Ship combat is one of the cornerstones of Starfield gameplay and is an essential part of not only traversing through space but surviving some of the game’s more complicated quests. If you’re not prepared, it’s also easy to end up dead, either from a lack of proper equipment or knowledge. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to make fighting other ships a more manageable experience. We’ll go over some of the best Starfield ship combat tips in this guide.
Only Take Fights You Know You Can Win
I know this might seem obvious, but because almost every ship combat scenario is you vs. at least four enemies, it’s incredibly easy to be overwhelmed and end up dead. The most important thing you can do to make ship combat easier is to always take fights you’re confident you have a chance at winning.
If you know your ship is around level 25 and you run into a group of enemy ships that average level 35, know that you probably won’t be able to take them on without a lot of luck and a lot of perseverance. It’s possible (I’ve done it for major upgrades), but my time would’ve been better spent questing and exploring for credits and experience to build a ship that can handle harder fights than hitting my head against them.
Disable Weapon Systems First
I cannot emphasize how important targeting and disabling enemy weapon systems is, especially if you don’t plan on claiming any of the enemy ships. Taking out an enemy’s engines might stop them in their tracks, but it does nothing to stop their damage output.
Depending on how strong your shields are, this is my priority order for disabling enemy weapons: missiles, lasers, ballistics. I prioritize missiles because they deal equivalent hull and shield damage, and usually both in enormous measure. Lasers are next to give my shields some breathing room (if possible), with ballistics last, as I’d prefer to have shields up more than I am tanking with my hull.
If the ship you’re fighting is heavily invested in ballistics at the expense of lasers or other damage types, focus on that ship and its ballistic systems first. A ballistics-focused enemy can shred even the thickest hull.
Fight in Third Person
Visibility is key when fighting other ships in Starfield. Plenty of cockpits give you lots of window space, but third-person view provides a larger and more complete picture of the battlefield. It also lets you see where an enemy ship’s gone more easily when it jets away to break lock-on. Spinning in place can make you an incredibly easy target, so the quicker you can reorient on your target, the better off you’ll be.
However, if you’ve spent hours and hours in the first-person view, don’t worry about switching to third-person. Ship combat in Starfield is as much about your comfort zone as it is about optimization. Trying to change what already works will likely get you killed as much as it might help in the long run. Ask me how I know.
Equip Your Ship for What You Want to Do
What weapons and parts you put on your ship should depend on what you want to use the ship for. If you plan on destroying ships for their cargo and experience, you can eschew a huge cargo hold and extra mass for maneuverability and firepower. Such a ship needs missiles and plenty of ballistic damage to delete your enemies from the sky. Hunting for a ship to add to your fleet demands lasers and suppressors to take out engines more easily without destroying the ship you want to claim.
It can be expensive swapping between parts, so your best bet here is to have multiple ships that you swap between rather than using a single home ship for everything. That is, after all, what having a fleet is for.
Always Keep Upgrading
A good portion of ship combat in Starfield is based on how well-equipped your ship is. To that end, I highly recommend getting the Starship Design skill to level 4 at some point so you can equip the highest-quality parts. They’re as expensive as they are powerful, but a class C, level 4 ship can outgun almost anything in the game, even against seemingly impossible odds.
On your way to Starship Design 4, don’t be afraid to claim incremental upgrades as you explore, encounter pirates, and so on. Without the skill leveled, there’s only so much you can do to improve your ship’s abilities, and taking down a higher-leveled pirate or faction ship can be an easy and essentially free way to put yourself way ahead of where you’d be otherwise.