In the grand tapestry of Starfield, one of the choices that will genuinely tug at your moral and strategic compass is the dilemma involving UC SysDef and the Crimson Fleet during the Eye of the Storm mission (the other major one is “A Legacy Forged.” The battle between law and piracy reaches its apex during this protracted questline, forcing players to make a significant decision that will reverberate through the Settled Systems. Note that you will get 250,000 Credits regardless of which side you pick, so financially, you are covered either way.
What Happens if You Side with UC SysDef
There are many disadvantages if you side with UC SysDef, but most can be sorted out. The advantages are notable, too.
- If you align with UC SysDef, you champion law and order in the galaxy. It’s a definitive step toward eliminating one of the most notorious pirate factions. The immediate impact is a considerable blow to the Crimson Fleet’s operations, as you will take down every named NPC except for Naeva Mora.
- You’ll win accolades from your Constellation companions, who all seem to appreciate a moral compass that points toward justice. This could bode well for you as these relationships often open up additional story arcs and questlines.
- Aligning against the Crimson Fleet means you’ll never run short of skirmishes to get into. Enemy ships to fight, board, loot, and incorporate into your fleet abound, giving you a continuous flow of action and resources.
- You can finally continue doing Mission Board bounty missions that require you to take out pirates without worrying about your Crimson Fleet bounty (at last).
- Taking on the Crimson Fleet’s leadership promises a good chance for high-quality loot, especially at The Key. Wiping out named NPCs can get you rare equipment that would be tough to find elsewhere.
- You don’t lose access to The Key. After you take down everyone, it will be filled with UC SysDef guards.
- You get access to the UC SysDef mission board, which provides bounty missions against the Crimson Fleet (take down Pirate Spaceships or Crimson Fleet members).
There are a lot of cons here; most of them are manageable, but some matter:
- You lose access to Jasmine Durant (Jazz), who sells Shielded Cargo Holds and Scan Jammers. That’s not a problem, as you can get those ship modules from Lon Anderssen at the Red Mile. However, Jasmine is the only Ship Services Technician who sells Crimson Fleet pirate ships in the game. So maybe you should buy all five before you side with UC SysDef? Of course, you have the alternative to commandeering Crimson Fleet ships.
- You lose access to Last Nova. However, any crew members you can recruit there move to other locations. Jessamine Griffin moves to the bar at Gagarin Landing, so this is not a major drawback.
- You lose access to all vendors at The Key. All of them buy Contraband. However, you can just sell contraband at The Den, just not at massive volumes.
- You won’t be able to complete Side Missions related to NPCs at The Key (Doctor’s Orders and Reclaiming the Past). You must complete those before siding with UC SysDef. Both missions will help you find Burden of Proof Evidence, although I think the one at The Clinic is still obtainable after Eye of the Storm and Legacy’s End.
- You won’t be able to complete Crimson Fleet Mission Board missions.
What Happens If You Side with the Crimson Fleet
The disadvantages are fewer here as you keep having access to an important faction while you only lose access to a single UC ship.
- You will still be able to buy pirate ships from Jazz. Yay! As I said, Shielded Cargo and Scan Jammers are a non-factor, as you can get them elsewhere.
- Aligning with the Crimson Fleet allows you to take on pirate missions (at the cost of increasing your bounty) and smuggling missions, keeping a certain adventurous streak in your gameplay. You’ll have greater freedom to explore various avenues for credits and resources without the authorities breathing down your neck.
- The Crimson Fleet will no longer be hostile, offering you a relatively safe space to dock and offload your cargo. The lack of scans means you can freely sell your ill-gotten gains without worrying about legal repercussions. The Key is the best place to sell Contraband items and reset vendors.
- You don’t lose access to the normal Mission Board Bounty missions against pirates (but you will still get a bounty with the Crimson Fleet if you complete them, so…)
- You lose access to UC Vigilance. You won’t be able to continue the Burden of Proof mission after that point, but you can complete the mission before betraying UC SysDef. You won’t be able to return the 7 Jasper Kryx SSNN interview slates, although there is no reward for them, just some more Starfield lore. Additionally, you will not get access to the UC SysDef mission board.
- Your Constellation companions won’t react well to your decision, but this is long-term fixable.
- You won’t be able to do pirate hunting, so you must focus on blowing up Spacer, Ecliptic, and Va’ruun Zealot ships instead. For me, this is the most annoying part, as I can’t refresh Mission Board missions, and I don’t want to do the pirating ones for Crimson Fleet because I don’t want a bounty on my head.
First, sort out everything at The Key and provide the Broof of Burdern evidence before deciding. For me, it’s all about missing out on the pirate ships from Jazz (they are so cool) and the benefits of selling Contraband easily at The Key.
For me, what makes the real difference are the Mission Boards. The Crimson Fleet one grants you more Credits, but while smuggling and stealing can be quickly done, pirating missions will always give you a bounty. Meanwhile, by choosing UC SysDef, you can complete every mission on the normal mission boards without worrying about anything, and I prefer an easy way to get EXP and credits.
If you can’t decide, keep the mission incomplete until you finally have a clear direction you want to choose.
Piracy vs. Law: Where Will You Find More Freedom?
This questline made me think quite a lot and reinforced the feeling that being a good person is much sexier than being a bad one. The latter reduces immersion in Starfield and real life, as you feel like you can do more but end up doing less.
I think Bethesda did a great job with the Crimson Fleet quest line. While reading this guide will make you feel that siding with the Crimson Fleet is the best choice as it keeps your ties with the faction alive, I don’t share the same sentiment. I wish there was an all-out war or that there would be one in a DLC between UC SysDef and The Crimson Fleet, but if UC SysDef turned hostile, it would make a huge percentage of the game inaccessible.
The whole questline is set up on the premise that you act as a double agent, and even if you side with the Crimson Fleet, it feels like you are still a double agent. UC ships won’t turn hostile, and you will still want to avoid having a bounty in UC-controlled territory. Starfield isn’t One Piece, and the Crimson Fleet isn’t the Straw Hat Pirates. Getting a bounty here is not a badge of honor and will bring you more trouble than it’s worth.
Meanwhile, siding with UC SysDef brings you more freedom in the end. You have one less faction to keep happy, and you can finally go back to destroying pirate ships and exterminating Crimson Fleet pirates, no questions asked.
While making the Crimson Fleet path harder may bother us players, I think it’s a more realistic depiction of the outlaw life, which, for most people, isn’t worth the risk, the trouble, and the consequences. You can do more killing and thrill-hunting by doing Bounty missions against pirates instead of pirating civilian ships for loot. You can still attack the civilian ships and board to exterminate everyone, but it doesn’t feel the same as hunting pirates. Not it should feel the same, in my opinion.
I think Bethesda got this right, even though it feels like you can never go all in into being a pirate. I think you can. It’s just not what you expected it to be.
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