Starfield Guide – The Best Early Skills You Need To Unlock

There are five Skill trees in Bethesda's space-faring RPG but which are the best Skills to unlock early? Check out our recommendations.

Posted By | On 04th, Sep. 2023


Starfield can be a little overwhelming with all the different systems. Skills are especially difficult to choose from since there are 82 in total, and while there’s no level cap, you can’t respec. Thus, any decision made is permanent, even in New Game Plus.

From the outset, you have Novice skills across the five Skill Trees. Which ones are worth picking up? Check out our recommendations below. Remember to consider your background since certain kinds will start you off with some of these Skills, making them all the more valuable.

Best Skills to Unlock Early

Boost Pack Training

Unlocked in the Tech tree, this Novice Skill unlocks Boost Packs, your de facto means of traversal on planets. At Rank 2, it consumes less fuel, allowing you to boost for longer periods, while Rank 3 lets it regenerate at a quicker rate. Rank 4 is the best, doubling the lower fuel consumption and fuel regeneration bonuses. Whether you’re trying to explore a planet faster, navigating different types of terrain or looking for more maneuverability in combat, a Boost Pack is a good choice. It’s also part of the Bounty Hunter and Soldier backgrounds.


Also unlocked in the Tech tree, Piloting allows for using ship thrusters, which is important for increased maneuverability while flying in space. At Rank 2, the ship’s turning rate and maneuverability are increased. At Rank 3, you can pilot Class B ships and at Rank 4, Class C ships can be piloted. The latter two are extremely useful for building improved ships and commandeering higher Class ships compared to your own. It’s included with the Bounty Hunter, Space Scoundrel and Long Hauler backgrounds.

Targeting Control Systems

If you’re going to spend a lot of time picking fights in space, then targeting specific systems on enemy ships is a must. You can disable their weapons, shields and grav drives, which prevents them from running away and lets you board. At Rank 2, the time to lock on to enemy ships is reduced by 15 percent, and targets will fire 25 percent slower. Rank 3 further reduces the time to lock on hostiles by 30 percent and increases your critical hit chance by 10 percent.

Rank 4 increases damage dealt in targeting mode by 20 percent while reducing the time to lock on by 60 percent. It’s mandatory for boarding and capturing ships but provides significant damage in ship combat. You can also get this as part of the Bounty Hunter background.


Theft is part of the Social tree and is included in the Gangster and Cyber Runner backgrounds. It unlocks pickpocketing, which allows for stealing from other NPCs. With how good this can be for earning Credits, especially since you can steal while being right next to them and crouching down (make sure they’re looking the other way). Rank 2 increases the chance of successfully pickpocketing targets by 10 percent, while Rank 3 increases it to 30 percent. At Rank 4, it increases by 50 percent, and you can also pickpocket holstered weapons, rendering some enemies harmless. You can then go on to sell those weapons for even more Credits.


Part of the Science tree, the Geology Skill allows for collecting more common and uncommon inorganic resources from objects on the surface. Considering how important these can be for crafting and outpost building, having this or at least a companion with the same is recommended. At Rank 2, you obtain additional rare inorganic resources from objects on the surface, while Rank 3 nets more exotic resources. Rank 4 lets you harvest more rare resources occasionally, further increasing the yield.


Available in the Social tree and the Diplomat background, Commerce can provide great savings when selling items. It allows for buying at five percent fewer prices and selling for 10 percent more. However, at Rank 2, this increases to buying at 10 percent less and selling for 15 percent more, while Rank 3 provides a 15 percent discount and 20 percent increased sell price. Rank 4 is the ticket since you can buy items for 20 percent less and sell them for 25 percent. Whether there’s a weapon, ammo for weapons, grenades, healing items and so on, Commerce provides some crazy savings in the long run.


Though you’ll have enough healing items as time goes on, it doesn’t hurt to increase your overall max health early on. Wellness is part of the Physical tree and the Combat Medic and Diplomat backgrounds. It increases max health by 10 percent at Rank 1, 20 percent at Rank 2, 30 percent at Rank 3 and 40 percent at Rank 4. The challenges for ranking up rely purely on healing damage (which you’ll be doing throughout the game), and once that’s done, allocate a Skill Point to increase your health.


Starfield has a somewhat new system for convincing people when entering speech checks. It relies on Persuasion, a Social skill (and also part of the Diplomat background). It’s worth unlocking since it increases your chance of persuading someone by 10 percent at Rank 1. At Rank 2, it increases to 20 percent and then 30 percent at Rank 3. Rank 4 increases it further to 50 percent. While it may not have many combat purposes, Persuasion can be good for getting you out of a jam or progressing through quests without resorting to more violent means.


This is the de facto skill for anyone who wants a Stealth Archer or assassination-style build, not to mention its synergy with Pickpocketing. It’s a Physical skill and also part of the Cyber Runner background. At Rank 1, you gain a Stealth Meter, and when sneaking, it’s 25 percent more difficult for enemies or NPCs to spot you. Rank 2 upgrades the meter and increases your chance of detection to 50 percent while sneaking and also increases sneak attack damage dealt by suppressed weapons by 10 percent.

Rank 3 further increases your elusiveness while sneaking to 75 percent, while sneak attack damage with suppressed weapons increases by 15 percent more. Finally, at Rank 4, enemies have a 100 percent harder time detecting your sneaky self. Sneak attack damage goes up by another 20 percent with suppressed weapons, and even better, interacting with doors while sneaking won’t alert anyone.


There are a fair number of different certifications to obtain, increasing damage dealt by pistols, shotguns, heavy weapons and more. Before investing in those, try Ballistics, which is in the Combat tree and part of the Beast Hunter and Soldier backgrounds. It increases damage with ballistic weapons by 10 percent at Rank 1, 20 percent at Rank 2 and 30 percent at Rank 3. At Rank 4, the range of ballistic weapons increases by 30 percent. Overall, it’s a solid starting option before you get into the other weapon types.


Similarly, it’s worth speccing into Lasers, since laser weapons are useful in scenarios like Zero-G environments. Available in the Combat tree and part of the Cyberneticist, Explorer and Xenobiologist backgrounds, it increases laser weapon damage by 10 percent at Rank 1. At Rank 2, laser weapons will deal 20 percent additional damage, while Rank 3 increases that to 30 percent. Rank 4 adds a five percent chance to set targets on fire, and even with the low odds, it’s still ideal when facing human enemies and hostile alien creatures.

Weight Lifting

Weight Lifting is recommended for the player who always feels over-encumbered, likes to collect everything, hoards, you name it. It’s a Physical skill and available with the Exploration and Looting backgrounds. It increases your total carrying capacity by 10 kg at Rank 1, 25 kg at Rank 2 and 50 kg at Rank 3. At Rank 4, it increases it by 100 kg while providing 50 percent resistance to stagger, which is useful in its own right.


Even after you start unlocking powers that can make it easier to sprint for longer, having more O2 capacity is always nice (especially if your energy for powers runs out). Fitness is worth picking up in the Physical tree and is also available in the Beast Hunter background. It increases O2 capacity by 10 percent at Rank 1, 20 percent at Rank 2 and 30 percent at Rank 3. At Rank 4, sprinting and power attacks will consume much less O2.

Starfield is available for Xbox Series X/S and PC in early access for those who purchased the Premium Edition. It launches worldwide for Standard Edition owners and Game Pass on September 6th. Check out our review here and more tips and tricks here.

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