Starfield backgrounds: All starting character stories

Starfield character standing on planet
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

All walks of life contribute something to our growth.

That's definitely the case in Starfield, the big science-fiction role-playing game from Bethesda Game Studios. When customizing your character, known as the Spacefarer, you'll have to choose a Background. This Background determines who you were before you end up joining Constellation, and it also gives you a handful of starting Skills. 

There are 16 Backgrounds in Starfield, from daring Explorers to surprisingly lethal Chefs. Here's what you need to know about them.

Starfield Premium Edition

Starfield Premium Edition

The Premium Edition of Starfield includes bonuses alongside the main game, and you're guaranteed access to the first story expansion when it arrives. If that's not enough, you can also start playing five days early.

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Starfield: List of all backgrounds

In Starfield, your character's Background has an impact on the story and some of the options you'll have throughout the game. In addition to unique dialogue talking about why you ended up where you are as the game begins, you'll also have special opportunities only possible through that Background. 

For example, at a certain point, you may encounter a big game hunter putting together a special hunt. With the Beast Hunter Background, you can convince this hunter to let you handle it by yourself. 

Your chosen Background also determines the Skills you have at the start of the game. You can still choose to invest in whatever Skills you prefer as you progress through the game, but it's worth weighing the options of what you get from the start. For example, if you intend to build a sneaky character who can steal a lot, you might consider choosing the Cyber Runner Background, which starts with the Stealth, Security, and Theft Skills. 

All things considered, your Background doesn't determine your build, it just gives you a different starting position. These are all of the Backgrounds in the game.

Beast Hunter

Starting Skills: Fitness, Ballistics, Gastronomy

Description: From the Ashta of Akil to the Terrormorphs that plague the whole of the Settled Systems, hostile alien life abounds. You've learned the skills to track them, find them, and take them down. 


Starting Skills: Boxing, Security, Fitness

Description: You've worked the line at the toughest clubs in the Settled Systems. Back then, you learned that most non-lethal confrontations can be solved one of two ways: a strong right hook, or a more secured door. 

Bounty Hunter

Starting Skills: Piloting, Targeting Control Systems, Boost Pack Training

Description: Wherever there are wanted individuals, there are those who profit from their capture. And your quarry knows that in the vastness of space, they can run...but they can't hide. 


Starting Skills: Gastronomy, Dueling, Scavenging

Description: While the unrefined masses scarf down Chunks by the shipload, you catered to those with a more...discerning palate. In your kitchen, countless alien species became true culinary masterpieces.

Combat Medic

Starting Skills: Pistol Certification, Medicine, Wellness

Description: Leave it to human beings to fight over something as infinite as outer space. You've never been afraid to take on the enemy...but you'd much rather take care of your friends.

Cyber Runner

Starting Skills: Stealth, Security, Theft

Description: From Neon to New Atlantis, the megacorps stand as monuments to power, prestige, and profit. You've worked both for and against them, on the inside and out, often sacrificing conscience for credits.


Starting Skills: Medicine, Security, Lasers

Description: Robots? Mere toys. Neuroamps? Good for party tricks. The Colony War may have made implants and upgrades available to veterans, but you once saw a greater future. Humans and machines, as one.


Starting Skills: Persuasion, Commerce, Wellness

Description: The wars are over. Peace now reigns the Settled Systems. But only because there are those quietly fighting to keep it. Because of you, agreements were signed, words were heeded...lives were spared.


Starting Skills: Lasers, Astrodynamics, Surveying

Description: They said exploration is a lost art. You didn't listen. As the major factions argued over the space they desperately tried to control, you were busy uncovering the wonders of the Settled Systems.


Starting Skills: Shotgun Certification, Boxing, Theft

Description: You were always disgusted by suckers killing themselves to make an "honest wage." As soon as you were old enough to hold a weapon, you took what you wanted from anyone unlucky enough to have it. 


Starting Skills: Geology, Surveying, Weight Lifting

Description: The discovery of the Settled Systems' many oxygen-rich planets and moons meant humans could live just about anywhere...if they had the know-how. You did, and utilized it to great effect.


Starting Skills: Persuasion, Security, Research Methods

Description: There was a time when all you wanted to be was a titan of industry, maybe a ship designer or megacorp exec. Thankfully, that skillset never goes out of style in the Settled Systems. 

Long Hauler

Starting Skills: Weight lifting, Piloting, Ballistic Weapon Systems

Description: Let those other hotheaded pilots obsess over laser weapons and maneuverability. You're a space trucker, pure and simple. Pack the cargo, get it there fast, get paid, repeat. Life is simple and good.


Starting Skills: Scavenging, Surveying, Gastronomy

Description: Wayfarer, wanderer, seeker...transient. You've been called many things during your travels, and learned something those others could never understand - the journey IS the destination.


Starting Skills: Astrodynamics, Geology, Research Methods

Description: You always enjoyed learning, but nothing could compare to the joy of teaching others. As humankind spread throughout the stars, there was never a lack of knowledge to obtain, and you gladly assisted. 


Starting Skills: Dueling, Stealth, Scavenging

Description: Masterless and unbound, you wandered the Settled Systems as a blade for hire. To some, you were a simple mercenary. To others, a hero. And to a select few...a nightmare they could never wake from. 


Starting Skills: Medicine, Geology, Persuasion

Description: With your knowledge of anatomy and skilled, steady hands, you could have had a lucrative career as a surgeon. Instead, you followed your heart, and created works of art to amaze and inspire. 


Starting Skills: Fitness, Ballistics, Boost Pack Training

Description: The Settled Systems is no stranger to warfare, and if there's one thing armed conflict relies on it's trained warriors with guns and guts. You had both. Simple, bloody work...and you were great at it.

Space Scoundrel

Starting Skills: Pistol Certification, Piloting, Persuasion

Description: Good? Bad? Whose right is it to say? If there's anything you've learned while traipsing through the galaxy, it's this: space may look black, but it's really one big shade of grey. 


Starting Skills: Lasers, Surveying, Fitness

Description: The Settled Systems is home to untold alien species. And while none of them have yet proven sentient, that never deterred you. So you sought out and studied them for whatever gifts they offered.


Starting Skills: Wellness, Ballistics, Piloting

Description: Oddly, there is no information on file about your past life. Clerical oversight? Deletion by some powerful unknown faction? Or was there just nothing of note to mention? Whatever the reason, your past is known only to you. What's important is the here and now, and the path you're about to forge. 

Have fun being you

No matter what Background you choose in Starfield, you can develop your Spacefarer the way you want, making different decisions and investing in new Skills. Backgrounds may open particular paths, but they are just your starting point in the Settled Systems, and there's a lot more to explore. 

Starfield is currently scheduled to launch on Sep. 6, 2023 exclusively on Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC. If you preorder the Premium Edition, you can start playing on September 1. Like all Xbox first-party games, it's also available in Xbox Game Pass

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.