There are 21 Starfield backgrounds to choose from when you make your character, and aside from adding flavor to your chosen space adventurer—including some unique dialogue options—each background gives you three starting skills. That's a bigger deal than you might realize the first time you play.
As we discovered when we started, you literally can't do things you aren't trained in, including sneaking, flying large spaceships, or using the boost pack everyone is going to want to use. You can pick up new skills as you level up, so your background won't permanently hold you back, but it will directly determine what you can and can't do in the early game. Here are our Starfield background recommendations, followed by a list of all the backgrounds available in Starfield.
What Starfield backgrounds do
Your choice of Starfield background awards you three starting skills, and also opens up dialogue options in certain scenarios.
We haven't found the special background dialogue to be particularly common or exciting so far. Having the Chef background can give you Chef-related dialogue options when talking about food, but rather than affecting the plot it's more of a flavor choice, if you'll forgive the pun.
So don't expect your background choice to define your playthrough. That said, Starfield is a huge game and we definitely have not seen everything. It's possible that somewhere in the galaxy, there are background-related interaction opportunities that are real gems. In his Starfield review, Chris noted that some of the best stuff isn't telegraphed—like his various parent sightings, which occur due to a trait he chose.
Gastronomy is a great skill to have in our world, but at the beginning of Starfield, you might find yourself wishing you had a head start on upgrading your ship's weapon systems instead. If you want to enjoy the challenge of roleplaying a chef, picking that background won't hinder you in the long-term, but for a somewhat more practical start, we suggest choosing one of these backgrounds:
- For the rogue: Cyber Runner (Stealth, Security, Theft)
- For the ace pilot: Long Hauler (Weight Lifting, Piloting, Ballistic Weapon Systems)
- For the Boba Fett type: Bounty Hunter (Piloting, Targeting Control Systems, Boost Pack Training)
- For the M.A.S.H. fan: Combat Medic (Pistol Certification, Medicine, Wellness)
See our guide to Starfield skills for details on what these starting skills allow you to do.
Every Starfield background
Description: From the Ashta of Akila to the Terrormorphs that plague the whole of the Settled Systems, hostile alien life abounds. You've learned the skills to track them, find them, and take them down.
Starting skills: Fitness, Ballistics, Gastronomy
Description: You've worked the line at the toughest clubs in the Settled Systems. Back then, you learned that most non-lethal confrontations can be solved one of two ways: a strong right hook, or a more strongly secured door.
Starting skills: Boxing, Security, Fitness
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Piloting, Targeting Control Systems, Boost Pack Training
Description: While the unrefined masses scarfed down Chunks by the shipload, you catered to those with a more… discerning palate. In your kitchen, countless alien species become true culinary masterpieces.
Starting skills: Gastronomy, Dueling, Scavenging
Description: Leave it to human beings to fight over something as infinite as outer space. That's where you come in. You've never been afraid to take on the enemy… but you'd much rather take care of your friends.
Starting skills: Pistol Certification, Medicine, Wellness
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Stealth, Security, Theft
Description: Robots? Mere toys. Neuroamps? Good for parlor tricks. The Colony War may have made implants and upgrades available to veterans, but you once saw a greater future. Humans and machines, as one.
Starting skills: Medicine, Security, Lasers
Description: The wars are over. Peace now reigns 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.
Starting skills: Persuasion, Commerce, Wellness
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Lasers, Astrodynamics, Surveying
Description: You were always disgusted by suckers killing themselves to make an "honest wage." As soon as you were old enough to hold a weapon, you took what you wanted from anyone unlucky enough to have it.
Starting skills: Shotgun Certification, Boxing, Theft
Description: The discovery of the Settled Systems' many oxygen-rich planets and moons meant humans could live just about anywhere... if they had the know how. You did, and utilized it to great effect.
Starting skills: Geology, Surveying, Weight Lifting
Description: There was a time when all you wanted to be was a titan of industry, maybe a ship designer, or megacorp exec. Thankfully, that skillset never goes out of style in the Settled Systems.
Starting skills: Persuasion, Security, Research Methods
Description: Let those other hotheaded pilots obsess over laser weapons and maneuverability. You're a space trucker, pure and simple. Pack the cargo, get it there fast, get paid, repeat. Life is simple and good.
Starting skills: Weight Lifting, Piloting, Ballistic Weapon Systems
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Scavenging, Surveying, Gastronomy
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Astrodynamics, Geology, Research Methods
Description: Masterless and unbound, you wandered the Settled Systems as a blade for hire. To some, you were a simple mercenary. To others, a hero. And to a select few... a nightmare they could never wake from.
Starting skills: Dueling, Stealth, Scavenging
Description: With your knowledge of anatomy and skilled, steady hands, you could have had a lucrative career as a surgeon. Instead, you followed your heart, and created works of art to amaze and inspire.
Starting skills: Medicine, Geology, Persuasion
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Fitness, Ballistics, Boost Pack Training
Description: Good? Bad? Whose right is it to say? If there's anything you've learned while traipsing through the galaxy, it's this: space may look black, but it's really one big shade of grey.
Starting skills: Pistol Certification, Piloting, Persuasion
Description: 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.
Starting skills: Lasers, Surveying, Fitness
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Description: 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…
Starting skills: Wellness, Ballistics, Piloting