Jamie is a nerd who loves to help others learn the ropes of video games.
Building a character in Skyrim is a detailed process, and starts with choosing a race. Some people look at physical appearance, initial skill bonuses, or powers and abilities when choosing the best race.
I personally choose to build my Skyrim character emphasizing powers and abilities, not because the other things don't matter, but because I aim to make my character practical in the long run. Initial skills do not have any drastic long-term effects on the game.
Here, I list my reasons for thinking the Breton is the best race for most player types (assassin, battle mage, warrior, thief) by comparing it to the other races. If you take my advice for the race at face value, please consider following on to my general advice page. Now is the perfect time to think everything through.
Race: Altmer (High Elves)
With a 50+ magic bonus, the Altmer is one of the superior races for Skyrim. This attribute is important because it is a constant effect. The Altmer also has the Highborn power, which allows it to regain magic more quickly than other Skyrim characters. This is a useful attribute, in the beginning especially, and while training a spell.
Furthermore, the Altmer has more height and can therefore run faster (as I heard from the Skyrim designers.) This makes it almost as good as the Breton, if not as good. If you plan to become a mage, consider this race over the Breton.
Argonians' 50 percent resistance to disease is nice, but if other players want to be werewolves or vampires, it becomes rather pointless. Werewolves are 100 percent resistant, as are vampires. The Histskin power allows an Argonian to recover health very quickly. This is nice in a tight spot, but can only be used once per day.
Finally, the water breathing ability is nice but I personally never had a problem with water. Any time you need to go underwater for a while, there are potions around to help you out. Plus, there’s a spell for it. Being an Argonian might be convenient at first, but doesn't give you any long-term advantages.
Race: Bosmer (Wood Elves)
Bosmer has a 50 percent resistance to both poison and disease. As listed above for the Argonians, the disease resistance isn’t totally necessary. Poison, however, is a different story. This can be very useful when facing certain enemies, especially at higher levels when your armor will give you better defense against physical attacks.
Command Animal lets you command an animal for a short period, but there are never animals around when you need them. The Bosmer makes for an okay race in Skyrim because of its poison resistance.
Race: Dunmer (Dark Elves)
A 50 percent resistance to fire is extremely helpful, considering how much damage magic attacks do to your health. This makes the Dunmer one of the better races. The power Ancestor’s Wrath, which does fire damage to nearby enemies, is useful for taking out stronger enemies or packs at low levels, but gradually becomes less useful as the game progresses, eventually becoming useless.
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In my opinion, the Altmer is a superior race to the Dunmer for a mage, simply because the Altmer is designed for all areas of magic and not just destruction.
The 50 percent resistance to frost is a lifesaver when facing mages. Like I said above, magic kills you…quickly. Battle Cry is also useful when something is gunning you down and about to kill you because it makes your enemies flee.
The Nord makes a relatively decent choice for a character build in Skyrim. It's probably not the best, however, because Battle Cry can only be used once per day, and other races have better magic resistance.
The Imperial luck allows for more gold to be found. This is kind of cool and there are no other effects in Skyrim like this one, making it unique and almost worth it. The Voice of the Emperor power is also somewhat useful when you accidentally piss off a town and need to run away because it calms people for 60 seconds.
The Imperial is lacking, however, in anything useful for active combat. Combat in Skyrim is typically the drive of the game and the main challenge. For this reason, I don't consider the Imperial a significant race. I consider it the oddball race because of its unusual perks.
In Oblivion, I consider the Khajit the best race. In Skyrim, however, it is the worst race. It is stronger in melee attacks, but weapons will always be a better option anyway, making this perk useless except in a fistfight.
As far as Night Eye is concerned, if you’re having trouble seeing, turn up the lighting in the Settings menu. It is easier to do that than to scroll in search of a spell or power you need. In other words, the Khajit doesn't really come with anything useful in Skyrim besides its looks. No offense to this race, but in Skyrim, it is pretty much useless.
Beserker Rage allows an Orc player to take half and inflict double damage for 60 seconds, once per day. This is definitely useful for upper-level enemies, especially bosses. On the other hand, a race whose qualities remain constant is probably better, considering preparation time is not always available in the Skyrim wilderness.
Although Beserker Rage and other greater powers are awesome, the once-a-day use always seems to spoil them for me. They won't help you in a dungeon full of tight spots. You probably won't even remember to use Beserker Rage when you need it.
Redguards are another race in Skyrim with a 50 percent resistance to poison. Adrenaline Rush makes stamina regenerate ten times faster for 60 seconds. I personally never bother upping stamina regeneration, because Become Ethereal, a shout, allows sprinting without stamina for a short time.
Still, the poison resistance makes the Redguard a race worth considering. The only reason I wouldn't choose it is because magic is far worse to deal with than poison and far more common.
This is it, the cream of the crop. The Breton is the best race in Skyrim for one reason, and one reason only: a 25 percent resistance to magic. This is so much more important than many players realize, especially when choosing a character for the first time. It is a pain to augment Resist Magic, and even at upper levels, magic attacks will drop a player almost instantly. There are ward spells, but they take time and hinder fighting back.
The Breton's greater power, Dragon Skin, allows a player to absorb 50 percent of magic attacks for 60 seconds. This is just a nice little perk for the Breton. Consider this: regardless of which player's style you choose, be it assassin or thief, you will always have to worry about being hit with an electricity spell.
I hope you enjoyed this little article of mine. Please, vote on which race you think is best. If you take anything away from this, let it be that the Breton and Altmer are your best choices in Skyrim, and that the Khajit is the worst. Check out the comments below. You'll get some insight from other players concerning race in Skyrim. Also, please check out my general advice article for the game. You may learn some invaluable information!
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lizard on August 12, 2020:
argonian are cool because you can resist deases
Nassau on June 21, 2020:
You completely left out the khajit's sneak bonus which arguably makes it better than the breton as a theif or even archer.
KHAJIITS FOREVER!!! on April 27, 2020:
KHAJIITS FOREVER!!! Might be biased since my fir ever play through was as a Khajiit but still.
Translucent water pistol on April 14, 2020:
In oblivion I always played as a High Elf (Altmer) but they aren’t for Skyrim. You spend a lot of time saying magic does a lot of damage in Skyrim and you should do everything you can to avoid it... Altmer have a weekness to magic so please explain why they are “second best” because it doesn’t seem to make sense. To me archery seems to be the most powerful combat skill in Skyrim and coupled with sneak makes it one or two shot kills consistently even at higher levels. Although I never play as a Khajit you could argue this makes them better. I’m currently playing as a Nord they are typically a well rounded character in Skyrim.
Catman never dies on March 16, 2020:
I chose Khajit simply because they're cool, but it has become cooler as I realised they are the most marginalised race in Skyrim and I've turned one of them into the freaking Dragonborn!!!!!
I am Not your test-kitty...I AM your test-kitty! on January 02, 2020:
When setup properly, (ie: heavy armor with fists of steel perk, the gloves of the pugilist) the Kajiit claw attack is more powerful and faster then any weapon I've come across so far. And with the right heavy armor perks your armor weighs nothing and doesn't slow you down while giving you the best defense in the game
Ukilledmeugay on November 07, 2019:
Wtf? Orcs are the best.
You never should have come here on September 22, 2019:
jonah on September 16, 2019:
I started play skyrim when it first came out back in 2011 its 2019 now and I still have my first account . I played as a imperial.. I only picked it because I liked their look and skin done ( dark but not black and not to pale and not to red) .I didn't care about what perks each race has.. my imperial character is now lvl 87 and is unstoppable I now have all the house in skyrim(even the 3 you can build) and the house in raven rock. im the leader of the thieves guild, harbinger of the companions , archmagi of the collage , the listener of the dark brother hood and the only dragon born( I killed the other). I have a few thousand gold and my heavy armor, blacksmithing ,one handed and archery are all lvl 100 ( only my 1 handed is legendary because I didn't want to start over on the others) I am a werewolf also I have mastered that. and also for those who play on xbox 360 you get achivments for some things well skyrim has 75 for xbox and I have those 75.. I did the main quest, all the daedric artifacts. I been to (MOST LOCATIONS) .. I collected all the stones of barenziah. I became a thane in every hold. I have been to (MOST LOCATIONS ON SOLSTHEIM)
I have defeated karstag. I found all the black books, I completed the quest lost to to the ages , I joined the stormcloaks and defeated the empire in skyrim. and much more I cant think of at the moment. oh and I massacred the town of river wood as a werewolf to kill lucan cuz he broke into my house ( might have been a glitch) but he was in the house alone with alea (my wife) who knows what they did
also my characters name is Daneil
Ascel on August 21, 2019:
First race I played was the orc, as a warrior. It was very useful and fun.
Whenever I found myself in a fight I cannot handle, I popped berserkers rage. Being able to do twice as much as well as take twice as less damage is amazing. Plus you can just wait the timer off if you think you'd need it again tbh.
Breton was a much later race I tried and I have to agree on it being the best as it really eliminates magic threat more than any other race.
But alchemy and enchanting can easily help with magic resistance anyway, and I'm not considering the alchemy glitch.
Khajitt is truly useless, early on it's good for sneaking but after a while any race can become competent at stealth to the point where you can walk in someones face without being noticed anyway.
Breno Hildebrando on August 09, 2019:
Breton Vampire with restoration necro mage perk, The alteration perk atronach and the perk 3x magic resistance . using a set with 2 Fire encantment, 2 Shock enchantment and 1 enchantment of frost, full sneak 100 illusion with daggers to drain stamina and health and other to drain stamina and fill gems and full marksman too.
Boopthesnoot on March 20, 2019:
The elder scrolls 3 followind?
You’ll make a fine rug,cat! on February 21, 2019:
Mages are all cowardly wimps. Kajiit are by far superior.
Katt on November 27, 2018:
I think you're forgetting the other extremely helpful qualities of the khajiit that arent obvious. They are EXTREMELY good theives. They have a really high natural sneak and speechcraft. Stealing goods and being able to quickly level up speechcraft to sell them? Sign me up.
Nat Zen on November 17, 2018:
This was an awesome article, thank you! Love the screenshots. I usually play as a Khajit because, well, I just like looking like a cat/beast person. But, I like how you have outlined the considerations for other races as well when I go sans cat :)
Vispa on October 25, 2018:
Here is my favorite play through to date.
Dunmer vampire lord with nightingale armor. Your vampire weakness to fire is canceled out while blood starved, or you can feed and maintain your natural dunmer resistance with a small bit taken out. The nightingale armor adds frost resistance on top of your vampire frost resistance, making it useless against you. Ideally, you would also use illusion magic and one handed weapons to make the most of the armor. For aesthetic reasons, I also chose to use bound weapons, though it helps to have a non-magic side arm.
Timothy G. on October 20, 2018:
I really like this article, it helped me a lot, and i know what really is the best skin of the character. The breton is the very best skin in my opinion.
Joe on July 26, 2018:
Highly disagree. Here's my top 3.
tot on June 25, 2018:
this game is so easy going that i use a Khajiit as a two-handed swordsman, transformed into a vampire. He is a master smith and that is all about him. Is the only way to make this game entertaining.
A depressed Nerd on June 07, 2018:
High Elves are my personal favorite because the are bor mages and unlike bretons they have a +5 in destruction magick. Anothere one of my faves is the argonien. In ranger mode.
Best over all:
I love argonien because you could be sneaking around a villege assasinating people, robing chests and stuff. Then a bunch of hold IDKs are trying to kill you. All you need to do is activate hitskin and Bam! Thief to tank.
High elves are the second best because as siad above they are a naturaly magickal race and the are better at destruction magick.
The Argonians look sooooooo kool as vampires but the dark elves are better statisticly. Imunity to fire cancleing out the weekness to fire.