As you spend a significant amount of time flying around in space in Starfield, one of the most important skills to level up is the Piloting skill.

Leveling up the Piloting skill will improve your ship’s maneuverability and grant you the ability to use your ship thrusters for quick bursts of speed mid-fight. It will also allow you to pilot Class B and Class C ships

However, it can be tricky to level up the skill early on, as you need to defeat several ships in space combat to rank it up. This is more difficult to do when starting out, as you most likely won’t encounter much space combat.

Thankfully, there is an easy method to reliably farm ship kills very early on in Starfield.

Player standing in the UC Vanguard pilot simulator room in Starfield

Best Way to Farm Ship Kills & Rank Up the Piloting Skill Quickly

The best way to quickly level up the Piloting skill in Starfield is to keep running through the Vanguard Pilot Simulator. You can find it within the United Colonies faction headquarters in the MAST building in New Atlantis.

This is because the Vanguard Pilot Simulator is the most reliable way to eliminate ships quickly. You need to destroy a certain number of ships in space combat to rank up the Piloting skill.

The Vanguard Pilot Simulator allows you to run through guaranteed space combat scenarios as many times as you like.

All ship kills within the simulator count towards ranking up your pilot skill.

Starfield MAST building in New Atlantis

How to Farm Ship Skills in the Vanguard Pilot Simulator

To farm ship kills, you need to keep destroying enemy ships in the pilot simulation from within the Vanguard Pilot Simulator in New Atlantis. You must keep resetting the tiers of the simulation by exiting the pilot’s seat between rounds to spawn more enemies to destroy.

To start farming ship kills in the Vanguard Pilot Simulator, you must first join the UC Vanguard faction to begin the initiation quest “Supra et Ultra”. You do this by talking to Commander John Tuala in the MAST building in New Atlantis.

After registering to join the faction, you’ll be directed to the Vanguard Pilot Simulator area, where you can take the piloting exam.

For all the steps, make sure to follow our guide on how to join the UC Vanguard faction in Starfield!

Starfield UC Vanguard Simulator room

You can farm ship kills during the exam itself, but you can also return to the Vanguard Pilot Simulator at any time to do the same.

It is an activity you are free to do whenever you like, as long as you have started the “Supra et Ultra” UC Vanguard quest.

Vanguard Pilot Simulator Ship Kills Farming Guide

Follow these steps to farm kills in the Vanguard Pilot Simulator to rank up your Piloting skill quickly:

  1. Head to the MAST building in New Atlantis
    • This is the headquarters of the UC Vanguard faction
    • You can fast travel outside it if you’ve traveled there before
      • Put your cursor over the icon and hold “X” on Xbox and “R” on PC
Starfield MAST District on Planet Jemison Star Map
  1. Take the elevator down to the Vanguard Pilot Simulator
    • The elevator is located in the lobby of the MAST building
Highlighting the Vanguard Pilot Simulator area in the elevator in the MAST Building in Starfield
  1. Enter the Vanguard Pilot Simulation
Starfield UC Vanguard Simulation Door
  1. Destroy enemy ships in tiers 1-3 of the simulation
    • There are six tiers in total – it gets progressively more difficult
    • There are lower-level enemies in tiers 1-3 which are easier to defeat – ideal for farming
    • We heavily recommend activating the Debug Tools terminal near the entrance – Check out our guide on how to Complete the UC Vanguard Simulator for more info!
Starfield UC Vanguard Pilot Exam Ship Combat
  1. “Exit” the pilot’s seat
    • To “Exit” press “B” on Xbox and “E” on PC
Starfield Vanguard Pilot Simulator Exiting from Pilot Seat
  1. Head to the Simulation Controls terminal near the entrance of the ship and restart the current tier
    • This will reset the enemies in the current tier of the simulation
Starfield Vanguard Pilot Simulator Restart Current Tier
  1. Once you have farmed enough ship kills to unlock the next piloting skills rank, exit the simulation
    • You can’t spend skill points from within the simulation, only when outside it
    • This will reset the simulation back to tier 1 when you go back in
Starfield Vanguard Pilot Simulator Exiting Simulation
  1. Spend a skill point to rank up the Piloting skill
    • You can check your rank for the Piloting skill in the skill menu
    • Spending a skill point will unlock the next “Challenge” needed to unlock the next rank for Piloting
Starfield Piloting Skill Menu
  1. Head back into the simulation and defeat enemy ships using the above method until you’ve fully unlocked all ranks for the Piloting skill!

Make sure to save up a few skill points before running this farming method. You’ll be able to spend a skill point and unlock the next “Challenge” for the next rank of the Piloting skill immediately. Kills won’t count for the next rank until the previous rank has been activated.

It’s also important to note that you can also use this method to rank up the Targeting Control Systems skill!

Piloting Skill Upgrades & How to Rank Up

There are four ranks in total for the Piloting skill in Starfield. They are:

  • Rank 1 – You can now utilize ship thrusters.
  • Rank 2 – Increased ship turning rate and maneuverability.
  • Rank 3 – Unlock the ability to pilot Class B ships.
  • Rank 4 – Unlock the ability to pilot Class C ships.
In a space ship flying in space within the UC Vanguard Simulator Piloting Exam in Starfield

You must do the following to unlock each rank of the Piloting skill:

  • Rank 1 – Spend a skill point
  • Rank 2 – Destroy 5 ships.
  • Rank 3 – Destroy 15 ships.
  • Rank 4 – Destroy 30 ships.

You must spend a skill point to unlock each rank.

There you have it! You now have everything you need to rank up your Piloting skill as quickly as possible in Starfield. Be the badass space pilot you were born to be!

Staff Writer
Passionate gamer and writer, Alpay has been featured on GamingIntel,, and TheGamer. When not writing, he delves into virtual worlds, enjoys high-concept TV shows, and splurges on Steam sales.