10 Tips for Playing The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

With the launch of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim today, RPG enthusiasts can look forward to losing many hours to this addictive game. Ten Ton Hammer’s  review of Skyrim details the sandbox nature of the gameplay, both in character development and questing. As that players today are unused to having an incredible amount of choices available to them in games, this freedom can lead to some preventable problems with players. However, have no fear as that Ten Ton Hammer is here to give you ten tips to keep you heroically questing.

Tip #1 – Save Early, Save Often

Skyrim is a fairly punishing game- the bad thing about the concept that a dragon can swoop down on you at any time is, well, that a dragon can swoop down on you at any time. Worse, the game isn’t too conscientious about auto-saving. Get in the habit of saving before and after every encounter and you’ll save yourself a lot of backtracking. It is also helpful to save before making a big decision that could have a tremendous impact upon your game.

10 tips for playing the elder scrolls v: skyrim, skyrim tips

Tip #2 – Study the Skills

It is very prudent to thoroughly study each of the skills in the game and decide which ones you will concentrate on for the specific character you are playing. Concentrate your choices within a few skills and don’t spend your points across the board, thereby diluting your effectiveness. A wide variety of combat disciplines are at your disposal, but the more you stick to a single style – one handed blunt, destruction magic, etc. – the more your skills will grow, the more feats you can train, the less time you’ll spend playing the menus to play the game, the better the equipment you’ll feel compelled to invest in, and the more powerful a warrior you’ll be. Save the other options for other characters, because (chances are) you’re going to feel like playing this game more than once.

Tip #3 – Be a Smart Looter

Just like in Oblivion, just about everything that isn’t nailed down is yours for the taking. Whether or not you want to use the red hand of theft (and reap the consequences) is your business, but everyone has to be concerned about inventory space. The game is fairly generous with inventory size, but you’ll still want to carry only high value stuff away from long dungeon runs. A good rule of thumb is to only pick up items worth 10+ times their weight in gold.  Make sure that you grab the gold off of every corpse you see as that gold does not add any weight. Also, don’t be afraid to come right back to a dungeon after selling your excess inventory to grab any loot you left behind the first (or second) time.

10 tips for playing the elder scrolls v: skyrim, skyrim tips

Tip #4 – Always have a Companion

Even though companions can (literally) get in the way, game difficulty is clearly balanced with the assumption that you’ll be bringing a companion along, so do it! Some potential companions you’ll nearly trip over, others are yours for the price of a conversation, and some others require a little more effort. Each companion is different so make sure you pick one that complements your combat style. Don’t be afraid to use companions as mules to carry extra loot that you pick up. You’ll be surprised by how much some of them can carry!

Tip #5 – Buy a House

Players can purchase a house in each major city. Houses are useful for a number of reasons, but the primary reason is that it’s a great place to store your stuff. As there are no banks, you will need a safe place to store all your goodies. To cut down on travelling for specific tasks, you can upgrade your house to allow you to cook and do alchemy. The bookshelves are especially handy for easily storing your book collection. After you purchase house upgrades, thoroughly search them as you will find inventory items and even some gold.

Tip #6 – Talk to Everybody

One of the strengths of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is that everybody has a story to tell. A smart player will talk to everybody that he possibly can, which can lead to further side quests, rumors of interesting events, and the location of various groups. By engaging in conversation, players will have a better grasp of the current situation, both local and kingdom-wide. Knowledge is power, my friends. Talking can also lead to the discovery of new companions or trainers who can boost your skills.

10 tips for playing the elder scrolls v: skyrim, skyrim tips

Tip #7 – Stay Mobile and Stay Alive

The key to surviving most boss encounters, especially for DPS and mage types, is to avoid getting hit. Shield blocking is better than nothing (though, to my mind, underpowered at first) but you’ll still likely take damage unless your character is built as a tank. You might find it easier to play in third-person as you bob and weave, but bob and weave you must. Don’t be afraid to run away to give you more time to use your precious healing magic (if you have some). Use your shouts to give you some much needed room to maneuver.

Tip #8 – Consumables are your Friends

There’s no shame in leaning on consumables, such as potions and scrolls, in a single-player game, but you’ll want to know the characteristics of scrolls (in particular) before a frantic fight. For example, you won’t want to find out that your Scroll of Harmony requires a 5 second cast when a charging frost troll has you in his sights. If you’re wielding magical weapons, you should keep some soul gems handy, too – these work like ammo, and if your weapon runs dry, its effectiveness will be greatly decreased. If you’re playing on an Xbox, keep some potions handy in your “favorites” menu.

Tip #9 – Pace Yourself

Skyrim is a game that will punish you for trying to rush headlong through the main story. It’s tough for some of us, but ignore the apparent urgency of the core quests and spend some time exploring each area, completing side quests, amassing loot and fortune, leveling up, finding spell books or training combat disciplines, building up secondary attributes like frost and fire resistance… treat the game as you would a traditional hero’s journey and you’ll spend far less time dirt napping later in the game. Remember that the world of Skyrim is vast and that you shouldn’t cheat yourself of exploring and experiencing the richness of this fantasy world. Most gamers complain about how most games today are played in fifteen hours or less. Now here’s a game world where you should be, at the most, at the second major quest hub in the game by that time period, so enjoy the ride!

10 tips for playing the elder scrolls v: skyrim, skyrim tips

Tip #10 – Stuck? Look Around!

The environment often contains clues to help you through the puzzles you’ll run into, so keep a torch or magelight spell handy. Not only that, but the 3D item viewer accessed through your inventory isn’t just for Bethesda’s artists to show off their elite skills. We’ll leave it at that.

The ten tips given above should help you navigate your way through the perilous world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim. Follow these tips and you’ll not only be a smarter and richer player, but your character’s survival chances will go up dramatically.

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