How lockpicking works in Starfield

Gamersadmin September 1, 2023

Some of the best loot in Starfield is locked away behind, well, locks — things like safes, computers, doors, and some containers can all appear locked, which means it’s on you to unlock them. And Starfield has its own lockpicking and hacking mechanic to unlock them.

The first thing you’ll need is a digipick — a lockpicking tool. You’ll find these on enemies you loot, randomly laying around, or you can buy them from vendors (under the Misc category of their inventory).

Our Starfield digipick and lockpicking guide will explain how to unlock things with the digipick (including hacking into computers) and walk you through the baffling mechanics of the minigame.

What can you unlock with a digipick?

Locked things in Starfield have a difficulty associated with them — Novice, Advanced, Expert, or Master. Anyone can attempt to open a Novice lock with a digipick. More advanced locks require you to put points into the Security skill — more on this below.

Each attempt consumes a digipick from your inventory. If you restart a lock, it requires one more digipick. You’ll also see an undo option with a number next to it — that’s the number of digipicks you have remaining. Each undo consumes one.

How to use a digipick in Starfield

Interacting with a lock will pull up a new screen: a representation of the lock, and a set of keys.

In the center, you’ll see a set of rings with slots missing. On the right, you’ll have a set of keys you can use for that lock. The keys have pins on them that you’ll have to rotate and slot into the missing spaces on the lock’s rings. Which is a lot easier said than done.

Starfield lockpicking: How to lockpick in Starfield

Picking a lock with a digipick can go sideways fast, so the best tip is to just take your time and plan ahead. Especially since undoing a step or restarting the puzzle costs you a digipick. It’s not a bad idea to create a quicksave before you tackle a particularly tough lock.

Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

After that, set up a process of elimination to know what keys you won’t be looking at. Start by counting the slots on the ring — in the example above, there are five slots missing on the first ring.

Over on the right, you can see that the keys only have two or three pins. And that actually gives us our first answer — since no combination of two-pin keys add up to five, the solution has to include the three-pin key and one other.

For the above example, the three-pin key (luckily) can only fit in one orientation. And there’s only one two-pin key that fits in the rest of the slots.

Stafield digipick with a key circled that can only fit in one orientation

Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

For the next ring of this example, we’ve got two two-pin keys left and a ring with four slots — so far, so good. The problem is that one of the keys will fit in multiple orientations. For this part, our tip is to look for obvious shapes in the keys. The key on the right, for example, has its pins situated directly across from each other. When you compare that to the lock, there’s only one place it can fit — meaning the only other key doesn’t go there.

This was a fairly easy example, but the process works for more complicated locks throughout the game.

What do auto-attempts do?

On the first tier of the Tech skill tree, you’ll find a skill called Security. Each rank of the Security skill lets you tackle harder levels of locks — through the list of Novice (no ranks), Advanced (rank 1), Expert (rank 2), and Master (rank 3).

If you read the description of the skill, putting skill points into Security gets you is the ability to bank auto-attempts. Each time you successfully (manually) solve a lock, you’ll bank one auto-attempt — up to the limit set by the rank.

The thing is, auto-attempts don’t actually appear to be a thing on the digipick interface. Instead what you’ll see is auto slot. Auto slot will automatically rotate the key you have selected to a position where it fits in the current lock ring.

Starfield using a digipick with Security rank 2 so the rings light up when a key will fit.

Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

At rank 2 of the Security skill, a lock’s ring will turn blue (well, a brighter shade of blue) when the key you’re using will fit in it. That doesn’t mean you should use it, though. Just because a key can fit doesn’t mean it’s part of the solution. But it’s a helpful hint, and makes the lock-picking mechanic way easier — especially when using auto slot.


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