Adventuring into the wilds of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim can be a dangerous, daunting undertaking. After just a few hours exploring the world of Skyrim, your quest log will be brimming with dungeon dives and missives to faraway locales. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially with so much freedom.
Luckily, we’ve put together a list of handy tips and tricks to help you make the most of your Skyrim experience. Even seasoned Skyrim veterans returning for the recent remaster can learn a thing or two about the game’s massive world. Don’t let a few thousand draugr get you down!
Save early and often
Anyone who’s spent time in one of Bethesda’s games knows that an untimely demise or unforeseen glitch can cause controller-smashing frustration when you realize you haven’t saved your game in three hours. Don’t be that person. This is especially important if you’re wandering the wilds, about to begin a tough boss battle, or trying to pickpocket someone you wouldn’t want to deal with when things go wrong.
Forge your own path
Skyrim‘s has several engrossing storylines to play through, but don’t feel shoehorned into following the game’s pre-set paths. Most of Skyrim‘s sandbox world is immediately accessible after completing the tutorial section, so follow your heart!
Use those talent points wisely
Be careful when allocating talent points within the game’s many skill trees. You won’t get another chance to reset these points if you decide that you’ve made a mistake. Take a moment to think about which playstyle best suits you (or your character) and invest carefully.
Note: The “Dragonborn” expansion allows players to reset individual skill trees and refund points at the cost of dragon souls. This ability requires completion of the DLC.
Don’t be a hoarder
In a game like Skyrim, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the massive amounts of loot you can pick up. Don’t worry too much about “saving” all your potions and soul gems for difficult boss battles. The game becomes far more cumbersome and frustrating when you’re playing the “what do I drop now?” inventory game each time you pick up a new item, so using or selling your loot often keeps the game moving.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up
The first few times you encounter a dragon in Skyrim are epic. The monsters’ shouts will rend the sky, and you’ll probably be sent scurrying for cover a few times. Unfortunately, the novelty wears off as your character gets stronger, and these fights can become mundane — especially if you’re playing a melee warrior, and the dragon doesn’t want to land and fight.
Similarly, the zombie-like draugr can inspire fear when you first see them rising from their tombs, but the game’s many dungeons are lined with these suckers, so you’ll inevitably get bored of battling them. Keep the fights fresh by finding new ways to defeat your enemies, using a combination of weapons, magic, and shouts.
Enchant, craft, and brew with caution
The most powerful skill trees in Skyrim are the ones that govern enchanting, blacksmithing, and alchemy. If you’re playing on Adept difficulty or below, abusing these skills can lead to your character becoming incredibly powerful. For example, enchanting gear to increase your alchemy level can get out of control if you also use potions that temporarily increase your enchanting skill. These exploits can basically go back and forth forever, allowing your gear to grow ridiculously strong over time.
Reading is fundamental
Tamriel’s northernmost province is home to more than 200 unique books and scrolls, each with pages of text that are a fun and informative look into the lore and culture of the Elder Scrolls series. If you’re not the reading-is-fun type, you’ll still want to open every book you see, as many of them grant skill increases. Besides, The Lusty Argonian Maid isn’t going to read itself.
Patience is a virtue
As in past Elder Scrolls games, the best way to heal yourself after a big fight is just hanging out. “Waiting” a few hours will replenish your health, magicka, and stamina bars. As long as you aren’t too close to an enemy (or in the middle of some specific quests), you can… meditate, or something. This may break your immersion if you’re a role-playing type of gamer, but it’s certainly a useful trick.
Interrupt enemies with Unrelenting Force
“Unrelenting Force,” the first dragon shout you’ll unlock in Skyrim, is more useful than you might think. In addition to staggering enemies and knocking them back at higher levels, you can use it to interrupt enemy casters who are channeling spells.
Listen to the people of Skyrim
Keep an ear out while traveling through Skyrim‘s more populated locales. Citizens and guards will often have useful information for you, and sometimes overhearing a conversation is enough to add an objective to your quest log. Sometimes, though, they just want to talk about arrows and knees. If your character is infected with a disease, for instance, NPCs will simply ask you how you’re doing.