Boarding a ship isn’t a straightforward task. Whether the ship’s crew is initially friendly or not, they won’t allow you to board without resistance (unless you have explicit permission from a larger battlecruiser or space station). This means you’ll first need to incapacitate them to prevent their escape.
Smaller, more cautious ships, such as traders and merchants, might attempt to jump systems to flee. In such cases, you might need to destroy their Grav Drive.
The Targeting System Skill in Starfield is invaluable for this purpose. Once your ship locks onto a target, this skill lets you enter a mode similar to Fallout’s VATS system. In this mode, you can view the targeted ship’s systems and target them individually. This mode is time-limited, so it’s crucial to act quickly. Ideally, you’d want to target their Engines or Grav Drive (especially if you suspect the trader might flee). Without this targeting system, you’d have to rely on random shots, hoping to disable their engine without destroying the ship.
Once their ship’s engine is disabled, approach the ship. When you’re within 500 meters, an option to board will appear. On boarding, you’ll likely find most of the ship’s inhabitants in the pilot area. Depending on the ship’s size, some might be in different crew quarters. You’ll need to clear the ship room by room, eliminating all threats. Grenades can be useful for dealing with entrenched enemies.
After securing and boarding the ship, you can loot their cargo hold and captain’s hold. Inspect their habitat modules thoroughly. Against certain factions like Spacers or Crimson Raiders, you might find contraband items on shelves or desks. Look out for suspicious briefcases containing illegal tech.
At this point, you can choose to take control of the ship. If you decide to make it your primary ship, jumping systems, landing, or taking off from a planet will transfer all your crew and cargo to this new ship. If you wish to revert, you can change your primary ship at a ship technician.
If you decide the ship isn’t worth keeping, return to your ship, undock, and destroy the boarded ship for some extra XP.
Use The Deception Skill To Board Hostile Ships Without Violence
To board a hostile ship in Starfield without risking a combat situation you need to invest in the Deception skill. The skill falls under the Social skills tree and makes hostile ships easier to board for space pirates.
|1||10% stronger ships will automatically surrender to piracy demand. Enemy ship’s contraband scans are 10% less effective.|
|2||20% stronger ships will automatically surrender to piracy demand. Enemy ship’s contraband scans are 20% less effective.|
|3||30% stronger ships will automatically surrender to piracy demand. Enemy ship’s contraband scans are 30% less effective.|
|4||40% stronger ships will automatically surrender to piracy demand. Enemy ship’s contraband scans are 40% less effective.|