Starfield combat

What makes Starfield truly special? Starfield combat, newly improved, redesigned, and greater than any previous Bethesda title.

Starfield combat

Starfield combat is at the heart of your experience in Bethesda’s latest game, with new system that simultaneously simplifies combat while offering more ways to take it to your enemies. There’s no V.A.T.S. here, instead, there’s a plethora of weapons, including powerful guns and melee weapons purpose-built for taking town space pirates. Oh, and there’s a boost pack, so you can float down onto an unsuspecting Spacer before unloading your Beowulf on them. It’s old-fashioned fun, with plenty of futurist technology to make it that bit more thrilling.

While combat is a big piece of the Starfield pie, space exploration is just as important. So, you can use our Starfield ships hub to get your head around traveling throughout the galaxy, with individual guides for ship designs, ship manufacturers, and ship components.

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Starfield gun combat

Most players find themselves in a gunfight at some point. Whether you prefer pistols, rifles, lasers, or something much bigger, you have the option of firing from the hip or aiming down the sights. A few Starfield skills improve not just the weapon you’re using, like Pistol Certification, Rifle Certification, and Ballistics, but also how you use them, with the Targeting skill improving your accuracy without aiming.

As a result, Starfield’s gun gameplay could best be described as a run-and-gun approach. You’ll no doubt find yourself dodging in and out of cover while reloading but, as Starfield doesn’t have a strict cover-based mechanic, this is done by positioning your character behind an obstacle, or crouching behind something. Or, if you want to come down from above, you can use the Boost Pack Training and Boost Assault Training to surprise your enemies by raining bullets down on them.

If you do happen to find yourself within melee range of an enemy, you can also perform a ‘gun bash’ in which you smack them with the butt of your gun. This doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it should buy you enough time to empty your whole clip into them. Or, if you’re feeling explosive, you can get busy throwing a Frag Grenade or two in the enemy direction. To make those bombs even more impactful, check out the Demolitions skill.

Starfield melee combat

The Dueling skill describes the art of melee combat as a “lost art” that you can revitalize with a number of weapons like the Combat Knife or the Rescue Axe. In general, the melee combat in Starfield is an improvement on previous Bethesda games, even the melee-heavy Skyrim, with skills like Boxing and Pain Tolerance helping form a proper melee build.

Even if you’re a run-and-gun player, it’s best to keep a melee weapon on hand should you run out of ammo or find yourself in a tight space.

A player character charging a Maggotmaw in open Starfield combat.

Starfield zero-G combat

Zero gravity environments will dramatically change how you approach combat. If you’re using ballistic weapons like the Beowulf or the Grendel, the recoil of the shots will actually push you backward as you float around. As a result, it’s a good idea to opt for something like the Equinox when in a zero-g environment, because they don’t produce recoil.

The player being pushed away from the enemy in Starfield's zero-G combat.

Starfield ship combat

If you thought we were done, far from it! One of the big selling points of Starfield is the ability to fly and customize your own spaceship. This puts you in a tight spot when traveling through less safe corners of the Settled Systems as pirates and religious zealots eye up your precious cargo hold. Plus, if you’re a criminal, the local factions may also have something to say to you in the eternal language of bullets, lasers, and missiles.

Starfield’s ship combat is a dogfight-style environment in which your ship attempts to outmaneuver your enemy’s weapons while lining up your own.

Screenshot of a Starfield ship dogfight.

There are a few concepts you need to get your head around to get the best out of Starfield’s dogfighting space combat, so we’ve listed them below.

  • Managing ship power distribution – You can divert power to your shields for more defense, or redirect that power to the grav drive to make a quick escape.
  • Targeting specific ship components – Once you’ve breached your enemy’s shields, you have the option to target their engines, weapons, cockpit, and all the other specific ship modules. This allows you to selectively disable troublesome systems, potentially lining you up for a boarding action. However, this method of attack requires the Targeting Control Systems skill, so make sure you pick it up before you try taking down enemy engines.
  • Boarding enemy vessels – if you can disable the enemy’s vessel, you can dock with their ship and take the fight to them on foot. If successful, you can take over their ship and add it to your fleet, or loot it for everything on board. Just be careful if you’ve damaged their gravity systems, as you could find yourself in zero-G combat very quickly.

Your ship comes equipped with either ballistic weapons, missiles, or laser armaments which all have different advantages and disadvantages depending on what skills you take, and how well you customize your ship.

There you have it, our guide to Starfield combat. For some useful perks to bring into a battle, check out our guides to legendary weapon effects and legendary armor effects.

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Tim has sunk at least a thousand hours into Bethesda games over the years, and has now completed Starfield with over 200 hours in-game. So, if he's not busy updating our Starfield weapons database, he’s eagerly installing the best Starfield mods and DLC, or planning his dream outpost.