Skyrim: for the uninitiated

I gather, from speaking to quite a few people, that Skyrim can be quite off-putting in both terms of size and lack of direction.  So I thought I’d write a few tips to see if it helps.  I know the game is 4 years old, but I still love playing it and it’s never too late to be introduced to the Elder Scrolls series 🙂

To me, the most wonderful thing about this game (and the others in this series) is that you can just do what you want – in a large, open and gorgeous world.  With modding, you can take that even further… but I digress, I’ll get on with the tips.

Character creation:
Different races give some different starting benefits (e.g. bosmer have a slightly higher archery skill, nords have cold resistance) but these don’t really have a major impact in later game stages – I think it’s more important to choose a character you’ll be happy looking at for x amount of hours.

There are no classes – you level up by training skills – 10 skills levelled up equals a level.  You train skills by using them.  So you level up archery by killing things with a bow, you level up armour (heavy or light) by being hit, you level up alteration by casting waterbreathing, etc etc etc.  You can train some or all of them.

Tutorial:
the section from when you arrive by cart at Helgen to the point where you exit the cave (trying not to spoilerise here!) is basically the tutorial.  You have to do this part and once you are out of the cave – you are free.  During this section you will get to try out some of the basic skills (fighting, lockpicking, sneaking) and pick up some basic armour and weapons.

And then?
I would suggest for first time players to follow the main storyline, by following your NPC down to Riverwood (after leaving the cave mentioned above). This questline is basically about being the Dragonborn – I would suggest at least completing it to the part where you learn about Dragon Shouts so you can use those in battle.

OK, so now what?
well, this is really where Skyrim shines.  Do you want to play a traditional type character (e.g. plate + sword + shield, leather armour + bow or daggers, mage robes + staff + spells) or mix it up (plate + spells, robes + two hander, er… nothing and a big axe)?  Try things out and find out what you enjoy.

Just explore and discover? The game is beautiful and you will come across all sorts of dungeons and caves to explore and quests as you do.

Do you want to be a thief?  an assassin?  become the Arch-Mage knowing just one spell (or lots of spells)?  become a bard? a werewolf? a vampire? (see comments for more info about WW or vamp)

How about becoming the Thane of all Holds in Skyrim?  investigating daedric appearances and collecting their weapons? Collect dragon priest masks?

Get a house, a husband (or wife) and start hoarding collecting and crafting?

Obviously you can do most of the above in one playthrough and this is where it can get overwhelming.  Most of the quests are ignoreable and can be picked up later if you want – I tend to try and focus my playthroughs (e.g. Thieves Guild) so that I don’t get too distracted.

Links to further infos:
The UESP has pretty much everything you need to know about both Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls series in general.  The Skyrim wiki is also very useful .

Mods:
Personally, I wouldn’t mod until my second playthrough or when I decide that I need to start again.  That’s personal preference though.

Having said that, if the UI feels unbearable – try this mod.  It requires SKSE and you use the SKSE icon to launch Skyrim instead of the usual shortcut.  I install SKSE via steam and use Nexus Mod Manager for installing the mod.

I may do a separate post about which mods I’m using but I would suggest using the Steam workshop to begin with / if you are only going to use a few mods and Nexus Mods and their Manager if you get mod-heavy (and you very well might!)

DLC:
There are three different DLCs –  Dawnguard (join the Vampires or the Dawnguard), Hearthstone (new build your own housing, plus ability to adopt children) and Dragonborn (continues the Dragonborn story).

I would suggest getting Hearthstone fairly early on if you like housing… Otherwise leave the DLC until you are at least a good way through your playthrough.

Anything I haven’t covered?
let me know in the comments section 🙂

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7 Comments

  1. Nice primer! I was actually just playing some Skyrim last night, doing a second playthrough. Just like you had suggested, my first playthrough was with vanilla Skyrim, though I did set up SkyUI to make things a bit more friendly.

    With this second run of the game, I bumped up the difficulty some (first was a low diff, this one is a mid diff as of now – we’ll see if I decide to bump it up). I kept SkyUI in there, and added Skyrim Redone (aka SkyRe), which is basically a gameplay overhaul that changes around a slew of things, adds some stuff, etc (one noticable change is an overhaul of the skill trees; adding more trees & skills in each). I believe I also added some kind of weather mod to add some various weather/sky patterns in just for the ambiance, but nothing else.

    Having a pretty good time so far – it’s definitely more challenging so far; not sure if it’s the difficulty, SkyRe, or a mix of both. I started off trying to force myself not to use bows again, but by goneit, I seem to be back to using bows (and crossbows).

    I sided with the Stormcloaks the first time around, so I’ll probably go Imperial this time. Sorry rebels!

    1. thanks very much 🙂 I gave up trying to do anything else other than sneak bow attacks – every time I one shot something it makes me grin so… 😀

      Yes SkyUI is very good and I will look into SkyRe again – thanks 🙂

  2. I am surprised people can feel there is a lack of direction in Skyrim. If that was about Morrowind I could understand since in that one the tutorial lasts 5 minutes, tops, don’t do much in the way of teaching and the directions are pretty easy to ignore or miss. But Skyrim is almost the opposite to that! *

    Anyway, just a few nitpicks. You can be a vampire without the Dawnguard DLC. It just won’t change all that much, gameplay-wise. In vanilla Skyrim if you become a vampire you get a few spells, have to drink blood from sleeping people (otherwise you go through stages where you go hungrier and get stronger and people attack you on sight) and the only quest involving vampires in any form is the one to cure yourself of vampirism. The Dawnguard DLC adds to vampires the Vampire Lord form (a half-human/half-bat form) with its own abilities and its own Perk tree plus a questline where you can decide to join the vampire hunters (The Dawnguard) or join the vampires. You also get a new follower who actually has a personality and backstory which makes her better than 90% of the followers of vanilla Skyrim. Oh, werewolves also get their own Perk tree with the Dawnguard DLC but that is all they get. And of course the DLC has the usual new gear, dungeons, monsters and so on.

    Besides those nitpicks I agree with everything you said. Specially about the part about playing the game without mods first. This way you can figure out the parts of the game you don’t like much and would like to change. That is the beauty of mods, changing the game so it is more fun to *you*.

    * For the record I love both Morrowind and Skyrim, each for different reasons. :p

    1. oh great nitpicking thank you! will edit post – can you tell I don’t play werewolves or vampires usually?!

      yeah, I think Skyrim is so huge though even though it is the most ‘on rails’ ES game we’ve had, that I think its easy to feel a bit overwhelmed – a cross between too much to do and not knowing what exists – what might clash with what etc.

      ps I love those games too (and Oblivion) all for the same and yet different reasons :))

      1. I like to give a try to vampires or werewolves when possible. Simply because it is different and some times they do some interesting things with them (like werewolves in Bloodmoon, the Morrowind expansion that was all about them). Dawnguard was a much needed fleshing out for vampires in Skyrim. The main quest is a bit of hit and miss though, in my opinion. Still the follower you get with it makes up for the main quest. Again, just my opinion. 🙂

        Ah, yeah, get overwhelmed with the number of quests I can see. Usually my characters specialize into one or two factions according to whatever I am roleplaying them so I don’t feel so overwhelmed. But with my latest character I was trying to join every faction and do everything and it was just feeling like too much. Unfortunately I lost that character save files due to a snafu on my part.

  3. I’ve never modded a game before, and I’d really like to mod Skyrim to play. The last time I played it was maybe last X-Mas, but then a crash killed my save file. Granted, I did finish the game on the 360 before getting everything on the computer. I digress–I’d really love to see a “here’s how you mod, and here are my mods of choice” post. ^_^

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