How to get the most enjoyment out of Skyrim

A dragon approaches

I consider myself a Bethesda games veteran. Between Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout New Vegas, I’ve sunk literally hundreds of hours into these games. Many of those hours were spent bored to tears or swimming in frustration. Yet, no matter how many times I stayed up all night long pouring over loot, organizing my inventory, and vowing to myself that it would never happen again, there’s something about these games that kept me coming back for more. Even though I swore I would never play another Elder Scrolls or another Fallout, it was only a matter of time until I would cave to the pressure and pick up a copy of Skyrim.

I can’t exaggerate enough how happy I am that I did. This time, I’m forcing myself to play the game a certain way and it’s paying off tremendously. Of course, my gaming habits have changed as well, but that story will have to wait for another post. In this post, I just want to talk about how my behavior in the game has changed and how that has made this journey much more rewarding than my experiences with other Bethesda games.

I present to you Dave’s rules for getting the most enjoyment out of Skyrim (or any other Bethesda game, for that matter):

Rule no. 1: Avoid the temptation to pick up every piece of loot you can with the intention of selling it later. Instead, pick up only the items you plan on using.

In both Morrowind and Oblivion, I beefed up my characters’ strength and endurance skills right off the bat and still found that I was always being over-encumbered by the loot I carried half-way through every dungeon raid. The result was that I spent the majority of my time in those games sorting through loot, organizing my inventory, and making trips to and from the nearest town to maximize my profits. During some quests, this can be a major headache. In other quests where it’s impossible to travel, I was stuck having to make tough decisions between items that I didn’t want to leave behind.

Is it possible to make a fortune harvesting iron ore? Sure, but I’d argue it’s much more fun to make money completing quests.

Admit it, you're only going to use that staff once

Since you won’t be picking up all those useless items, you’ll also save a ton of time you would otherwise spend looking in containers. Many dungeons are filled to the brim with dressers, night stands, baskets, and sacks, but you’ll never find anything genuinely useful in these containers, so don’t even bother looking. It’s hard to resist at first, but you’ll thank me later.

Here's one legitimate use for a basket

Rule no. 2: Avoid the main story quest like the plague. Instead, pick up every side quest you can find.

You know what makes Skyrim such a special game? Some would say it’s “the graphics,” but I think most people know this isn’t true. The visual aesthetic in Skyrim can be downright sloppy at times, especially when character models start glitching out or when you get stuck behind a rock and are forced to stare at its ugly texture.

Every character in Skyrim has wet, greasy hair

I would say the most impressive aspect of “the graphics” in the game is how far you can see, but this really only points to the underlying awesomeness of the scope of the game. Skyrim is unique because you can do just about anything in it. You can go anywhere, climb any mountain, slay any foe, and pillage any dungeon. Every item in the game is rendered in detail because you can pick it up, look at it, and usually wield it. Unfortunately, you can no longer throw carrots and other miscellaneous objects you find laying around in the environment at people, which was definitely my favorite thing to do in Oblivion.

The scope of Skyrim is probably the most ambitious to be achieved yet in the realm of digital world crafting, and this is particularly evident when it comes to the side quests. Just about everyone you meet in the game will find something for you to do, whether it’s fetching something for them, delivering something for someone else, settling a dispute, planting evidence, investigating a murder, exploring an ancient ruin, aiding a squad of soldiers in combat, training in magic school, or sapping a mythical tree. These are just a few of the things I’ve accomplished so far by avoiding the main story quest entirely.


All of this scope amounts to the ultimate RPG experience. With Skyrim, Bethesda gave RPG fans what we have been clamoring for – a truly open fantasy world where we are free to do whatever and be whoever we want, to role-play in the proper sense of the term. I’m sure the main story quest is quite good. But, when you’ve got all this freedom, why follow the path? I’m having way more fun crafting my character the way I see fit than I had following the path in previous games. I think the reason is because I don’t feel any urgency to finish the game. Instead, I feel free to enjoy everything the game has to offer at my own pace. There’s no end in sight and I’m enjoying every bit of it.

That’s all the tips I have for now. Let me know how you’re enjoying your time in Skyrim and if you found my insights helpful or not!


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