Skyrim is, in case you weren’t aware, enormous. One of the biggest games ever made, it’s not difficult to sink 100 hours into enjoying what it has to offer around the huge open lands, and then you can probably make a start on the main storyline. Not only that, the skills trees on offer mean there are a fair few ways to play, so after 100 hours of being a bad-ass axe-swinger you might decide to start as a stealthy archer, or an electricity-flinging magic dude. With so many quests to play through, so many dungeons and towns to explore, so many different ways to play you’d have thought that creating a strategy guide that covers all the bases would be a near impossible mission.
Well, whether you want to perfect your potions or just work out how to complete a few missions, Prima have done what they do best and come up with something not far from a work of art. A comprehensive, expertly written guide that will give you as much or as little help as you want while you run away from dragons and try to find that mysterious bit of treasure. Coming in two flavours – a “real” guide and an online eGuide – there’s plenty of ways to get hold of the guide too.
The beauty of Prima guides in the past has been the ease at which you get engrossed in reading far more than you need to, and the Skyrim guide does exactly that. While reading about a specific quest it’s easy to get sidetracked and end up reading about some fancy weapons, or other side quests that relate to the mission you’re on. This is, understandably, far more likely to happen if you’re reading the paper-based version of the guide, but the easy links that exist in the eGuide will also frequently lead you half way round Skyrim’s offerings before you realise it’s half an hour later and you can’t remember what you meant to look up in the first place.
But what can you actually expect? Well, a lot. That shouldn’t come as a big shock when you know how big the game is, but it’s still an eye opener to see just how complete the guide is. You’ll find sections covering the basics; setting up your character, spending skill points, crafting, all that essential stuff – this is the perfect place to start before you get too far into the game, and could save you hours of wasted time and pointless headscratching. Beyond that is the walkthrough, which isn’t a walkthrough in the regular sense of the word, but instead breaks down every quest or task into smaller chunks that talk you through them one by one. Where quests are split into several parts the guide makes this obvious, showing you various outcomes, different ways of going about them and how it could affect you in the long run. It’s brilliant, and utterly invaluable when you’re about to go hunting round a dungeon which contains far too many bad guys for you to cope with at your current level.
Plump for the eGuide (which is the version reviewed) and you’ll get a fast search function (the book version gets a similar feature – the index) as well as some fantastic maps of the nine main holds and a few other areas, and some quite brilliant interactive maps allowing you to choose just what you want to see out of main locations, books, shrines, marriage options, pretty much anything you’d want. Now while I’m all for exploring and finding your own way round, it’s sometimes nice to be able to quickly find a certain trader or unique weapon without hunting round for 5 hours fruitlessly. Some might suggest it’s cheating, others would look at it as being resourceful.
And that pretty much sums up the genius behind Prima’s Skyrim strategy guide. If you want to use it to warn yourself about all of the nasty stuff that’s coming up, instantly track down a certain location or give your exploring a more measured, definite approach then you can. On the other hand, if you want something to sit near you for when the going gets tough, or when you’ve spent hours unsuccessfully trying to beat a certain quest and are 8 seconds away from catapulting your controller through the lounge window, then this guide will be there waiting for you when the moment comes. Yes, there are spoilers obviously, but they’re clearly marked and easily avoided if you want to save all of your surprises until the moment Bethesda intended.
Don’t think that a strategy guide like this is only for those who are a bit rubbish or don’t know what they’re doing. Even the most hardened Elder Scrolls fan will find something useful in here, whether it’s the comprehensive potion recipes or the bewildering number of quest walkthroughs. With Prima having set themselves a very high standard with their guides in previous years, they’ve delivered another great strategy guide which pretty much every Skyrim fan should lay their hands on.
The Prima Skyrim Strategy Guide is available where all games are sold. Visit www.primagames.com for more information