Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Top Ten Tips For Skyrim Success

It’s entirely pointless trying to go into any detail with Skyrim, the game’s just too damn big! So here’s Megabits' Top Ten Tips for exploring the chilly province and getting the most out of the best RPG of 2011.

10: Don’t be afraid to run away
It’s all too easy to imagine yourself a dragon-killing, bandit-owning master of the world, but early on, don’t be surprised if a horde of hungry skeevers can leave your Dovakhin warrior in bits. So my advice to you is this - if you can’t win, run away. There’s no reason you can’t always come back later – and believe me, the last thing you want after having fought off a horde of bandits is to be taken out by one lucky blow from a warhammer, forcing you to backtrack through room after room of the deepest, darkest canyons.

9: Always take a companion
Sure, they get in the way, offer pointless comments every time you see something unusual and can’t fend off a wild wolf without being knocked down, but having a companion along for the ride makes Skyrim’s adventure all the easier. While I mainly used a stream of companions as cannon fodder/a pack horse, I often found that the larger enemies were drawn to the companion, instead of me, allowing me to drive my paired swords into its arse as it murderised them. Sure, this might be misconstrued as harsh or cold, but it saves them accidentally being beheaded by me as I’m trying to down a dragon (sorry Lydia....)

8: Choose your perks wisely
Skyrim’s perks can make a big difference to the gameplay, so when you’re granted one of the celestial kudos points, take some time and consider your playstyle – and the holes in your defences. I favoured boosting my one-handed, light armour and enchanting skills, and was pleasantly surprised to find that at higher levels, the perks got better and better. Concentrate on perks from certain trees, rather than a jack-of-all-trades approach, as this will make your experience all the more fun, as opposed to leaving you swinging in the wind when facing later missions.

7: Practice your smithing
Armour is a must in the unforgiving lands of Skyrim, so learning how to get the best out of your blacksmithing is similarly an essential skill to develop. It’s also quite easy – just buy a bunch of raw materials and craft yourself a stream of iron daggers early in the game, and watch as your skills climb higher and higher. The added bonus of having a load of daggers to sell is also a good thing. While this can feel a little like grinding at first, before long, you’ll be glad of the ability to craft suits of armour on the fly – especially when the bigger monsters stalking the land start making a beeline for your door – sometimes literally.

6: Enchant everything
Similarily to smithing, enchanting is another incredibly useful skill - and one which should be used for every bit of armour, jewellery and weaponry that the gamer possesses. Granted, you have to destroy an item to learn the enchantment that it contains, but this is a necessary when it comes to equipping you and your companion with the best loot. I’m personally a big fan of weapons which have additional attack powers, such as a bow that causes shock or ice damage, and armour which boosts attributes such as magicka, stamina and health regeneration.
Be sure to level up as much as possible and invest in a few of the smithing perks that deal with enchanting, as it will pay off later when you find some of the game’s more powerful weapons.

5: Read everything you can see
Reading is good for the soul – it’s also good for your stats! This one’s a no-brainer (or a brainer if you actually read some of the game’s history which is scattered about...) but reading makes you smarter – especially in Skyrim, where a quick flick through a book called ‘small unit tactics’ will pay off with improved knowledge of light armour, for example. Basically, if you see a book that’s not ‘waterlogged’, ‘burnt’ or ‘ruined’, open it, close it, and see if a little notification pops up to tell you that some obscure skill has been boosted – and by a fair degree as well! Not bad for looking at a single page of a novel. If only learning were really so easy!

4: Barter smarter
As with real life, shopping is a necessary evil in Skyrim - but bartering is positively essential. Money is key in getting a hold of the raw materials for smithing or enchanting, and getting the best deal for your items and goods is a quick way to get a decent gold purse on your warrior.
Find yourself a spellbook that boosts your bartering skill - or an amulet, or a ring - and watch how quickly the gold piles up, compared to going it along. Plus, shopkeepers can be enchanted if you’re subtle about it – and don’t accidentally set them on fire. Alternatively, put a pot or bucket over their head and go nuts with your robbery skills...

3: Travel light
One problem I constantly encountered while questing was simply carrying too much stuff – and there’s nothing worse than having to pick between a big pile of booty and being able to stagger to the shop to sell what you already have - even after you’ve stocked up your companion like a beast of burden. The answer is to regularly offload your kit entirely into a storage box you own and sell what you don’t need, then stock up again – but take only the essentials. Let’s face it, it won’t take you long to fill up your inventory again! One more tip – you might think that a few torchbugs or a few fish in your inventory don’t weight much, but add together the weight of the various ingredients you’ve grabbed and you’ll see how fast the weight builds! Ditch the food until you need it.

2: Stagger the main plotline
Skyrim's main plot is actually pretty decent - compared to that of Morrowind and Oblivion, anyway. In fact, its only downside is that it's too damn short! So, in order to make more of the main plot, I would 100% suggest coming back to each plot mission after a good portion of random wandering and other questlines. If you finish the main plot to early, it can kind of make the game feel a little 'empty' (ironic, considering its staggering size...). Food for thought.

1: Explore!
Skyrim, both the province and the game, is absolutely massive – and the key to discovering everything the game has to offer lies in exploration. Early on, I took great pleasure in shouldering my twin steel shortswords and going for a walk to see what I can find – and usually came across a cavern full of bandits, or spiders, or necromancers, or werewolves, or skeletons – or high-class loot. Later, when I started taking missions that required long journeys, I always avoided using a horse, fast-traveling or hitching a ride on a horse and cart, and instead walked the whole way. This is a great way to see the game as Bethesda wants you to, and gives you loads of opportunities to explore the dark corners of the province. So, in a nutshell, get out and about – and go off the beaten track – to get the best from your adventuring.

Have fun, Dovakhin!


I'd also suggest not carrying anything that isn't worth five times its weight in gold or else you'll spend as much time trekking back to your storage crates as you do playing.

Oh, and don't obsessively overwork a single skill for ages without tweaking all the others at least a little. It's rotten when you level up a couple of times via enchanting, lockpicking and smithing, only to find that your opponents have all levelled with you and are too tough for your neglected swordplay skills.