The 10 Best Settlements, Ranked

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We can talk about weapons, we can talk about ships, we can talk about sidekicks. We can talk about resources, we can talk about spacesuit mods, we can talk about whether the Adoring Fan is worth the hassle. But Starfield is an RPG – a huge, sweeping one at that – and so it stands to reason that Bethesda has imbued the game with a fair number of memorable settlements.

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Cities, towns, colonies, whatever you want to call them. Plenty of the game’s blips of civilization among the sea of stars are memorable for more than just quest-givers. Here are our personal favorites.

10 Paradiso

Paradiso Landing Starfield

Of course there’s a vacation resort settlement in space. Why wouldn’t there be? Paradiso is the place to be if your idea of a good time is sandals, cocktails, and plenty of sun, but like most towns under the shadow of massive hotels with glowing pink signs, there’s a darker side to paradise. The establishment here is more than willing to do whatever it takes to handle potential threats, something we’ll mention in greater detail in an entry to come.

9 Red Mile

Red Mile Starfield

The Red Mile might not be the Key, but it’s still a hotbed for smugglers and other unsavory sorts. It used to be even less civilized, in fact; there’s been unification in the town’s sponsoring of a deadly game with the titular ‘Red Mile’ for a name. Travelers like us can come here to participate in this ruthless sport, which tasks us with surviving an area filled with both environmental and predatory death-dealers.

Those big red letters spelling out the town’s nomenclature form such a brilliant backdrop against the cold and unforgiving wastes outside the Red Mile’s gates. There isn’t much else to do here, but it leaves an impression.

8 Cydonia

Cydonia Entryway Starfield

Likely the second civilized spot you’ll explore, Cydonia is Mars’ mining-centric city. It’s rustic, with steam popping out of every pipe, and the regularly scheduled controlled detonations add real flavor as the whole place shakes for several seconds. But the locals don’t much mind – it’s just part of Cydonian life.

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Plentiful early-game quests can be found here, from a struggle against corrupt bureaucracy to a kid who wants to spread happiness with her portraits of an amphibian superhero. Cydonia is like a somewhat friendlier spin on the Mars we saw in 1990 blockbuster action flick Total Recall.

7 HopeTown

HopeTown Starfield Entranceway

HopeTown’s got two capital letters to its name, which already sort of betrays the fact that it’s a completely company-run town. Ruled over by a guy whose surname is, in fact, Hope, who commands the tech firm Hopetech, there’s really not much mistaking who’s in charge here, what they do, and why this place exists to begin with.

And yet it all feeds so neatly into the ideals of the Freestar Collective. There was habitable land here, and someone worked hard to till the soil, real and proverbial, in their own image. Be sure to take a tour while you’re here to learn the ins and outs of starship manufacturing.

6 New Homestead

New Homestead Starsap Tours Museum Starfield

Speaking of tours, here’s New Homestead. A colony formed before Earth’s destruction, New Homestead upholds early colonial values, such as living off the land (or rather, within domes made to simulate livable land), and the collection of earthly artifacts. It’s that latter bit that makes New Homestead pop.

Maurice Lyons, an aged man with a passion for history, has assembled a publicly viewable assortment of artifacts from our homeworld, from an old IBM-like computer, to a baseball, to a model representation of the Titanic. You can’t let yourself miss the ‘StarSap Tour’ here, which is narrated for over 20 minutes by an eccentric everyman fellow who will leave his mark on your mind. For better or worse, we suppose.

5 ECS Constance

ECS Constant Starfield

New Homestead celebrates old-school in township form, but the ECS Constance is a full-blown generational colony ship. Its initial crew left Earth pre-crisis, and many generations later, a 200-year trip has brought their descendants to what was believed to be a perfect new home planet. The only problem is, that home planet has Paradiso already, and the suits here are willing to let players do whatever it takes to get rid of the irksome Constance, up to and including its complete destruction.

Which is honestly terrifying, because aboard the Constance is one of Starfield’s most fascinating hubs of civilization. The children study familiar classics, the oral and jotted down histories are crucial components of daily life, and the culture shock the would-be colonists here experience upon meeting you is remarkably well-written.

4 New Atlantis

New Atlantis Starfield

Sprawling, futuristic New Atlantis is the first major settlement you’ll visit in Starfield, and surely one of the biggest. Coming into Starfield after a recent replay of Skyrim, we were instantly enamored with the sheer uptick in size that Bethesda has pulled off here, but it’s the blend of bustling and serene that makes New Atlantis work so well. The trees, the towering MAST building; somehow, it melds so well.

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Some may find New Atlantis’ overall aesthetic a bit bland during daytime hours, but it really comes to life around sunrise and sunset, when the orange-painted sky pulls further saturation out of the United Colonies capital’s collection of blue-and-beige buildings. You’ll be spending a lot of time here, so it’s a good thing the city’s got a dedicated vibe – we can’t help but think fondly of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’s Taris when we’re here.

3 The Key

The Key space station in Starfield

The coolest thing about the Key is that it showcases Bethesda Game Studios’ continuing ability to combine a known real-world concept with something vividly their own. Being the stronghold haven for the space pirates known as the Crimson Fleet, the Key is both a floating station in space and a clear nod to the pirates’ coves of yesteryear.

That merging is further apparent as you traverse the ramshackle halls, with a spirit of intense individuality pervading among its shopkeepers, but an unfaltering loyalty behind every bit of snark. The Last Nova, the Fleet’s dimly-lit bar, is run by a man you can’t help but appreciate, and there’s plenty of personality in other prominent NPCs. Topping it all off, the Key is a converted old United Colonies base, and the new residents’ love for creative graffiti against the former occupants is fun to find.

2 Akila City

Sinclair City Starfield Akila

Starfield’s two largest political factions, the United Colonies and the Freestar Collective, have notably different ideas on what a capital ought to look like. Whereas the UC is all about the sci-fi curvature of its governmental buildings, and a singular approach to construction wherein most structures fall in line with an overarching design ethos, the Freestar Collective’s Akila City is a far more anything-goes kind of city.

Residents, shop owners, everyone here is clearly given better personal purview of how they wish to express themselves. That said, there’s an underlying ‘Wild West’ atmosphere that captures our imaginations in an altogether historical way. Cowboy hats are warmly welcomed here.

1 Neon

Starfield Mining League In Neon

Glitzy, glamorous, seedy and seductive, Neon is no one’s capital, though it’s the beating heart of megacorporation (and joinable Starfield faction) Ryujin Industries. Neon is the Vegas-meets-Blade-Runner-Los-Angeles of Starfield cities, with bars aplenty, exotic dancers at every turn, and a suitably neon lighting scheme that puts the cyberpunk in Bethesda’s so-called ‘NASApunk’ design philosophy.

The eternal rain outside the city only furthers Neon’s unique appearance throughout the Settled Systems. As believers that rain can improve just about any setting’s atmosphere, we’ve got to hand it to Neon for going above and beyond conventional casino-centric trappings.

Next: Starfield: How To Get A Home In New Atlantis

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