It’s hard to imagine that after all these years there are some gamers who haven’t given the fantastic game Skyrim a try yet. But there are some holdouts or new gamers who are coming around to exploring what this nearly eight-year-old game has to offer.

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If you’re one of those gamers looking to play a classic, or maybe a long-time veteran who has taken a break and wants to come back fresh, here are some things you should keep in mind when playing. Don’t worry there aren’t any spoilers.

10 Save Often

Saving often is by far the most important thing you should do in this game and there’s a reason they give you a quicksave option on PCs. The game has an autosave feature, but it only kicks in whenever you rest, wait, fast travel, or enter a new area.

If you took a quick nap and then spent two hours exploring the countryside, fighting bandits in the wilderness, obtaining a lot of loot, and then get slapped by a giant you are going to be reset back to when you woke up from the nap. Make sure to save every now and then.


9 Don’t Change The Difficulty

One temptation new players have is to change the difficulty to an easy setting and many longtime RPG players will crank it to the max difficulty. Honestly, don’t do either of these things. The game’s creatures level up with your character meaning, for the most part, you won't encounter a fight you can’t handle at normal difficulty.

There are a few instances where the enemies are simply too powerful no matter your difficulty setting, this is intentional, don’t worry about these areas until you’re a little stronger. The game is really fair for the most part and if you’re working on combat skills consistently you shouldn’t have too many problems.

8 Try Everything

A great thing about Skyrim is that you are not restricted to particular class archetypes or builds. All of the skills are available to you at all times and there’s no penalty for progressing with any or all of them. If you find yourself getting bored of melee combat than feel free to dive into spells with that same character.

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Admittedly there is a finite amount of perks in the game that dramatically boost your character’s strengths, but you receive a lot of them and many of the perks are handy to have so it’s hard to mess up and almost impossible to break a character unless you’re trying to.

7 Avoid The Temptation To Optimize

On that topic, it’s important that you avoid the temptation of optimizing your character. Many players will pull up guides and study the game mechanics to create the perfect character before they’ve ever played the game. Don’t do this.

The game is fair and you’ll find yourself challenged and entertained regardless of which skills you use, which race you picked, or what order you complete quests in. Don’t feel like you have to join every faction, do a boring side quest, or even pursue certain skills. Do what you want and have fun with it.

6 You Can Change Stones Later

One choice you’re asked to make at the beginning of the game is to pick an ancestral stone based on one of three archetypes; mage, warrior, or thief. Depending on which stone you pick determines which skills progress the fastest. Want to know a secret about this seemingly important decision? It doesn’t matter.

It turns out you have the ability to change ancestral stones whenever you want. In fact, when you get out into the main world you’ll discover there are 13 different ancestral stones that you can choose at any time with no penalty. Just go with the one that benefits what you’re interested in at the time and switch when you change your mind.

5 Do Some Side Quests

Many players, especially those coming from more linear based gameplay experiences will feel like they need to prioritize the main quest before pursuing any side quests. This isn’t the case in Skyrim and you may find the game harder in spots as a result.

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You are expected to pursue at least a few side quests and sometimes the rewards will be better than the main quest. Many of the more interesting storylines and powerful loot is found at the end of a seemingly random quest. Don’t get so tunnel-visioned you ignore these side activities.

4 Grab A Companion

While the game is largely fair and you’ll be able to handle most encounters, you can opt to have a companion join you in your quest to share the load. These individuals can tip the scales in your favor when it comes to difficult battles and keeps the heat off your character, though some are definitely better than others.

If a man or woman at arms doesn’t appeal to you then you should still consider having a companion at your side to act as a pack mule. You can offload some of the loot you find into their inventories, allowing you to carry more.

3 Avoid Fast Traveling

It can be tempting to utilize fast travel to expedite quests and reach areas sooner but avoid the temptation. This game rewards players who take the time to explore and you never know when you’ll stumble across an ancient tomb with a powerful sword inside.

As you progress further in the main story you’ll also find yourself on the hunt for dragons. These winged beasts randomly spawn in the world and often between locations meaning you can miss these engagements if you’re constantly fast traveling. Be patient, get a horse, and wander the beautiful areas of Skyrim.

2 Buy Health Potions

Potion bottles in skyrim

In the early parts of the game, the single best thing you can buy is health potions. If you have the spare cash and find yourself struggling in fights go grab a potion or two and watch things turn in your favor.

After a while, you’ll find you no longer need them or have more efficient means of regenerating lost health, but early on with your weaker character and abysmal gear, it is a major help.

1 Don't Worry, Just Play

If you want to get the most out of this game then just focus on playing it. Don’t worry about how efficiently you’re doing things, if you could have gotten a better reward by performing a quest differently, or if starting out as an Argonian was the right decision.

The game is forgiving and mistakes aren’t deal-breakers, if anything they add a little flavor to the game. You can always do things differently on your next playthrough, but for now, as you’re diving in for the first time into Skyrim just enjoy it.

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