Which Background should you choose in Starfield?

Choosing the best Background can help you tremendously in the early hours of Starfield.


While creating your character for Starfield, you’ll have the option to choose a Background. Making a good choice can be the difference between thriving or struggling in the early hours. Here are our picks for the best Backgrounds after more than 75 hours of play time.

Which Background should you choose?

Choosing the best Background in Starfield is going to depend not only on playstyle, but what type of roleplaying you intend to embrace with your character. Below, I’ll outline some playstyles and common roleplaying options, and you can choose the Background that fits best with how you want to experience Starfield.

Ships, smuggling Contraband & space combat

The Long Hauler Background in Starfield
The Long Hauler Background comes with the Weight Lifting, Piloting, and Ballistic Weapon Systems skills.

The Long Hauler Background is going to be a top option for anyone who can’t wait to fly their ship, engage in ship combat, haul cargo, or smuggle Contraband. The Weight Lifting skill will immediately give you an extra 10 kilograms of carrying capacity on your character, and Piloting will set you on a path to utilizing Class B and Class C ships, which are a big step up from the Class A ships you can pilot out of the gate. Finally, Ballistic Weapon Systems will bump up the damage of your ship’s ballistic weapons by 10 percent at the first level, giving you a bit of an edge in ship combat early on. 

The Bounty Hunter Background in Starfield
The Bounty Hunter Background comes with the Piloting, Targeting Control Systems, and Boost Pack Training skills.

The Bounty Hunter Background is also worth considering if you plan to spend a lot of time on your ship. It too comes with the Piloting skill, but swaps Targeting Control Systems and Boost Pack Training in, removing Weight Lifting and Ballistic Weapons Systems. Targeting Control Systems unlocks your ship’s targeting functionality, a necessity for boarding enemy ships. The Boost Pack Training skill will let you utilize boost packs, so that’s a no-brainer.

Negotiating, dialogue & pacifist 

The Diplomat Background in Starfield
The Diplomat Background comes with the Persuasion, Commerce, and Wellness skills.

If you’re hoping to avoid combat and violence where possible, the Diplomat Background is an obvious choice in name and because of the skills it gives you as a starting point. The Persuasion Rank 1 skill is going to increase your chances of persuading someone in dialogue by 10 percent, and at Rank 4 this bonus increases to 50 percent, making it mandatory for someone who wishes to talk their way out of sticky situations. Following this up is the Commerce skill, which starts you off buying items for 5 percent less, and selling them for 10 percent more. At Rank 4, this increases to buying for 20 percent less and selling for 25 percent more. Finally, the Wellness skill is a bonus that you hopefully won’t need, as it starts you with 10 percent more health, just in case your persuasive ways fail you.

The Industrialist Background in Starfield
The Industrialist Background comes with the Persuasion, Security, and Research Methods skills.

I’m going to give an honorable mention to the Industrialist Background. It too includes the Persuasion perk to start but adds the Security skill that is directly tied to lockpicking. Lockpicking can get you in and out of areas using alternate routes, possibly allowing you to bypass combat or conversation. It can also get you into computers or containers that could open new ways to accomplish your goals that don’t involve guns. The Research Methods skill is a throwaway for the dialogue gameplay route, so you might be better off going with the Diplomat Background, then using your first skill points to unlock Security Rank 1.

Combat, gunplay & and weapons expert 

The Soldier Background in Starfield
The Soldier Background comes with the Fitness, Ballistics, and Boost Pack Training skills.

The Soldier Background is an obvious choice here, as it will give you skills that boost ballistic weapon damage (for your guns, not your ship), give you more oxygen, and improve your boost pack gameplay. The Fitness skill will see you start with 10 percent more oxygen, so you can run for longer, escaping or closing the gap. Ballistics Rank 1 gives you 10 percent more ballistic weapon damage, so any of your weapons that fire a standard bullet. Boost Pack Training Rank 1 simply allows you to utilize boost packs, but at higher levels it will reduce the amount of fuel your boost pack requires and regenerates that fuel more quickly.

The Combat Medic Background in Starfield
The Combat Medic Background comes with the Pistol Certification, Medicine, and Wellness skills.

Combat Medic is a sneaky good choice here. Pistol Certification starts you with 10 percent more damage from your pistols, which will increase to 50 percent more damage at Rank 3. Medicine Rank 1 will give you a bump to the health you restore and the speed at which you restore it when using Med Packs, Trauma Packs, and Emergency Kits. Finally, Wellness, as explained earlier, will keep you in the fight by increasing your health by 10, 20, 30, and 40 percent as you climb from Rank 1 to Rank 4.

The stealthy criminal 

The Cyber Runner Background in Starfield
The Cyber Runner Background comes with the Stealth, Security, and Theft skills.

This is what I opted to play as, and I went with the Cyber Runner Background out of the gate. This Background is all about staying hidden while picking pockets and lockpicking your way to glory. It can also be a decent starting point if you want a stealthy combat playthrough and you’re not loving what you see from the Soldier or Combat Medic Backgrounds.

The Stealth Rank 1 skill will make you 25 percent more difficult to detect when sneaking and give your suppressed weapons 5 percent more sneak attack damage. Security Rank 1 will allow you to pick advanced locks, but you’ll want to upgrade that to Security 2 and 3 as quickly as you can to open tougher locks. Finally, the Theft skill will give you the ability to pickpocket targets, can lead to more Credits, ammunition, weapons, keys, and anything else the NPCs of Starfield stuff in their pockets.

Melee only playthrough 

The Ronin Background in Starfield
The Ronin Background comes with the Dueling, Stealth, and Scavenging skills.

This one is tougher in terms of choosing a Background because I would argue that the necessary skills that you’d want to go melee-only aren’t present until you start unlocking skills as you play the game. Your best bet here is probably Ronin, which starts you off with the Dueling skill, giving you 25 percent more damage output from melee weapons, and reducing your damage taken by 10 percent while you’re wielding a melee weapon. This can obviously scale up, so it’s a must-have for melee builds. The Stealth skill, as discussed earlier, will make you 25 percent harder to detect while sneaking, so I guess you can sneak up to folk and bop them on the head. You can toss the Scavenging skill in the bin here since it doesn’t enhance melee gameplay at all.

Once you start earning skill points, prioritize skills like Pain Tolerance from the Physical tree, giving you reduced physical damage, and the Martial Arts skill, which will increase your melee crit chance, disarm enemies with melee attacks, take less damage, and reflect some damage while blocking.

Well, that does it for the best Backgrounds for the most likely playstyles, but we also have a guide for the best Traits. For more help, be sure to visit our Starfield Strategy Guide and have a browse.

Managing Editor

Bill, who is also known as Rumpo, is a lifelong gamer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He made his mark early in his career through guide writing and a deep understanding of editorial SEO. He enjoys putting in the work to create a great content, be it a wild feature or grinding out an in-depth collectible guide. Tweet him @RumpoPlays if you have a question or comment about one of his articles.

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