The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has finally arrived on a Nintendo console for the first time and, for many of you reading this, this could well be the first time that the vast land of Skyrim has been on your screens. The pure size of games like Skyrim can be rather overwhelming and you may well be wondering how to play, how to make the best use of your skills, how to spend your gold, and so on.
Well, you are in luck! We’ve put together a handy list of tips and tricks that can hopefully give you the advice you need to brave it on your own for the first time, or refresh the minds of those who are revisiting the game after a while away from its dragon-riddled lands. So push your best arrow and knee related memes to the back of your mind for a second and make your way through our guide below. Enjoy!
Choosing Your Race at the Start of the Game
After an opening scene, Skyrim makes you choose which race you’d like to play as before throwing you into a character customisation section. The problem is that something about this whole decision making process leaves most players panicking for the next four days as they sit staring at the different humans, elves, and lizard-thingys and desperately wondering what on Earth they should choose.
Our advice would be to not worry too much about this. Each race has its own starting stat bonuses that are catered towards different play-styles so, if you have a particular play-style that you know you’ll favour over others, go with that one. Otherwise, just go ahead and pick your favourite – you can still excel at the attributes associated with different races to the one you choose but it’ll just take quite a while longer to train them up to the same level.
Don’t Worry About Which Ancestral Stone You Choose
Very early on in the game you’ll be given a choice between three large ancestral stones (are you noticing a theme so far?). These three stones have the power to improve your skills in a particular area faster – therefore giving you an advantage in that play-style. You’ll be asked to choose between Thief, Mage, and Warrior, so you’ll likely be drawn to one of these straight away but might be worried about losing out on the other abilities.
The good news is that there are actually 13 sites like this scattered around Skyrim, meaning that you’ll be able to change which stone you have activated at any time. Yes, this decision is not permanent! Throughout your journey you’ll have the option to play about with all styles, see which you think will be most worth boosting, and select the stone that is most appropriate for your chosen style. If you chose to boost your Warrior skills but are getting fed up with repeatedly bashing things in the face with an axe, change things up!
Take On Sidequests
Skyrim is home to a pleasingly large amount of sidequests. Unless you’re wanting to get through the game as quickly as you can, doing as many of these as you can is a no-brainer. For starters, you’ll be given a variety of rewards for completing them and, also, you might find yourself seeing parts of the world that you haven’t previously been to.
It can also be quite a refreshing change to swap your rather frantic, dragon-hunting lifestyle to enjoy a few moments trying to find a bunch of grapes for an elf. Be a man, woman (or lizard) who can do both.
Don’t Hoard Everything
If you’re anything like this writer, a part of you will look at every little grubby plate and broken bucket dotted around the darkest dungeons and think “I should probably keep that” without really knowing if it will have any use whatsoever. It can be even more tempting to hold onto every last healing potion and weapon in case you end up needing them for tricky sections that may or may not appear in the next few hours in the game.
Our advice here: don’t do this! Yes, having a whole bunch of potions can be really useful, and being able to sell endless tat to slowly build up your wealth can be good, but Skyrim can become an incredibly frustrating experience if you have to keep ‘dropping’ things every few seconds because your character can’t even walk any more. Make sure to sell your useless loot as often as possible and don’t hold on to absolutely everything – you’ll feel better without it! Now, in a twist that seems like we almost planned it, this very conveniently leads us on to…
Don’t Buy Equipment Early On
It won’t take you long to stumble across several people who are happy to sell things to you. Whilst you should feel free to sell anything you don’t need to them to get some extra cash, we’d argue that it is rather pointless spending your money on the items they have for sale. The basic iron and steel weapons that can be purchased here can be easily found lying around Skyrim for free and, if you’re the bow and arrow type, you’ll end up with enough arrows to keep you busy elsewhere too.
Your cash would be much better invested into training. Along your journey, you’ll find various Trainers (characters that can help improve your skills) and you’ll need to pay them for their services. If you’re an ‘everyone for themselves’ kind of player, you can always pickpocket the Trainers and get your money back afterwards, too. Just don’t tell anyone that that was our idea!
Use Your amiibo!
Following on from our last tip quite nicely, another way to get your hands on a small nation’s worth of equipment is to use your amiibo figures. Nothing in the game is locked behind amiibo – so if you don’t have any you aren’t missing out on anything – but they do help to make things much easier.
Scanning an amiibo in Skyrim will grant you with a treasure chest containing various random items that you can keep and equip and, if you scan any The Legend of Zelda series amiibo you’ll have a chance at getting something very special. You can scan as many amiibo as you like but each one will have a 24 hour time limit before they can be used again.
If you’re unsure how to use your amiibo in the game, start by pressing ‘B’ to bring up a menu and flick the control stick to the left a couple of times to select ‘Magic’. On the ‘All’ tab, flick the control stick to the left again and you should find an option for ‘amiibo’. With the amiibo selection highlighted, press either ‘ZL’ or ‘ZR’ to equip it – unlike other abilities, this one does not get assigned to a particular hand ready for you to use. With the amiibo function equipped, return out of the menu, head to some open space, and press ‘R’. The ‘R’ button is usually used for your Shout in the game but, with the amiibo function assigned, pressing the button will instead release a wave of pulsating energy on screen. When you can see this wave of energy, scan an amiibo onto your controller’s NFC reader and a treasure chest will appear – ta da!
Use the Abilities You Want to Grow
The best way to get better at any ability in Skyrim is to practice it – lots. This isn’t just because practicing something means that you will find it easier to do in the future, but because Skyrim’s levelling system works in such a way.
If you start picking locks, your picklocking skills will be upgraded, sneaking past characters will level up your sneaking abilities, and flinging your sword at anything that moves will help to level up your one-handed fighting abilities. You can either switch around to use different abilities more often, working on creating a more well-rounded character, or focus on your favourites and become an unstoppable expert in those particular areas.
Don’t Always Fast Travel
Sometimes, for the sake of having a life away from the screen, fast travelling is essential. This method of travel allows you to choose a location on the map and warp there instantly. It can be nice to occasionally travel to places by foot, however.
Just like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’ll discover so much more – and therefore get so much more out of the game – by wandering around and accidentally stumbling across new places that you would never have found otherwise. A large selling point of these open-world games is the fact that the worlds are so, well, ‘open’ – you may as well explore what is out there.
Get Into the Habit of Saving
Save whenever it crosses your mind to do so! The game does autosave at certain points such as when you sleep, go through doors to new areas, and so on, but it doesn’t save as you’re exploring places in between. If you’re spending a lot of time just running up and down mountains searching for treasure and then suddenly get thwarted by a troll you’ll lose an awful lot of progress. It’s a simple tip, but a very useful one.
Be a Bookworm!
Feeling like a proud teacher as we do so, it is now our job to tell you all to do your reading. There are lots of books scattered around Skyrim’s vast world – you can buy them, you can find them, and they are actually really useful. Many of them are intended as background reading; you can often learn a lot about the culture and lore of the Elder Scrolls series by flicking through these books’ pages.
If you don’t enjoy reading, however, you’ll still want to open every book at the very least. Sometimes, opening a book will grant you with skill increases – you don’t have to sit and read the whole thing, but see if you gain anything by inspecting it. Also, some sidequests are triggered by looking in books so, to fully see everything the game has to offer, you’ll want to explore them.
Admire the Pretty Dragons!
By ‘admire the pretty dragons’, we actually simply mean ‘enjoy yourself’. Again like Breath of the Wild – or any open-world game for that matter – allow yourself to take in the scenery, soak up the beauty of the world you’re in and have fun. Yes, you’re on a very serious quest and, yes, there are an awful lot of things to be getting on with but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the little things, too.