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Best Starfield builds for starter and endgame characters

Look no further for the best Starfield builds and character setups in the early game and an idea of endgame builds in Bethesda’s interstellar RPG.

Starfield Best Builds: A man can be seen

What are the best Starfield builds? Bethesda has pushed the boat out when it comes to builds in Starfield, with more choices to make early on compared to its past RPGs. As such, it can be quite a conundrum trying to pin down the playstyle you want to go for. So, here are the best Starfield builds for early-game characters, from melee brawlers to laser weapon experts, as well as for your endgame builds when you are in new game plus or finishing up activities.

Thankfully, there should be a best Starfield build for everyone with how many options are at our disposal. The best place to start when making a build of your own is which of the best Starfield backgrounds and best Starfield traits you’d like to pick during Starfield character customization. That’s before even thinking about the Starfield companions that can complement your build in various ways.

Best Starfield builds

The best Starfield builds are:

  • Melee build
  • Bounty hunter build
  • Stealth build
  • Heavy soldier build
  • Colonizer build
  • Captain build

The best starter builds are the first three and can give you some pointers as to where you’d like to take your build as you level up further, with even more possibilities opening up thanks to the Starfield powers and the best Starfield skills. There’s a little something for everyone, even when you’re just starting out. So, whether you want to snipe, punch, clobber, or sneak your way through Starfield, these are the best builds for you.

The last three builds offer maximum performance in three wildly different scenarios: high-level battles, building and managing outposts, and piloting across the Settled Systems. Needless to say, Starfield’s progression and customization systems have proven to be quite flexible, so your character should still do fine in most quests given the weapons and equipment are up to par. But these builds will help you better squeeze the late-game depending on what type of character you want to role-play.

Read on for more information on how to set them up correctly, as well as alternative options if you’re not quite sure what you want.

Starfield Best Builds: The Bouncer screen can be seen

Starfield melee build

The Starfield melee build involves the following:

  • Weapon – Fists
  • Background – Bouncer
  • Traits – Alien DNA, Introvert/Extrovert, Wanted
  • Skills – Boxing, Weight Lifting, Wellness, Pain Tolerance, Cellular Regeneration, Martial Arts, Neurostrikes (unarmed), Rejuvenation, Dueling (melee), Boost Pack Training

This build makes full use out of your bare hands as a weapon, with Boxing, Security, and Fitness as your starting skills thanks to the Bouncer background. Boxing is the most important skill for this setup, causing unarmed strikes to deal more damage and power attacks to consume less O2. At Boxing rank 4, this will come out to 100% more damage and have a chance to knock down opponents. Pushing this even further, Fitness gives you bonus O2, letting you throw out even more power attacks at your enemy.

Ronin can be a good alternative choice if you want to use actual melee weapons like axes and swords as it comes with Dueling. Similarly, you could use the Gangster background to throw some shotgun action into the mix as well as melee.

Taking this further, several of the physical skills will work wonders for those looking to deal damage up close and live to tell the tale, such as Wellness, Martial Arts, and Neurostrikes. And if you really want to show off, you can also get the Boost Pack Training skill to close the gap on your enemy.

Perhaps the most important skill in this Starfield build is Martial Arts. When fully leveled, your melee and unarmed attacks will gain increase critical chance, a chance to disarm opponents with power attacks, damage reduction when unarmed or wielding a melee weapon, and a high chance to reflect damage when blocking. As you can see, this skill does everything you could need, from increased damage and stun, to some much needed damage reduction.

Pair this will Neurostrikes which can stun enemies with unarmed attacks, as well as cause them to do additional EM damage. At max rank, this skill will also knock down any enemies that are stunned. If you want to punch your way through the galaxy, you can’t do much better than Neurostrikes.

Rejuvenation, on the other hand, will cause you to regenerate health outside of combat. When taken all the way to rank 4, however, you will also be able to quickly regenerate health in combat. Dashing in and out of combat with blazing fists has never been easier.

Dueling, a tier one Combat skill, is perfect for those looking for a melee weapon build over an unarmed build. This skill will grant damage resistance when wielding a melee weapon, increase melee weapon damage, and even cause melee kills to heal you. Unfortunately, this won’t work with unarmed attacks though.

We can’t forget about Weight Lifting thought, as at rank 4, it will provide a 50% resistance to stagger, which comes in handy when you’re charging at your enemy.

As for any extra skill points, these can be spend on upgrading skills and purchasing any other skills you find useful, such as Outpost Management, Weapon Engineering, or Spacesuit Design.

If you want to pick traits that impact gameplay, then Alien DNA can be strong once you’re a higher level. This will further increase your health and oxygen, but healing items and food will be less effective. Likewise, Introvert or Extrovert can work well depending on if you want a companion with you. Lastly, Wanted will give you a damage boost when your health is low, though you’ll have to deal with armed mercenaries occasionally hunting you down.

Overall, a Starfield melee build is an incredibly aggressive and fun playstyle for those looking to get up close and personal, while also leaving room for firearms if you’d like them. Given the Starfield max level, there’s nothing stopping you from getting even more ranged weapon skills later down the line if you’d like to either.

Starfield Best Builds: The Soldier can be seen

Starfield bounty hunter build

The Starfield bounty hunter build involves the following:

  • Weapon – Ballistic weapons
  • Background – Soldier
  • Traits – Introvert/Extrovert, Wanted
  • Skills – Ballistics, Wellness, Pistol Certification, Demolitions, Heavy Weapons Certification, Rifle Certification, Marksmanship, Rapid Reloading, Targeting, Armor Penetration, Crippling, Sharpshooting

The Soldier background comes with Fitness, Ballistics, and Boost Pack Training as the starting skills; all great skills for a budding bounty hunter looking to specialize in ballistic weapons. Boost Pack Training will kick this up a notch by providing access to more efficient boost packs to leap around combat encounters and outmaneuver your opponents.

Choosing several combat skills while leveling up will improve your ranged prowess even further, including certification skills to focus on specific weapon types, Rapid Reloading to make sure you’re never caught off-guard, and Armor Penetration to take down tougher foes.

Demolitions will improve all things explosives, including damage and area-of-effect. This skill is perfect for going guns blazing, clearing out areas before charging in or flushing enemies out of cover.

Moving up to tier three of the Combat tree, Marksmanship is vital to increase your ranged damage. At max rank, you will have a massively improved chance of landing critical hits with non-automatic ranged weapons, and these critical hits will deal double damage if you’re not using a scope. If your weapon does have a scope, then it will instead knock enemies down. So long as you’re using a non-automatic weapon, Marksmanship is undeniably power.

Likewise, the Rapid Reloading skill is perfect for any Starfield build using ranged weapons of any kind. Increasing the rank of this skill will improve the reload speed of each weapon type (Ballistic, Energy, EM, and Particle Beam), letting you be more sprightly in combat. At max rank though, Rapid Reloading has a chance to speed up reloads by 50% after hitting an enemy.

Targeting is another great Combat skill for any ranged Starfield build, focusing on enhancing hip-fire accuracy and range. This is great for close-range weapons like pistols, shotguns, and SMGs, and will certainly come in handy.

Kicking off tier four, Armor Penetration causes attacks to ignore enemy armor by up to 50%, while also decreasing enemy armor by 25% for six seconds after critical hits. Pair with Marksmanship which increased critical hit chance, this skill is absolutely devastating.

Similarly, Crippling can force enemies into a downed state after taking enough damage, effectively taking them out of the fight for a short duration. However, increasing the rank of this skill will make it harder for enemies to recover, and easier for you to down them. As the cherry on top, Crippling rank 4 will result in you dealing 100% more damage to downed enemies, which is hard to say no to.

Last but not least, Sharpshooting will massively increase critical damage to various parts of the body with ranged weapons. What’s more, at Sharpshooting rank 4, ranged critical hit kills increase your critical hit chance by 25% for 20 seconds. Paired with previous skills, this Starfield build is a force to be reckoned with.

If you find yourself with skill points to spare, these can be used on upgrading skills and purchasing any other skills you find useful, such as Outpost Management, Weapon Engineering, or Spacesuit Design.

If you want to pick traits, there are a few that can work well outside of the more roleplay focused options. Firstly, Introvert or Extrovert are great picks if you know whether or not you would like a companion, reducing oxygen consumption. Another strong option is Wanted, which will give you a damage boost when your health is low, but armed mercenaries will occasionally hunt you down.

Starfield Best Builds: The Cyber Runner skill screen can be seen

Starfield stealth build

The Starfield stealth build involves the following:

  • Weapon – Melee/Ranged
  • Background – Cyber Runner
  • Traits – Introvert/Extrovert, Wanted
  • Skills – Stealth, Wellness, Fitness, Pain Tolerance, Concealment, Isolation, Rejuvenation, Boxing (unarmed), Martial Arts (unarmed/melee), Neurostrikes (unarmed), Dueling (melee), Marksmanship (ranged), Sharpshooting (ranged)

If you miss the days of being a stealth archer from Skyrim, then this is the Starfield build for you.

First things first, the Cyber Runner background is perfect for any stealth build in Starfield, coming with Stealth, Security, and Theft as the starting skills. As for weapons, you can either use a melee stealth build or ranged stealth build, depending on your preference. Melee can be harder to pull off given you have to get up close, but ranged weapons can often blow your cover if you’re not careful.

As for skills, this largely depends on what weapons you’d like to use. For melee, Dueling and Martial Arts are your best bet, whereas Marksmanship and Sharpshooting are perfect for ranged. However you play, you can get a stealth build that takes full advantage of the bonus damage when attacking from stealth. With that said, certain skills like Stealth, Concealment, and Isolation will generally be great picks no matter what stealth build playstyle you’d like to use.

Stealth adds a stealth meter, makes you harder to detect when sneaking, and even increases sneak attack damage with suppressed weapons. You really couldn’t ask for more out of a stealth skill. It’s worth bearing in mind though that this is best used for ranged stealth builds, which are generally the best Starfield build for stealth anyhow.

Similarly, Concealment significantly increases the damage of both ranged and melee sneak attacks. Reaching at least rank 3 will give you 3.5x damage multiplier for ranged sneak attacks, and a staggering 8x multiplier for melee sneak attacks to compensate for the slightly harder playstyle.

If you know you don’t want companions or crew accompanying you, then Isolation is a superb choice. Isolation will greatly enhance your weapon damage and damage resistance when you don’t have a companion or crew with you. Given it’s somewhat more suitable to stealth alone, without an NPC tailing you, Isolation is a straight-up improvement and will give this stealth build bonus damage and survivability.

On that note, Pain Tolerance will reduce physical damage taken, while Rejuvenation unlocks the ability to quickly regenerate health, especially when fully leveled. While these won’t come in handy if you’re successfully stealthy – you shouldn’t take damage if no one knows you’re there – it’s invaluable if you get caught.

From here, it’s up to your playstyle. Boxing, Martial Arts, and Neurostrikes are vital for unarmed playstyles, increasing damage, critical chance, and the ability to stun respectively.

Martial Arts and Dueling are perfect for melee weapon stealth builds, increasing critical chance and damage respectively, while also adding the ability to heal on melee kills.

And last but not least, Marksmanship and Sharpshooting, as well as various Combat skills like Ballistics and certification skills are great for ranged stealth setups. Marksmanship focuses on ranged critical hits with non-automatic weapons, while Sharpshooting improves critical hit damage with ranged weapons – just make sure you’re using a suppressor. Paired with the sneak attack damage multiplier, you can easily one-shot opponents from stealth.

When it comes to traits, these are largely up to personal preference as most serve roleplay purposes. However, Extrovert or Introvert are generally strong choices for most builds, reducing oxygen consumption with or without a companion respectively. Wanted can also be good for the bonus damage when low on health, especially if you get spotted, though you’ll have to contend with armed mercenaries that occasionally track you down.

Starfield Builds: The Heavy Soldier build can be seen

Starfield heavy soldier build

The Starfield heavy soldier build involves the following:

  • Weapons – Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Smartgun
  • Background – Soldier
  • Traits – Introvert, United Colonies Native, Terra Firma
  • Skills – Fitness, Wellness, Pain Tolerance, Rejuvenation, Boost Pack Training, Boost Pack Assault Training, Ballistics, Shotgun Certification, Heavy Weapons Certification, Armor Penetration

This build is perfect for anyone looking to face intense firefights and combat scenarios head-on, pushing through the enemy lines and utterly crushing any and all resistance. If you’re looking to turn on-foot combat into a joke past level 30 (what we’d consider the start of the endgame), look no further.

Assault rifles should be your go-to early-game weapon since the Maelstrom and other punchy rifles are quite common (the same goes for the ammo they use), but we recommend focusing on finding the best shotgun rolls and then upgrading them as soon as possible – this weapon type can’t be topped in close-quarters combat.

Heavy weapons such as the N67 Smartgun (Starfield’s take on the minigun) aren’t as common, but as you level up the Heavy Weapons Certification skill, consider looking for solid drops with rolls that enhance the damage and add extra effects to hits. Any heavy weapon will benefit from the aforementioned skill, but the N67 is a standout with the right traits and mods.

Starfield Builds: The N67 can be seen

When it comes to traits, we’ve picked Introvert because we wanted the build to be as competitive as possible for solo characters. During battles, you’ll be running a lot, so you want to consume as little oxygen as possible. Still, you can opt for a more tactical approach to enemy encounters with the support of a solid combat companion such as Sam Coe (main quest) or Simeon Bankowski (New Atlantis’ Viewport). For similar reasons, we went with the Terra Firma trait in order to maximize health and oxygen when on the surface of planets, which is where you want to spend most of your time with this build.

The United Colonies Native trait has more to do with the role-playing aspect of this build. The UC/Vanguard faction quests will put you in the middle of intense combat scenarios, making the most of your Soldier background and the skills we’re choosing. You’re getting better rewards from the faction, too.

Starfield Builds: A merc can be seen

If you look through our skill suggestions, you can see we recommend picking anything that has to do with more health points, health regeneration, and better mobility. It’s all rather straightforward, so the priority of the suggested skills while leveling up is up to you.

Nonetheless, the idea here is that you should get every skill we mention to its max. level (4) in order to get the extra effects. The ideal endgame of the build is to be able to run and fly around easily while rocking a tuned-out heavy weapon that can melt through the enemies and even their thickest armor.

If you want even better performance while using the boost pack and/or are deep into your Heavy Soldier run, consider investing in Tech skills of your choice so you can reach Tier 4 and grab Boost Pack Assault Training for devasting moves in air-to-ground combat.

Starfield Builds: The Colonizer can be seen

Starfield colonizer build

The Starfield colonizer build involves the following:

  • Weapons – Rifles, Shotguns
  • Background – Homesteader
  • Traits – Extrovert, Alien DNA, Terra Firma
  • Skills – Ballistics, Shotgun Certification, Rifle Certification, Marksmanship, Geology, Surveying, Research Methods, Weight Lifting, Zoology, Scanning, Botany, Outpost Engineering, Planetary Habitation, Special Projects

This build is perfect for players looking to role-play a settler or farmer type of character. You should be looking to build and develop outposts and other planetary operations instead of pick-up fights, but we made sure the Colonizers can still defend themselves effectively. The thing to keep in mind about this build is that it requires you to severely change the pace of your playthrough, given that most of the recommended skills require players to go out of their way to complete the required level-up challenges, which are kind of grindy in this case.

As you can deduce, weapons aren’t a top priority in this build, yet putting points into Ballistics, Shotgun Certification, Rifle Certification, and Marksmanship is something we recommend doing as soon as possible. Early-game exploration and colonization efforts can be tough, so you want every advantage you can get to clear out outposts while looking for materials and hunt down native creatures to harvest more. As you progress, less violence should be required.

Starfield Builds: The Lawgiver can be seen

Ballistics is an obligatory skill the moment you decide to touch ballistic weapons, and we chose a specialization in non-automatic rifles and shotguns to evoke the colonizers from the Old Earth. As a direct result, Marksmanship simply makes sense to improve your overall hit chance with non-automatic weapons. The idea here is to clear out the local wildlife from afar with long rifles like the Lawgiver while defending yourself during close encounters with a good shotgun like the Coachman. Always search for good rolls and upgrade the weapons later, no matter your Weapon Engineering skill level.

Starfield Builds: The Coachman can be seen

For the traits, we went with Extrovert for role-playing reasons. If the Soldier build is supposed to stay competitive as a loner, it doesn’t make sense for a Colonizer to grow and develop outposts on their own. Moreover, you want to have companions by your side to help carry resources and whatever useful loot you find and add extra firepower to your on-foot trips. As a bonus, you’ll get reduced oxygen consumption, which will come in handy if you need to pack up and run for your life.

Terra Firma makes a return in this build because it’s an obvious and extremely useful pick if you know you’re gonna spend most of your time on the surfaces of planets and moons. More health and oxygen are always welcome. On top of Terra Firma, we added Alien DNA to push health and oxygen even further, making the Colonizer more sturdy. You could potentially swap this one out for another trait that fits your interests better, but we personally chose to round out the health/oxygen bonuses.

Outside of the aforementioned weapon-related skills and Weight Lifting (you’ll need as much carrying capacity as possible), you want to hit the Science skill tree hard and fast, following our recommended set. Not everything here will help your colonization efforts directly, but once you’ve maxed out all the suggested skills in this build, it’s not a bad idea to fill out the rest of the tree.

Starfield Builds: A player can be seen Exploring

Geology, Surveying, and Research Methods will boost your effectiveness by gathering many materials and figuring out your surroundings early on. The same goes for Botany, Zoology, and Scanning. Essentially, you want to maximize the gathering of resources from both inorganic and organic stuff. The more you can get during a short trip, the more you’ll be able to craft later in one go.

Eventually, you’ll hit the key Tier 3 and 4 skills for this build: Outpost Engineering, Planetary Habitation, and Special Projects. These are the skills that will allow you to become a proper settler and maximize the potential of each outpost you build across the Settled Systems. By the time you’ve set up shop on several worlds, you should look into assigning the right companions and crew members to each outpost and making sure they have everything they need to work effectively. Also: Don’t forget to have fun and make each location you build look cool!

Starfield Builds: The Captain can be seen

Starfield captain build

The Starfield captain build involves the following:

  • Weapons – Energy Weapons
  • Background – Long Hauler
  • Traits – Freestar Collective Settler, Spaced, Taskmaster
  • Skills – Weight Lifting, Ship Command, Lasers, Particle Beams, Aneutronic Fusion, Astrodynamics, Dueling, everything in the Tech tree related to ships

This build is a trickier one to get completely right, at least until you’ve flown past level 30 and into the late game, but it’s one you’ll want to try if you love starships and getting into dogfights. We’re also not judging whether you want to be an honest space trucker making a fortune with timely deliveries or a mischievous pirate captain, among other possibilities.

Let’s discuss the traits first. Since you’ll be doing lots of space traveling as a freelance pilot and working for clients all over the Settled Systems, the Freestar Collective Settler trait is an excellent choice, as members of the FC are found pretty much everywhere in the game outside of major UC locations. This time around, Spaced is the go-to health and oxygen boost instead of Terra Firma. If you want to be a proper spaceship captain, you’ll spend most of your time in space. Last but not least, we used Taskmaster to make the most out of our crew members; this gives ship systems a chance of repairing themselves automatically when damaged below 50% if you have crew trained in that system.

Starfield Builds: A ship can be seen

Once again, we recommend grabbing and upgrading the Weight Lifting skill as soon as you can, only this time you’ll need that extra carrying capacity to loot everything you can from the ships you board. Even if you’re not role-playing a pirate, space is really dangerous in Starfield, and you’ll get the chance to board the damaged ships of your assailants. You don’t hate money, do you?

Astrodynamics is an essential skill, especially in the early game. It’s a Tier 1 skill from the Science tree which increases the range of your grav jumps and reduces the fuel cost, so it’s a no-brainer. Aneutronic Fusion is also an excellent skill from the same tree, but the problem is that it’s locked behind Tier 4, and this build doesn’t have much of a use for the Science skills between Astrodynamics and Aneutronic Fusion, so only go for it once you’ve maxed out the other, more important skills we’re suggesting (more on that below).

When it comes to weapons, we chose to become a mix of a classical pirate and a space captain from an old pulp magazine, so look to invest in Dueling (search for a good Naval Cutlass drop), Lasers, and Particle Beams. Stab and cut through small groups of enemies during boardings and switch to the best laser and particle guns you can find for firefights and ventures into derelict space stations. As always, max these skills out like the rest to get the best bonuses.

Starfield Builds: A naval Cutlass can be seen

Finally, the meat and potatoes of this build are – aside from always looking to get or upgrade to the biggest ship possible – grabbing every ship-related skill in the Tech section. Yes, that’s a lot of skills, but trust us, you want to catch ‘em all. It’s definitely easier to list out which Tech skills you can skip: Boost Pack Training, Boost Assault Training, Security, and Robotics. That said, if you’re looking to board and loot every space station you come across, even those can come in handy.

A big part of becoming a great captain in Starfield is recruiting the right companions and crew members, so you’ll want to spend some time walking around the game’s central hubs and doing the main quests during the early game too, at least until you assemble a sizable crew with the right people for the right job. As we said at the beginning of this section, this is the hardest of our builds to get right, but it’s an extremely cool one in our humble opinion.

How to make the best Starfield build

If you’re considering making your own build, then there are a few important things to think about. These include:

  • Weapon type
  • Background
  • Traits
  • Skills
  • Companions
  • Gear

Perhaps most importantly, the weapons you would like to use will dictate your build. Firstly, you’ll have to decide whether you want to be a melee or ranged character. From here, there are several different subcategories, like bare hands or melee weapons, ballistic weapons, or laser weapons. If you’ve already got an idea, then you can start investing in the relevant skills, particularly weapon certification skills for ranged weapons. For more information on weapons, check out our guide to the best Starfield weapons.

Starfield Best Builds: A weapon can be seen

On this note, the background of your character can give you a strong starting position. These will give you a free skill point in three skills, depending on the background you’ve selected. Try to pick one that aligns with your playstyle to save you some skill points later down the road. Similarly, traits can have an impact on your playstyle, such as Introvert and Extrovert affecting your effectiveness with companions, though most are tailored towards roleplaying.

Starfield Best Builds: The Triats screen can be seen

If you’ve decided to bring a companion along, you’ll then need to decide which one. For example, Starfield’s Sarah Morgan is adept with laser weapons, while Sam Coe prefers rifles. There are even crew members who come with skills, some of which may be better at close range. As such, there’s room for synergy with your companion, either filling a gap in your own Starfield build or backing you up with a similar playstyle.

Starfield Best Builds: The skills screen can be seen

Last but not least is the gear you equip. Starfield Legendaries and Uniques will be the most important, with powerful stats that can boost specific approaches. The Incendiary Legendary perk, for example, can ignite nearby attackers, making it a great choice for melee builds.

And that covers the best Starfield builds in the early game and an idea of what to expect from endgame builds. The fun doesn’t stop there though, thanks to the Starfield magazine locations, you can also gain boosts that can aid you in combat and exploration throughout the full Starfield length. With so much build diversity, Starfield is set to be one of the best RPG games of recent times.

Still looking for more? While a good Starfield wiki can be a handy source of information, our new Starfield Database goes further, offering you daily news, searchable databanks, and even interactive tools.