As someone who makes a hobby out of pushing a 22LR rifle out past it’s effective range (400 yards is my best thus far), I enjoy doing the same in video games.
When Starfield came out, I was initially disappointed in the “Range” weapon stat; in even the most optimized states it only got as high as around 160 or 170 meters, which felt.. Sad, to me.
As it turns out, the range weapon stat is more of a suggestion than a rule, and after some testing, I have some (thankfully simple) information for you on how the range stat actually works in Starfield.
The impact of the range stat on weapons
As I noted in the subtitle, you can absolutely hit enemies well outside what the range value suggests. I took the pistol in the screenshot at the top of this post and tested it at various ranges; The furthest being 170 meters.
At 170 meters, the above pistol did about 200 damage (keep in mind I have multipliers for scope damage, Isolationist bonuses, etc, so the weapon damage stat is just a “baseline”).
At 50 meters, that damage went up to 386.
That’s all with a pistol that has a range stat of around 20 meters.
As far as I can tell with my preliminary testing, it appears to be a fixed percentage dropoff, never truly reaching “0”.. Which makes stealth builds all the more important.
With stealth & concealment bonuses, I was able to 1-shot standard enemies (in the torso) with the above pistol from 170 meters (which is the max rendering range in my testing). I’m in NG+3 and level 63 with the character I did the testing in.
So.. Does weapon range truly matter in Starfield?
In the early game and without bonuses from stealth & concealment? Yes, it does. You’ll find that many foes will shrug off hits if you’re beyond extreme range with your weapon, and damage reduction is exceptionally significant at range.
Once you start pumping stealth skills and get higher damage weapons? It matters much less against standard foes, and even the beefier ones are so far away it’s better to plink at them from a distance while they are still unaware of where you are and unable to reach you before they are eliminated.