Starfield : How to Investigate the Source of the Anomaly for Into the Unknown

Every now and then, a game has an objective that is relatively simple but also surprisingly poorly explained - and that is exactly the case for Starfield when it asks you to Investigate the Source of the Anomaly. This first happens during the mission 'Into the Unknown', but then you'll have to do it a lot more times as the story progresses.

This is because anomalies become a major component of character progression. There's a lot of character progression options in Starfield; you'll spend a lot of time choosing which skills to invest in, which equipment to have, and visiting stardocks and parts manufacturers to build the perfect ship. But few of these things give you actual major new powers - but anomalies can. Tracking them down is worth your time and effort - and on this page we explain how this ill-explained mechanic works, so you can get to tracking down the sources of many, many anomalies.

How to Investigate the Source of the Anomaly with your Scanner

Scanner Anomalies first show up on the map of a planet, after Vladimir points you towards it. But once you're on the surface, you're on your own and ahve to use your own tools to investigate its source - no waypoints.

Past a certain point in the main story, Vladimir will let you know on The Eye that he's been tracking down an energy signature that is similar to the Artifacts, and he'll start logging their approximate locations for you. 

These are known as Scanner Anomaly readings - and once marked, players can fly to the planet or moon noted in the requisite Power from Beyond quest, and can land near the Scanner Anomaly to start searching for its location. This is your mission objective - to investigate the source of each anomaly.

Once you've landed, unless you're lucky and manage to land right next to its spawn location, your goal will be to look for a specific structure along the planet or moon's surface. If it's not immediately visible, the best way to locate the source of the anomaly is through your scanner.

Open up your scanner and pan the horizon, while focusing on the circular scanner UI that envelopes the middle of the screen; the larger circle, not the aiming reticule. Once the scanner UI starts to glitch out, that's your sign to start moving in the direction you've pointed it at.

The more consistent the visual noise, the closer you are getting to the source of the disruption, and your eventual ability. If it's constantly glitching out, then whatever it is will be right ahead of you. The image below offers an example:

When you see the clean lines of that larger circle begin to glitch, flicker, and become detached, that means you're looking towards the Scanner Anomaly - keep moving towards it, and if the flickering slows, pan and scan to re-orient yourself.
When you see the clean lines of that larger circle begin to glitch, flicker, and become detached, that means you're looking towards the Scanner Anomaly - keep moving towards it, and if the flickering slows, pan and scan to re-orient yourself.

Once you've gotten close enough to the Anomaly, the game will automatically mark its exact location for you. If you're really lucky, you may land and actually see a mysterious building, often with floating gravity-defying debris, on the horizon. In which case, you may not need the scanner - but on most occasions, you will.

Unlocking more Scanner Anomaly Locations

As we mentioned earlier, the key to discovering additional Scanner Anomaly locations is to find and add more Artifacts to your location. This should be happening through your progression of the main storyline of Starfield, with the story missions that are denoted in the menu with the multi-colored icon of Constellation.

You'll want to visit a lot of Scanner Anomalies and their sources as each will unlock a new power. These powers are strong and useful - so are well worth your time.

Once you've found an Artifact, return to Vladimir for a new scanner anomaly location. There's also a chance to discover these disruptions on your own if you fly close enough to a planet or a moon that houses one; but we haven't discovered a more consistent method of deciphering these locations.

Theoretically, you can methodically check every star system in the game to try and find every Anomaly - we're led to believe there are more Scanner Anomalies than there are Artifacts in each normal playthrough - but we'll continue to investigate what players can do to discover any Anomalies that might be out of Vladimir's range from The Eye.

Once you hit Starfield's New Game Plus, which has a rather unique setup, Vladimir will actually give you many Anomaly and Artifact locations all at once, in great big groups - the purpose of which is to help expedite the main storyline of the game. This is one way in which New Game Plus differs if you opt to skip huge parts of the story in your later runs, which includes the hugely consequential mission High Price to Pay.