Starfield Manipulation Leveling Guide | How to Convince NPCs to Obey Commands

I got no strings on me!

by J.R. Waugh
Starfield Manipulation NPCs
Image: Attack of the Fanboy

One of the most impressive features of Starfield is the degree to which it affords player roleplaying freedom. It’s not just a space exploration sim, it’s an RPG with sophisticated gameplay to match your desires as you move outward in a galaxy that’s still quite untamed. With this freedom come fascinating new ways to interact with the game’s world. Here is how you can level up Manipulation quickly in Starfield, also known as the skill needed to issue commands to NPCs!

Starfield Manipulation Guide: How Do You Issue Commands to NPCs?

You must have the Manipulation Skill in Starfield, then open the scanner (‘F’ or ‘LB’) activate the Social menu (‘E’ or ‘A’), and select the Manipulation ability on the right to control NPCs. You’ll notice on the right that characters have a certain percentage chance to succeed, and its duration.

  • Starfield-Manipulation-NPCs-Scanner
  • Starfield-Manipulation-NPCs-Menu

You can do this in public spaces or guarded areas you’re trying to infiltrate, and once you’ve manipulated them, an icon of a human with marionette strings attached will appear above their head. Point your crosshairs to wherever you wish them to move, or a switch you want them to operate, and press ‘E’ or ‘A’ to send them. If it’s an object outside of your reach, you can get the manipulated NPC to use it, such as opening doors for you!

Related: Starfield Persuasion Explained | How to Pass Speech Checks

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

You can level up Manipulation easily in the first rank by going into a public space and doing exactly that, as you’ll start only able to control characters with levels below yours. Even just telling an NPC to move from Point A to Point B will count as ‘challenge progress’ toward gaining more ranks. It’s one of the quickest skills to gain ranks, although in each given area you can only use Manipulation once, so go to large public spaces like New Atlantis or Neon.

Can You Use Manipulation on Enemies in Starfield?

Not only can you, but you’re encouraged to use Manipulation on enemy NPCs if you’re looking for a stealthy run. This is especially helpful in missions such as the Ryujin Industries Questline, where if you didn’t already have the skill, you’ll get implanted with a Neuroamp that grants the ability. Naturally, if they’re a higher level than you, you’ll need greater ranks in Manipulation, but it’s certainly one of the easier skills to gain ranks in thanks to lots of NPCs in the game’s many big cities!

You can use it to prevent alarms and infiltrate which comes in handy when preventing fights where you can amass bounties or kill civilians.

- This article was updated on September 22nd, 2023

About The Author

J.R. is a Staff Writer with AOTF and has been covering gaming and entertainment in the industry since 2022. Along with a B.A. in History from the University of Cincinnati, he has studied at the University of Birmingham, UK, and part of his M.A. at the University of Waterloo. You'll find J.R. particularly at home writing about the hottest manga and anime. He is highly passionate about horror, strategy, and RPGs, and anything about Star Trek or LOTR. When not ranting about fan theories or writing guides, J.R. is streaming his favorite RPGs and other forgotten gems.