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How To Board Ships in Starfield (Explained)

How To Board Ships in Starfield (Explained)

If you are knee-deep into the life of space piracy then boarding ships is going to be the most important part of your repertoire. How can you board ships in Starfield? What are things to consider before you attempt to steal any ship you want? We will go over everything and more in this boarding ship guide.


Before boarding a ship, you must destroy its engines to disable it. This can be done easily by using the Targettring Control System skill. Once the engines are destroyed, approach the floating ship and press the dock button, X on the Xbox controller and R on the Keyboard. Proceed to press the X (Xbox) button or C (keyboard) to board the ship.

Here are a few upgrades you should consider before risking your neck attempting to board ships in Starfield:


Targeting Control systems

Under the Tech Tree, the Targeting Control Systems skill is a must for boarding. This unlocks ship-targeting functionality so you can specifically target and destroy the engines of a ship. It is like the V.A.T.S. system in Fallout where it slows down time and allows you to attack a particular part of the hostile ship.

With the engines disabled, it safely put it to a halt and opens up the possibility of boarding it afterward.

Piloting skill

If you really want to continue stealing ships then there is a chance you come across some higher-tier ship that you can’t steal. To upgrade your thriving potential, try upgrading the Piloting skill in the Tech skill tree. This will allow you to commandeer higher-class ships.


ELectromagnetic damage weapon.

You’re also going to need specific weapons for damaging engines using the previously mentioned skill, otherwise, you’ll probably end up destroying the ship. Go to any Ship Services Technicians or any vendor who deals in ship parts to buy ship weapons. The earliest one can be found in Alpha Centauri, Jemison, New Atlantis.

Select the view or modify the ship option and access the shipbuilder menus. From here you must buy and place any weapon with the highest Electromagnetic Damage stat like the Spark 750 Suppressor. These kinds of weapons will easily disable any engine on enemy ships as opposed to other types of weaponry.

To unlock better weaponry, you will have to invest in the Starship Design skill in the Tech Tree.

Mission Boards

Mission Boards

The Mission Board terminals are the perfect place to pick up assignments that will send you to different locations and pit you against enemy ships. The more hostile ships you come across, the higher the possibility of finding the right ship to board. You can buy and place a Mission Board on your Outpost.

We recommend boarding ships with better loot in them. You can scan ships to view their cargo and target those that have the best loot on them. Ships with contraband should be given higher priority as they can be sold for a higher profit.

Selecting missions that task you to hunt Crimson Fleet ships is the best since they have a higher chance of carrying contraband.

These assignments can be viewed in the Missions tab in the Mission menu. Choose the one you like to embark upon and instantly set a course for it.

Steps to Boarding a Ship

You must follow these steps to successfully board a ship:

1. Disabling Engines

Targeting enemy ship part - Starfield Board Ships

As soon as you run into either a hostile ship, a regular ship you like to board, or a ship with good loot, approach the ship and initiate a space battle. Select the ship and start the locking-on process. Make sure to allocate the right parts i.e. weapons with energy points before engaging. Prioritize points to shields and EM weapons.

With the Targeting Control Systems skill, you can target lock on to the enemy ship. The closer you are to the ship, the easier it will be to target the parts and successfully land your shots.

When the targeting system zooms in on the ship, you can move your reticule to pinpoint which specific part to attack. Before we obliterate the engines, try to destroy the enemy ship’s weapons and shield generator. Use any weapon at your disposal for this purpose.

There will be an indicator on the targeting screen showing the current health and status of all the parts. Attack the weapons and shield until the indicator turns red resulting in the destruction of the said part.

Now turn your attention to the engines. This time around, use only the EM weapons to attack the engines, and soon they will go down, and the ship will be stranded in space. With the engines gone and weapons destroyed, it will be helplessly floating in place ready to be boarded.

One thing to know before approaching the disabled ship is that the crew can repair the ship. If you don’t board it in time then it will come back to life and start battling you. If this happens then continue with the previous strategy.

2. Boarding the Ship

Starfield Board Ships

Once you are within 500 meters of the disabled ship, there will be a prompt underneath the ship name to board it. If the ship is repaired in the middle then there will be no prompt so you will have to damage it some more to get the boarding option.

Press and hold the X button on the Xbox controller or the R key on the keyboard to dock the ship. This will play out a cutscene of your ship docking on the enemy ship. This will lock your ship to the enemy ship, and then you can press the X (Xbox controller) button or C key on the keyboard to board the ship.

3. Take Out the Enemies

Take out the Enemies - Starfield Board Ships

The crew of the ship won’t go down that easy. Most of the time they will be ready for your unwelcomed arrival. As soon as you enter the ship, enemies on board will come guns-blazing trying to defend their turf.

Equip the best gear and weapon on you and start pulverizing any who comes in your way. In between your firefights on the ship, take some time to explore the rest of the ship and loot anything you find useful.

Your main goal is to annihilate anyone that stands between you and the cockpit. Go through the entire ship killing the whole crew even the pilot and then simply interact with the main console and steal the ship.

What to do with the Stolen Ship

There are a few things you can do with the ship you just boarded:

  • If it is a low-quality ship then loot everything on board. Return to your ship and destroy the ship to get some more parts.
  • If it is a worthy ship then take it to a Ship Services Technician and register it to your name by paying 84% of the ship’s value as a registration fee:
    • You can sell the ship to make a 16% profit after paying the registration fee.
    • You can add it to your fleet of ships, assign it as your Home Ship, and travel the universe in it.

Ships are home to some of the best loot in the game and can be sold for a quick profit. On the other hand, if you are roleplaying as a space pirate then boarding ships is definitely up your alley. Make use of the boarding mechanic to become the most feared pirate in all of the systems and board enemy ships in Starfield.