Best Starfield Backgrounds: All 21 Ranked from Worst to Best
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios

Best Starfield Backgrounds: All 21 Ranked from Worst to Best

What was your character before this grand cosmic journey?

One of the coolest things about Starfield is that it lets you give your character a small backstory. With these, you give your character a fun past and get the first rank of three skills from the start. While these are certainly subjective to a build you might have in mind, some are certainly better than others. Therefore, we have crafted our own ranking of all 21 Starfield backgrounds from worst to best.

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21. Professor

Professor Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Professor is pretty terrible for what you get from it at the start. Geology and Research Notes are necessarily bad, but they aren’t worth being your starting skills. Unless you want to immediately go explore barren and rocky planets, Geology won’t help you enough. As for Research Notes, a lot of the things to craft want more materials that you’ll get within a reasonable amount of time. Other backgrounds give much better skill spreads.

20. Pilgrim

Pilgrim Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Being able to craft food items is most certainly not a big enough bonus to place this in high regard. As a matter of fact, it almost entirely belongs with Research Notes as the same level of utility when starting. That is to say, it doesn’t make enough of a difference for it to be a wise choice. You’re so much better off using your early skill points on it than starting with it. Scavenging is similarly not super helpful, considering you are more likely to find valuable junk instead of a lot of Credits at once.

19. Cyberneticist

Cyberneticist Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

The issue with this background is that one of the three skills you start with is useless. The first weapon you get is an Eon pistol, and the best you can hope for from the first enemies you fight is a Maelstrom. Neither of these are laser weapons, so getting a point in the Lasers skill is just about worthless. Security is still a little iffy because it might be a little bit before you experience a lock above Novice that you can’t open.

18. Explorer

Explorer Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

So many of these backgrounds include the Laser skill rank, and it doesn’t have the right immediate benefit. Astrodynamics makes a difference, but considering your only early trips will be story-based, it doesn’t have a decent bonus. Also, it comes with Survey, which equally doesn’t make enough of an impact on the early game to make sense to choose.

17. Gangster

Gangster Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

There’s no way to complain about the Lasers skill and then let this one go due to how more specialized it is. It took us a good bit to find the first shotgun the game had to offer. That simple fact makes taking this background entirely inadvisable. The Boxing skill also doesn’t make as much sense, considering going unarmed against guns in the early game isn’t the best choice.

16. Xenobiologist

Xenobiologist Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

This one just about ties with Cyberneticist and Explorer because of the same useless Lasers skill rank. However, this is better because of the Fitness rank that gets you a boost of oxygen. You still take (the same) slight hit of a rank in Survey, but that can be more useless when starting out than Security, depending on how you want to play things. Even with that, it’s hard to overlook a skill that doesn’t have any real immediate benefit.

15. Industrialist

Industrialist Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

There’s not enough here that makes sense. While you get the Security and Persuasion ranks, those aren’t good enough choices to make this background worthwhile. The Research Methods rank doesn’t pay off immediately in any case. As this doesn’t include a single useful enough skill to recommend, it ranks exceptionally low. It isn’t the same as Cyberneticist in that any of these skills are useless, it’s that they are just bad early grabs.

14. Sculptor

Sculptor Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

The Medicine rank is a decent start, but the rest of the skills aren’t any good. As said previously, persuasion doesn’t do the whole trick when assisting with surviving in space. It’s not a skill you should take immediately, but a later fallback once you are interacting with more people in a short span. Similarly, Geology once again holds a background back as it’s not a top three skill (which should be kind of how you consider these).

13. Chef

Chef Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

The Dueling rank will make a slight difference if you can find a good early-game melee weapon. However, this background is just a worse Ronin by almost any measure. Gastronomy doesn’t give much of a bonus (as we have said above), and Scavenging isn’t all that great to start with when better skills exist. At least Ronin includes the Stealth rank.

12. Ronin

Ronin Bakcground
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Having one rank of Dueling from the start is definitely not an issue, but the rest isn’t as useful. Without any ranks in Scavenging, you can still rack up quite a bit of money because pirates always have good stuff. The issue with this background is the rank in Stealth, which is rarely necessary. For the most part, Human Outposts don’t have anything worth stealing or anything that is worth stealing you can easily get away with taking.

11. Bouncer

Bouncer Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Though we have made our complaints clear regarding starting with the Boxing skill, it is paired with Fitness, and that makes a difference here. While engaging in unarmed fighting against ballistic weapons is still not our idea of reasonable, it would be more worth it with more oxygen to work with for heavy attacks. While we have placed backgrounds with Security in worse ranks, it’s an okay third pick in this instance.

10. Homesteader

Homesteader Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

This inches out the above because Weight Lifting is an important skill to have and helps to have early. But Geology and Surveying don’t have the same benefit to them. These don’t provide you any early boost when you fight enemies throughout the very early game. Honestly, without Weight Lifting, this would be ranked a lot worse.

9. Diplomat

Diplomat Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

While this class doesn’t feature any sort of offensive skills, it does include a rank in Commerce, which means you’ll be able to sell items for more. That’s a great early-game boost, especially if you must pay your Dream Home mortgage. While Persuasion with this might be a great long-term pick, we’ve railed against that in the previous ranks. Instead, it is the additional Wellness point that also earns this a top-10 placement.

8. Bounty Hunter

Bounty Hunter Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Security might be a take-it-or-leave-it skill from the start, but the other two skills offered are great together to have early. Piloting is a great beginner skill, even if it doesn’t necessarily help with combat with just the first rank. On the other hand, Boost Pack Training gives a good early exploration boost when you need to get around, and you are over-encumbered.

7. Space Scoundrel

Space Scoundrel Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

You start your playthrough with an Eon pistol that Pistol Certification immediately boosts, which is a good first skill. Due to that, we consider this better than Bounty Hunter, even if it also offers Piloting skill. Persuasion does make a difference, even if it doesn’t directly make a difference for survivability. While we do like the Pistol specialization, the fact that it is specific does keep this from a better rank placement.

6. Combat Medic

Combat Medic Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Everything Space Scoundrel does best, Combat Medic does better. You get the Pistol Certificate, but that’s not all. You also get the direct survivability assistance that Space Scoundrel is missing. Between healing items, now recovering more, and simply getting more health in general, this is a terrific background.

5. Soldier

Soldier Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Soldier provides the best of several backgrounds in one. You get the start Boost Pack Training from Bounty Hunter, but you also get the Ballistics skill that increases damage. The additional help of Fitness makes this a good all-rounder background to go with, but it’s not something we can quite consider the best due to what remains.

4. Cyber Runner

Cyber Runner Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Considering we have complained about Stealth and Theft and placed those in the high ranks, this is different. Those other backgrounds offer one or the other, but having both without having to expend further skill points after starting is honestly great. If you want to focus on thievery and what you can get away with, this is the right choice. They might not come in handy immediately, but the Stealth Meter will make a difference when you want to be sneaky in combat.

3. Long Hauler

Long Hauler Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Weight Lifting is, without a doubt, a key skill to pick up early. One two backgrounds offer it, but the other skills are subpar and drag it down. Not only do you have that to back you up, though, but it includes Ballistic Weapon Systems to increase your damage. One skill helps you carry more weapons, and the other increases the damage they deal. Piloting is just the cherry on top.

2. Beast Hunter

Beast Hunter Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

Gastronomy is the biggest reason this class isn’t first in the ranking. Ballistics is a great starter, especially considering you have the Eon pistol to use from the start, and it only makes that stronger. Fitness is also a good start because it makes planetary exploration a little easier. It also makes a difference when trying to unlock further ranks of Weight Lifting.

1. [File Not Found]

[File Not Found] Background
Image Source: Bethesda Game Studios via Twinfinite

This mysterious background has probably the best spread of skills of any background choice. Though it does remove any backstory dialogue, it makes up for that in rewards. The combination of Ballistics and Wellness is terrific, as you’ll hit harder and be able to hold your own in a fight more easily right out of the gate. Piloting provides its own separate benefits as you get control of the Frontier almost immediately.

What do you think? Will our background rankings influence your next Starfield character? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the links below!


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Author
Cameron Waldrop
Cameron is a freelance writer for Twinfinite and regularly covers battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends. He started writing for Twinfinite in late 2019 and has been lucky enough to review many really great games. While he loves a good shooter, his heart will always belong to JRPGs.