How to Use Manipulation in Starfield

The brilliant social skills of pressing three buttons.

Starfield Update 1.7.33 Full Patch Notes Listed

While Starfield’s answer to most combat problems is the end of your gun, there are other ways to handle situations without killing enemies immediately. As you put points into the Social skills, you’ll find yourself with new options to stop your enemies in their tracks. One such Social skill is a little tough to use if you don’t know where to look. Here’s how to use Manipulation in Starfield.

How to Use the Manipulation Skill on Enemies in Starfield

Provided that you have at least one point in the Manipulation skill, you’ll want to walk up to the NPC that you want to manipulate and press either the F key or LB button on your controller to open the scanner. From there, press either the E key or A button to open the Social menu, then select Manipulation from the available options. This will work on a percentage chance, so you may have to try a few NPCs before it works.

Once the chance succeeds, the NPC will follow your commands from there on out. They essentially act like a temporary companion, attacking any enemies that try to gun you down and listening to you when you ask them to hold position. After a short time, they’ll lose their Manipulation status effect and go back to doing whatever they were doing before you used the skill on them.

How to Level Up the Manipulation Skill

If you’re looking to improve your Manipulation status, then you’ll need to level up the Manipulation skill, found on the fourth tier of the Social skill tree. Each of the ranks and how you unlock them are as follows:

  • Rank 1
    • Unlock: Spend 12 points in the Social skill tree.
    • Perk: You can force a target NPC at or below your level to obey commands for a limited time.
  • Rank 2
    • Unlock: Successfully Manipulate 5 different people.
    • Perk: You can force a target NPC up to 10 levels higher than you to obey commands for a limited time.
  • Rank 3
    • Unlock: Successfully Manipulate 25 different people.
    • Perk: You can force a target NPC up to 20 levels higher than you to obey commands for a limited time.
  • Rank 4
    • Unlock: Successfully Manipulate 50 different people.
    • Perk: Manipulated targets now obey commands for a substantial amount of time.

If you’re looking to farm the ranks for this skill, run around various major cities in Starfield and use the Manipulation feature on everyone you can. It’ll take a bit, but it’s the fastest way to rank it up by far. By just entering New Atlantis and trying it on a handful of UC Security guards, I was able to get two or three successful Manipulate triggers.

If you’re looking for more help with your adventure, check out our guide on how to romance Andreja 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.