Starfield – Guide to Quickstart and Core Mechanics

A guide for those who worry about making sub-optimal choices in the early game, and for those who can’t figure out how some of the game mechanics work.

Quickstart and Core Mechanics Guide


Okay Dusty, time to get your feet wet. Purpose of this guide is to go over all the major game mechanics so you can make sensible decisions as you start your trek into the stars. I will be developing this guide as I’m able to.

Main Quest Quickstart

Here’s the tl;dr version of optimal character parameters for completing the main quest.

Character creation picks

Pick one of these for your initial build.


  • Cyberneticist
  • Soldier
  • Xenobiologist
  • [FILE NOT FOUND] (note, this is an actual pick, not a make-your-own)


  • Extrovert
  • United Colonies Native
  • blank/whatever you want

Level up guidelines

As you level up, first focus on developing your skills in this order:

  • Combat, Social, Tech, Physical/Science

Primary Skills:

  • Physical: Wellness, Energy Weapon Dissapation, Pain Tolerance, Rejuvenation
  • Social: Persuasion, Negotiation, Scavenging,
  • Combat: Lasers XOR Ballistics, Particle Weapons, Rifle/Heavy Weapons stack
  • Science: Medicine, Surveying
  • Tech: Piloting, Security, Shield Systems

Secondary Skills:

  • Physical: Fitness, Weight Lifting (if you’re a horder), Rejuvination
  • Social: Commerce, Diplomacy, Intimidation, Ship Command
  • Combat: Any/all
  • Science: Astrodynamics, Space suit design, Weapons Engineering, Outpost Engineering, Aneutronic Fusion
  • Tech: Any Weapon System, Payloads (if you’re a horder)

There are some skills that you must spend at least one point in to unlock relevant game mechanics. They are:

  • Physical->Stealth: enables sneaking
  • Physical->Gymnastics: enables sliding
  • Social->Negotiation: enables bribing
  • Science->Surveying: enables zoom
  • Tech->Boost pack training: enables jetpacks
  • Tech->Piloting: enables directional thrusters on ship
  • Tech->Targeting Control Systems: lets you pick a system to attack on a ship

You may not want/need that game mechanic, but I put them here to let you know they will change how you play the game a bit. Definitely get boost pack training.

To beat the main quest, you will eventually need to develop a proficiency in all the main areas of gameplay: social interaction, personal combat and ship combat. You will also encounter a need to learn ship design and outpost building.

Now to cover each game mechanic in detail.

FPS / Character

This section covers basic controls and core mechanics outside of piloting and dialogue.

Basic Controls

All motion controls are near the standard WASD.

  • Fire – Left click
  • Aim – Right click
  • Jump – Space
  • Sneak (toggle) – Left Ctrl
  • Sprint (toggle) – Left Shift
  • Walk/Run – Caps lock
  • Melee – V
  • Thrown attack – G
  • Reload – R, or left click when empty. If you interrupt the reload animation, it will only partially reload the clip.
  • Scan mode (toggle) – F
  • Character Menu – Tab
  • Game Menu – ESC

Short vs long

Tapping a key and holding a key are different actions. Tapping F will switch to scanner mode, holding F will toggle your flashlight.

Play around with this for a bit to make sure you know what a short tap feels like.

If a menu action has a letter next to it with a line underneath it, that indicates a long-press. (I imagine this feels more intuitive on a controller than on a keyboard)

More advanced movement


Jet-pack – Long-Space (after jump). Requires 1 Skill/level point in Tech->BOOST PACK TRAINING. It is worth noting that this is only done in bursts and there is a particular rhythm between presses. You can trigger the jet-pack immediately after jumping, but that is rarely optimal. This rhythm changes as you level up the perk.

Slide – Left-Ctrl while Sprinting (Left-Shift). Requires 1 Skill/level point in Physical->GYMNASTICS

Scan Mode and Surveying

I call this my “loot finder”

A short F will toggle between scan mode and normal mode. Most combat controls are disabled while in scan mode (such as action-bar/# keys, which typically include your health packs).

It will also replace any “activate” or “use” commands with the standard “scan.”

Scan mode will give you a wealth of information about your current environment.

  1. Your compass and status indicator icon. Quest objectives are marked by the blue Hexagon. The solid curve line on the bottom of the circle is your stamina/O2. Note the gravity here as that will affect how you move around. Typically, anything above 0.66g and you’ll want to walk/run rather than try to use your jetpack.
  2. Current planetary survey status. Fauna are animals, Flora are plants, Resources are Minerals. The circular question marks are planetary traits, marked as “unknown” points of interest when you are exploring a planet. These bars will fill up as you get close to and hit ‘e’ to scan different objects in the game. Planets also contain multiple biomes, and a green indicator will show up here if you’ve found all the relevant flora/fauna for your current biome.
  3. Display/targeting indicator changes. Targeting indicator now marks the distance between you and what you’re looking at. Your maximum scan range is off to the left and the circle acts as a viewport for your scan region.
  4. Interact-able object. Anything you can pickup, talk to, attack, or harvest will get at least a blue outline. A blue outline indicates a general object that might be scannable. For flora, fauna, and resources, this blue outline will change depending on where you’re at in your planetary survey. Solid blue means you’ve scanned this individual, and solid green means no more scans are needed on this object.
  5. Laser cutter. If you have one in your inventory, then the laser cutter is the only ‘weapon’ you can use in scan mode. Left click to bring it out, and Long-R to holster it. It’s intended use is to mine minerals, but it is a potent weapon if you take the “laser” weapon perks, despite it’s 10m range limit.
Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 7120 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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