When it comes to the sci-fi genre and games like Starfield, there are many ideas and concepts that pop into your head. Things like lightspeed, lasers, jetpacks, and space stations are all probably on top of the pile. Still, there’s one that could use more attention: learning how to scan planets in order to survey them for resources.
Almost every single sci-fi story, short or long, has some form of scanning technology, and Starfield is another one. This process tends to be overlooked because it’s among the most boring activities that could happen in sci-fi. But with games like this, it’s different. You NEED to scan so that you can learn more about the game, and this includes entire planets. Fortunately for you, this guide will explain everything you need to know about scanning and surveying planets.
How Scanning Works in Starfield
You’ll gain the Scanning function in Starfield after going through the intro sequence and getting further along the tutorial. On the base level, it works as an important highlighter. There is so much clutter out in space and throughout the different facilities, so turning on the Scanning function will let you spot interactable objects from pretty far away.
Like the Detective Vision in the Batman Arkham games, you would think that there would be little reason to ever turn it off, but you’ll need to in order to be more efficient in combat. When exploring the planet’s surface, the scanner can also highlight locations and points of interest in the distance.
The other and more academic function of scanning is to learn about your surroundings. Whenever you arrive on a new planet, you can use the scanner to identify alien flora, fauna, and any mineral deposits. When you’re in range, you can scan any of these entities and a window will pop up detailing information about them such as their temperament or their composition.
Unfortunately, scanning information is collected in pieces, so you can’t scan the same target twice. If you want the full range of data on a plant, you will need to scan several of the same type of planet. In terms of creatures, you’ll get the most accurate readings by scanning them while they’re alive. When mineral deposits have been scanned, your scanner will be able to detect them when they’re nearby and will even point you in their direction.
However, the scanning doesn’t stop there, as it has been developed to the point where it can be used to scan entire planets at once. This is particularly useful if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before and you’d like to know whether you should take shorts or a jacket to the surface and how much protection you should carry with you.
How to Scan Planets
When you get access to your very first ship, you’ll be grateful to learn that it comes with a built-in scanning function. After entering orbit around a planet, you can initiate a scan by going to the Starmap from the Pause menu. The map will focus on the planet you’re currently at with all of its details on the left side of the screen. Click the button as indicated by the scan prompt at the bottom left so that you can “Initiate Scan.” You’ll know it working from a digital wave sweeping over the planet. After it finishes, all of the gathered data will appear in the window on the left.
The scan will tell you all the important things about the planet involving harvesting, mining, and exploration. It’ll tell you what kind of gravity the planet has, its climate, and whether there are any forms of life or water on the surface. More importantly, it’ll reveal the type of atmosphere which can affect your Oxygen intake as well as the types of minerals that can be found. The minerals will be indicated by different colored areas on the image of the planet and you can hover the cursor over them to find out which.