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Top 9 Things I hate about TESV: Skyrim

Updated on November 17, 2013

I remember first playing Skyrim and not being given very good impressions, but throughout I couldn't deny how nice everything looked, how great the voices were and how well scripted the quests were. But one day I got burnt out and to say it was sudden was no exaggeration. It couldn't have hit me harder if burn out was an 18-wheeler Daedra Lord, and so my cynicism came to be. That is until most recently.

I've had a new craving for TESV: Skyrim and so far have thoroughly enjoyed it. Much like when I first played it I've been on it for three weeks doing my best to clear up the clutter that clogs up my quest logs and in the process I've had a good time. But the game is not flawless by any means whatsoever and in this article I'll be going through the Top 9 Things I hate about TESV: Skyrim, which include minor gripes and pet peeves. And I also encourage reader input in the comments below, because I love hearing what you guys think about this installment to the epic series!

Number 9: The Guilds

Let's start off with one of my greatest annoyances in this game, the guilds. Ever since I'd joined the Companions, the first guild I had joined during my first playthrough, I knew almost immediately that Skyrim was to be a game changer. Wave goodbye to memorable characters, the thrill of quests and appreciating the current situation as your hard work has paid off and you're invited to become one of the higher-ups (ala The Black Hand from TESIV: Oblivion). That's right, I hate the fact that there's no hard to impress characters like Modryn Oreyn or a sly assassin wrongly accused for the destruction of the Dark Brotherhood in Cyrodiil. Wave goodbye to the cleverness of the Gray Fox and his personal emotional rollercoaster because all you'll find here is your typical Pro-Americano butch marine everywhere as your guild leader.

It's a shame that the only examples of good guilds are the College of Winterhold and the Thieves' Guild because they feel somewhat real. As said some time ago, the College actually feels like a place of learning rather than just a hub to pick up contracts like the Companions and the Circle. You thought the lectures from the Arcane University were good? Play Skyrim and that is what the college is all about.

The Thieves Guild however has lots of twists and turns including one out of place story arc with Nocturnal that didn't need to exist. However it does have a lot of likeable characters, memorable quests and plenty of things to do even when you become the guild master. This isn't good enough though, because all guild quest chains should be remembered and valued. If I'm going there only for the achievements / trophies, Bethesda have made a critical mistake.

Number 8: Companions

Seeing as I have no real friends who are local, most of my time gaming goes by either talking to myself or exchanging dialogues between my in-game imaginary companions like I'm a reject for a Psycho sequel. The reason why I make pretend companions is because the ones in Skyrim are totally and utterly useless. Be they housecarls or mercenaries, every single one of your companions gets in your way and manages to die, and no matter what your combat specialty, you will always manage to kill them. It's not just possible to kill companions: it's easy. When a companion is wounded too greatly, they fall on one knee and stay like that until the end of the fight, but if you strike them just once they will keel over and leave this mortal realm. There goes your 500 gold and now you have to carry all the stuff you stored on them back to your house for storage or leave it.

For the love of Azura, why couldn't we just have the old system back where plot critical characters just fell down with a message saying "Martin Septim is unconscious", amongst other companions. At least the admiring fan when you became the Arena's grand champion held a torch and took aggro before sprinting away. But companions in this game have their uses, as they can sneak when you sneak, steal and trigger traps on your orders. They're not at all intelligent but give them orders through the command screen and they won't fail you.

A useless addition to a game where - even though melee combat is the game's priority - your companions can die due to silly mistakes and accidents which are too easily overlooked. It's a shame that the Armoured Trolls of the Dawnguard expansion are better than the most intelligent wizards or strongest armoured warrior companions.

Despite his wackiness, Cicero is one of the best thief/assassin companions in the game.
Despite his wackiness, Cicero is one of the best thief/assassin companions in the game.

Number 7: Magic

Magic in this game is next to useless unless you specialise in it, are willing to level it to much higher levels and tone down to the difficulty just to make use of it. The best way I levelled Destruction magic was to use the first Flames spell alongside a blade/axe/mace, because fire increased a target's damage taken, making it the ultimate combo for damage (though you had no defence besides back peddling). And it's ridiculous that there was no need to upgrade the spell or talent tree because so long as the target was still on fire, the increased damage didn't change. The reason why I'm talking about fire so much is because other schools of magic are so lacklustre there's no point in using them. While shock has its uses, magic-wielding enemies aren't nearly powerful enough to make use of its "Damage Magicka" effects, though frost is excellent for placing traps and slowing enemies down. If ever there were such thing as PvP in Skyrim, Frost would dominated because it not only slows melee users down, it obscures their vision, and believe me, thwacking blindly in front of you does not work.

Now to be fair the ward and healing spells see a lot more use than they did in previous titles, as here they're essential for the mage, warlock and conjurer archetypes. Thanks to being able to have a spell in each hand you can shoot ice shards at an enemy whilst being able to channel a barrier spell and so on. Upgrading such things makes you unstoppable, and you'll find that it's much more fun, strategic and helpful than dual-fire spells on higher difficulties.

Magic in this game also looks much better than older games, not just of the TES series but many more. The flames aren't much but the ice, shock and healing effects are beautiful and it makes me wonder why so many people hate magic. Surely if there was some sort of magic show like Bonfire Night, where spells light up the sky, the people might be more willing to study and accept it. So Magic has its ups and downs but be prepared for huge slopes of fun and difficulty when using the arcane.

'Sup, Dragonborn?
'Sup, Dragonborn?

Number 6: The Jarls

This one is off the top of my head but it's been nibbling away at the back of my mind like a guinea pig at a buffet. Every Jarl in this game looks like some kind of hippy, laid back in their throne holding an imaginary spliff which oddly enough reminds me of one of my old college teachers. It's not just this pose they pull off when they slide into their throne and have their heads halfway down that annoys me, but their attitudes. I would expect someone as laid back as to offer me a joint and talk about the dragons uniting the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloak Rebels, but no, they don't even do that. It's debatable who is the least useful in the game: its leaders or its companions.

What bothers me about the Jarls is their views on the war and are always programmed to prefer either the Legion or the Stormcloaks, so there's no randomness at all. That's fine, but when the Jarls do nothing but complain about the opposition without any admiration, fear or respect whatsoever, it makes them look so paper thin that if I'm supporting their enemies, I'd be so glad to run them through with my Orcish Sword of Flames. Jarl Balgruuf the Greater of Windhelm is the only leader of Skyrim who I can look to with a straight face, because the dialogues between him, his advisor and his personal bodyguard are fascinating and show the politics of Skyrim in great detail. He covers all the benefits and sacrifices that will be made present if he sides with either army, and failure to choose one will lead to his town's destruction. When asked what side he's on, he replies "I am on the side of Whiterun", and I wish I'd seen more honour like that in later dialogue exchanges with the Jarls.

Number 5: Vampire/Cultist Attacks

Note that this will only occur if you have the downloadable content "Dawnguard" and "Dragonborn", and the first one applies here more than the second. I absolutely hate when I'm travelling to a city only to find at night (and occasionally in day) vampires have sprung an attack on unsuspecting civilians who are outdoors. Even though the guards deal with them pretty quickly, as you level up these vampires will only get stronger meaning they do more damage and kill civilians all over the place. It's a shame because in Riften, the most common place for these attacks I've found, everything is close together so they can spring from one person to another with relative ease and kill off traders who have a lot of gold. This only makes trying to find an outdoor market with a lot of gold so I can sell off my jewellery and weapons even harder. You may be asking, "why not go indoors then? These dynamic events don't happen inside buildings", but the answer is a sad truth: the game freezes most of the time. I kid you not, this happens on a regular basis, but I need to move on here.

Cultist attacks rarely happen and in fact only once have I been attacked by them in Windhelm because they were looking for "the false Dragonborn". They managed to kill one man who dared to attack them, and I couldn't stop them in time. But the point is that they kill people who give me favours, and if they die, the favour gets stuck in my quest log and I can never turn it in.

Number 4: Daedric Prince Quests and their Rewards

Not entirely a hate but a disappointment, the Daedra Prince quests in this game are abominable to previous games' tasks which required thought than what we have in Skyrim. The Daedra have their reasons for summoning you and admittedly they're a lot more fierce-some than older games because of the voice work and how they manage to get you in their grasp. Somehow these Daedra Princes make me want to do their quests more because of the voice actors, and how they both entice and scare adventurers looking for a reward.... for a price.

But in Skyrim doing quests for the Princes is a boring and simple experience. The whole idea of these shrines giving you tasks was to give you something different from the usual, and the usual was not the same in a game like Oblivion. There's no raining dogs, no forcing a man to kill you, no mental tests, no puzzles to solve.... in fact the only Daedric quest that impressed me was Sheogorath's which made excellent use of the Wabbajack and gave more insight to the mad Emperor Pelagius III. Most of the quests are just clearing out a cave and retrieving something or following a trail of breadcrumbs, but it's nice to see that many of the shrines can be found through several people in the world. It's a much nicer change of pace than having to explore and be lucky, and asking random people in Cyrodiil to mark my map for these locations.

I also need to talk about the rewards which are as good as vendor trash. There's a few interesting weapons like a blade that does fire damage and more to undead; Wabbajack turns enemies into something else (be it a smaller or bigger foe, it's purely random) and the Sanguine Rose conjures a Dremora soldier to do your bidding for a short while, which is nice. But then there's other rewards which you'll just sell for 1000 or so gold such as the Mace of Molag Bal, the worst of them all. It's a steel mace that does stamina damage, so you know, pointless. More often than not you'll not find use for these items but they're good for sentimental purposes, so it's either in the chest with them or on a vendor's stall, never to be used or seen again.

Number 3: The Vampire Lord

Sorry for beating this to death (spoiler alert: there's more to come) but vampires in Skyrim do nothing but piss me off. One of the Dawnguard expansion's biggest bragging rights was offering players the opportunity to become a vampire lord, and I didn't entirely know why that was so different to the vampires of before which focussed more on deception, guile and dependency on shadow and moonlight. It actually felt like vampire roleplay, but it wasn't until last week did I realise how bad things actually were.

In my Dawnguard review (which is being heavily changed after being given more of a chance), I went with the vampire hunters instead because everyone had throw their allegiance with the undead, and weren't too appealed by the idea of a crossbow. Please note before we continue that I'm not just saying this for the sake of moaning, but the Vampire Lord is one of the worst ideas to ever grace an Elder Scrolls game. The lore is solid and the story of the Fortress' inhabitants and ties with Molag Bal are superb, but upon receiving the gift I was so glad I made an alternate save for the vampire hunters questline.

The first problem I had was aesthetics. Vampire Lords look quite good with their rubbery clay-toned skin and shining black eyes, but actually playing as one made me wonder what was so good about this expansion that one would normally pay £15 for. Vampire Lords have the ability to feed on victims to increase their resistance to sunlight, but this reduces the potency of their magical and physical powers (great logic there!) which aren't exactly appealing in the first place. They can leech and drain the health of enemies as well as summon their corpses to serve in combat for a while, but other than this the magical aspect of the vampire lord is limited. The physical side suffers the same problems as the werewolf and while your attacks are quite strong, they don't make you feel much more better off than in your human form.

I won't deny that they look cool and the Daedra Prince lore is stunning, but the vampires here aren't as scary as they were in Cyrodiil nor could you empathise with them. They're less of the Bram Stoker type where they were once mortal men and suffer day to day, and more of the Blade vampires that look great but are just plain villains. It's such a rough transition from the stealthy lords of the night of Oblivion to blatantly evil and irredeemable bloodthirsty, powerhungry mongrels.

Not only are vampire lords overrated; the crossbow is an underrated classic for the archer looking for some serious fire power.

Skyrim boasts some of the best looking vampire models next to Legacy of Kain and Castlevania.
Skyrim boasts some of the best looking vampire models next to Legacy of Kain and Castlevania.

Number 2: Too much emphasis on melee combat

I cannot stress enough how little focus has been put into ranged combat with this game. It's not that Archery and spells are broken, as the former is exceptionally fun and I've been using it for 50 levels in my most recent play through, but there's not enough opportunities for archery to be put to use. What I'm trying to say is that everything in this game encourages you to use melee combat in any fighting scenario. The first telltale sign is that there's not a single cave, house, ruin or mine that has a large enough area to justify swapping a sword for a bow, except for the occasional Dwemer Ruin. Even so, the Falmer can't see an arrow or warhammer about to make their twisted brains cover the dusty relic they inhabit because they're blind. The irony is astounding - the one time you can use a bow so you're not detected, is the one time a melee user can be in the enemy's face and dance around it.

Need another example of why there's too much discouragement from ranged combat? How about enemy rangers, who - unless they're standing still - are near impossible to hit. I'm aware an arrow won't travel as fast nor as far as a bullet, I'm not an idiot, but I do expect when I slow down time to have an advantage over a moving target to line up my shot. According to Bethesda, I don't. The best way to deal with a ranged attacker be they spell casters or archers is to use melee attacks because you can block them and you can get them at their weakest. You might argue that an archer has more time to move out of the way of arrows, but you can do that even as a melee attacker, and the AI is too sophisticated to let an arrow miss you, as they have a way of predicting where you'll go next (this is seen in lots of games though, especially in boss battles). What happens when a melee enemy gets in your face though? You do the same damage, but it beats the point of being a ranged class.

Even though Archery is aimed toward stealth users, it's as though Bethesda had forgotten completely to make it a viable means of combat in any situation. Only at levels 70-100 in Archery do you have some means of self defence where you have a chance of staggering a target and (at 100) paralysing the target for 3 seconds. I'm not saying that if Archery was to get a deadly melee attack, One-Handed users should be able to cast fireballs from their axes, I'm just asking for some serious consideration for marksmen and spell casters.

On very few occasions will you need a shield; you'll need a magic shield.
On very few occasions will you need a shield; you'll need a magic shield.

Number 1: Dragons

Next to being an Elder Scrolls game, dragons were the biggest selling point Skyrim offered in both riding them and slaying them. Often cited as the most epic experience in a TES game, battles with dragons are memorable and hefty, pushing players to do everything in their power not only to kill but to survive.

Too bad this doesn't apply when you've killed approximately five dragons.

Not only are dragon battles too frequent thus making them more of an interruption than anything else, there is no difference in what kind of dragon you face nor do they have any new strategies. Sure they have different breath abilities, but they can still be ran around easily, and you're free to slash at their wings, tail and feet, which do equal damage and therefore having no point in breath attacks. Even when they run out of magicka they can still smack you with their cheeks, doing equal damage to breath abilities. You may be thinking that dragons change at later levels, but I'm still waiting for that. Sure, Blood and Frost dragons have higher health pools but their strategies are still the same - stay in the air and occasionally blast bolts of magic down. Failing that fly away.

That's another thing that bothers me to no end: dragons spend most of the time airborne. This then means that because you can't get airborne, the fight has not ended - it's just paused and that's one thing I cannot stand in a video game. Don't get any smart ideas about taking Archery and slowing down time or zooming in, because that won't do anything either as dragons are too fast to hit. Combat is already too meleecentric, so why the one time archery should come into play doesn't is beyond me. Furthermore so long as the dragon has detected you but is roaming around half the Reach, you're still classed as In Combat. This means you cannot see how your sneaking is being affected in case you're trying to infiltrate a Forsworn camp undetected, for example.

But the worst thing of all when it comes to dragon encounters is the same problem I had with vampire attacks: they can kill quest critical characters, regardless if you've taken their quests or not, or if you've completed them. They can't kill characters like Ulfric Stormcloak or Mehrunes Dagon (I'd like to see them try however; save me a lot of time and crossbow bolts). I don't know if this was intended, and it's probably unlikely, but I'm playing this on the Game of the Year edition - these problems should have been fixed immediately. It's annoying to see that NPCs get slaughtered for no good reason and there's little you can do to stop it, especially as aggro rules in this game are insanely inconsistent.

While fun at first, dragon encounters only serve to slow you down and make you step off the track of your objectives. An epic waste of time if I ever saw one.


Despite all my complaints and the flak I've given it over the months, it's a fact that Skyrim is one of the most new user friendly RPGs to date and helps people ease into the franchise much better than a lot of series of this calibre. Boasting some of the finest stories I've ever experienced and the most in-depth politics I've seen in a video game, Bethesda have done wonders in expanding the Elder Scrolls universe than anyone ever could.

I shall be making more articles around the Elder Scrolls games, the next of which will be my Top 9 Favourite Things in TESV: Skyrim to balance my opinions on such an amazing saga. Before you go, feel free to leave your thoughts on the game and this Hub in the comments section below because I love seeing what my readers think! Until the next time thank you ever so much for reading and I wish you all a nice day!


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  • LudoLogic profile image

    LudoLogic 3 years ago

    Love the list John, Skyrim is one of those games I keep going back to only to find little things that wind me up about it. The guilds in particular I found to be really shallow, not nearly as memorable as those in Oblivion.

  • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

    John Roberts 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

    Thanks for the comment, LudoLogic, it's nice to see you here! I will admit it is riddled with minor irritations, especially to a fan of Oblivion since its release such as myself, but I have to say it's a good game for the most part. I'll be publishing a list of things I love about the game in a few days, give people time to read this one before it goes into the abyss of nothingness ^^

  • Inutero profile image

    Andrew Nuske 3 years ago from Ohio

    I agree with the shallowness of the Companion Guild. It felt bland, and as if I just got a contract, did it, turn it in, repeat.

    On the other hand, the thieves guild was pretty sweet.. different contracts and stuff. The College was a fun experience but felt like it went by quickly.

    And about magic: yes it's definitely more difficult to use, but provided me with a rather fun and more realistic playthrough. I actually enjoyed going near-death, because I feel that in reality I'd be pretty banged up from half the battles I encountered.

    Melee is definitely OP though. & Ranging was fun up to a point.

  • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

    John Roberts 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

    Some good points, but I shouldn't have to choose the magic skill to experience strategy or difficulty - I've never seen a game where gimping oneself is a good sign. But I do agree being near death adds so much more tension, something Skyrim lacked everywhere.

  • JG11Bravo profile image

    JG11Bravo 3 years ago

    I hate to admit it as a devoted Bethedsa-lover and TES nerd, but we seem to be on the same page to the letter with complaints about Skyrim.

    Don't take it the wrong way, I really enjoyed Skyrim all around, but Oblivion and Morrowind were, in my opinion, superior. The Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim, in particlar, sucked to me, but that's likely because I adored it in Oblivion so much.

  • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

    John Roberts 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

    Oblivion is my favourite hands down because not only did it introduce me to TES, it' also formally introduced me to RPGs in general. It taught me what a good RPG needs with dynamic and varied combat, useful NPCs (as well as non-plot critical ones), a fulfilling and rewarding main quest line, a series of engaging memorable side quests and a magnificent world to store it all in. Skyrim did this, but lacked so much of what previous ES games did and divided the resources poorly.

    Thanks for the comment JG11Bravo! ^^

  • ilikegames profile image

    Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

    I agree with every point you've listed here on Skyrim, another great gaming article. It didn't take away from the experience for me at all though.

    My biggest issue with the game was a limbo like feeling I got about 100hrs in, I didn't want to go on with the point I was in the main quest just yet but didn't want to aimlessly explore anymore. I had to step back for a week or two before being able to jump back in. Not sure if I'm alone on that one though.

  • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

    John Roberts 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

    You're not alone, I was the exact same way, ilikegames. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the three weeks straight of playing it, but there was a moment where I completely crashed and loathed my experience. It took me two months to recover from burnout before playing it again and loving it. It's a great game but there's so much content thrown at you it's hard to find where to go next, and when you find yourself scratching quests off your quest list for the sake of it, it gets real boring.

  • profile image

    forreal90 2 years ago

    You're right about the things you described. I agree. And also what I found is that almost every dungeon in the game is the same with just some minor changes. The game gets really repetitive after a while and boring.

  • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

    John Roberts 2 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

    Thanks very much for your comment forreal90, I'm glad you share my opinions! I'm with you on dungeons feeling quite similar, hence why I don't go through them as much as I would like to, especially when I'm a dungeon enthusiast in nearly all other RPGs! Hopefully in the next instalment of the series we'll see improvements to them ^^

  • profile image

    Nik 2 years ago

    Listen, I've rrad that list, and even though I see my self as a begginer that just scraped what the game has to offer, I found my self thinking more than once "god this guy have absolutely no idea what he's talking about."

    As starters, most of your issues can be solved with raising the difficulty or learning how to play. Dragons, even the regular ones can be a damn curse for you if you play it on expert, or even adept difficulty. They sap away your health, stamina and what not and forcing you to really use any trick out there to survive.

    Also ranged combat - my first playthrough was a stealth archer, and it felt too OP for me. Learn how to utilize the bow and you'll be soloing most of the time, knocking out falmers, bandits, dragons, and half the city guard alone. Also, it's fairly easy to dodge arrows if you just try.

    And I found it beautiful that dragons and vampires can kill npc's. I mean it's kinda logical that if a dragon decides to go rampage at a city he'll kill a few people.

    Plus many characters are marked as essential until you finish the related quest.

    Seriously, this is one of the best games ever created and you should respect it. Feeling a bit to easy to kill a dragon? Raise the difficulty. Feeling that one school of magic is useless? Try train that school of magic and learn to use it properly.

    You think something's useless, try using it in different situation. Molag Bal's mace is one of my favourite maces in the game, and it's attack becomes stronger ddpends on the level you take the quest, most of the special weapons are like that.

    Try different combination while you fight, I assure you that every skill, given the chance to ubderstand it is great. You should expect to be a master of illusion by just casting a low leveled fear on a high leveled troll.

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