Welcome apprentice to the snow laden province of the Nord lands. From journeying into its villages and cities to trekking upon paths into the unknown, a gamer can become truly enraptured by this wonderfully engrossing and enormous landscape. However, it can also be an intimidating prospect for fresh faced newcomers eager to breath in that chilly air and work their way to becoming a powerful force to be reckoned with. Here are some of the things that I have learned from my own experiences that I wished I knew from the very beginning.
Race Doesn’t Matter
Once you step off the cart with your fellows in peril you are given a choice of ten races that will become the basis of your character’s creation and eventual development. Many other guides, including some that I have written, will tell you to pick this race or start with that one to get an early advantage. In terms of roleplaying, this is a good idea but the reality is this, the benefits aren’t so overwhelmingly significant enough to justify solely sticking to the same race they recommend. Each race gives you slight increases to certain skills or a racial power that presents just enough to offer something to distinguish your choice besides how they appear from one another. It can be advantageous to gain some early benefits but it is not absolutely necessary so just choose the one that appeals to you the most. Any power or ability you feel you may be missing out on can be acquired in another fashion during the game some other way via certain items/quests or by becoming proficient in Smithing, Enchanting or Alchemy.
If You Must Roleplay
Okay, I get it. I too understand the temptation to commit to a particular play style or character archetype in a game like this. In the stories of the Elder Scrolls, you can become anything you desire and so if you do wish to submit to a specific role that will truly define your playthrough then I offer the following basic recommendations to give you a head start.
The Imperials can be considered your jack of all trades race, they are fairly good for almost any character. The Nord, Redguard and Orc races are the most natural warriors. For the magic wielders amongst you I recommend choosing either High Elf, Dark Elf or Breton. Finally, if you want to sneak amongst the shadows to commit your deeds then you should consider picking one of the Wood Elf, Argonian or Khajiit races.
Choose Your Battle Style
There are two primary armour types in Skyrim, Light Armour and Heavy Armour. It is feasible to get by with mixing and matching the ‘coolest’ looking items you come across but you may find yourself lacking defensively later in the game. By sticking to one or the other you can focus your perks to make the most out of your chosen type. Light Armour allows you move around more easily and more quickly but offers less protection than Heavy Armour that, whilst cumbersome, coats your body in plated armour pieces that protects you that much more.
The same philosophy applies to weaponry. First of all, choose either One Handed or Two Handed weaponry as your main focus. The former is quicker to wield but the latter has higher damage potential. Speed or power? Then ask yourself if you’d prefer wielding a sword, axe or mace for your chosen style and then commit to applying the appropriate perks. By focusing your perk choices, you will increase your death dealing potential early on and into the rest of the game. Bows for the Archery skill line is also a valid choice that supplements a weapon style very well to offer any character a ranged option in battle, and you will need one especially if using magic is not your thing. Those flying dragons won’t land in front of you just so you can whack them on the nose until they’re dead!
Basically, try not to spread yourself too thin when applying perks. Choices are good but they shouldn’t come at the expense of building a character that is capable of truly excelling. I would recommend avoiding becoming good at much but great at nothing. Pick three to five skills to focus on for your primary battle style.
Join a Faction
You start out with practically nothing in the beginning. No gold, no decent weaponry or armour and no place for a weary traveller to lay their heads to rest. If you want to make the most of your time in Skyrim, I recommend attempting to find allies in the form of joining a faction. If you do decide to join one of the games several groups you will offered the opportunity to store your belongings, rest in your own bed and more importantly, the chance to earn great rewards by following the quest-line of that faction. Your primary choices are the Companions of Whiterun (great for warriors), the College of Winterhold (ideal for mages), the Thieves Guild in Riften (for the pickpockets amongst you, obviously) or the Dark Brotherhood of assassins (seek Aventus Aretino in Windhelm).