Exploration is at the heart of Starfield. Surveying the planets you visit not only gives you vital information on the mineral resources you can find, but the plants and animals you can encounter too.
This forms the basis of your resource collection, allowing you to craft items, upgrades and kit out your houses and bases with equipment and furniture. And what’s more, fully surveying a planet also gives you a handy cache of data you can sell to any merchant for thousands of credits.
So, now you know conducting planet surveys in Starfield is worth your time, here’s how to complete them with ease!
How to use the hand scanner in Starfield
To scan something, open your hand scanner with the “LB” button, then press “A” to scan. Unscanned materials and creatures will be highlighted yellow, while scanned ones will be blue.
To fully survey a planet in Starfield you must scan every elemental resource, type of plant and type of animal, as well as any “traits” the planet has.
Mineral resources like titanium or other metals, as well as gases like xenon, only need to be scanned once. Pressing scan over an already scanned element will show you a list of every available elemental resource on a planet, so you can see which gaps still need to be filled. Some elements are rarer than others, but it’s usually relatively straightforward if you walk around in a large area and sweep your scanner across the terrain.
If you’re struggling to find a specific elemental resource, return to your ship and enter the planet map. From there you can scan the planet and see a map of which subterranean resources are more likely to spawn in a specific area.
Once you’ve completed the elements, flora and fauna are slightly trickier.
To fully survey a type of plant or animal, you need to scan around 8 individual instances of said lifeform for it to be fully detailed. Completing this data will tell you the temperament of animals, as well as the resources you can collect from different species.
This is the best way to get outpost resources like “structural” and “decorative”.
What does “Biome complete” mean?
Sometimes when there are multiple different species of flora and fauna on a planet, your hand scanner will display a message saying “Biome complete”. This means you have scanned all of the types of plants and animals you can find in the specific landing zone you’re in.
To continue, return to your ship and open the planet map. Scan the planet and look at the different colored sections. These are different biomes.
Select a new landing zone, just this time, pay attention to the type of landscape it says you’re setting down on. It can be things like mountains, deciduous forest, or rocky desert.
Exploring different Biomes leads to different discoveries and is a sure-fire way to find everything you need.
How to survey planet traits
Finally, you need to survey planet traits.
When you set down at a landing zone, open your scanner and look around. In the distance, you should be able to see undiscovered points of interest indicated by different makers around the landscape.
At the markers which look like map pins, you should be able to find unexplored geological features.
Make your way to one of these features and look around the area. Highlighted like resources, you should find geological features – usually one or two are needed to complete the scan.
These can be things like fragments of crashed meteorite, bubbling pools of primordial goo, or types of rock formation. Successfully tagging these features nabs you around 100XP, which is as much as you get for completing some quests.
Once you have scanned the feature, the planetary trait it represents will be added to your survey. Planets can have multiple traits, but when they’ve all been scanned you will have fully surveyed the planet and a data cache will be automatically added to your inventory.
You can then sell this data at any vendor for a ton of cash – a nice bonus on top of the healthy chunk of XP!