10 best character builds in Starfield, from Rifle to Sniper & Stealth archetypes

10 best character builds in Starfield, from Rifle to Sniper & Stealth archetypes
Images via Bethesda

Written by 

Dani Cross

Published 

11th Oct 2023 14:16

If you want to use the best builds in Starfield, you'll need to know which skills to prioritise and what kind of playstyle you should be aiming for. Starfield has a lot of different skills to pick up, and we'll explain which ones you should be focusing on if you want to go for a certain build.

To make it through Starfield's many questlines you'll want to make sure your build is up to par. Some builds require a lot of Combat skills, while others focus more on Physical skills, ship-based abilities or the Social tree. There should be a build for everyone in the list below - I'm partial to Shotguns myself.

Of course, you're free to go for any skills you want and use a more general build, but if you want a specific build in the game you can't go wrong with picking your favourite of these options below!

The 10 best builds and archetypes in Starfield

A rifle from Starfield.
Click to enlarge

We've listed our best character builds and archetypes in Starfield below. This list includes a rundown of each playstyle as well as a list of skills you should consider if you want to go for that build.

Rifles

Rifles are a tried-and-tested weapon type, and this archetype makes the most of them in Starfield. The build focuses primarily on the Combat tree and utilises skills that work best at longer ranges.

  • Rifle Certification
  • Ballistics
  • Marksmanship (for non-automatic rifles)
  • Crippling
  • Weapon Engineering
  • Wellness

It’s similar to other long-range builds, but with a bit less emphasis on slow sharpshooting and more of a mid-range focus.

Pistols

Pistols are surprisingly strong despite being such small guns. In Starfield you can boost your pistol damage through skills and use them to quickly dispatch enemies.

  • Pistol Certification
  • Marksmanship
  • Crippling
  • Wellness
  • Boost Pack Training
  • Weapon Engineering

This build focuses on using pistols to kill anyone who stands in your path. It’s imperative that you find good pistols first though, as some are on the weaker side.

Sniper

Taking out enemies from afar is a very effective way of dispatching them in Starfield. Enemies don’t often rush you unless they’re wielding a melee weapon, and a good sniper rifle is one of the best weapons you can find.

  • Sniper Certification
  • Rifle Certification
  • Marksmanship
  • Sharpshooting
  • Weapon Engineering
  • Medicine

This build maximises the game’s long-range skills to make you an unstoppable force at distance. You’ll be building primarily into the Combat tree, as you might expect.

Shotguns

A shotgun being used in combat in Starfield.
Click to enlarge

If you're anything like me you'll gravitate towards shotguns in pretty much any game that has them, so this shotgun build will be right up your street. Shotguns are incredibly effective at killing enemies quickly at close range, and this build makes sure you can get in close to get blasting.

  • Shotgun Certification
  • Ballistics
  • Boost Pack Training
  • Boost Assault Training
  • Weapon Engineering
  • Wellness

You’ll want to make sure you have a boost pack to reach enemies in higher ground. You’ll also need enough health to survive enemy damage as you’ll be in the line of fire more often than not.

Pirate

If you want to maximise your profits and become a space millionaire as quickly as possible, you’ll want to grab these skills. This build focuses less on combat and more on pilfering as many pockets as you can, while increasing the amount of loot you’ll find while scavenging. You can also go for any weapon skills you like to support the rest of the build, but it’s up to you which ones you go for.

  • Scavenging
  • Theft
  • Commerce
  • Deception
  • Piloting
  • Security

This build also maximises the amount of credits you’ll get for selling items. Sadly the value of items is much higher than what you’ll end up getting for selling them in Starfield, but it’s still the best build to go for if you have the Mr. Krabs mindset.

Stealth

This stealth build will let you live out your James Bond fantasy in space. Armed with a suppressed pistol and stealth skills, you’ll be able to take out enemies before they ever notice you.

I found Stealth to be a bit finicky in Starfield, but as long as you’re levelling the skill you shouldn’t run into too much trouble. You can also use it to pickpocket more easily, boosting your credits without having to do much work.

  • Stealth
  • Pistol Certification
  • Concealment
  • Theft
  • Isolation
  • Security

This build also utilises Isolation to boost your damage even further when you’re alone - companions make the stealth gameplay a bit less immersive, but you can swap this out if you prefer.

Pilot

A ship in Starfield.
Click to enlarge

While this build isn’t going to do much when you’re roaming the surface of planets, it’s very important to build up your ship and improve your space combat skills if you want to survive attacks while travelling to new systems.

This Pilot build focuses on all the ship skills in the Tech tree. There’s a lot of them, so you can kind of take your pick. We recommend Piloting and Targeting Control Systems first though, as these are essential ship skills to have.

  • Piloting
  • Targeting Control Systems
  • Engine Systems/Shield Systems
  • Weapon Systems (ballistic, EM, energy, missiles, particle beam, automated)
  • Starship Design
  • Starship Engineering

You can take your pick of which weapon systems skills you like most - just make sure you actually equip weapons of that type.

Melee

If slashing enemies into ribbons is more your thing, this melee Starfield build is for you. It focuses on Dueling as your primary skill to start, then builds into mobility and damage resistance to make sure you can keep fighting on and on.

  • Dueling
  • Martial Arts
  • Wellness
  • Pain Tolerance
  • Boost Pack Training
  • Fitness

The boost pack will help you reach enemies out of your reach, while Wellness gives you more health. This synergises with the 10% healing on-hit you’ll get from tier 4 of the Dueling skill. The more health you have, the more health you’ll restore with every swing of whatever melee weapon you prefer!

Unarmed

Just like the melee build above, the punching build focuses on melee combat. This time though, we’re going for Neurostrikes in the Physical tree to deal more damage and inflict crazy effects on enemies in fights.

Rank 1 of Neurostrikes has a 10% chance to stun an enemy whenever you punch them, while Rank 4 knocks down all enemies in close range when you do get that stun off.

  • Boxing
  • Martial Arts
  • Neurostrikes
  • Pain Tolerance
  • Boost Pack Training
  • Wellness

This is a pretty ridiculous build but worth trying. Just make sure this is definitely what you want before you commit to it.

Heavy Weapons

Heavy weapons are a bit rarer in Starfield, but if you find some quality ones you might want to consider building around them. The Heavy Weapon Certification skill is perfect for this, and allows you to blast away with stronger heavy guns all day long. If that sounds like fun, take a look at the skills below for our build.

  • Heavy Weapon Certification
  • Demolitions
  • Weapon Engineering
  • Wellness
  • Medicine
  • Armor Penetration

You can also turn into a demolition expert with stronger grenades for maximum explosions. To avoid damaging yourself too much in combat you can opt for a tankier build with more health and healing.

That's it for our list of the best Starfield builds and archetypes to go for! Hopefully, you've found something you like the look of in our list.

For more Starfield, keep reading GGRecon. Or take a look at the best ships in the game if our Pilot build seems like the kind of build you want to go for.

Dani is a Guides Writer for GGRecon. She graduated from university with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, then worked as a freelance writer before joining the GGRecon team as a full-time writer in 2023. In her opinion, the best game of all time is Elden Ring – but her favourite is Halo: Reach, a game that created lifelong friendships and somehow started her down the path to a career in media. She’s also way too invested in Pokemon cards, and a big fan of guinea pigs, cats and other cute creatures.

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