Starfield, like most other Bethesda RPGs, has several factions that players can choose to align themselves with throughout the game. Though the long-awaited spacefaring RPG has only just come out (unlocking September 1 for buyers of the Premium and Constellation editions, with the full launch coming September 6), there’s already plenty of information about Starfield’s many factions, and which ones are worth your time.
Read More: 17 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Playing Starfield
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As per the Bethesda norm, Starfield lets you join multiple factions at once, and progress along their side-quests for, at least it seems, quite a bit. There are five major factions present, each offering their own unique rewards, storylines, and missions, and a few smaller factions, religions, and corporations that it doesn’t appear you can join at the moment. So, which of the five major factions are worth your time? Let’s get into it.
Here are the five factions that, as of the time of writing, you can join in Starfield:
- Constellation: It doesn’t appear that you have a choice in joining this faction, as it’s the main driver of Starfield’s story, but nevertheless, Constellation is all about exploration.
- United Colonies: The UC is a centralized republic of settled planets, the first of two major human governments in the stars. It’s militarized, it’s powerful, it’s full of bureaucratic red tape, and its long arm of the law is made up of volunteers known as the Vanguard.
- Freestar Collective: Think space cowboys, led by space sheriffs called Rangers. Freestar Collective is a collection of separatist systems, with Akila City its capital. The FC broke off from the United Colonies, and Starfield’s in-game lore dumps tell us it took a while for them to be officially recognized by the UC.
- Crimson Fleet: They’re space pirates, simple as that.
- Ryujin Industries: Headquartered in the Blade Runner-esque city of Neon, Ryujin Industries is a massive tech corporation that has its fingers in drones, weapons, and spaceships, to name a few.
Aside from Constellation, which you rather unceremoniously join moments after Starfield’s opening section, the other four factions require some effort to join. We’ll get into that in a moment, but first, let’s look at the Starfield factions we know of, but can’t seem to join.
Aside from the two major governing bodies, pirates, explorers, and tech bros, you’ll encounter certain other groups during your hundreds of hours in space—though it seems you can’t join any of them during gameplay. Three of them, however, are joinable by selecting certain traits during the game’s character creation process: Enlightened, House Va’ruun, and Sanctum Universum, which are all warring religious organizations. Choosing either Enlightened or Sanctum Universum will get you a special chest full of goodies on New Atlantis.
It’s unclear if Bethesda will ever make these other factions joinable in future DLC, or if there’s a way to join them that we haven’t encountered yet, but nevertheless, here are Starfield’s minor factions:
- Enlightened: These atheists do not believe in a higher power and think that humans should worry about each other, not the whims of some omniscient being.
- Sanctum Universum: A burgeoning new religion in the settled systems, their core belief is that God does exist somewhere in the universe and is trying to guide humanity’s explorations in space in order to eventually meet Him (or Her, right?).
- House Va’ruun: This theocratic faction worships a giant snake and originated on a human colony ship before declaring war on all humanity.
- Spacers: This is a generalized term for basically any space raiders who are not associated with the Crimson Fleet.
- Argos Extractors: It’s the mining company that you start the gaming working for.
- Ecliptic Mercenaries: Like Spacers, you’ll find these guys in random facilities and planets, but unlike Spacers, Ecliptics are mercenaries.
- Trade Authority: They’re a collection of vendors who will buy and sell anything—even contraband.
Bethesda doesn’t believe in unwavering loyalty, so you can join every faction in Starfield without any discernible consequences. Joining one won’t prevent you from joining another, for example, but you will naturally find that having membership in both, say, the pirates and the space police may not work out.
If you’re interested in joining any of the five major factions, here’s how.
- How to join Constellation: All you need to do is finish the first main story mission. You can’t not join them.
- How to join United Colonies: You can join the United Colonies by becoming a UC Vanguard member fairly early on in your Starfield adventure. After the first main mission bounces you around a bit, you’ll end up in New Atlantis. Head to the MAST Headquarters and speak to Commander John Tuala. After agreeing to join, you can sign up on a computer in its training hall, register for an exam (there is no exam, don’t worry, but you do have to pass a flight test), and go through an optional museum that you should definitely check out, as it’s a massive Starfield lore dump. You can also get arrested, as another way into the organization.
- How to join Freestar Collective: Head to Akila in the Cheyenne system and land at Akila City. If you want, bring Sam Coe along for the ride (he should be the second Constellation companion that can accompany you after Sarah Morgan), as his family founded Akila. You don’t have to, but he adds some great color to your exploration on the planet. After landing in Akila City, you’ll immediately be approached about a dangerous matter taking place at the town’s bank. Sort it out, and you’ll be told to go chat with Emma Wilcox in the Rock, the HQ for Freestar. Emma wants to see if you have what it takes to join the FC, so you’ll need to access the mission board terminal in the Rock, select a mission, and complete it. Some of them are harder than others, so beware. After completing that mission, return to Akila City and talk to Emma who will take you up to the marshall to take your oath. You’ll get a deputy outfit, hat, badge, and revolver. Welcome to the rangers, baby.
- How to join Crimson Fleet: If you’re in the mood to be a space pirate (who isn’t?), you can join the Crimson Fleet. There are two ways to do this: You can get arrested by the UC Vanguard, which thrusts you straight into the Deep Cover side mission, or you can progress past the introductory UC Vanguard mission, which will then unlock Deep Cover. The mission requires you to go undercover and become a member of the Crimson Fleet, making sure to play both sides if you want to ensure both the pirates and the space cops still like you.
- How to join Ryujin Industries: Like any good tech company, you can join Ryujin Industries by applying! You can do so by heading to any of the red Ryujin Industries kiosks in the major Starfield cities (there’s one right outside GalBank in New Atlantis) and applying for a job. There’s a series of questions, but your answers don’t seem to matter. After submitting your application, you’ll have to head to the city of Neon for an official interview at Ryujin Tower.
Thus far in my Starfield playthrough, it seems like the “best” faction is really a matter of personal preference and time management, though sites like Polygon report that the Rangers (the faction I’m currently a part of) have the more “predictable mission structure,” while Ryujin Industries is similar to Skryim’s Thieves Guild (think anti-hero grittiness as opposed to the Rangers’ morally upstanding goody-two-shoes bit). Completing the Freestar Collective missions, according to Kotaku’s Levi Winslow, gets you “an amazing ship,” so it may be worth going down that somewhat predictable route anyway.
The United Colonies’ Vanguard missions seem well varied, while the Crimson Fleet’s eternal hunt for treasure nets you a nice legendary pistol early on in its questline—and completing earlier missions for the Crimson Fleet will give you the ability to buy secure storage from their ship merchant, which will let you smuggle all that contraband that keeps getting you caught by scanners.
The best part about Starfield is that you can go down all of these faction paths with little to no friction. If you find that being a space sheriff is lame, you can always swap over to the dark side and adopt the pirate’s life. That’s the beauty of an RPG, right?