The Best Way to Level in Skyrim
Well it’s a little over a week since the collective life of almost every gamer was devoured by the blood-hungry beast that is Skyrim. For some of us, this made studying/working nigh impossible, with thoughts ever drifting to that land of dragons and sorcery. For others, who didn’t have school/uni/jobs, it heralded the beginning of a long winter (summer?) of seclusions, where gaming sessions measured days – not hours – and the rewards were the bragging rights of “I have 3 level 50s” at a point in time when most people were hard pressed to get past level 30.
And so into this melting pot of level discrimination, I thought I would extend the olive-branch to my fellow gamers by jotting down some of the best tips I’ve found for levelling in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Some of these are generic and some quite specific, but take a look and I’m sure you’ll find something somewhat relevant to your levelling process.
And if not, you are a better gamer than I sir. Kudos.
1. Skill Stones
I’ve brought this up before, but it’s so valuable that it’s worth reiterating. Scattered across Skyrim I’m sure you have noticed the various Skill Stones which exist. Now for the most part these grant very specific bonuses like “Armor no longer slows you down” or “when you cast a magic spell you drain some magic from the target”. These can be very good depending on your build, but there are three very special stones which you want to find early on. And by early on, I mean right away.
On the road to Riverwood from the starting dungeon area there are three stones together which grant a 20% bonus to the speed you acquire magic skill, sneak skill and weapon skills respectively. This basically means a 20% bonus to levelling speed for almost every character. So yeah, pretty damn important.
2. Read All The Books!
In a game where your level is determined by how fast you acquire skills, reading books which have a 30% chance to instantly grant a skill point is a fast way to level alongside your normal strategies. Now these books might give you a skill point in something completely useless, and odds are they will, but the fact that you are levelling up faster means you have more points to spend on skills you actually use – which is always a good thing. So get to reading.
3. Skill Trainers
If you got right to your first town and started working towards buying a weapon, like I did, you are playing Skyrim WRONG! Your best bet, especially in the lower levels, is to save your money for those special individuals who will train you in the skill of your choice. Now you can only train 5 skill points per level, but those 5 are 5 you can attain instantly instead of grinding it up – which means once again you are levelling faster and smarter. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it does cost a pretty penny. It helps to remember that each dragon you kill pays off somewhere around $400-$600 a piece once you sell off the bones and scales. Money isn’t really a commodity you need to worry about.
4. Restrain Yourself
As much as I hate to say it, doing too much in Skyrim can become an issue. If you find yourself spending points in 8 different trees at once – odds are one of them isn’t being used in your usual combat situations. I’m not talking about powering up bows for sneaky takedowns and then melee weapons or spells for the rest, more like if you are a 2-hander who has points in 3 magic schools, 2 armor classes and a few professions – you are probably juggling too much. Remember if you aren’t actively using the skills you are powering up, you are just wasting points and levelling the skills you do need slower. So ask yourself what you are really interested in, for this character, and then put your points in that. Usually 1-4 trees for the early game is a good guide.
5. Be Very, Very Sneaky
Even if you aren’t a thief/rogue type character, the odd bit of sneaking never hurts. It’s a free skill point for basically walking in crouch towards your enemies, and for the other classes it can be used very effectively for positioning. For example if you are a melee heavy warrior type then you can sneak up and start beating on someone before they have a chance to feather you with arrows. If you are a spell-slinging mage type then you can sneak past them to find some high ground or to gain some distance, leaving them more time to close and you more time to cast.
6. Be Professional
While your amazingly heroic Dovahkiin might not seem like the kind of guy/girl to whittle away time crafting armor, mixing potions or enchanting items – every little bit helps. If you spend half your time off dungeoning and the other half back at town crafting some relevant items, not only will you end up better equipped/with more potions/with awesome enchantments – but you will level faster as well. It seems like common sense but really the more you do the better off you are in this game, so occasionally you might want to just hang out and make some copper daggers or something. It will help a lot in the long run, even if you choose not to invest any talent points in the skill. Enchanting especially can be almost mandatory late game.
7. Join the Club!
The main storyline for Skyrim can run about 12-15 hours if you skip all the additional quests. Which is not only stupid, it also makes the game quite difficult. Skyrim is a game of exploration and imagination, where the main questline serves as a grounding point more than anything else. If you are focusing solely on finishing that as quickly as possible, you might want to try branching out. By joining The Companions, The Thieves Guild, The Mages Guild, The Dark Brotherhood or any of the additional factions in Skyrim – not only will you level up faster and more evenly, the main quests will be easier to complete as well. Not to mention your game time will multiply several times over, meaning more fun for you.
8. Mage Tips
I’ve already talked about sneaking around, which obviously helps if you are thief/rogue type character. But what are some ways a mage can level effectively? Well there are a few simple ones. First off, by casting spells which hit multiple targets you are doubling the chance to increase your skill in the school you are casting – which means getting better at that particular type of magic as well as levelling faster.
Also, this is an obvious one, but buying the spells you are interested in from vendors – especially in the early game – can be crucial for any caster. Particularly since you start off with restoration and destruction spells, and maybe you want to go Conjuration or Illusion – picking up one of these spells early means you get a head start on skilling up that ability for yourself.
9. Warrior Tips
If you are the brawling type, there are a few things you might want to focus on while levelling up. Firstly, blacksmithing to increase your weapons efficiency is just common sense. If you have a weapon doing 35 damage per hit and it could be doing 38 – that is a good thing. Also timing your moves appropriately will result in faster skill ups, meaning that if you are button bashing your way to success you may be levelling slower than you could be. Block is there for a reason (unless you are dual-wielding) and using it appropriately could get you those skillpoints faster. If you ARE using dual-weapons, try hitting multiple targets with your swings – it works the same way magic does, doubling the chance you are going to skill up from your battles.
10. Rogue Tips
I’ve already mentioned it, but sneaking is one of the best ways to level as it’s an additional skill on top of your traditional combat abilities – meaning you could skill up before the fight, and then during the fight as well. And as most Oblivion players know, there is no weapon sneakier than the bow. A good rogue is 1 part stealth, 1 part melee and 1 part ranged – so you should probably have all of these factors working. Spells can be introduced alongside a dagger for increased efficiency, as long as you aren’t spreading yourself too thin when it comes to spending points. Alchemy can also be very effective, for poisons and other fun rogue-like implements. The main thing is to not get bogged down in the melee part, since you are probably wearing light armor which isn’t intended to take too many hits.
Anyway there you go, some obvious things and hopefully some things you might have missed – now get back to playing.
Also if you are looking to level specific skills fast, I found a pretty decent guide for a few of them over at Segment Next, check it out for more specific info.
Now for those of you who stuck with the whole article, here is a level of skill to aspire to.