Here’s GGN’s first build guide for Starfield! I’m going to break down the necessary skills first, and will also cover gear & end-game for this stealth sniper build in the spoilers section, so watch out for that if you’re avoiding spoilers.
This build is built for the Hard difficulty; I recommend most folks play on at least Hard just for the extra loot, but if you prefer an easier experience Normal is perfectly OK!
With that out of the way, let’s break down the necessary skills for the stealth sniper build in Starfield. Just to say it again – I will place spoiler content at the end of this with a big, obvious warning, so if you’re avoiding spoilers I’ve got you covered!
Starfield Stealth Sniper Build: Background, Traits & Skills
As a stealth sniper you might assume one of the more stealth-focused backgrounds would be best, but in all actuality I recommend you pick Industrialist.
All 3 bonus skills you get from Industrialist are skills you’d invest in otherwise, maximizing their benefit; Cyber Runner has theft, which isn’t used in this build, wasting a valuable skill point. As well, Industrialist has some good conversation options that can benefit persuasion checks!
For traits feel free to pick whatever you like; I recommend at a minimum Alien DNA and Introvert (since you’ll spend the bulk of your time alone aside from forced companions in the main story).
As far as skills go, the most obvious required investments are in the physical tree. You’ll want to put all 4 into the Stealth skill, focusing on maxing it by level 15. After that, you’ve got some wiggle-room; you’ll want to spend 8 more points to unblock Concealment for the late-game, but you can take your time doing that. I recommend weight lifting, wellness, gymnastics or environmental conditioning.
If you invest in gymnastics, I’d suggest going the full 4 points just to get the jump benefits. Environmental conditioning is useful because, as a sniper, you’ll be spending more of your time out in the environment and will be prioritizing gear weight over resistances (since equip weight impacts stealth).
Concealment is a nice-to-have, especially in the late-game to allow you to have a lot of fun in New Game+ being as stealthy as possible while doing just insane levels of damage.
As an aside, if you weren’t sure how you’ll be leveling concealment as a stealth sniper, I’d suggest finding a nice peaceful planet with lots and lots of wildlife to hunt. This is one of the few times where you’ll be grinding a skill, so you might as well make it easy on yourself. Otherwise, you can do small bunker missions and the like, but this will take a LOT longer. I suggest watching the loot you pick up for a good instigating unique melee weapon for when it comes time to level this skill.
For the social tree I recommend putting 1 point into commerce, 3 points into persuasion, and 4 into isolation.
You could also max persuasion and skip commerce, but you’ll be waiting a lot longer to max persuasion given persuasion checks aren’t as common as.. Well, killing folks. In most cases I had no problem succeeding in persuasion just wearing normal + to persuasion clothes with 2 or 3 points in the skill, only using chems as-needed for particularly critical persuasion checks.
Isolation is a big winner here: The bonuses to damage apply to ALL weapons, and the damage resist is also a nice bonus.
Skip the social manipulation skills in general; these are extremely limited in usefulness, and you can get a free point in manipulation if you do a certain questline that I’ll mention in the spoilers section at the end of the guide.
Deception can be useful if you want to smuggle, but I wouldn’t put more than 2 points here unless you’re also going to be doing some general piracy.
The combat tree for the most part is going to be fairly self-explanatory: We’re going ballistics because those tend to have the best sniper-focused weapons, first of all. You’ll be maxing ballistics, and then moving into rifle certification. Early on I’d suggest stopping at 3 in rifle certification to focus on Isolation in the social tree; This ensures you get a constant increase in damage throughout the early game. Once you’ve got Isolation maxed (or close to it), toss that last point in rifle certification, and then start working on Marksmanship, Sniper Certification, and eventually Sharpshooting.. Although I would suggest ensuring you’ve got at least 3 points in Concealment before maxing any of those completely.
With the science tree you’ve got a bit of freedom here; Your first 4 points can be a mix of whatever you want. I suggest 2 points into research methods and 2 points in astrodynamics, but you could also put a point or two in medicine.
You do this to unlock weapon engineering; You’ll want to get weapon engineering to level 3 as fast as you can, since that allows you to unlock most of the critical parts for a stealth sniper build. Eventually you’ll want the 4th point, but that is moreso needed in the late-game and is just to help you reduce the amount of time shopping for the perfect weapons. In NG+ you’ll probably want to consider Special Projects as well just to make sure you can always have the best weapon available to you; I’d suggest using the Spacesuit Design skill as your dump to unlock that last tier in the tree.
The Tech tree is going to be your lightest investment initially; Boost Pack Training is absolutely worth maxing, but I’d suggest only putting points in if you’ve got a spare point and no other skill is ready to be upgraded yet. Additionally, I suggest 2 points in Security; this allows you to open Expert locks. If you want to unlock master locks, definitely get all 4 points; you’ll want the extra perks of the 4th level to help solve those master locks. Otherwise most locks are going to be Expert and below.
In later New Game+ playthroughs you’ll want to put a point or two in targeting control systems and piloting. Additionally, shield systems, starship design and starship engineering are all useful to help you build out some really powerful ships in the late game. I wouldn’t worry about any of these before doing New Game+, however, which you’ll understand why if you hit the spoilers section below.
Starfield Stealth Sniper Build: Spoilers Ahead!
Here it is! This is your spoiler warning. If you want to avoid any spoilers for the game, stop reading here!
.. Ok, if you’re still here, you’ve been warned!
As far as Starborn powers go, there are 4 that will be your bread & butter: Sense Star Stuff will be your most-used power since it lets you see enemies through walls. Void Form will be great in helping you disengage from combat or sneak past enemies in certain questlines, like the Ryujin one – more on that later.
Personal Atmosphere is something everybody should have hotkey’d; With the amount of running that you’ll be doing in this game – including when overencumbered – this is a live-saver.
Finally, I’ve always found Phased Time to be extremely useful during the final battles helping you score headshots on multiple other Starborn.
The other Starborn powers are more incidental than those, so you’ll basically just use them once or twice as needed.. However, there is no reason to make sure you unlock all of them, so get to finding those temples!
Starfield Stealth Sniper Build Gear & Recommended Quests
As soon as you encounter spacers and get the Secret Outpost note you should hop onto the Mantis questline. This questline gives you a great early-game armor set (that is less useful for stealth FYI because of the weight, but early-game you’ll be less stealthy anyway), but more importantly it’ll give you a ship you should absolutely use. I recommend you don’t even touch upgrading the Discovery and instead wait until you get the Razorleaf; once you get that, outfit it with PB cannons and the best reactor & shields you can, which should carry you through your first game loop. The Razorleaf is great because pirates, spacers and the like all have a chance to flee when they see the ship.. Even if you’ve completely changed every part in the thing. As long as you based your redesign on this ship, they’ll frequently run scared!
I mentioned earlier getting a free point in Manipulation; you do this via the Ryujin questline in Neon, which is useful for multiple reasons. Not only do you get that manipulation skill point, but you also get 2 sets of clothes that are extremely useful for this build: a +10% to persuasion chance outfit, and a +25% to stealth outfit.
Otherwise, you’ll want to use whatever you can get your hands on; since you don’t unlock rifle damage boosts until later, use whatever gives you the best damage; suppressed is definitely a bonus, too.
At around level 15 to 17 you should be able to get Beowulf rifles; These are going to be your bread & butter. Make sure you’re running these semi-auto and you’ll be good.
Later on at level 32 you’ll be able to get the Hard Target; this will be your distance rifle. Until you can get a hard target I recommend making sure you have the latest greatest old world hunting rifle, which you should actually be able to get before the Beowulf.
In New Game+ you’ll basically be grabbing a Beowulf & Hard Target as soon as you can. I suggest earning the money for these by making use of your Starborn ship to do space-based encounters, as it should be plenty powerful enough for the early New Game+ content. Do space bounties, capture enemy ships and flip them, and board derelicts to get the money.
Avoid the Magsniper; While its damage numbers look good, the fact that it can’t be suppressed means it doesn’t gain the benefit of suppressed sneak attack bonuses, and you’ll end up breaking stealth more often, too. Since it only shows up in the late-game, by then you’ll be doing way more damage via stealth than it would provide.. Or, at least, enough damage that nearly everything goes down in one shot except for the biggest of bads.
Also, regarding uniques, in the early game you’ll want to prioritize suit pieces with Chameleon, and weapons with Instigating; Chameleon is useful for retaining stealth after the first shot, and Instigating can mitigate the lower damage of the early game giving you more opportunities to one-shot targets (just make sure to have something different for bullet sponge foes).
..And that’s it! Get out and start picking off your targets from afar, Starborn!