Starfield Smuggling: Why It’s Broken and How to Fix It

Starfield Smuggling is a key mechanic that many players expect to be fully fleshed out and rewarding. However, based on feedback from the community, smuggling seems to be lackluster, limiting, and even “broken” in its current implementation. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on the issues with smuggling and potential solutions.

The Problem with Starfield Smuggling

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Smuggling serves little purpose in Starfield as it stands. The main issues are:

  • No incentive to smuggle. You can openly sell illegal goods at locations like The Den with no repercussions. There’s no reward for taking the risk to smuggle into more lawful areas.
  • No robust smuggler faction/questline. There are no meaningful smuggler guilds or deep questlines like those available for other playstyles. Joining groups like the Crimson Fleet or Ryujin doesn’t scratch the smuggling itch.
  • No consequences or penalties. Getting caught smuggling contraband rarely has any real in-game effects. Security is lax and avoidable in most cases.
  • Limited smuggling opportunities. While there are a few linear missions that involve stealthy cargo transport, there isn’t much depth or variety to the smuggling options.
  • Profitability issues. Smuggled goods don’t sell for nearly enough profit to make it worth the effort. The economy needs rebalancing to make illegal goods more lucrative.

Overall, these factors make smuggling feel tacked on and unsatisfying rather than an integral, rewarding profession.

A Smuggler’s Story

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To illustrate these issues, here is an account from a frustrated Redditor:

I wanted to roleplay a Han Solo type, getting rich by smuggling illegal cargo from system to system. I invested in shielding modules and torpedo bays to outrun any security forces. But I quickly found there was nowhere worth smuggling to. I could openly land at The Den and offload my contraband shipments for pennies more than I bought them for. Trying to smuggle into the major cities was pointless since security didn’t scan my ship or care what I was carrying. The few smuggling side quests were dull and linear. I never felt like an outlaw smuggler, just a delivery boy. The whole smuggling fantasy Starfield seemed to promise was non-existent.

This sums up the problem well – smuggling sounds interesting but lacks any real depth or reward for the player.

Solutions and Improvements

Thankfully, there are ways Starfield could improve the smuggling experience:

Better Economy and Risk vs Reward

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  • Implement dynamic security levels in cities that scale to your reputation and cargo. Getting scanned with contraband should have consequences.
  • Make illegal goods much more valuable when sold in restrictive areas to incentivize smuggling.
  • Create NPC crime bosses that will pay top dollar for goods, but you have to build reputation first.
  • Add random security patrols that can interdict the player to search their cargo. Give options to evade, bribe, or fight them.

More Smuggling Gameplay Variety

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  • Introduce a full smuggler’s guild questline with unique characters and stories.
  • Add procedural generated derelict shipyards, hideouts, etc that smugglers can use.
  • Make the stealth/silent running ship mechanic more robust with sensors, heat levels, and other detection factors.
  • Let the player hire crew members for distraction, security, engineering roles to help on smuggling runs.
  • Create smuggling focused factions like the Hutt Cartel in Star Wars to give purpose and direction.

Make Smuggling More Central to the Experience

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  • Increase the amount and diversity of smuggling oriented side missions and contracts.
  • Make smuggled cargo more interesting than just generic “illegal goods” with different values, legality levels, detectability, etc.
  • Add purchasable hideouts on planets to store contraband. Police raids can happen if security level is high.
  • Allow for tools of the trade like cloaking devices or shielded compartments to avoid scans.
  • Let the player upgrade their ship for better smuggling, like higher top speeds, heat reduction, or scramble sensors.

Final Thoughts

Smuggling is a core part of the space RPG fantasy that Starfield should expand on. Implementing solutions like robust smuggling factions, better economy balancing, more gameplay variety, and making smuggling a central experience would go a long way to improving it. With some tweaks and additions, smuggling could become one of the most rewarding and enjoyable playstyles for those wanting to live the outlaw fantasy promised. The framework is there, it just needs the depth and purpose to make it really stand out. Here’s hoping Bethesda takes the community feedback to heart!

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