Starfield Planet Exploration: Starfield offers a vast galaxy to explore, with over 1,000 planets scattered across dozens of star systems. While many planets seem empty at first glance, taking the time to thoroughly explore their surfaces can reveal some of the game’s best hidden content. In this guide, we’ll walk you through strategies to uncover some of the coolest secrets and stories that Starfield’s worlds have to offer.
1. Scan Planets From Orbit for Points of Interest
Before landing on a new planet, be sure to scan it from orbit. Your ship’s sensors will highlight any major points of interest (POIs) visible on the surface. These include facilities, settlements, crash sites, and other landmarks that present opportunities for exploration.
Pay attention to the icons used to denote different POIs. Certain ones like abandoned outposts, cryo facilities, and observatories tend to have more interactable objects, lore, and useful loot inside. Prioritize investigating these over generic camps or factories for a better chance of finding something unique.
2. Toggle Scanning Mode to Locate Nearby Sites
Once landed on a planet, frequently toggle into scanning mode by pressing down on the directional pad. This will highlight nearby POIs and structures that may not have been visible from orbit. The range of your scanner improves as you invest perk points into related skills.
With maxed out scanning capabilities, you can identify points of interest up to 800-1000 meters away or more. Don’t just rely on your compass waypoints. Manually scanning as you explore can reveal hidden gems.
3. Read Computer Terminals and Notes Thoroughly
Many POIs contain computer terminals, handwritten notes, audio logs, and other contextual storytelling elements. Take time to not just skim these, but read through them closely. Developers have tucked stories about various factions and characters within this environmental narrative.
For example, in one science facility I learned about a researcher’s increasingly unethical experiments on alien lifeforms via detailed terminal logs. In another base, notes from a lonely maintenance worker lamenting his isolation fleshed out little moments of humanity. Really examining in-game text can bring additional life to discoveries.
4. Search Every Nook and Cranny
Don’t just focus on the critical path when exploring structures. Take time to search offices, crew quarters, storage rooms, and any other accessible areas. These spaces frequently contain environmental storytelling that might go unnoticed if you only rush to complete mission objectives.
Check desks, shelves, containers, and other surfaces for readable notes, datapads, and computer terminals. Also search for hidden switches that open up additional rooms not visible at first glance. Thoroughly picking through all accessible spaces maximizes the chances of uncovering rare loot and Easter eggs.
5. Revisit Sites After Major Story Beats
The state of certain locations can change dramatically as certain plot lines advance. A seemingly empty base could later become repopulated with new enemies tied to ongoing events. Key characters may even take up residence in a location they previously had no connection to.
Revisiting familiar sites, especially ones related to faction quests, after completing major campaign beats can reveal new content. With an ever-changing world, it pays to reexamine places you might have already checked off your map. There may be more there than you expect.
6. Read Planet Description Text for Clues
When scanning a new planet from your starship map, read the full text description provided rather than just the title. Creative writers working on Starfield packed clues about possible stories or points of interest into many of these short blurbs.
For example, the description might mention abandoned settlements, dangerous wildlife, strange anomalies, or clues about which faction inhabits a world. This info provides guidance on what kind of content that planet might offer explorers. Let it help inform your choices.
7. Vary Landing Site Selection
When first exploring a new world, try selecting different landing zones rather than sticking to the default options. Touch down near various POIs noted during your orbital scan rather than always picking the nearest one.
Starting your planetary hike from different spots opens up more of the map and increases chances of stumbling onto unexpected stories. Don’t just rely on your compass to lead the way. Pick an intriguing landmark and make your own path to it.
8. Pay Attention to Your Environment
Keep your eyes and ears open when exploring planet surfaces. Subtle clues like unusual rock formations, destroyed machinery, and abandoned campsites can lead to hidden content if investigated. Always be looking around rather than just staring at your compass.
Audio cues also hint at activity nearby. Distant alien screeches, rumbling machinery, or even something as simple as wind gusts through rocky arches could signify something worth checking out. Let your natural senses guide you, not just map markers.
9. Consider Landing on Unmarked Worlds
While designated points of interest make exploration more convenient, don’t rule out landing on completely unmarked worlds. Barren planets and moons can still contain surprises like abandoned outposts, hidden caves, distress calls, roaming enemies, valuable resources, and more.
Treat these stops as true expedition into the unknown rather than just galactic tourism. With zero expectations, any discovery you make on a no-name rock feels more exciting. You might just stumble onto something no one was meant to find.
10. Embrace Wandering Off the Beaten Path
Perhaps the best advice for uncovering Starfield’s hidden gems is simply letting your curiosity guide you. Pick a direction that looks intriguing and just wander, taking in the sights. Forget chasing map icons for an hour.
Meander up alien hillsides, trace winding cave networks, drift through dense forests, let winding valleys lead your way. Unexpected stories and scenic views await those willing to stray from the clearly marked road. The best secrets hide off the beaten path.
Final Thoughts on Starfield Planet Exploration
With the excitement of traversing a galaxy in a rocket ship, it can be tempting to jet between planets quickly in search of constant action. But slowing down and embracing wandering exploration can unveil some of Starfield‘s best content.
Immerse yourself in the role of being an explorer in a wondrous unknown. Scan planets thoroughly from orbit and on the surface. Read notes, terminals, and descriptions closely for clues and context. Vary landing sites and wander beyond the obvious icons. Embrace curiosity over convenience. The most memorable moments hide in the margins, awaiting true galactic pioneers.