If you’re just starting out in Starfield, chances are you’ll come across a vessel you can’t pilot for one reason or another. Maybe it’s a ship class outside of your skill set or maybe it has parts you can’t take advantage of due to a lack of training or maybe you’re just struggling to grasp the flight mechanics. Either way, piloting can be frustrating in Starfield’s early hours, but luckily the game has a way you can quickly get the hang of things and level up your pilot skills.
Bethesda Game Studios’ spacefaring RPG lets you use a pilot simulator however many times you want. This simulation, which you can access once you join up with the UC Vanguard faction during the game’s second main quest, The Old Neighborhood, has you hop into the cockpit of a virtual spaceship to complete some training objectives in order to prove to the space police that you can fly and fight. The training here is straightforward: Destroy six waves of ships, with each tier increasing in difficulty and number. Since it’s all virtual, you can’t die, and whatever ships you blow up count toward leveling up your piloting skills.
So, say you’re trying to increase your general Piloting skill, which is in the first row of the Tech skill tree. You’d need to first eliminate five ships, then 15, then 30, and finally 50 to master Piloting, which increases your ship’s maneuverability and lets you fly higher-class vessels.
Or maybe you’re vying to level up your Shield Systems, which is in the second row of the Tech skill tree. If you’d want to master this skill so that your ship has more shields and will occasionally resist damage, you’d need to take 150 shield damage while in a dogfight, then 350, 750, and finally 1,000.
Or you’re really about a specific weapon type, like Ballistics or Energy, both of which are Tech skills in the first and second row, respectively. Leveling up these skills is relatively simple: Just deal a certain amount of damage with that weapon type and you’ll not only dish out more damage with each subsequent rank, but that weapon type will also recharge faster in combat.
This is a great way to not only get some levels in the early game, but to also flesh out your Tech skill tree, especially if you want to focus on building and customizing your ships. Within that skill tree is the Starship Design attribute, which you’d need if you want to install better components onto your ship. That combined with the Piloting skill will allow you to fly the best ships Starfield has to offer. And again, you can run the pilot simulator program as many times as you want, even after you complete the UC Vanguard test. Just head to New Atlantis whenever you want to brush up your skills and take the elevator at the UC Vanguard building in the MAST District to the pilot training simulator.
I had no idea I could run the training multiple times over when I first encountered it. Thinking it was a one-and-done situation, I left New Atlantis with my companion Sarah Morgan to embark on some side quests for credits and experience points. Once I hit the mid-game and wanted to build out Cowboy Bebop’s Swordfish II, I realized my piloting skills were sorely lacking. So, I went back to the pilot simulator program, slept in my ship to increase the XP gain I received, adjusted the game’s difficulty for whatever I was training—easier to destroy more ships, harder to take more shield damage—and before I knew it, I had mastered Ballistic Weapon Systems, Energy Weapon Systems, Particle Beam Weapon Systems, Piloting, Shield Systems, and Starship Design in a just handful of hours. Now, my Swordfish I Prototype has been upgraded to the Swordfish II, going from the basic Class-A ship it was to a Class-B vessel with far better components—all thanks to a virtual pilot training program.
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It may seem cheap, but this method is just taking advantage of the features Starfield affords you. Don’t think of it as cutting corners as much as it is preparing you for real combat once you hit the stars.
See you, Space Cowboy.
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