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Starfield Lockpicking and how to pick locks

How to put your Digipicks to good use.

cropped image of the lockpicking rings and notches
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Starfield brings back an Elder Scrolls and Fallout staple by letting you pick locks in a new type of lockpicking mini-game.

If you want more useful loot, or to complete optional objectives, you'll first need to know how to pick locks in Starfield, as it can be a little tricky to understand at first.

We've got a quick explainer below with some tips and additional info and advice, so that you can get as many Credits, materials, and weapons as possible while exploring the Settled Systems. We also take a look at the Security Skill - also known as the lockpicking skill.

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If you’d like more help in your galactic adventures, visit our Starfield guides, tips and tricks page.

How to pick locks in Starfield

When coming across a locked door, safe, locker or container, you get the option to unlock it as long as you have at least one Digipick in your inventory. Once you click the locked object, the lockpicking mini-game begins - but be careful here! If you use a Digipick and then exit the mini-game before successfully picking the lock, you won't get that Digipick back.

Once in the lockpicking mini-game, to pick locks in Starfield you have to match the keys with the empty slots on each ring layer. It only costs one Digipick to start the puzzle, but then an adiditonal lockpick if you fail to match-up the keys and have to exit and restart. So, if you fill in all of the empty slots on every circle without getting it wrong or having to restart, then you'll only use one digipick.

Text box warning the reads "Fill in all open slots in every layer to open the lock. Select a key and rotate it until it lines up with the gaps in the security later. Slot the key to fill in the gaps. Each key can only be used once!"
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

Keys are the circular pictures you can switch between on the right-hand side of the screen, and each key has a different notch placement. You need to rotate these keys (with left and right on Xbox and W and D on PC) so the notches line up with the empty slots in the circle, then press 'Slot Key' (A on Xbox and E on PC) to fill in those empty slots and move on to the next key or ring.

It may sound simple but you can easily fail at lockpicking even at Novice security level. If you don't have other keys that line up perfectly with the remaining empty slots on a ring, you won't be able to move onto the next ring or finish the mini-game.

lockpicking minigame in starfield
An example of correct key placement on the rings. | Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

To save your Digipicks, we recommend you rotate each key and line them up with all of the empty slots on each ring first, before pressing the 'Slot Key' button on them, so you can easily adjust your positioning or switch keys if you find you've made a mistake.

Or, you can use the 'Auto Slot' option to show you the correct key that fits the current ring, if you have some auto attempts built up. You get one auto attempt for each lock you successfully pick, and you can store multiple auto slot attempts by upgrading your Security skill Ranks.

the auto slot option circled in the lockpicking minigame screen
Image credit: Bethesda Softworks

There's also an 'Undo' button that gives you back the key you previously used and brings the empty slots back, but we don't recommend using it if you can avoid it, as it costs a Digpick each time you press 'Undo' in Starfield.

It's also worth noting that anybody can pick locks at Novice security level, but you need to increase the Rank of your Security skill if you want to pick locks of Advanced (Rank 1), Expert (Rank 2), or Master (Rank 3) security levels. The mini-game is almost the exact same when picking higher security level locks, but you have more keys to sort through, and there are sometimes more rings. So there's a lot more room for error, potentially costing more Digipicks to successfully unlock the door, safe, locker, or container.

Even if you don't want more loot, or to see what's behind a locked door, we still recommend picking locks so you can get some quick XP. The higher a lock's security level, the more XP you get. For example, Novice locks reward 5XP for successfully lockpicking it, and Advanced locks reward 10XP instead. An easy way to find things to lockpick is to head to a GalBank - they'll each have a whole range of ATMs that you can crack open.

Starfield Lockpicking Skill explained

While it’s not directly called the lockpicking skills, there is a Skill related to lockpicking in Starfield and that’s the Security Skill.

Without the Security Skill, you’ll only be able to pick Novice level locks during your time in Starfield. This means that if you want the additional loot, and occasional lore, you're going to need to increase your Security Skill.

Increasing the rank of the Security Skill involves picking locks. You'll have to pick a lock five times for the first rank and then 15 for the second for example. This means that you'll complete it quite naturally as you explore different planets and space stations.

The Security Skill provides the following bonuses:

  • Rank 1 - You can attempt to hack Advanced locks, and 2 auto attempts can be banked.
  • Rank 2 - You can attempt to hack Expert locks, and 3 auto attempts can be banked. Rings now turn blue when the pick can be slotted.
  • Rank 3 - You can attempt to hack Master-level locks, and 4 auto attempts can be banked.
  • Rank 4 - Expend a digipick to eliminate keys that aren’t required to solve the puzzle. 5 auto attempts can be banked.
Image credit: Bethesda/Eurogamer

If you don’t want to spend a Skill Point unlocking the Security Skill, then it’s worth choosing one of the backgrounds it’s a starting Skill for.

These backgrounds are:

  • Bouncer
  • Cyberneticist
  • Cyber Runner
  • Industrialist
The Industrialist background. | Image credit: Bethesda/Eurogamer

Looking for more tips on commiting crimes in Starfield, then check-out our guides to selling contraband, removing bounties and joining the Crimson Fleet.

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