Starfield Backgrounds Explained: Which Backgrounds Are the Best?

Kick your interstellar journey off the right way.

When first creating your character in Starfield, you’re presented with a ton of options for customizing your character. Everything from your eyes to your hair to even the slightest facial blemishes can all be customized to make your character exactly how you’d like. Once you’re finished with that, you’re onto choices that will affect your run in more practical ways, including where you come from. Here are the best starting backgrounds in Starfield.

What is a Background in Starfield?

Backgrounds in Starfield are where your character came from before the beginning of the game. This could be something like a military background or a criminal past, or whatever you feel fits you the best. This choice opens up specific dialogue options relating to your background, such as a Soldier background opening up Soldier dialogue options with military personnel.

Alongside dialogue, a background provides you with three starting skills that you don’t have to put a point into. Since this can essentially count for three levels right off the bat, it’s a good way to get a headstart into your preferred playstyle. There are well over a dozen options the game drops on you at the start, so whatever niche you want to fill should be there.

Which Background Should You Start With in Starfield?

Starfield Soldier Background
Screenshot by Prima Games

If you’re looking for the background that’ll have the most impact on future gameplay, you’ll want the Soldier background. This background offers Fitness, Ballistics, and Boost Pack Training as starting skills. Fitness will improve your oxygen capacity, allowing you to run around more without being out of breath. Ballistics improves the damage of all Ballistics-type weapons, which can include basic pistols that don’t use laser technology. Boost Pack Training, meanwhile, lets you boost around quickly. All three of these perks help out immensely in combat, which you’ll be doing a lot of in Starfield. It’s also the background that I chose for my playthrough, and was super useful for dealing some extra damage for specific weapons later on.

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Starfield Diplomat Background
Image via Prima Games.

The second-best background you can pick is the Diplomat background, which focuses on solving problems without a bullet. This background includes the Persuasion, Commerce, and Wellness starting skills. Persuasion is one of the best skills in Starfield, giving you a higher chance to succeed for Persuade speech checks. Most missions in Starfield have a Persuade speech check somewhere, and it’s one of the skills I maxed out first. Commerce lets you buy for less and sell for more at vendors, which means more money in your pocket. Wellness, meanwhile, increases base health. Who doesn’t want more health?

Starfield Gangster Background
Image via Prima Games.

The final background I suggest is the Gangster background, which is built for those who don’t feel like playing it safe and hanging back. This background includes the Shotgun Certification, Boxing, and Theft starting skills. Shotgun Certification improves shotgun damage, meaning those close-range kills should come much more easily. Boxing improves melee damage for similar glorious results. Finally, Theft allows you to pickpocket enemies, which means more loot for you.

Are You Locked Out of Skills Based on Your Background Choice?

It’s important to note that no matter which background you choose, you can grab any of the starting skills later on. For example, if you pick the Soldier background, you aren’t locked out of snagging Shotgun Certification and Wellness to help complement that playstyle.

If you’re in the middle of building out your character, be sure to check out our guide on the best traits you can select in Starfield.

About the Author

Shawn Robinson

Shawn is a freelance gaming journalist who's been with Prima Games for a year, writing mainly about FPS games and RPGs. He even brings several years of experience at other sites like The Nerd Stash to the table. While he doesn't bring a fancy degree to the table, he brings immense attention to detail with his guides, reviews, and news, leveraging his decade and a half of gaming knowledge. If he isn't writing about games, he's likely getting zero kills in his favorite FPS or yelling at the game when it was 100% his fault that he died.