Starfield: Best Backgrounds Explained & Ranked

Choose your protagonist’s origin in Starfield – We ranked the top backgrounds from the best to worst and explained what to pick to enhance your gameplay.

Starfield Backgrounds Guide Preview
Starfield Backgrounds Guide Preview

Backgrounds determine the starting skills and give you an opportunity to roleplay in space as one of the 21 backgrounds available in Starfield. Your choice depends on your preferences at the start, but can be highly customized later in the game. As the game progresses, there are not many benefits outside of a few special dialogue options. Non-playable characters (NPCs) and companions may sometimes interact with your character in a certain way. Whether you are hailed as a Bounty Hunter, a Combat Medic, or even a Gangster, your background weaves a narrative thread that runs throughout your journey. In Starfield, during the “One Small Step” mission, you’ll pick your background in character creation.

Best and Worst Backgrounds Explained

We feel that the best backgrounds that worked well for us are: Soldier and File Not Found. Both provide a good combination of combat certifications with the addition of a must-have additional skills.

Players who prefer combat might want to pick the Soldier, Bounty Hunter, or File Not Found backgrounds, while the best background for outlaws and stealth-focused characters will be Cyber Runner. A Diplomat is fantastic if you want to spend time managing your ship’s crew, talking to companions, and solving misunderstandings peacefully.

Professor, Explorer, and Homesteader will be the best for protagonists, who value science and are primarily focused on exploration, outposts, and surveying. However, those backgrounds are perceived as the least useful because they focus on very specific gameplay and don’t provide any starting skills for ship piloting or combat, which are the main focus in Starfild.

Starfield Best Backgrounds

Here is a list of the best Backgrounds in Starfield (below, we explained the top 10 in detail):

  1. Soldier
  2. File Not Found
  3. Bounty Hunter
  4. Cyber Runner
  5. Diplomat

5 Diplomat

Starfield Diplomat Background

The wars are over. Peace now reigns in the Settled Systems. But only because there are those quietly fighting to keep it. Because of you, agreements were signed, words were heeded… lives were spared.

Diplomat Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Persuasion: 10% increased chance of success when persuading someone.
  • Commerce: Buy for 5% less and sell for 10% more.
  • Wellness: Increase your maximum health by 10%.

It lacks combat and tech skills, which makes it weaker than the top 4 choices, but diplomat has some advantages, and if you plan to invest in social skills more and play a pacifist build who prefers to manipulate and charm others to get what they want, this is the choice for you. You can pair it with Creators’ Peace Starborn Power to force enemies to drop their weapons and enhance your roleplaying gameplay in many other ways.

It will also be a good background choice if you plan on playing solo. Isolation skill is in the second row of the social skill tree, and a diplomat background will help you get there quicker. We recently released the persuasion build, where we prove that social skills and speech character can be as powerful as others.

4 Cyber Runner

Starfield Cyber Runner Background

From Neon to New Atlantis, the megacorps stand as monuments to power, prestige and profit. You’ve worked both for and against them, on the inside and out, often sacrificing conscience for credits.

Cyber Runner Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Stealth: You are 25% more difficult to detect when sneaking. Suppressed weapons do an additional 5% sneak attack damage.
  • Security: You can attempt to hack Advanced locks, and 2 auto attempts can be banked.
  • Theft: Unlock the ability to pickpocket targets.

Assassins and thieves should consider this build as their best option. Starfield in Bethesda games style offers fantastic opportunities and high-damage skills such as stealth and concealment. This background will also be best in slot background for snipers or characters utilizing melee weapons. Similarly to a Diplomat background, Cyber Runner misses combat skills and science skills, but you can quickly level up and spend some points there.

3 Bounty Hunter

Starfield Bounty Hunter Background

Wherever there are wanted individuals, there are those who profit from their capture. And your quarry knows that in the vastness of space, they can run… but they can’t hide.

Bounty Hunter Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Piloting: You can now utilize ship thrusters.
  • Targeting Control Systems: Unlocks the ship targeting functionality.
  • Boost Pack Training: You can now utilize boost packs.

Bounty Hunter will get you to the next skill tree low pretty quickly, so it is fantastic if you want to focus on ships and space combat. It will pair well if your gameplay is completing bounty missions and questing, as it will help you travel in the vast Starfield universe.

Boost Pack training is probably the best skill in the game and will support the close-quarters combat and high mobility builds. Take Boost Assault Training Rank 1 Skill, and nearby enemies will take damage and have a chance to catch fire when you boostpack. However, the Bounty Hunter background lacks the other skill trees, so you should spend some early levels on combat and physics to make up for it.

2 File Not Found

Starfield File Not Found Background

Oddly, there is no information on file about your past life. Clerical oversight? Deletion by some powerful unknown faction? Or was there just nothing of note to mention? Whatever the reason, your past is known only to you. What’s important is the here and now, and the path you’re about to forge…

File Not Found Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Wellness: Increase your maximum health by 10%.
  • Ballistics: Ballistic weapons do 10% more damage.
  • Piloting: You can now utilize ship thrusters.

An amazing starting background provides you with a good selection of skills, and if you don’t know what to expect from Starfield, this will be a “Jack of all trades” background. Ballistic weapons are used nearly the entirety of the game, so the skill is helpful in combat. The main pillars of Starfield are ships and combat, so piloting is useful for spaceship combat from the very beginning of the game. Wellness is just a good overall boost to your health pool. 

This balanced background is a blank page to fill with your own story. You can easily build up and pair it with everything. The only downside is that there is no tech science skill, so it’ll take you longer to reach gear crafting. Alongside Soldier, those are the best backgrounds, where Soldier wins only thanks to extra oxygen from fitness skill.

1 Soldier

Starfield Soldier Background

The Settled Systems is no stranger to warfare, and if there’s one thing armed conflict relies on it’s trained warriors with guns and guts. You had both. Simple, bloody work… and you were great at it.

Soldier Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Fitness: You have 10% more oxygen available.
  • Ballistics: Ballistic weapons do 10% more damage.
  • Boost Pack Training: You can now utilize boost packs.

Soldier is the best background for combat and will make you powerful in Starfield from the beginning. Boost Pack training, as mentioned, is the best skill in the game and a must-have. The extra oxygen will make your life easier and gameplay more enjoyable. Because in Starfield, you use oxygen when moving, sneaking, fighting, jumping, and running, you will drain it quickly, so 10% more oxygen may seem like not much, but it will be noticeable. You consume even more oxygen, especially if you carry too heavy items.

Ballistic weapons are the most common weapons, among the best, and you start with one, so it’s a great skill and one in which you should invest more points later on. Overall, Soldier is the best background in Starfield for combat focus and high damage.

Starfield Worst Backgrounds

The list of the worst Backgrounds in Starfield (below, we explained the top 10 in detail):

  1. Pilgrim
  2. Professor
  3. Chef
  4. Explorer
  5. Xenobiologist

5 Xenobiologist

Starfield Xenobiologist Background

The Settled Systems is home to untold alien species. And while none of them have yet proven sentient, that never deterred you. So you sought out and studied them for whatever gifts they offered.

Xenobiologist Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Lasers: Laser weapons do 10% more damage.
  • Surveying: Adds an optional zoom to the hand scanner, and scan distance is increased to 20 meters.
  • Fitness: You have 10% more oxygen available.

Surveying is the worst among available starting skills. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a useful skill, but for very specific activities and much later in the game. There are dozens of essential skills that you can take before surveying. Surveying skill is what truly holds back Xenobiologist Background, making it one of the worst.

Fitness is great for every build; you should pick it up eventually. Lasers can also make a good combination, but this type of weapon is less common and inaccessible early in the game. So, why would you pick this background when you can take a different one that will have all three skills helpful from the start of the game?

4 Explorer

Starfield Explorer Background

They said exploration is a lost art. You didn’t listen. As the major factions argued over the space they desperately tried to control, you were busy uncovering the wonders of the Settled Systems.

Explorer Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Lasers: Laser weapons do 10% more damage.
  • Astrodynamics: Increase grav jump range of jump drives by 15%.
  • Surveying: Adds an optional zoom to the hand scanner, and scan distance is increased to 20 meters.

Explorer is similar to the Xenobiologist background. However, you get much less useful astrodynamics skill. Astrodynamics is not crucial when you start and only travel small distances early in the game. Boost pack training, wellness, fitness, or even persuasion would be a much better skill here.

3 Chef

Starfield Chef Background

While the unfined masses scarfed down Chunks by the shipload, you created to those with a more… discerning plate. In your kitchen, countless alien species become true culinary masterpieces.

Chef Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Scavenging: There’s a chance you’ll find extra credits when searching containers.
  • Dueling: Melee weapons do 25% more damage. Take 10% less damage while wielding a melee weapon.
  • Gastronomy: You can craft specialty food and drinks and research additional recipes at a Research Lab.

It’s only a decent choice if the chef’s background is the story you want to tell for your character and create the melee build. Even then, a better background would be Ronin, who has a rank 1 stealth skill. Instead, you are good at cooking…

2 Professor

Starfield Professor Background

You always enjoyed learning, but nothing could compare to the joy of teaching others. As humankind spread throughout the stars, there was never a lack of knowledge to obtain, and you gladly assisted.

Professor Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Astrodynamics: Increase grav jump range of jump drives by 15%.
  • Geology: Get more common and uncommon inorganic resources from surface objects.
  • Research Methods: Resources required to craft items and complete research projects is reduced by 10%.

The professor is a good exploration-type player background. Research methods are good for crafting. You can travel, scan, survey planets, collect resources, and build outposts. Outside of that, it’s completely terrible early in the game. The only good skill here is Astrodynamics, and both Geology and research methods can be easily skipped or are late-game choices.

Crafting and outposts are more of mid to late game mechanics. Eventually, you want to invest skill points into them, but it won’t be your primary focus when you start. You need methods to quickly travel in space and survive in combat because that’s what Starfield is emphasizing the most.

1 Pilgrim

Starfield Pilgrim Background

Wayfarer, wanderer, seeker… transient. You’ve been called many things during your travels, and learned something those others could never understand – the journey IS the destination.

Pilgrim Starting Skills in Starfield:

  • Scavenging: There’s a chance you’ll find extra credits when searching containers.
  • Surveying: Adds an optional zoom to the hand scanner, and scan distance is increased to 20 meters.
  • Gastronomy: You can craft specialty food and drinks, and research additional recipes at a Research Lab.

Pilgrim is a cool idea and a great roleplaying opportunity, but the background provides the worst skills for the game’s beginning. You lack the combat and tech skills or even stat increase from the physical skill tree. Pilgrim doesn’t have even one single helpful skill.

I only see someone take Pilgrim, Professor, and Chef backgrounds if they fit your protagonist’s story and you want dialogue choices from them. I’m the roleplayer by heart, so if that would be my character’s story, I would pick it up. In any other situation, avoid those three backgrounds in Starfield.

What Backgrounds Should You Choose?

It’s important to note that while the specific starting skills are beneficial, they are not essential or game-changing. Feel free to choose the background that aligns with your character’s concept and story. Starfield offers a wide range of choices to select from, ensuring extensive replayability and a customized gaming experience! Keep in mind that at the time of writing this, after you create your character and level the character creation menu, you can’t change the backgrounds in Starfield.

The character’s background primarily influences the roleplaying aspect and how companions or NPCs interact with your character in Starfield. Backgrounds provide Rank 1skill bonuses, which are only valuable at the start of the game, especially if you intend to specialize in a specific weapon or playstyle. For instance, selecting the Soldier background with the Ballistics provides a rank 1 skill and 10% more damage with this weapon type from the beginning. However, this choice doesn’t exclude you from picking up ballistics training if you want to be a professor. Your character will grow and develop throughout the game, allowing you to select from diverse skills as you progress. Consequently, all backgrounds serve as a starting point, shaping your character’s unique narrative and role within Starfield’s vast universe.

This all sounds like a big influential choice, but it depends on your roleplaying preferences, and there is no bad decision.

Can You Change the Background Later in Starfield

No, you can’t change the background in Starfield.

However, given the small amount of special dialogue options connected to backgrounds, this choice doesn’t feel as impactful. Maybe your character was more than what is in their files, and it can depend on your roleplaying and narration. Happy Gaming!

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