Having been released back in 2011, Skyrim boasted over 300 hours of gameplay upon release. By now, most of us have completed a substantial amount of this content, but there’s always more to explore in the Tamriel’s most northern country. Two years on from the Legendary Edition, which comprised all of the game’s additional add ons, there’s a point where you run out of places to explore and quests to complete, and your ideas for new characters to play as run thin. However, there is always stuff to do if you look in the right places. Here are some of the best post-post-game activities.
This may seem simple and a bit obvious, you may be saying “I’ve already discovered it all”, but you never know! Look for a blank space on the map and have a wander around. There’s a lot more to the Dragonborn DLC’s Solstheim than you think, and the Dawnguard DLC area the Forgotten Vale has a few cool areas too. There’s also tons of cool places that are a bit unique, like the dragon shout-hosting Bard’s Leap Summit or Frostflow Lighthouse. These are just a couple of examples of places with an interesting back-story but no quest, meaning they might not have been found by everyone.
Bugs in a Jar
Found throughout Skyrim’s map are five unique items that can only be found in one place each – five different bugs captured alive in jars. There’s no quest or achievement tied to them, but finding them all is another challenge and they look pretty cool sat on your fireplace in a line. Each one has a rune carved into the lid as well, and there are conspiracies and the like all over Skyrim forums about the meaning of them. Find them all and you can have a look for yourself.
Nowadays, not many people bother with acquiring trophies and achievements. At most, there’ll be a little “oh cool” when you accidently earn one, before you forget it happened and return to what you were doing in-game. Because of this, not many people bothered to get all the Skyrim trophies, because no one really cared. Think of it like this, though, it’s another target to set yourself – something to do instead of wandering the streets of Solitude contemplating attacking a guard just for someone to fight. Why not finally acquire 15 Daedric artifacts? Or make sure you’ve completed all the guild quest lines?
The Stones of Barenziah
They’re one of the most well-known Skyrim ‘secrets’, and yet barely anyone could be asked to put the effort into finding them all. While most of us picked up several throughout our playthroughs in places like Jorrvaskr and Dragonsreach, how hard would it be searching the entire map for them all? It’d certainly give you an excuse to go through some of the old dungeons and caves again. Or you could look up their locations online. Either way, it’s another reason to waste more hours on one of the best RPGs ever made. It’s also another trophy/achievement, if you wanted to earn more.
By this point you’ve probably got all the shouts you’re interested in utilising. However, a look through your shouts may show you that some of the lesser used ones haven’t even been fully discovered. Going after the final one or two words of the shout can be a good excuse to strengthen your protagonist even more, and possibly fight some dragons or other powerful enemies along the way.
New Character – Low Fame
One of Skyrim’s greatest aspects is its ability to let you choose who you play as. Not only appearance, but also personality and fighting tactics. By this point it may seem like you’ve tried all the possibilities, but how about this one? Create a new character – it works well with a simple sword and shield warrior or a ranger style character, but a mage would be fine too. From there, complete the prologue and escape Helgen. Once you’ve exited the cave and Alduin has flown past, head out randomly -don’t visit Riverwood straight away, and don’t visit the Jarl of Whiterun. This will mean you’ll have to be arrested and taken to Dragonsreach to unlock the Whiterun gate, but it will also means your fame is lower than ever. From here, you can join a guild and complete only endless radiant quests to raise a small amount of money and slowly strengthen your character. This gives an authentic ranger vibe, almost like Aragorn when he was just Strider. Furthermore, not speaking to the Jarl will never trigger the arrival of the dragons, meaning that there will be no random dragon encounters, and the shouts will be guarded by other powerful enemies. You won’t be the dragonborn, you won’t have everyone speaking to you about your achievements, but it really makes you feel like you’re just another lonely traveller making ends meet in the vast world of Skyrim.
Find all the Easter Eggs
Bethesda have always liked to include small hints at other franchises, past games and more hidden secrets. Skyrim is no different, with easter eggs ranging from mammoths frozen in ice, a sword obtained from a skeleton hand in the middle of a small pond and the unique notched pickaxe – a completely normal pickaxe with a name referencing the creator of Minecraft. One of my personal favourites is the Billy Goat’s Gruff reference, in which three goats run over a bridge – under which a troll can be found. Why not find and have a little look at them all? It’s always interesting to find more of Skyrim’s secrets. Interestingly, it took me 250 hours gameplay until I saw the famous Headless Horsemen eater egg, so that’s another one to look out for if you haven’t come across it.
Spider Imbuing Chamber
On the island of Solstheim, a crafting area named the Spider Imbuing Chamber can be found after clearing White Ridge Barrow. Here, you’ll find a large crafting device into which you can put gems and albino spider pods, which will give you throwable spiders that will explode next to enemies when used. Each spiders effect can be customised using different kinds of gem to mix it up a bit. It’s a weirdly unique element to the game, and it makes for a new fighting tactic.
If you’ve ever been arrested in Winterhold, you will know about The Chill, it’s jail. However, few bother breaking the law in Winterhold as aside from the college there isn’t much there, but ending up in The Chill can be an interesting experience. Working very differently from Skyrim’s other man-guarded cells, The Chill places you inside a cave in a little cage guarded by Frost Atronachs. Having been allowed to keep all your gear, it’s quite easy to pick the lock and take on the Atronachs. Feeling like Andy Dufresne has never been this fun.
Redefine Your Character
Say you’re a mage with a spell in each hand and mage robes adorning your player. Your destruction, restoration and the like are all in the high numbers and you’re a little bored of the slow levelling up (or in fact the complete lack of levelling up). Instead of creating someone new from scratch, you could always return to the standing stones, pick another class and reequip your character. You can even store all your items to free up your inventory and start taking on less powerful enemies, making your protagonist a more rounded character.
I think most can agree that the ability to ride dragons that came along with the Dragonborn DLC was more than disappointing. In fact, it’s very rarely used. One way to improve the experience a little is to travel to the Throat of the World and use the shout on Odahviing, who flies around the peak. Assuming you’ve completed the main quest, Odahviing can be summoned to use in battle, and he therefore does not need to be tamed like other dragons. This means you can ride him around without him turning on you, and as an important NPC he cannot be killed, making him a literally invincible dragon you can use to wreak havoc on anyone.
The Ebony Knight
Surprisingly, this is one secret that even dedicated Skyrim fans are not all aware of. This is solely because it takes getting to level 80 for him to appear. The warrior will appear and request a duel clad in full enchanted Ebony armour. During the fight, he will use a large array of powerful weapons and even dragon shouts. As one of the games most powerful enemies, fighting him is a challenge even at level 80. So, plan your tactics and take him on. This can be a fun thing to do after using the previous things to do above as an excuse to get more game-time in, which will get your level up. Whether you want to take him on face to face, fire at him from a distance or even charge in on a dragon, it may be your last truly challenging Skyrim battle – savour it.