Starfield crafting and research explained

Starfield crafting and research
(Image credit: Bethesda)

With Starfield crafting and research, you can make lots of useful items and upgrades, from medicine and food to outpost equipment and space suit upgrades. Obviously, crafting requires lots of resources from the various planets and moons you visit on your space travels in Starfield, but crafting the best stuff also needs you to complete research projects and have some specific Science Skills unlocked.

Essentially, you need to provide materials at a research lab to complete these projects which unlock more crafting recipes and sometimes more projects. With enough research under your belt, you can build entire outposts, cook up gourmet meals, and equip a fully-kitted armory of weapons. The only thing the system doesn't cover is ship building, which is a purely vendor-lead process. I've been building things for hours, so let me explain everything I've learned about Starfield crafting and research.

Recent updates

The crafting and research systems in Starfield are quite complicated but this guide has up-to-date information on the systems as of November 14 when it was last updated.

How Starfield research projects work

Starfield food and drink research project at research lab

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield research covers five categories each filled with lots of projects that govern items and mods you can unlock for crafting:

  • Pharmacology: Unlocks chems, healing, and other aid items.
  • Food and Drink: Unlocks more edible aid items.
  • Outpost Development: Unlocks new and upgraded outpost components, such as fabricators, storage, and decorations.
  • Equipment: Unlocks new Helmet, Spacesuit, and Pack mods.
  • Weaponry: Unlocks new weapon mods.

Each category features many individual research projects which, when completed, unlock new items for crafting. You'll complete a research project once you've deposited all the required items at a research lab. When adding materials to a research project, you don't need to add them all in one go either. You can add resources as and when you find them until you complete the project.

Once you've unlocked new items for crafting, you then need to visit the workbench relevant to the item's category. I've explained crafting in detail further down, but you can go to a pharmaceutical lab for any pharmacology projects, for example.

Everyone can research and craft a few basics, but some research projects also require that you upgrade certain Starfield skills to access higher level items - for example, unlocking and boosting the Chemistry skill is essential for advanced Pharmacology research projects.

You can also rank up the Research Methods skill to reduce the material requirements for projects, and at the highest rank it increases the likelihood of sudden developments, which give you extra project materials for free. Also note that lots of projects are locked behind other research projects, so completing one can unlock even more research too.

How Starfield crafting works 

Starfield crafting food at cooking station

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield crafting lets you build mods to improve your gear and create rare items that are otherwise difficult to find as you explore the Settled Systems. For example, you can craft rare, Starfield affliction-curing healing items, upgraded industrial extractors for Starfield outposts, or even new gun barrels or optics that will affect a weapon's accuracy, weight, and more.

Just like the material requirements for Research projects, crafting items is also all funded by the resources you can pick up as you explore. You can spend what you collect at a relevant crafting workbench to create what you want, so long as you've completed the relevant research project for it too:

  • Cooking Stations: Cook food and drink aid items.
  • Industrial Workbenches: Construct industrial parts and outpost equipment.
  • Pharmaceutical labs: Craft chems, healing, and aid items.
  • Spacesuit workbenches: Apply mods that boost stats and add perks to your space gear.
  • Weapon workbenches: Install mods and attachments on your Starfield weapons to change and improve how they perform.
  • Research labs: Supply materials to complete research projects that unlock more crafting recipes for all of the above workbench types.

You can find all of the above workbenches in the basement of the Lodge in New Atlantis, but you can find them elsewhere and can add them to your ships with the right modules.

To make research and crafting a little easier you can also track a recipe for a projects and craftable items which will then mark all the ingredients you need with a little magnifying glass when you find them out in the world. It's not a perfect system because it will mark all the ingredients involved, not just the ones you need. So if you have a few recipes tracked you will probably end up collecting far too much and hitting the Starfield encumbrance limit but it's better than nothing.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, Starfield ship customization is not involved with crafting as you can only improve your ship by buying parts from vendors. Although, like crafting, you will need to level up specific skills to access higher level options.

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Leon Hurley
Managing editor for guides

I'm GamesRadar's Managing Editor for guides, 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. 

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