Starfield's crafting and research mechanics explained

Starfield companions vasco
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield crafting and research lets you build weapon mods, base structures and buildings, upgrades to your space suit, medicine and even... food supplies? Sounds more like cooking to us, but we won't argue. Crafting and research in Starfield functions by letting you run research projects to unlock new crafting recipes and options. Said recipes are paid for using resources like iron and other things you can find out in the galaxy. So if you want a new jetpack in Starfield, say, you'll need to unlock it in the Research Laboratory, pay up the resources needed to complete the research needed it and, once the project is completed, craft it. To find out more, let's take a deeper look at everything we know about Starfield crafting and research. 

Starfield research areas

Starfield research is split between five main categories that govern various activities and items in the game, laid out below.

  • Pharmacology
  • Food and Drink
  • Outpost Development
  • Equipment
  • Weaponry

Starfield crafting and research

(Image credit: Bethesda)

These unlock a range of gear, enhancements and mods you can use to improve your character, as well weapons and facilities. For example, Pharmacology research can improve medical gear and unlock performance enhancers. Upgrading your Outpost development can increase things like resource extraction, while Equipment advances can make things like your helmet better with mods. Weaponry works in a similar way - unlocking mods and attachments to improve your guns (more on that below). 

We're going to hazard a guess that some  Starfield backgrounds and starting skills or Starfield skills might help you craft more - maybe by speeding up the timers, or letting you harvest resources more efficiently. Similar, there will almost certainly be some Starfield traits pros and cons to play with here - craft faster but research slower, say.

Starfield Crafting 

Starfield crafting and research

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield crafting will be vital to improving your gear, and will be one of the primary uses for the resources you gather. In the example above you can see that a Barrel Mod for a weapon will cost the following resources: 

  • Iron (20)
  • Nickel (20)
  • Sealant (10)

The various Research Projects you can put resources into have a percentage completion, and a resource requirement, so there's a time and a cost involved in accessing anything. There's also a Research Tree that unlocks either a new level or variant for anything you do research. For example you can see the Barrel Mod 1 unlocks the Barrel mod 2  but whether that's a better version of the previous mod, or different type of mod isn't clear. Having some pros and cons to choose between would make sense in an RPG though, letting you pick and tune things according to playstyle. 

Starfield crafting

(Image credit: Bethesda)
Starfield romances and relationships

Starfield Faction

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Love doesn't begin and end on Earth. Find out about  Starfield romances and relationships here!

In an example of how you can change a weapon with crafted mods, Bethesda showed off this pistol. On the left is a basic model while on the right is the enhanced version sporting an improved iron sight, muzzle, laser sight and extended magazine. 

It already looks like a deep system, especially given how much it governs - weapons, gear, medical supplies and building. Starfield ship customization appears to be absent here, which makes sense considering that we know, ship components are bought - not built. That might mean that system is governed by cold hard cash, which only makes it more important you have the best gear to improve your earning potential.

Leon Hurley
Senior Guides Co-ordinator

I'm GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.