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Starfield skill tree: All skills explained

Everything we know about the various skills in Starfield

The Starfield skill tree, centred on the Leadership skill in the Social category.
Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

Looking for details on the Starfield skill tree? What's a flagship Bethesda RPG without an abundance of skills to upgrade over the course of dozens, if not hundreds of hours? Starfield shakes things up a little bit by introducing a skill system where each skill has four ranks, allowing you to push the effects of each skill even further - but only after completing specific challenges pertaining to those skills.

We'll discuss how the Starfield skill tree and leveling system works below, but first we'll explore everything we know about all the Starfield skills we've discovered so far - along with some thoughts on which are likely to be the best skills to level up first when the game releases on 6th September.

Liam walks you through the 12 most exciting things we learned from the recently broadcast Starfield direct.Watch on YouTube

Starfield skills list

There is a total of 82 skills in Starfield, each with 4 ranks that can be unlocked sequentially over time. Every time you level up, you'll earn one skill point to invest in any of the 82 skills on offer. While we don't know the names or effects of all of these skills yet, we have a good idea about over 50 of them, and have laid them out in the table below.

Here are all the Starfield skills we know about:

Skill Category Tier Effect
Stealth Physical 1 Increases sneak attack DMG
Weight Lifting Physical 1 Increases carry capacity
Wellness Physical 1 Increases max HP
Decontamination Physical 3 Increases infection recovery chance
Martial Arts Physical 3 Unarmed attacks use less Oxygen
Concealment Physical 4 Harder to detect while sneaking
Neurostrikes Physical 4 Increases unarmed attack crit DMG
Commerce Social 1 Build better trading outposts
Gastronomy Social 1 Can craft speciality food and drinks
Persuasion Social 1 Increases success chance for speech challenges
Scavenging Social 1 Find more credits while looting
Theft Social 1 Increases pickpocketing success chance
Bargaining Social 2 Buy items for less and sell for more
Diplomacy Social 2 Force an NPC not to attack you temporarily
Intimidation Social 2 Force an NPC to flee from you temporarily
Instigation Social 3 Force an NPC to join you temporarily
Leadership Social 3 Companions gain affinity faster
Outpost Management Social 3 Can establish trade routes between outposts
Xenosociology Social 4 Force an NPC to do your bidding temporarily
Ballistics Combat 1 Increases Ballistic weapon DMG
Dueling Combat 1 Increases Melee weapon DMG
Lasers Combat 1 Increases Laser weapon DMG
Pistol Certification Combat 1 Increases Pistol DMG
Shotgun Certification Combat 1 Increases Shotgun DMG
Demolitions Combat 2 Increases Explosive DMG and radius
Heavy Weapon Certification Combat 2 Increases Heavy weapon DMG
Particle Beams Combat 2 Increases Particle Beam weapon DMG
Rifle Certification Combat 2 Increases Rifle DMG
Marksmanship Combat 3 Increases Marksman weapon DMG
Rapid Reloading Combat 3 Increases weapon reload speed
Sniper Certification Combat 3 Decreases scoped weapon sway
Targeting Combat 3 Increases hipfire accuracy and range
Astrodynamics Science 1 Decreases Grav Jump fuel cost
Geology Science 1 Increases ore scan speed
Medicine Science 1 Increases Med Pack healing
Surveying Science 1 Unknown
Botany Science 2 Increases flora scan speed
Astrophysics Science 3 Increases trait chance while scanning moons
Chemistry Science 3 Craft improved chems
Outpost Engineering Science 3 Build advanced outpost modules
Ballistic Weapon Systems Tech 1 Increases ship Ballistic DMG
Boost Pack Training Tech 1 Increases Boost Jump height
Piloting Tech 1 Increases ship speed
Security Tech 1 Can attempt to hack more advanced locks
Targeting Control Systems Tech 1 Target different subsystems on enemy ships
Payloads Tech 2 Increases ship cargo capacity
Missile Weapon Systems Tech 3 Increases ship Missile DMG
Particle Beam Weapon Systems Tech 3 Increase ship Particle Beam DMG
Robotics Tech 3 Increases DMG to Robots and Turrets
Starship Design Tech 3 Unlocks more ship pre-built modules
Starship Engineering Tech 3 Unlocks more ship custom modules

There are more skills in Starfield than listed above, but these are all the skills that we currently have details on. Previously we reported on a Reddit user who had spent 200 hours figuring out the whole Starfield skill tree, but much of what's in their 44-page document is speculation, so we've only included confirmed named skills in the above table.

What are the best Starfield skills?

If you're planning to make the best choices for your first playthrough of Starfield, then there are a few key skills to keep an eye on. It's obviously too early to say for sure whether these are the best skills in the game, but here are the skills we think will have the biggest impact on your game:


You'll have to invest a lot into the Physical skill tree to unlock Concealment, but making yourself harder to detect while sneaking will be an invaluable tool in so many situations - especially when combined with the more easily accessible Stealth skill, which increases your sneak attack damage. With this combo, you'll likely be able to end a fair few fights before they even begin.


Starfield is an RPG. Of course Persuasion should be a priority. We all know how frustrating it is when a dialogue option in an RPG is greyed out because you lacked the skill to say it. Put points into Persuasion early, and you may unlock some big opportunities that could allow your Starfield story to deviate from the majority of other players' stories.


Leadership allows your companions to gain affinity faster. While we don't quite know all the effects of increasing a companion's affinity, it will likely have positive repercussions both in combat and in your relationship with that Starfield character outside of danger. If you're looking for all the best Starfield romance options, then Leadership is the perfect skill to invest in early on.


Astrophysics is an unusual but important skill which you should absolutely dump skill points into as soon as possible. This skill gives you an increased chance to discover new Starfield traits while scanning planets and moons. Traits can have very powerful effects which completely change your playstyle, so giving yourself the maximum choice by investing in Astrophysics early sounds like a very good idea to me.


Security is an early skill that allows you to attempt to hack more advanced types of locks. Is there much more that needs to be said? Lockpicking is an enormously important skill in any applicable RPG, because you can get more loot, more opportunities, and more stories to tell to your friends later on.

Targeting Control Systems

Targeting Control Systems is a skill that allows you to take advantage of one of the most interesting aspects of Starfield's ship combat. Put more skill points into Targeting Control Systems, and you'll be able to target different subsystems on enemy ships, such as weapons, shield generators, cockpit, and more, allowing you to gain a strategic advantage over more dangerous enemies out there in the black.

Starship Design/Engineering

We've grouped these two skills together because their functions are so similar. If you're excited about Starfield, we're willing to bet you're also excited about the seemingly very powerful and flexible ship customisation system. The Starship Design and Starship Engineering skills give you more building blocks to play with when designing your ship, so if you want to build the perfect extrasolar frigate, these skills are a must-have.

Certification skills

Finally there are the various weapon Certification skills, which increase your damage with a particular type of weapon. It may be straightforward and a bit uninspired, but damage is often king in not just RPGs but any game with combat, and once you've figured out the kinds of weapons you're likely to take into battle with you, there's no reason not to pump some skill points into the relevant Certification skill to dramatically increase your power in battle.

A screenshot of the skill screen in Starfield, showing the Intimidation skill details.
Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios

Is there a Starfield skill tree?

Starfield's skill system is not exactly a skill tree, but there is a hierarchy of sorts. The 82 skills in the game are split across five categories: Physical, Social, Combat, Science, and Tech. Each of these categories divides its skills into 4 rows in the skill screen, called tiers. To unlock the next tier of skills, you need to put a certain number of points into the previous tiers in that skill category.

For example, to unlock the second tier of skills in the Combat category, you will need to invest, say, 4 points into the first tier's skills. To unlock the third tier, you'll need to invest a further 4 points across both the first and second tiers. And so on.

Each skill in Starfield also has its own miniature skill tree. There are four ranks to each skill, so you can keep putting points into the same skill to improve its effects. For example, the Ballistics skill has the following effects at each rank:

  • Rank 1: Ballistic weapons do 10% more damage.
  • Rank 2: Ballistic weapons do 20% more damage.
  • Rank 3: Ballistic weapons do 30% more damage.
  • Rank 4: Ballistic weapons range is increased by 30%.

But unlocking the later ranks isn't just a case of adding more skill points. To unlock the ability to rank up a skill, you need to complete a specific challenge. In the case of the Ballistics skill, you need to kill a certain number of enemies with Ballistic weapons. The effect of this system is similar to what we've seen from previous Bethesda RPGs like Skyrim: the more you do a certain thing, the better you are able to get at it.

That's everything we know so far about the various skills and skill trees on offer in Starfield. If you want to prepare further for this mammoth Bethesda RPG, look no further than our Starfield requirements and Starfield Early Access guides.

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About the Author
Ollie Toms avatar

Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is sheriff of Guidestown at RPS, and since joining the team in 2018, he's written over 1,000 guides for the site. He loves playing dangerously competitive games and factory sims, injuring himself playing badminton, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.

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