Lockpicking is a major part of acquiring Credits and good gear in Starfield. The system is straightforward once you get the hang of it, but it can be a tad confusing when you’re first starting out. Once you read this guide, you’ll be on your way to picking every Master-level lock throughout all the systems.
How lockpicking works
In Starfield, locks come in four different levels: Novice, Advanced, Expert, and Master. By default, every player can attempt to pick a Novice-level lock, as that doesn’t require any skill to be unlocked. However, the Security skill is required for every level of lock beyond Novice, with level of lock you can attempt to pick tied directly to the rank you have unlocked.
- Novice locks - No skill required
- Advanced locks - Security Rank 1
- Expert locks - Security Rank 2
- Master locks - Security Rank 3
Before you can attempt to pick a lock, you’ll need at least one Digipick in your inventory. If you don’t have one, the game won’t allow you to attempt the lock. You can see how many Digipicks you own when you enter the lockpicking minigame, or in your Inventory under the Miscellaneous category.
The lockpicking minigame
Once you enter the lockpicking minigame, in the center of your screen will be the lock mechanism itself. It will consist of several rings, but the number will depend on the level of lock you’re trying to pick. In the screenshot above, there are three rings to the Expert-level lock I’m picking. If it was a Master-level lock, there would be four rings. The outside ring is the active one, so let’s worry about that first.
What you’re attempting to do is slot the smaller picks on the right side of your screen into the active ring so that you eliminate all the notches.
Start by selecting a pick from the right, then rotating it to see if it will slot into the outer ring. You can leave a key covering the notches without slotting it, then move on to find another key to see if it can eliminate whatever notches would remain. If you’re able to line up multiple keys in a way that will cover all the notches on the outer ring, slot them in. If you’re successful, this will move you on to the next ring in the minigame. The confusing part is that there will often be more keys that fit than you need, and you might end up using a key on the outer ring that is required on one of the inner rings. There will also be keys that you don’t need at all in most cases. In other words, there is more than one way to skin a cat… I mean, pick a lock.
Once all the notches on each ring are slotted with the correct keys, you’ll have successfully picked the lock. The container you were trying to access, or the door that you were attempting to open, will now be accessible. If you picked the lock without having to undo any of your attempts, or without eliminating unnecessary keys, you’ll have consumed only one Digipick.
There are some other components to the lockpicking minigame that must be explained. The first one is the Undo option once you get past the first ring. It is possible to successfully bypass the first ring, then find that you don’t have the picks remaining to complete the next one. In this case, you’ll have to use the Undo option, which will eat at least one of your Digipicks unfortunately.
Lockpicking and the Security skill
The remaining components to lockpicking involve the Security skill. At Rank 1 of the Security skill, you will gain the ability to bank two auto attempts. These will show up as Auto Slot at the bottom of the lockpicking minigame. If you begin to pick a lock and don’t know what pick you should use, press the Auto Slot button (assuming you have one or more banked) and a correct pick will be slotted for you automatically, giving you an easier path to picking the lock. I tend to save these Auto Slots for Master-level locks, as they can be tough.
Finally, Rank 2 of the Security skill will unlock another advantage. When you select a pick from the right side of the lockpicking minigame, and it can be slotted into the current ring, the ring will turn blue. It’s important to note, however, that this only means that the pick can be slotted, not that it’s necessarily the correct pick, as it could also fit one of the subsequent rings. It’s on you to determine if it’s the best choice for the current ring, and whether you will need it later.
The best tip I can give you to pick the toughest locks in Starfield is to plan ahead. Once you choose a pick and determine that it will fit in your current ring, start rotating the pick and trying to line it up with notches in each of the inner rings. Does your current pick fit in more than one ring? If so, can you use alternate picks to solve your current ring? If your current pick will only fit into the active ring, and only in one position, it’s usually a good bet that it’s the correct choice.
The final tip I’ll give you really comes down to what kind of a player you are. If you want the loot no matter what, save your game before you initial the lockpicking minigame. This way, you can always load the save if you fail without losing Digipicks. If you value immersion above all else and prefer to let the chips fall where they may, perhaps save scumming isn’t for you. I won’t judge you either way.
Now that you’re a pro when it comes to lockpicking, be sure to visit our Starfield Strategy Guide for more in-depth coverage on all the ins and outs universe.