections of a quest, including having to steal or explore for items, because I just persuaded someone to give me that information or hand the item over to me. In fact, without getting too deep, I have even saved lives, avoided fights, and altered story endings because I had this skill. Get it as soon as you possibly can in Starfield.


Question: How many skill points are there in Starfield?

Answer: You get one skill point for every time you level up in Starfield. That said, there are around 82 skills in the base game, each with its own four ranks to go through. As such, you’ll need around 328 skill points and levels to max out this game. As for what happens beyond that point, it remains to be seen at this time.

Question: How long does it take to beat Starfield?

Answer: It can take around 20-40 hours to beat the main story in Starfield on your first try, assuming you don’t do much of everything else in this game. It also depends on what difficulty level you are on and how you play the game. But when it comes to 100% completing this title, it will likely take you hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to do that.

Question: Will Starfield have abilities?

Answer: Note that answering this question constitutes some massive spoilers for Starfield. You could think of the skills you unlock as abilities in a way. But I presume you mean special abilities, such as the magical spells in Skyrim, the Biotic powers in Mass Effect, or the Force in Star Wars. To answer that question, spoiler alert: yes, Starfield does have those types of abilities.

Find Out More about the Lore in Starfield

starfield lore

At the end of the day, the progression system in Starfield is one of the most elaborate and daunting parts of the game. This isn’t like the more limited past Bethesda games; there are almost too many skills for you to have to go through and unlock. Worse still, the more than 80 skills in the game each have their own four ranks for you to unlock via skill points and challenges.

But to help you out, if there is a single skill that every player should get as soon as they start the game, it is Persuasion. This can literally change the entire course of a quest if you are able to persuade someone. I couldn’t tell you how many times Persuasion has made the game so much easier and simpler for me.

Besides Persuasion, Security comes in a close second place since it allows you to unlock secrets, doors, computers, and more locked places. If you want to prepare for Starfield beyond knowing which skills to pick next, I highly suggest taking a look at the 300 years of fictional lore in this game to be ready for what this massive adventure entails.

Continue reading:

Starfield Getting Started Guide: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Starfield

Starfield Ships Guide: How to Steal Ships, Pilot C-Class Ships

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