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When it comes to the most anticipated video games of all time, it is hard not to say Starfield is near the top of the list. After all, Bethesda is the developer behind some of the greatest games of all time, including The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (tied for my favorite game of all time), Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout 3.
The hype is real, which is why you can prepare for this game with this Starfield getting started guide.
I have poured about 45 hours into Starfield at the time of starting this guide, which is likely going to be far from my final hour count once it is published.
I am using my time playing this game to directly affect this guide, but know that I have only barely begun to scratch the surface of what this game entails at the time of writing. Even still, I am taking everything I’ve learned from playing the game so far and am using it to create this Starfield getting started guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
Starfield is the latest game from Bethesda Softworks and the proper next masterpiece from the mind of Todd Howard. This isn’t your marred Fallout 4 or Fallout 76; this is a true next behemoth of a title that should be universally loved by the community in the way that games like Oblivion and Skyrim are.
Starfield features you, the player, in the 34th century. In this far future from our current time, it is grounded primarily on reality with a heavy emphasis on the NASA-style of space exploration and the like. It has a grittier, more realistic approach (most of the time) and features an entire galaxy to explore.
Yes, there are more than 1,000 planets to explore, countless fully-voiced characters to meet in the game, tons of side quests and missions to do, several factions to get to know, many large cities to explore, and so much more. You could theoretically spend the rest of your life playing this game if you wanted to.
Before You Even Begin Your Journey Into the Cosmos
There is so much to see and do in Starfield, but your journey into exploring the galaxy first begins with what you do before you even boot up the game. Here are some of the tips and tricks I recommend you do before you play.
There are only a few, so you can quickly get these done while you download and install the massive Starfield download size of more than 100GB.
Determine Your Background and Traits
First off, there is the character creation part of Starfield. While you won’t be able to make your character beforehand, you can determine your character’s two most important aspects before you even boot up the game: your background and the three traits you want to use for your playthrough.
For starters, your background may seem like a way to give your character some history and context, but there is a bit more to it than that. It is almost like your starting class in a way. While there are no traditional RPG classes here, your background determines your character’s history and their initial three skills.
For instance, you might pick a Diplomat like myself and have access to the skills of Persuasion for convincing people in conversations, Commerce for getting better deals at the traders, and Security for being able to pick locks right from the start of the game.
There are many other backgrounds like this, including Combat Medic, Cyber Runner, Bounty Hunter, Soldier, and more. It’s worth researching and finding which one you want since your skills are immensely important, so you want to love all three of your starting ones.
I would even argue that it is more important than the actual background itself.
On the traits side, you get to pick up to three traits (this is technically optional) to affect your game immensely. These usually come with some positives and negatives.
For instance, you can pick Wanted to get a massive damage boost when you have low health, but the cost is you’ll have bounty hunters randomly show up to take you out anytime you’re playing.
The three I went for are Dream Home, Kid Stuff, and Hero Worshipped. I recommend all three, as they are arguably the best, but research all of the traits and figure out what’s best for you.
Dream Home gets you a massive estate from the start, but you have a vast Tom Nook-style Animal Crossing mortgage to pay off.
Kid Stuff lets you sleep over and hang out with your parents, who are still alive on New Atlantis. This is the sweetest and most surprising trait for me. Lastly, Hero Worshipped is the only way to get the exclusive Adoring Fan companion, who is a bit annoying but also lovable and memorable to Oblivion fans.
Figure Out What You’ll Do First
Next up, it is time to figure out what you’ll do once you beat the prologue and can explore the entire galaxy. Do you want to check out the main story first and see what it’s all about? Or would you prefer to take your time and explore the very first planet you land on to the fullest? Or do you want to find your Dream Home, pay it off, and customize it?
That is all still before including options like building your first outpost, fighting space pirates, doing side quests, exploring an entire city like Neon or Akila City, and so on. There are countless options for what you can do first, so it is best to think about it now and not get too overwhelmed later.
Learn About the History of Starfield’s Setting
Starfield already has much of its history known to the community through some of the announcements from Bethesda. This is not just some flavor text and lore to make the game more interesting, as many of the events that transpired in the game’s history have a direct effect on the story itself.
So, while you wait, it is worth checking out what happened in between our present day and the current time in the 24th century of Starfield, as there is a lot that has occurred.
While you likely won’t understand or remember it all, I can promise you from experience that it gets you on the right foot once people start mentioning specific things like the Freestar Collective, UC, House Varuun, Terrormorphs, and more.
Pick What Type of Player You Want to Be
The entire premise of Starfield hinges on what type of player you want to be in this massive galaxy.
This is something you can figure out before you boot up the game, such as being a heroic person who saves everyone and anyone, a space pirate who steals from all ships (which you can literally do), or even an explorer who tries to reach the corners of the galaxy no human has been to.
It is worth figuring out your “roleplay,” so to speak, now so you can immediately get into it once you’re in the game. Plus, it might help you figure out what background and traits you want for your character.
Your First Day in Constellation
Now, there are going to be some massive spoilers ahead for how this game plays out on your likely first day in the galaxy in Starfield.
I will give you a quick walkthrough and some notes about what you’ll probably do in the game to give you a heads-up. The beginning of a Bethesda game is always a classic, so you might want to skip this next part if you don’t like spoilers.
Discovering an Artifact on the Job
First, before you go to the character creator screen, you awaken in the middle of a mining cave where you are following two people. They are your coworkers and boss, and it is a typical day on the job for a miner like yourself.
This is a mostly linear and text-heavy section where all you need to do is follow them and learn how to mine using the Cutter weapon you already have on you (which is excellent for fighting as well since it uses no ammo). At some point, you’ll be tasked with going deeper into the unexplored mining territory.
During this time, you’ll have nothing but your flashlight to help you out (hold LB on the controller to pull it up). The point is to follow the marker to a room where you’ll encounter a mysterious and surprising event and uncover an artifact of some kind.
Defending the Spaceport
After getting the artifact, you’ll wake up and finally have the chance to customize your character. After you pick who you want to be, it is time to hand over the artifact you’ve found to a group known as the Constellation and one of their members, Barrett.
Unfortunately, not everything goes as planned, as this is a Bethesda game. As soon as the Constellation ship shows up to take the artifact, pirates also appear, wanting to claim it for their own.
This is your first actual combat scenario, and it happens to involve a ton of enemies. Take your time and use your Cutter or pick up a weapon from a fallen person to defend yourself.
After winning the fight, Barrett will give you his ship and Vasco as your first companion to now take the artifact to New Atlantis.
Exploring New Atlantis and Meeting Constellation
From this point forward, you can do whatever you want. But assuming you stick to the main story for a bit, which I do recommend for what it unlocks for everything else in the game and how it teaches many of the mechanics, you’ll want to go to the capital city of the United Colonies next, New Atlantis.
Fly there in your new ship, the Frontier, and then head to the Constellation Lodge once you visit there. You’ll learn more about this group and see the artifacts in action here. You’ll also meet the leader of Constellation, Sarah Morgan, and gain her as your next companion.
Exploring The Old Neighborhood
The final thing you might do on your first day in Starfield, besides exploring New Atlantis and doing a whole bunch of side quests there, is the next main story quest, which is The Old Neighborhood.
The game starts off with a bang by having you go to the Sol System to find the next artifact, which is also where you and I are currently stationed in real life.
This quest is another great introductory one, and it gets you familiar with one of the other major cities in the game, Cydonia on Mars.
You can even drop by Earth if you’d like to, which you can explore in its entirety, but it may not be how you remember it. This all would be a fantastic way to cap off this first day of exploring the cosmos in Starfield.
Starfield Core Mechanics Guide
There is so much to see and do in Starfield, and there are far too many core mechanics to deal with. Fortunately, I have your back and am going to break down all of the gameplay elements I think you should know about heading into the game. Note there are still more features beyond these, but these will get you started on the right foot.
First and foremost, there is the combat in Starfield. It is somewhat similar to Fallout’s combat in a way, but more fluid and a bit more flexible overall. I like it more, but it is still not quite on the level of first-person shooters like Halo Infinite or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
You can shoot enemies down with various weapons in third-person or first-person perspective, plus you can also use melee weapons if you prefer. If you’ve played games like Fallout before, you’ll be pretty familiar with this gameplay and its only minor improvements.
The movement in Starfield is where it changes up from its predecessors. Movement is far more flexible and fast at times; with the sprint you can use and the booster packs (think jet packs) you can equip. These give you a lot of room to zip around the low-gravity planets you visit.
But this comes at a cost. Your character has an oxygen meter in the screen’s bottom left corner. As you sprint or if you are encumbered or have an illness, your oxygen meter will go down. Once it is down, the meter will then fill with CO2, which will eventually damage your health if it goes too high.
So long as you manage your inventory well, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this part being a problem for you, though.
Exploration and Surveying
As you move around the galaxy, you’ll likely start using your feet to explore various planets. There are more than 1,000 planets to explore, though many of them are pretty similar to one another. You can explore the entire face of a planet in every direction if you’d like to.
It would probably take you forever to reach the other side of a planet (I haven’t tried this yet but aim to at some point), but you can do this if you want to. Along the way, you’ll come across various points of interest, such as an abandoned robot factory, an abandoned mine, a civilian outpost, and more.
The crux of exploring a planet is to survey it. This involves using your scanner (press LB on the controller) to scan the various plants, creatures, and resources you come across a la No Man’s Sky. The more you scan, the more you’ll fill out the survey data for that planet, which you can sell to make money.
Ship Combat and Exploration
But there is one massive part of Starfield I haven’t even mentioned yet: ship combat and exploration. I should note that ship exploration isn’t seamless like in No Man’s Sky. You still pick where you want to land in a menu, and your ship automatically goes there on its own.
There is no way to go directly to the surface of a planet yourself. However, you can still explore the cosmos in your ship at your leisure manually, but I don’t recommend this, either. The goal is to use your grav drive to jump between solar systems and explore various planets.
Along the way, you’ll likely run into a few unfriendly ships, which will require you to use space combat. There are several systems of a ship, which you can power up or down to then use that power elsewhere, like powering down your engine to boost your lasers or shields.
Combat will be familiar to anyone who has played a space combat game recently, where you try to lock onto enemies and then unleash tons of damage on them. You have to take out their shields first before you can destroy the ship itself.
It is possible to commandeer and steal other people’s ships or even use piracy to take the cargo off of another ship. You can even transport illegal contraband, but that requires shielded cargo. Speaking of which, you can customize and upgrade any of your ships or create one from scratch.
Over the course of your adventure, there is one classic Bethesda element you’ll encounter: factions. Like in The Elder Scrolls series and even Fallout to an extent, there are various optional factions you can join.
Besides the core storyline of Constellation, there are factions like the Freestar Rangers, Crimson Fleet, and UC Vanguard that you can join.
These factions have their own entire storylines, similar to the Dark Brotherhood or Mage’s Guild in the past Bethesda games. These faction storylines are massive and can be pretty lengthy on their own. They are worth doing, though, for the immense rewards and story you can get from them.
From my experience so far, it does seem possible to do all of the factions without making anyone mad. For instance, though the Crimson Fleet is space pirates at odds with the whole galaxy, it seems you can join them without messing up your chances of being a Ranger or Vanguard volunteer military pilot.
Side Quests and Missions
In addition to the factions, there are countless random side quests and missions you can do in the game to keep you busy long past the core content in the game. Side quests can be as simple as settling a feud between two people or finding a lost heirloom for someone.
Some of these side quests can even be recurring, with multiple sections to it over time, such as the loan shark chain, where you help the bank collect debts from people on the run.
There is also the mission board in most main cities and even some space stations where you can take on a seemingly endless supply of missions to keep you busy and full of credits and XP.
While you can buy a property and customize it, even if you don’t have the Dream Home trait, there are also outposts. You can build home bases on any planet (provided you have the required skill), and pretty much anywhere you like on the planet itself, outside of main civilizations.
Outposts are where you can customize to your heart’s content, create your own landing zone, research labs, crafting stations, and more. You can even station your crew members and party members here to work.
This is a massive part of the game, which I haven’t even touched that much in my massive amount of time playing the game.
Skills are the crux of the progression system in Starfield. As you level up in the game, you’ll get a skill point. You can use this to learn a new skill or rank up an existing one. If you do the latter, you’ll have to complete a challenge first, such as taking 100 fall damage or destroying 15 ships.
Skills vary greatly and there are some that are much better than others, unlocking entirely new features, such as Security for lockpicking or Theft for pickpocketing. It is worth taking the time to see all of the skills in the game and picking which ones are most important to you.
In addition, the more you unlock skills across the five main categories, the deeper you can go and the more powerful skills you can learn.
Relationships and Companions
Finally, there are your companions. These are the party members you can travel around with and get to know. They have their own lives, commentary, and even side quests sometimes. You can get approval or disapproval from them, depending on the choices you make in the game.
And if you play your cards right, you can even get to know the party members on a more intimate level and romance them if you would like to.
Best Tips we Wish we Knew on Day 1
This is one of the most daunting and overwhelming games I’ve ever played, especially pre-release. Here are some tips I wish I knew when I began the game:
- Do the main story as soon as possible. It unlocks some seriously cool stuff that helps with everything else.
- Find out what you love to do in the game and focus on that. If you love building outposts, do it. Just do whatever you enjoy the most.
- The Cutter weapon is fantastic. It has no ammo and does decent damage, even late-game. However, there are some rarer variants to find.
- Get the stealth, Security, Boost Pack Training, Piloting, and Persuasion skills as soon as possible.
- You can run from most fights in the game that aren’t directly tied to the quest objective. For instance, when hunting for artifacts in the main story, I was able to run past all of the enemies in some caves and go straight to the artifact, grab it, and then leave.
- When you first start out on Vectera in the mining area, explore and take everything there. This way, you can sell it for cash when you leave and have a decent amount of credits to start with. But don’t keep this mentality up beyond this point, as you won’t need it anymore.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
I also made some mistakes during my time in Starfield. Here are some common issues to avoid:
- Don’t waste time exploring one of the 1000 planets to its fullest unless that’s your thing. I spent like four hours exploring a single planet once, trying to survey it thoroughly, and it almost killed my desire to do that again.
- Look at the recommended level for each solar system to avoid too much trouble.
- Don’t feel like you have to do every optional ship fight. You can grav jump at any time and escape with your ship intact.
- Don’t worry too much about doing wild methods to save credits or buy a new ship. All of this comes over time in the game, and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in more credits than you need, especially if you do some of the faction quests.
- Don’t bother wasting your time with random NPCs with no names. Look for the characters with names or titles and speak with them. They usually are the ones worth your time for quests and the like.
Long-Term Goals to Consider
While I won’t spoil anything here, these are some of the long-term goals you should consider when playing Starfield at the beginning:
- Finding or building a home. You should keep your home base or place of living in the back of your head. You can have multiple of these, but it’s worth thinking about.
- Learn how to pilot all ships. The Piloting skill is super important, but it takes a very long time to unlock its fourth and final rank, which ensures you can pilot every ship in the game.
- Pick your romance partner. There are a few options, so it is worth thinking about who you might want to romance and have them by your side all the time.
- Always have your desired skills in general in the back of your head. I keep a list of the skills I want to learn next or upgrade next, so I am not wasting skill points on something I don’t need.
- It might also be worth planning out how you want to tackle content in the game. If you’re a free-form person who just randomly does stuff, that’s totally fine. But if you like to plan like me, it might be worth figuring out if you want to do a main story quest, then followed by completing a specific faction, followed by exploring this planet, and so on.
Question: How does Starfield Begin?
Answer: Spoilers ahead for you, but Starfield begins with you as a random newish miner for a company on the planet of Vectera. You mine during your day job as usual and then happen to uncover a mysterious artifact, which changes the fate of you and the entire galaxy at that very moment.
Question: Is there New Game+ in Starfield?
Answer: Yes, there is a New Game+ feature in Starfield, which is a first for pretty much any Bethesda game that has ever been released. There are some elements of the game that carry over to your new playthrough, but also some neat surprises.
Question: How Long will it Take to Finish Starfield?
Answer: It depends on your definition of finishing Starfield. If you mean finishing the main story in Starfield, you can beat it in 20-40 hours in total without too much of a problem.
But if you want to complete the most dedicated content in the game that isn’t repetitive (major side quests, factions, etc), it will likely take hundreds of hours. But you can pretty much play the game infinitely if you’d like.
Check Out the 300 Years of Lore in Starfield
Starfield is one of the most impressive games I’ve played in a long time, and I look forward to your chance to play it. This beginner’s guide is the ultimate companion to get you started on your journey throughout the galaxy.
It is a wild ride, with quite a few surprises that even early Starfield leaks could haven’t dared spoil for you.
There is so much to this game that you could easily play this game for the rest of your life with everything it has inside of it. However, before you spend the next chunk of your lifetime playing this game, there is another way to get ready for Starfield as you download and install the game.
I highly suggest checking out the 300 years worth of lore that has already been shared about Starfield and its massive universe.
There is so much to learn from this about the various recent wars, events, and influential people that have a direct influence on the game you are about to play. Good luck, and see you in the stars.