Best Starfield starter skills, explained and ranked

All Starter Skills Explained In Starfield
Screenshot: PC Invasion

One of the first things you do in Starfield is pick your Background which automatically unlocks three skills for you. But, the flavor text for the skills doesn’t explain exactly what they do. To help you understand what each starter skill does and what the best tier-one skills are in Starfield, here is our guide.

All tier-one skills in Starfield, explained

There are five skill trees in Starfield: Physical, Social, Combat, Science, and Tech. Every skill tree has 16 or 17 skills in them, but they all have five skills on the top row which are called the “starter skills.”

Unlike classes in Skyrim, you need some skills from every tree to be effective in Starfield. Also, you need to spend four skill points on a single tier to unlock the next tier down on a skill tree. This can be done by unlocking any skill or putting more skill points into ranking up one already unlocked skill.

Here is what every tier-one skill does in Starfield:

  • Physical
    • Boxing – Unarmed attacks do 25% more damage. 25% less O2 is used when using a power attack.
    • Fitness – You have 10% more O2 available.
    • Stealth – Adds a Stealth Meter. You are 25% more difficult to detect when sneaking. Suppressed weapons do an additional 5% sneak attack damage.
    • Weight Lifting – Increase total carrying capacity by 10 kilograms.
    • Wellness – Increase your maximum health by 10%.
  • Social
    • Commerce – Buy for 5% less and sell for 10% more.
    • Gastronomy – You can craft specialty food and drinks and research additional recipes at a Research Lab.
    • Persuasion – 10% increased chance of success when persuading someone.
    • Scavenging – There’s a chance you’ll find extra credits when searching containers.
    • Theft – Unlock the ability to pickpocket targets.
  • Combat
    • Ballistic – Ballistic weapons (any ranged weapon that deals physical damage) do 10% more damage.
    • Dueling – Melee weapons do 25% more damage. Take 10% less damage while wielding a melee weapon.
    • Lasers – Laser weapons do 10% more damage.
    • Pistol Certification – Pistols do 10% more damage.
    • Shotgun Certification – Shotguns do 10% more damage.
  • Science
    • Astrodynamics – Increase grav jump range of jump drives by 15%.
    • Geology – Get more common and uncommon inorganic resources from surface objects.
    • Medicine – Med Packs, Trauma Packs, and Emergency Kits restore 10% additional health 10% faster.
    • Research Methods – Resources required to craft items and complete research projects is reduced by 10%.
    • Surveying – Adds an optional zoom to the hand scanner and scan distance is increased by 20 meters.
  • Tech
    • Ballistic Weapon Systems – Ballistic ship weapons have 10% increased damage and cost 20% less to use in Targeting Mode.
    • Boost Pack Training – You can now utilize boost packs.
    • Piloting – You can now utilize ship thrusters (which is the ability to strafe).
    • Security – You can attempt to hack Advanced locks and two auto attempts can be banked.
    • Targeting Control Systems – Unlocks ship targeting functionality.

Best Starfield starter skills tier list

Best Starter Skills In Starfield

Screenshot: PC Invasion

While every starter skill is useful and can be more fun than others in specific roleplay builds, there are some skills that are objectively more important than others. Though this list is my own opinion, I think most people would agree that these are the best basic skills in Starfield.

Related: Starfield: best Backgrounds to choose

S-Tier Starfield starter skills

  • Boost Pack
  • Stealth
  • Fitness
  • Wellness
  • Security
  • Ballistic
  • Weight Lifting

By far, the best starter skill in Starfield is Boost Pack. You can’t use a jetpack until you unlock the Boost Pack skill, and I guarantee every Starfield character, regardless of playstyle, will use the jetpack. It helps you traverse the world, both vertically and horizontally. Also, boost packing will stop fall damage if you time it right.

The next best skill in Starfield is Stealth. While everyone can crouch and sneak in Starfield, you unlock the detection meter with the Stealth skill which is extremely useful when sneaking. This skill is useful for every character, but is better for those who want to play sneakier. Without the meter, you’ll have no idea whether or not enemies can see you.

I think Fitness and Wellness belong in S-Tier because they benefit every build. Fitness gives you more O2, or stamina, and Wellness gives you more health. Slowly upgrading these two skills throughout your playthrough is vital.

Security is a necessary skill because you’ll be able to pick more advanced locks, and there are a lot of locks to pick to get to the best loot in Starfield. Lastly, I highly recommend the Ballistic skill because the majority of the weapons you’ll be using in Starfield are Ballistic weapons.

Finally, it’s crucial that everyone unlocks the Weight Lifting skill as soon as possible. You’ll very soon realize that you can’t carry a lot around at once, and this skill increases your carry weight capacity. You don’t want to become encumbered!

A-Tier Starfield starter skills

  • Shotgun Certification
  • Pistol Certification
  • Medicine
  • Target Control Systems
  • Piloting
  • Persuasion
  • Theft

The skills in the A-Tier are excellent options that you should eventually get, but they aren’t absolutely necessary for the S-Tier.

I think Shotguns are the best weapons in Starfield, so Shotgun Certification is at the top of A-Tier followed by Pistol Certification because that’s a good one to have as well since you’ll likely always have a pistol on hand.

Medicine is a great skill that improves the amount and rate of health you get from healing items. Target Control Systems is a really fun skill that basically gives you ship V.A.T.S. from Fallout. Piloting is another great skill that allows you to use thrusters to strafe in space combat. This is really useful to avoid enemy fire and get superior positioning.

Persuasion is a great skill for those who want to talk their way out of sticky situations, and Theft is a required skill if you want to pickpocket. Both of these skills are really great and eventually essential in my opinion, but I’d start with getting Boost Pack, Stealth, or Security first.

B-Tier Starfield starter skills

  • Scavenging
  • Commerce
  • Ballistic Weapon Systems
  • Lasers

The skills in the B-Tier are just average. They’re definitely not bad, but there are better starter skill options.

Scavenging is a good skill to give you more credits as you search containers, but as you complete the campaign and side quests, finding a few extra credits here and there isn’t too consequential.

Ballistic Weapon Systems makes your ship’s Ballistic weapons hit harder, which is good but there’s not that much space combat for this to be a necessary skill. Lastly, Lasers is a good skill if you want to use Laser weapons primarily, it’s just Laser weapons are harder to come by.

C-Tier Starfield starter skills

  • Geology
  • Surveying
  • Dueling
  • Boxing

The C-Tier starter skills are those that I wouldn’t recommend unlocking unless you really want to or are doing a specific playstyle.

While it’s definitely part of the game, scavenging resources isn’t a main part of Starfield. If you get really into outpost building and researching then Geology could be useful, but you can instead just spec into Commerce and buy the resources you need in any major city in the Settled Systems.

Surveying is a good one to get if you love going to planets and scanning everything, but that’s one of the least fun gameplay loops in my opinion. Plus, you can scan just fine without the Surveying skill.

If you’re doing a melee weapon build, go with Dueling. If you aren’t, avoid it. Most of the time, you’ll resort to guns anyway. If you’re doing a melee fisticuffs build, go with Boxing. But avoid it if you aren’t.

D-Tier Starfield starter skills

  • Gastronomy
  • Astrodynamics

The D-Tier Starfield starter skills are the ones that I advise you to avoid entirely. These skills aren’t worth it unless you’re a chef and you really want the Gastronomy skill.

One of the worst starter skills in Starfield is Gastronomy. You never need to cook food or drinks in Starfield and unlocking more food and drink recipes is absolutely useless. Truly, if you aren’t roleplaying a chef, avoid this skill.

Astrodynamics is a completely useless skill in Starfield because you can grav jump to any solar system in the entire game. You may need to spend a few Credits to upgrade your ship, but that’s easy. It may take you longer to jump from one solar system to the next instead of blasting off right toward your destination, but it’s not that big of a deal.

If you’re stuck with decision paralysis like I was, feel free to hold onto your skill points as you level up instead of spending them right away. Oftentimes, I didn’t know what I wanted to level up next, so I would wait until I had three or four built up to unlock a lot of good skills all at once. You’re not allowed to respec, so choose wisely.

Other Starfield articles

Starfield is available on Steam and the Microsoft Store.

Noah Nelson
About The Author
From his early days of blog-style music, movie, and game reviews to working as the Esports Writer at Coastline Community College, Noah Nelson now works fulltime as a Staff Writer for Attack of the Fanboy and PC Invasion. He has been helping gamers everywhere with Destiny 2 god rolls, Warzone 2 DMZ missions, and collectibles in any indie game for over a year and a half. His Bachelor's Degree in English Rhetoric and Composition with a minor in Journalism from CSULB has shaped him to be a strong writer and editor. His fondest gaming memory is playing Sly Cooper 2 after begging his mom (for hours) to play it before his birthday and he still cries myself to sleep remembering the time he accidentally saved over his 99% completion save file in Kingdom Hearts 2.