Starfield beginners guide: 7 things I wish I knew before playing

Starfield main character next to ship.
Starfield main character next to ship. (Image credit: Windows Central)

As all of the hype has alluded to over the last few months, Starfield is an extremely vast game with several places to explore and a myriad of decisions for you to make. The game can feel daunting at first, especially since it doesn't really explain how to do several things and you are left to your own devices to figure things out. 

I've been playing Starfield for over 24 hours at the time of writing this, and these are the things that I wish I'd known before playing. Hopefully, these Starfield tips and tricks help make one of the best Xbox games and best PC games more enjoyable.

1. Save often, play happy

Andreja is a romanceable companion in Starfield. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Give yourself some leeway by saving regularly. The game autosaves every now and then, but it's not nearly as frequently as you might expect. It can be very easy to get killed or make a decision that has a bad outcome while playing Starfield. I can tell you that if you do die in the middle of a mission, there's a high probability that you'll have to replay several minutes' worth of a quest before you get back to where you died. It's annoying and takes time away from moving forward. 

Save yourself a headache by getting in the habit of saving before opening doors, talking to major NPCs, or landing on planets/ships, and you'll find you can reload to a good save time more easily. 

To get to the manual save page, press the Menu button on your Xbox Controller to bring up the Starfield menu. Then tap Menu button again to bring up an options screen. Select Save and choose a save slot.

2. Unlock your jet pack and make it stronger

Starfield boost pack gives you a quick jetpack boost. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Unless you choose a background that specifically includes the Boost Pack Training Skill (like Solider) then you will not have access to your jet pack at the start of the game. As soon as you've leveled up, spend a Skill Point on Boost Pack Training under the Tech tab. Then you'll be able to give yourself a fast little boost by pressing Y while in the air. You can also increase your jetpack's boost duration by spending additional Skill Points to Rank up the Boost Pack Training Skill. However, you'll need to unlock these rank up options by using the boost pack as explained in the Skill menu. 

Once you've got the boost pack unlocked, use it while running to keep up your momentum while also briefly helping you regain oxygen. If you use it right, you can get a lot further before you are forced to slow down. 

3. Fast travel and grav jump are unlocked from the start

You can fast travel to your ship at any time as long as you aren't encumbered or sick. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Starfield is a huge game with the vastness of planets and space to explore. Thankfully, you can reduce the amount of time spent going from one place to the next with fast travel while on a planet or grav jumping when in space. Just know that you have been to a location or star system before you can use these mechanics. If you want more in-depth assistance with this quick means of travel, you can check out my Starfield fast travel and grav jump guide.

4. Bring medical supplies to ensure fast travel

Reliant Medical on Neon is a great place to heal up in Starfield. (Image credit: Windows Central)

When you're out exploring a distant planet, you can get really far from your ship, which is one of the reasons why being able to fast travel back to it is really helpful. However, certain status effects can make it so that you can no longer fast travel, which can make getting back to your ship an extremely long and tedious process. 

Specifically, being exposed to toxic vapors, extreme temperatures, rocky terrain, and other dangerous situations can cause frostbite, sprains, and many other status effects. There are various medical remedies in the game, so you'll want to make sure to have these on hand at all times before going exploring. These can usually be purchased at local shops or Med Bays. Of course, another way to get rid of status effects is to pay a medical professional on one of the settled planets. You can find one on New Atlantis and Neon, locations that unlock earlier in the game if you follow the main quest lines.

5. Reduce speed to turn quickly during space combat

You need to reduce your speed in order to turn quickly in space combat. (Image credit: Windows Central)

While sitting in the pilot's chair of a ship, pressing up and down on the left joystick determines how fast your vessel goes. If you're under attack and an enemy ship flies behind you, you want to turn down your speed and use the right joystick to rotate the ship. This will allow you to rotate much faster during Starfield space combat than if your speed is up so you can actually get your sights set on the enemy again. Otherwise, they might have the upper hand and destroy you. 

6. Know what to pick up and what to drop

Only hold on to useful items that you need in Starfield. (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

You can pick up so many random little objects while wandering around planets in Starfield, but carrying items that equal up to too much mass will make it so you run out of breath faster, making you slower overall. You want to make sure to work on inventory management. Only hold on to items that are worth having, and get rid of things you don't need. You might be tempted to hang onto things to sell them for credits, but this is really only worth it if the item is exceptionally rare, and your Commerce Skill has been levelled up.

In general, reserve your precious carrying space for powerful weapons, healing items, and the best defensive gear. It's good to have at least one melee weapon in case you find yourself needing to be stealthy or use less ammo. When it comes to guns specifically, you obviously want to carry the most powerful ones, but you want to have a range of options, so one rifle, one shotgun, one pistol, etc. You also need to make sure you actually have ammo for the guns you choose in order for them to be useful.

Your helmet, spacesuit, boost pack, and jumpsuit all work together to determine what your stats are. It's good to choose ones that promote defense and protect against status effects like cold temperatures and radiation. Drop anything you don't need and keep going. 

7. Trust in your decisions and flirt it up!

Starfield Constellation members on ship.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

Some games try to trick you with the decisions placed before you. You might think you chose a conservative answer, only to find that it really ticks off the character you're talking to. If you're set on romancing a specific character, then you want to say and do things they'll appreciate. For the most part, Starfield's dialogue options feel natural and lead to the outcomes you'd expect. So, you just have to consider what kind of NPC personality you're dealing with before saying anything and respond the way you want to. When given a choice, do what makes you comfortable or what satisfies your play style the most. 

Of course, if something does go terribly wrong, you can load a previous game save and try different approaches.

Get out there and explore space!

Starfield is one of the biggest games of the year and I don't just mean that literally. There are so many planets and solar systems to explore. The dialogue options and decisions placed before you can have some seriously different consequences depending on how you play. Make things easier on yourself by saving often, bringing the necessary medical supplies you need with you everywhere and working on unlocking the skill sets you'll use most as soon as possible. 

You'll get around faster if you aren't encumbered with unnecessary items and will be able to appreciate the vastness of space when you can fast travel or grav jump to your destinations super-fast. Most importantly, you can play the way you want and respond to characters and decisions the way you see fit. Trust in yourself and enjoy the ride.

Rebecca Spear
Editor and Reviewer

Self-professed gaming geek, Rebecca Spear, is one of Windows Central's editors and reviewers with a focus on gaming handhelds, PC gaming, and laptops. When she isn't checking out the latest games on Xbox Game Pass, PC, ROG Ally, or Steam Deck; she can be found digital drawing with a Wacom tablet. She's written thousands of articles with everything from editorials, reviews, previews, features, previews, and hardware reviews over the last few years. If you need information about anything gaming-related, her articles can help you out. She also loves testing game accessories and any new tech on the market. You can follow her @rrspear on X (formerly Twitter).