Starfield’s massive open world has a lot going on, with a vast number of systems and mechanics constantly working together in the background, which, in typical Bethesda Game Studios fashion, allows for an excellent sandbox playground that emphasizes freedom above all else. From exploring uncharted planets and surveying alien flora and fauna to building outposts and more, there’s numerous sandbox activities to dive into that let you have fun of your own making, and at your own pace, beyond the framework of the game’s plethora of handcrafted content. But out of all those activities, the one that’s probably the most enjoyable is space piracy.
Being a pirate tends to be a blast in games more often than not, obviously, and Starfield puts very little restrictions on you if you aspire to be a merciless pirate in space, leaving chaos in your wake as you fly out of a system with your cargo bay full of valuable loot that you’ve acquired through less than legal means. There are, of course, plenty of ways to be a rogue in the Settled Systems, but if a space pirate is specifically what you want to be, there are several things the game lets you do to that end.
The most obvious one, and one that you’re likely going to end up doing anyway if you intend to do the faction questlines, is to join the Crimson Fleet, which is literally a faction of space pirates. You do have to jump through some hoops before you are formally inducted into the fleet, and how you get to that point in terms of the narrative is something that’s best left unspoiled, but once you do become a member and gain access to the full facilities on offer in The Key, the Crimson Fleet’s HQ, a lot of avenues open up for your space piracy goals.
Like smuggling contraband, for instance. That’s something that you’re going to want to do a lot of, because of how profitable it tends to be. You can, as an example, head to Neon and buy large quantities of Aurora, a substance that’s illegal to possess in every place throughout the Settled Systems except Neon itself. It can, however, also be sold for hefty amounts of cash, especially if you sell in large quantities. You always run the risk of getting caught by the authorities, of course, but the risk is often worth the reward. Oh, and if you do plan on hauling large amounts of illegal cargo to sell for large payouts, you should also be investing in the Payloads skill in the Tech skill tree to increase your ship’s cargo capacity.
And this is where having access to The Key comes in handy, because it allows you to evade the law much better. Anytime you enter a star system that’s in United Colonies or Freestar Collective territory, your ship will be scanned for contraband, and you can’t land your ship on a planet until you’ve cleared that scan. Those scans are, of course, mighty effective and scarily efficient, which means you need to equip your vessel with certain, shall we say, shady equipment to help you evade those scans. Installing a shielded cargo hold, for instance, will automatically boost your chances of evading scans. Meanwhile, you can also install scan blockers, each of which gives you a further 10 percent boost. Both shielded cargo and scan blockers can be purchased and installed only at The Key.
Something else that you’ll want to invest in for your ship if you’re committed to a life of crime in space is a good grav drive. If you’re hopping from system to system, even if you don’t intend to land on a planet in a system that’s just a stopover, you are still going to be scanned as soon as you enter, which means you’re going to need to initiate your next grav jump as quickly as you can, before you have a chance to fail the scan and turn the authorities’ attention. A better grav drive that you can pump more power into lets you initiate a jump much quicker, so definitely make sure you install one of those.
And if you’re looking for opportunities to engage in some good old space piracy fun, there’s plenty of that to be found in Starfield. For starters, you can pick up missions from the mission board in The Key, all of which are procedurally generated quests that task you with less-than-legal objectives, whether that’s destroying United Colonies ships or stealing from civilian vessels. Beyond that, of course, you can just do that stuff yourself. Anytime you encounter a ship while flying out in space, you can hail it to initiate a conversation, after which you get the option to demand them to empty their cargo hold. How things go from that point will, of course, depend entirely on how you handle the conversation that follows- though by investing in the Deception skill in the Social tree will make enemies much more pliable to your piracy demands. Additionally, this skill also makes contraband scans less effective, so it’s definitely worth spending skill points on for all would-be space pirates.
Of course, it also goes without saying that as a space pirate, you’ll be engaging in your fair share of dogfights from time to time, and beyond the obvious stuff – like installing better shields or more firepower – you can also invest in plenty of skills to give yourself the edge in ship combat, all of which are found in the Tech tree.
There’s the Targeting Control Systems skill, for instance, which unlocks the ability to target and lock on to enemy ships, making your missiles deadlier and more effective, while the Shield Systems skill increases your ship’s shield capacity, and at the highest rank, occasionally also lets you resist 100% of all damage taken from an attack. The Ballistic Weapon Systems and Energy Weapon Systems skills are also useful skills that you can unlock early on, while on the steeper end, by which point you’ll probably be much deeper into the game, you can also upgrade your automated weapons, electromagnetic weapons, and missile systems. If you’re just looking to engage in some light space piracy, you’re going to be able to get by without spending skill points in most of these, but if a life of crime is something you intend to dive headfirst into, you’re probably going to be locking horns with plenty of beefy, heavily armed vessels, in which case these upgrades are going to be massively useful.
Ultimately, one thing that cannot be stressed enough is that Starfield works overtime to let you live out your space fantasy, and if your space fantasy is to be a ruthless, thieving, law violating pirate, there are plenty of tools at your disposal here to do just that.