originals\ Dec 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

Five Beginner Tips for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


The land of Skyrim can be an intimidating place.  With the holidays mostly behind us, I’m sure many people will soon be diving into this adventure for the first time.  The incredibly open nature of the series can sometimes leave gamers overwhelmed, though.  A wealth of towns, items, and options await all those who seek a journey in the Elder Scrolls universe.  Because this can be so daunting, here are a handful of tips to keep in mind as you journey across the land fighting dragons and shouting spells.


1.  Make use of Favorites and Quick-Select

One of the new features unique to Skyrim is the ability to favorite items and magic.  You are bound to collect a plethora of equipment during your quest, so favoriting the important ones is an additional way to manage them.  Marking your most-used items as favorites allows easier access to them in battle, and is an invaluable tool to success.  Simply hitting up or down on the d-pad(on 360) brings up a list of all your favorites and makes selecting potions, spells, shouts, and anything else a total breeze.  Additionally, you can bind left and right on the d-pad to quick-select weapons in the favorites menu.  This allows for an even faster way of switching between equipment.  Quick-select is a key feature for anyone who likes to start their fights long range with spells or a bow, and then switch to melee combat as enemies get close.

2.  Lock Picking is Never Impossible

This tip may not seem major, but you will come across a lot of locked doors and chests as you travel through Skyrim.  You may stumble upon an expert or master lock and think there’s no way you could open that without leveling up lock picking, but you’d be wrong.  Even from the start of the game, every pickable lock is possible.  It will be difficult and you will probably break a handful of lock picks, but once you get used to the mechanic that is a minor inconvenience.  Putting points into the lock picking tree of the skills screen will make all these locks much easier, but if you’re willing to put up with some broken picks and lost time you can save those points for something more important.

3.  Everyone in Skyrim Wants Your Help... Everyone

This is a word of warning to all you gamers out there that have a compulsion to complete everything.  If there was ever a game that will require you to break that habit to maintain sanity, it’s Skyrim.  Tragically, it seems no one in this land is without need of assistance.  Some of these town side quests can be a lot of fun, but many are mundane and uninteresting.  The power of denying to help someone is of no greater importance than in Skyrim.  The world may want your help, but don’t let the seemingly endless number of mundane town missions distract from the guild and mainline story quests.  Those are the real meat to the Skyrim experience.

4.  Potions and Ingredients Add Up

Encumbrance can be Skyrim’s sneakiest antagonist if you don’t remember to keep an eye on it.  Potions and alchemy ingredients litter the world around you as you adventure through it, but with so many different types of potions and varieties of ingredients, they can start to weigh you down.  With a basic encumbrance level of about 300, I found myself walking around with almost a third of that space taken up by potions and ingredients alone.  Whenever you get to town, be sure to shed any items you don’t need.  Carrying a lot of potions may make you prepared for any situation, but it will hinder your attempts to bring those hefty dragon bones, or anything else of similar weight, back to your safe house.

5.  Don’t Fight Alone if You Don’t Have To

In the land of Skyrim, there’s safety in numbers.  Early on in the main storyline quests you are introduced to your first companion.  Having a second set of hands in a fight dramatically increases your chances for victory and can get you out of some hairy situations at times.  Companions can occasionally be unreliable and disappear if you don’t keep an eye on them, but their assistance is absolutely worth putting up with their inconsistencies.  As a bonus, they’ll even hold some of your items to remove a little equipment burden.  It’s good to make friends in Skyrim, so try not to go it alone unless you have to!
These are just a handful of beginner tips, but they only scratch the surface.  There’s a nearly immeasurable amount of content in Skyrim, so it can be understandably overwhelming.  If you keep these tips in mind, however, your experience will be that much better.  The wonders of this Elder Scrolls title often come from the exploration and discovery, but that doesn’t mean a little extra guidance can’t make your time in Skyrim that much sweeter.
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