Starfield: Best skills for combat, exploration, and more

Starfield space battle cockpit
(Image credit: Windows Central)

Feeling overwhelmed with your options?

The earliest hours of Starfield are its weakest. This system-spanning role-playing game from Bethesda Game Studios offers a long list of skills for players to grab. There are several key abilities locked behind these skills, which means that no matter who you're trying to be, there's a few skills everyone should always grab. 

Here are the top skills in Starfield to unlock as quickly as possible. Remember that each background in Starfield starts with three skills, so it's a good idea to consider your background carefully when you start the game off.


Why you should take it: Ballistics is a simple enough skill, as it makes you deal more damage with any guns that use bullets. This means common weapons like the Grendel and Lawmaker will deal increased damage, but things like the Equinox laser rifle will not.

You should take Ballistics as a skill because while there are other types of guns, ballistic weaponry far outweighs the other variations, especially early-on. In order to survive firefights, you need to deal reliable damage, and a small boost can make all the difference. 

Boost Pack Training

Why you should take it: Many skills in Starfield completely lock an important feature until you have at least the first rank unlocked. Boost Pack Training is one of the most notable, as you can't access a core part of the game's movement unless you have the skill.


Why you should take it: You're going to take damage in Starfield. It doesn't matter how careful or stealthy you are, you're going to get hit and need to heal. Putting a point into Medicine means your precious medical supplies like Trauma Kits will go a lot farther and heal you more.


Why you should take it: While you'll start the game with the ability to fly Class A ships, Class B and Class C vessels are locked off until you take the highest ranks of piloting. Because you rank up the Piloting skill by destroying enemy ships, it's best to get as early a start as possible.


Why you should take it: The Persuasion system in Starfield is far more complex than in prior Bethesda games. Having a point or two in Persuasion will give you a much better chance of talking your way out of trouble. Even if you prefer going in guns-blazing, and you don't want a peaceful resolution, there are some quests where persuading someone can go a long way toward setting a situation in your favor before bullets and lasers start flying.

Targeting Control Systems

Why you should take it: Targeting Control Systems essentially unlocks VATS from Fallout, allowing to zoom in on enemy spaceships and target individual systems. There's a bevy of uses for this. If a spacecraft is giving you problems with heavy weapons, disable the guns and breathe for a moment while the enemy crew makes repairs. 

Maybe you prefer a more personal approach and you want to steal an enemy ship? In that case, knock out their engines and dock with them.

Weight Training

Why you should take it: Encumbrance is a problem, and while it's less of a problem if you aren't inclined to take everything you see that's not nailed to the floor, it never stops being an issue in the back of your mind. You want to make money by carrying around equipment and resources, and that takes inventory space. You can take Weight Training to vastly increase the mass your character carries, making this less of an issue. Less, because it's always there, waiting to strike when you pick up one too many oranges.

Have it your way

Starfield doesn't have a level cap, so if you keep on going, you can theoretically unlock and max out every single skill in the game. That'll take a long time though, so when starting out, try to prioritize after grabbing these basics, which will help you in the long run. 

In our Starfield review, managing editor Jez Corden wrote that "Some of the major hand-crafted quest chains take a while to get going, but the unashamed slow-burn approach ultimately pays off — Starfield sports some of the most epic, most climactic moments I've experienced in gaming."

Starfield is currently available on Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC. It's also available in Xbox Game Pass.

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. You also get a couple of unique skins, as well as a digital artbook and soundtrack.

Buy at: Amazon | Best Buy | Steam (GMG)

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.