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I am finding space combat probably one of the more difficult things in Starfield. In particular, I am on the mission Legacy's End where

I sided with the UC SysDef and destroyed the three defensive batteries around the star system that The Key is in. Now I am engaged with multiple fairly high level ships around The Key and I cannot seem to win.

I've since stopped trying and focused on leveling up some of my ship building skills and other space combat related skills, but what I think I need most is some better fire power. My ships weapons are just not cutting it.

There are a ton of weapons one can equip their ship with, but what weapon "type" (i.e. laser, missile, particle beam, etc.) is specifically designed for taking down enemy shields and what ones are meant for health?

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  • Blatantly stolen from a website: + Ballistic weapons are strong at destroying hulls but are weak against shields + Lasers are great for stripping shields but deal minimal hull damage + Missiles deal high, long-ranged burst damage versus hulls and shields, but they fire and reload slowly + Particle weapons inflict good hull and shield damage, but they get outclassed by specialized weapons in specific conditions + EM Suppressors: These weapons target a ships systems, allowing players to knock them out individually.
    – PeterCo
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:25
  • @PeterCo does anything offer a good balance? I've found missiles to be a bit slow, especially since you typically have to wait for a lock on to make use of them. Maybe I need to compensate by getting... more missiles.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:29
  • Unfortunately, I have not yet found a convincing compromise myself. I can not beat enemies in space with a level higher then 32 currently.
    – PeterCo
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:51
  • I use Neutron Beams, they're okay against both. Along with rockets
    – Neon1024
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

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There are 5 categories of ship weapons in Starfield, each with an associated skill to improve their power:

  • Lasers, which deal good damage to shields but not to hulls
  • Ballistics, which deal good damage to hulls but not to shields
  • Missiles, which deal good damage to hulls and shields but short effective range and fire rate
  • Particle Beams, which deal equal damage to shields and hulls but not as well as lasers and ballistics used appropriately
  • EM, which disables systems without damaging hulls so ships can be boarded more easily

There are also Turrets, which I think each also fit into one of those categories but fire automatically.

In my experience from running into the exact same problem, I recommend a mostly or fully Particle Beam weapon setup. Although they seem less efficient than using lasers and ballistics appropriately, they actually end up being more efficient due to energy management; 12 energy of particle beams will do more DPS against shields than 6 energy of lasers, and more damage against hulls than 6 energy of ballistics. Additionally, investing in the particle beam skill increases damage to both shields and hull while a ship with lasers and ballistics would need to invest in both. Replacing my weapon loadout with all particle beams (alongside the best reactor and shield I could find) turned that mission from an impossible slog to a first-try victory.

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    I took your answer (and the other) which essentially boiled down to "try particle beams" and boy did that make the difference. I DESTROYED those ships and won first attempt afterwards.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 3:48
  • The power system isn't set up for everything to be balanced though. You're supposed to be decreasing and increasing things according to your needs, so I don't think 12 energy vs 6 is a fair comparison. I would put 12 into lasers, bring down the shield, move that 12 energy into ballistics, and then kill the hull quickly.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 17:55
  • @Drew In my experience, adjusting power during combat isn't a winning move. Sure in theory full power lasers then full power ballistics might have more dps on each type, but the time you spend moving 12 power in the middle and when switching targets I think would more than make up for that. In addition, as mentioned in dragonrage's answer, dps doesn't scale linearly with power; 2 power in each of 2 particle beam groups will probably still out-dps 4 power in laser/ballistics for the time it takes to destroy a ship. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 17:01
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Strictly speaking, Kamil's answer covers most everything as far as categories go. In theory having a laser weapon to strip shields and a projectile weapon to damage the hull seems great, in practice however, I find Particle Beams the most effective for destroying enemy ships.

Even within the Particle Beam category, there is variation, and not every weapon is created equal. I find Auto weapons to be best in class, as you don't have to aim them really, just be within range of the enemy ship, select it as your target, and start blasting. The top 3 choices for this type of weapon for Class A ships are:

  1. Vanguard Obliterator Autoprojector (Range 3000, 2 Max Power, 439 DPS with 6)
  2. Vaporizer 35eV Auto Proton Beam (Range 3250, 4 Max Power, 339.15 with 3)
  3. PBO-50 Auto Proton Beam (Range 3000, 4 Max Power, 299.25 with 3)

However, other Auto Beam weapons can be substituted in if you don't have all of them unlocked (most of the PBO Auto Beam weapons are fairly good and unlocked a bit earlier). For class B/C ships, your best choices are:

  1. PBO-175 Auto Helion Beam (Range 3000, 3 Max Power, 456 DPS with 4)
  2. Vanguard Obliterator Autoprojector (Range 3000, 2 Max Power, 439 DPS with 6)
  3. Exterminator 95MeV Auto Helion Beam (Range 3250, Max Power 4, 390 DPS with 3)

The key to maximizing your DPS is to make sure you are using the max number of turrets per slot. Auto weapons have the unique ability to have their max DPS with only 1 power assigned to them, so you can assign full power to shields/engine, and use your left over power split between all 3 weapon slots for faster recharge from full depletion.

With this setup, I can easily destroy groups of 4+ ships almost instantly once they get within 3000 meters of me.

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  • You're telling me with just 3 total power spread across the 3 weapon slots, I can achieve maximum DPS with auto particle beams?
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 11:28
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    @TimmyJim yes. though after chewing through all the built up charge (which takes a bit of time), the recharge is a little slow. I have 2 power on each weapon. everything else is in shields/engine or left open for grav drive. never have needed more power
    – Dragonrage
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 20:00

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