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Starfield Shotgun Build Guide

In this Starfield Shotgun Build Guide I’ll be teaching you how to create a fun, action-packed build that lets you stay highly mobile and charge into enemy camps with abandon. This Shotgun build will help you take down enemies quickly without even aiming, and is viable on Very Hard difficulty.

Please be mindful that this build contains unavoidable early game spoilers due to showing some combat mechanics you might not be aware of. If you want to avoid all spoilers, read our written guide and don’t go past the section labelled spoiler!

Shotgun Sprinter – Starfield Build Guide

The Shotgun Sprinter is a Starfield Build focused on maximizing the damage output of shotguns and optimizing your equipment to be able to absorb attacks while you clear a camp.

This is a high-damage, high risk, high reward build, perfect for those wanting combat to feel challenging but who still want to be able to take out enemies with one or two hits. This build begins to come together early in the game and will shine when perfected over level 30, making it a good all-game loadout.

How to Build a Shotgun Sprinter Starfield Build

Your first decision will be to select a background and traits for your character. Since this is an in-your-face kind of build, I suggest you pick one of the following:

Bounty Hunter: Gives you Piloting, Boostpack Training and Targeting Control Systems. All of these are important QOL skills and having them by default means you can put your level-up skillpoints into your combat skills sooner.

Industrialist: Gives you Persuasion, Security and Research Methods. The first two are must-haves for any character, and Research Methods is one of the skills we’ll invest into for this build, so this is a good option.

Long Hauler: Gives you Weight Lifting, Piloting and Ballistic Weapon Systems. Weight Lifting and Piloting are core needed skills for any player because of the quality of life they deliver, and you will be investing into weight lifting to unlock the second tier of skills on physical so this saves you a point. Ballistic Weapon Systems will make your space combat just a tad easier.

Soldier: Gives you Ballistics, Boostpack Training and Fitness. All of these skills work well with this build as we’ll be focusing on Ballistic weapons, and having more oxygen for sprinting is always a plus. Boostpack Training is a must on any character!

File Not Found: This unique background gives you Ballistics and Piloting, and adds Wellness which will increase your Health. More health can be very valuable when you’re playing a run-n-gun style of character, so its a decent option.

Starfield Shotgun Sprinter Build - Ballistics

As I’ve mentioned on my previous guides, traits are a big decision because you have to opt for gameplay or roleplay. Some of the trait choices are story or quest focused, such as “Kid Stuff”, but I will focus on traits that benefit the build. If you want to pick roleplay traits you can and it won’t really affect your performance, these are just my suggestions for optimization.

  1. Alien DNA – this gives you a bonus to oxygen and health at the expense of food performance. It’s well worth it in my opinion, particularly during the earlier sections of the game before your build has fully come together.
  2. Extrovert – This will increase your performance when out with your companions, which should be all the time as you won’t be doing any stealth.
  3. Terra Firma – I spend most of my oxygen sprinting when exploring planets so this is a must-have for me.

Starfield Build Guide – Shotgun Sprinter Weapons, Armor & Mods

This Starfield Build is meant to completely come together at levels 30+, because you are aiming for two of the Master Skills that are only unlocked after spending 12 points in the combat skill tree. For this reason, your weapons and mods will have an impact on your performance as you level up, before things are completely fleshed out, and you should pay close attention to these.

Your first task will be to procure a Shotgun or Particle Beam Shotgun with some good quality perks. This can be done by visiting the vendors of the game. An early but very useful place to check out is Rowland Arms or Laredo Firearms in Akila City (Akila – Cheyenne), and the general vendor there as well.

You may get some drops or loot of good weapons as you go, but keep in mind that weapon rarity (the color) doesn’t always mean the weapon is better. The base damage of your weapon is its most important aspect, and that changes based on weapon LEVEL so you want to make sure to keep updating your weapon as you level up.

Weapon Perks

There are four different rarities in Starfield, and each is inherently related to the amount of Perks the weapon possesses. You will not be able to change, remove, or add Perks to your equipment so you need to make it work with what you find.

  • Common – Drops with no Weapon Perks
  • Rare – Drops with one Weapon Perk
  • Epic – Drops with two Weapon Perks
  • Legendary – Drops with Three Weapon Perks

For the Shotgun Sprinter Build, you’ll want to find the following bonuses, which are available for Rifles:

  • Instigating – Deals double damage to targets with full health – This is massive as it will give you a good chance to kill enemies in one hit.
  • Anti-Personnel – +10% Damage against humans – Most of your enemies will be human so this is a useful increase to your damage.
  • Rapid – +25% increase in attack speed – This is nice to have when you’re dealing with legendary enemies that have shields and need many hits.

Weapon Mods

Weapon Mods are also very important for this build, so you will want to spend points into Research Methods and Weapon Engineering to unlock all the mods available. My favorite mods to slot are:

Ballistic Shotguns

  • Long Barrel – Improves Accuracy and Recoil Control, at the expense of Aim Down Sight Speed. We don’t really use ADS, so this is a good trade off.
  • Compensator – This reduces long-range Accuracy, which isn’t great, but does improve Stability and Hip-Fire accuracy, and we Hip-Fire 99% of the time with this weapon.
  • Choke – This is not a bad alternative to the Compensator, since it reduces shotgun spread, making it more likely to hit the target.
  • Slug Shots – This changes your ammo to Slugs that doesn’t spread nearly as much and hits much harder. This helps with both Accuracy and Damage, and is a must if you want to play a Ballistics Shotgun Build.
  • High Powered – Increases damage done. You want as much damage as you can, so you can kill enemies in 1 or 2 shots.
  • Semi-Automatic – The fire rate on a Shotgun is not that much different between Full and Semi Auto, so you might as well take Semi Auto so you can take advantage of the Marksman Skill eventually
Weapon Mods - Long Barrel
Long Barrel

Particle Beam Shotguns

  • Amplifier – This increases damage significantly and is a great mod to take when we’re looking to do as much damage as possible with each single shot.

Space Suit & Apparel

Armor and Apparel can actually make a big difference on this build because you’ll be in the open very often. For Apparel, I would suggest trying to get one of the ECS uniforms, such as ECS Captain Actionwear as they give you a small % increase to your reload speed.

For your Space Suit and Helmet, you will want to be on the lookout for mods that improve your resistance to damage, give you healing benefits, or optimize your oxygen for sprinting. I suggest the following perks:

  • Bolstering – This increases your Energy and Physical Resistance the lower your Health goes. Great for keeping you alive in a pinch.
  • Combat Veteran – Reduces the damage you take from Humans by 15%. This is the most common enemy type in the game by far, so this is a great pick up.
  • 02 Filter – This reduces your Oxygen consumption by 25%. You Sprint nonstop with this Build, so this is a great one to have as well.

Spacesuit Mods

Spacesuit Mods are also a factor with this Build because you can use them to further reduce the damage you take. Staying alive is much harder when you are constantly running up to enemies, and anything you can do to reduce damage is vital. I like the following Mods for your suit:

  • Ballistic Shielding – A Helmet & Spacesuit Mod to increase Damage Resistance
  • EM Shielding – If you’re having more trouble with EM than physical, opt for this mod instead of ballistic
  • Emergency Aid – This will make your suit auto-heal you and it’s invaluable when in a big fight.
  • Heavy Shielding – This is a must-have as it will greatly improve your damage resistance
Research Lab
Research Lab

Consumables: Chems & Food

I have a tendency to ignore chems and foods in these kind of games, but for this build there are some specific items that make a very crucial difference. I was able to clear camps with enemies double my level (35 levels above me!) with a good combination of the skills and setup, and some assistance from chems.

You should stock up on:

  • Med Packs – This is a no-brainer, buy all the medpacks you find as they will be applied automatically by your suit if you select that mod, and allow you to be reckless in battle
  • Trauma Packs – A stronger medpack, buy them whenever you find them!
  • Battlestim – Gives you +250 Damage Resistance for 5 minutes. This is a really huge boost. You can buy these from vendors everywhere
  • Boudicca – Gives you +300 Damage Resistance and +30 Oxygen for 3 minutes. You can buy this from Mary Cartwrite at The Rock in Akila City
  • Heal Gel – Gain +150 Damage Resistance for 5m, You can buy this from most vendors including Cydonia, Akila, and Neon City
  • Zipper Bandages – Gives you +150 Damage Resistance for 5 minutes. Can be bought from Trade Authority at Akila City

Shotgun Sprinter Skills Guide

As with any build that you’re making for Starfield, you will have to balance out the combat skills with the quality of life skills that you want for your gameplay.

I will assume that you can balance combat advancement with your own questing skills based on how you’re finding the combat and how important that is to you. I will not revisit here how the skill system works in full, you can check our Starfield Best Skills Guide to get the full picture.

How to Spend Your Skillpoints

You will not be able to refund skill points or respec your character, so make your choices wisely! You will need to consider a smart combination of combat and quality of life skills, and you will need to level up each skill challenge to progress as well. This means there’s no easy way to tell you “put 1 point here at this level” because your own progress will vary.

IMPORTANT! I will actually give you two builds at once in this guide: one focuses on ballistics (the normal shotguns) while the other gives you an option for playing with Particle Beam Shotguns. The Combat Skills distribution is different for each so I will divide them into two sections.

For the Ballistics Shotgun Sprinter Build:

Your first order of business will be to begin unlocking and spending 4 points into the “Basic” tier of skills. This means putting points into these Tier 1 Skills, and upgrading them

  • Weight Lifting – you will want more carry weight and you need to put 4 points here to unlock the damage resistance skills of Tier 2
  • Ballistics – Increases your damage done with any ballistic weapons and we’re using ballistic shotguns
  • Shotgun Certification – Increases your damage done with Shotguns
  • Research Methods – Makes your research less costly and more efficient and enables you to unlock Tier 2 Science Skills
  • Piloting , Boostpack Training & Security (QOL skills, just 1 or 2 points is enough for most of game, you can get these from Backgrounds rather than levels)

These skills set up your basic character with quality of life features, while enabling you to research a lot more efficiently. Combat-wise, ballistics and Shotgun Certification will buff your damage.

Weight Lifting
Weight Lifting

My preferred approach here was to max shotgun certification, weight lifting and ballistics ASAP, with piloting and research lagging behind based on what I needed. If you picked a background with persuasion or hacking just one level can be enough for those for now.

Once I unlocked the Advanced Skills (Tier 2, requires you spend 4 points on tier 1 skills), I put points into:

  • Pain Tolerance – This is a damage reduction skill. You could take other skills if you wanted, but I prefer to have the security since I made this build for very hard.
  • Spacesuit Design – This Skill will allow you to install good mods on your armor, and you absolutely should take it and do your research to get the full benefits of your suit.
  • Weapon Engineering – This Skill will allow you to install better mods on your weapons, and it’s incredibly important that you take it in order to optimize your offense, as you will have to swap weapons when leveling up due to damage degradation.

After Spending 8 points on a category, you will be able to put points into Expert Skills. Aim for:

  • Targeting – This skill improves accuracy and range when shooting without aiming, but also MARKS enemies that hit you. As you level it up, it increases the targets marked and the range it applies to, making it really useful
  • Rapid Reloading – Just one point into this skill will greatly improve your reload time!

Once you have spent 12 points on the Combat category, you will be able to unlock the master skills. These skills are very powerful and make the build fully come together. After maxing these out, I could take on level 74 legendary enemies at level 36 and kill them in 2 or 3 hits even on Very Hard.

  • Armor Penetration – This master skill is deceptive because you can’t quite know how much armor your enemies have as you go about. I put 3 points into it to get my attacks to ignore 50% of enemy armor, and it made a big difference against legendary enemies.
  • Sharpshooting – This incredibly powerful master skill starts off by making your headshot crits with ranged weapons do a fantastic 50% more damage. It ramps up to include leg crits, and all crits, eventually giving you a 25% crit chance buff when you kill an enemy with a ranged critical. You can aim your shotgun for “center mass”, but I usually try to aim to blow upper or lower heads up so it works well for me!
Armor Penetration
Armor Penetration

Other Skills you should consider

  • You can opt for Physical Skills to reduce damage and regenerate health as well, which would make you just a bit less deadly but a lot more survivable. Eventually, you can get all of them as you reach 50+. So here are some extra skills I would take:
  • Energy Weapon Dissipation – This can help when you’re fighting against enemies with energy weapons, much like Pain Tolerance does against ballistics
  • Marksmanship – If you opt to not have your shotgun fully auto, marksmanship gives great critical boosts that will play very well with Sharpshooter.

For the Particle Beam Shotgun Sprinter Build

Your choice for physical and science skills will be the same, but your combat section will look a bit different. Put points into these skills:

  1. Shotgun Certification – This is a shotgun build so you need this skill for sure.
  2. Particle Beams – This will increase the damage and crit chance of your particle beam weapon
  3. Targeting – Same as the other build, this gives you a boost to your accuracy and range while marking enemies that damage you
  4. Armor Penetration & Sharpshooting – Same as before
Particle Beams
Particle Beams

Powers to use with the Shotgun Sprinter Build

Beware of mild story SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT!

After doing a couple of the main quest steps, you will arrive at a point where you visit a temple and discover your first Power. Powers are special abilities that you gain by completing special events inside Temples spread across the Galaxy. These can have a huge impact on your gameplay, so knowing to go get them early on can save a lot of frustration.

Powers can be acquired in different orders and can be swapped on the fly, so you can adapt to situations and make the best use of them.

For this build, we will be aiming to get the power “Reactive Shield” as soon as possible. This power allows you to cast a shield in front of yourself to protect yourself from damage and even reflect enemy projectiles. Since you are playing a very forward build and will be in the line of fire constantly, this can be a life saver.

  • Effect: Form a shield of pure cosmic light that can weaken and even reflect enemy projectiles
  • Temple:  
  • Location:  
  • Cost: 35 Power
  • Total: 60 Power
Reactive Shield
Reactive Shield

Another very useful power for any build is “Sense Star Stuff”. This power will allow you to cast a sensory net that makes living creatures shine in a special light, allowing you to see them through walls and from good distance. When playing a run ‘n’ gun character, knowing where enemies are is vitally important, so this is a fantastic power to pair with your style.

You can obtain “Sense Star Stuff” by completing Temple Chi in the planet Piazzi IV-C

  • Effect: Bind yourself to the particles of creation, sensing the life force of any human, alien, or Starborn
  • Temple: Temple Chi
  • Location: Piazzi IV-C
  • Cost: 15 Power
  • Total: 60 Power

Final Tips & Tricks

The key to this build is to enter fights prepared with damage resistance and position yourself smartly as you charge so that you don’t take unnecessary damage on your way to the enemies. Using extra items that grant bonus movement speed can be useful in closing gaps quickly as well.

Leveling up does not take long if you maximize your scanning, crafting and questing, as discovering systems and locations also gives XP. You can also get an XP buff from sleeping in a bed, such as the one available on your ship.

Your general gameplay approach will be to cast “Protective Shield” and then quickly charge into the fray, aiming to take enemies down quickly with from-the-hip shotgun blasts. Keep on the move and be very aggressive, you want to kill everything before it has a chance to kill you! Looting can be done after combat.

There are some good fixed weapons like the particle beam shotgun “Big Bang” that players may find that work perfectly for this build, so I’d love to hear about what you have found in the comments, and I’ll add the notes to the written version of this guide for other players to check it out. Make sure you include where you found your loot!

Hopefully you found out Starfield Shotgun Build Guide useful. Check out more our guides in Starfield Beginner Guide – Best Tips Before You Play and Starfield Skills Guide. For all your Constellation needs head to our wiki.

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