The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is not a bad game. Bethesda Game Studios created a wonderful open-world game focused on exploration and imagination. Skyrim embodies some of the greatest qualities of video games: without cutscenes and initial boundaries, Skyrim is one of the most interactive games in the world.
Four years after Skyrim’s release, CD Projekt released their third Witcher game. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is great in so many ways —both small and big— that it’s a better overall game than Skyrim. This, of course, doesn’t apply to all gamers. Though similar, Skyrim and Witcher 3 are very different experiences, and players will feel differently about the games depending on their preferences and playstyles. However, Witcher 3 has enough superior mechanics that the game is a smoother and more rewarding experience for most players.
Both games are amazing, but Witcher 3 gives us more relatable characters, more entertaining combat, and a world that immerses players through beautiful settings and fluid mechanics. You’ll find yourself disappearing into Witcher 3, with thrilling combat and haunting monsters keeping you engaged for a long time. Some players spend hundreds of hours in Witcher 3 without any desire to stop.
If you’re a fan of open-world games, you’ll likely enjoy both Witcher 3 and Skyrim. Nonetheless, you’re more likely to enjoy Witcher 3—here are 15 reasons why.
15 You Only See One Side Of The Conversation
Skyrim is well-known as one of the most open-ended games in the world, but Witcher 3 actually offers a similar number of choices. Players can choose to be good, evil, or anywhere in between in both games. Every conversation includes multiple dialogue branches, allowing you to shape your character’s personality through words and actions.
The big difference between Skyrim and Witcher 3 is that you see your character’s reactions in Witcher 3. This produces much more dynamic, authentic interactions in which two characters react to each other. Your character never moves in Skyrim, and NPCs act like they’re talking to a wall that expresses itself through emojis. In Witcher 3, characters build conversations together, creating realistic scenarios and powerful relationships.
14 Never Actually Dark
Companions often use torches in Skyrim, but there’s no reason for players to use any sort of light. Even on cloud-covered nights and in dark dungeons, Skyrim is always bright enough for players to see where they’re going.
Witcher 3, on the other hand, fully incorporates darkness. You can’t see far in dark landscapes, and you can’t see anything in unlit buildings. The lighting is not only realistic but immersive, making creepy places like haunted houses and deep caves even creepier.
Since Skyrim has torches and bright spells, Bethesda should have included areas of complete darkness. Beautiful areas would have been harder to see, but darkness would have made exploration and combat much more exciting. Plus, torches wouldn’t look as ridiculous and useless as they currently do.
13 Health Always Regenerates
While health always regenerates in Skyrim, players have options in Witcher 3. If you play the game on Easy or Normal mode, your health regenerates over time; if you play on Hard or Very Hard, you can only regain health through food and potions. This is a great challenge for players who want it. It’s also nicely realistic: after all, you wouldn’t expect someone to regenerate health after taking a sword to the face (although you wouldn’t expect someone to survive that, either).
Regenerative health is great for many players, but other players prefer Witcher 3’s more challenging health system. Witcher 3 gives players options, allowing you to choose how you want to play the game — whereas Skyrim forces a single health system on all players.
12 Impersonal Ending
Skyrim’s ending works, but the endings in Witcher 3 are so much better. Your actions throughout Witcher 3 affect the game’s conclusion. Three major endings determine what happens to Geralt and Ciri, while multiple epilogues are available that reveal the fate of characters and nations.
You can affect characters and nations in Skyrim too, but few of these relationships reach true conclusions, and none are present in the game’s ending. You save the world from Alduin — that’s it. None of your friends are present at the game’s end, and almost nobody recognizes your heroic deeds.
Witcher 3 concludes your personal story in a battle to protect the people you love. Skyrim ends with an impersonal battle that feels like a chore.
11 Illogical Ending
Skyrim tries to justify its impersonal ending by separating the main questline from the rest of the game. After defeating Alduin, you return to Skyrim and continue adventuring. Your story and relationships end when you say they do. Bethesda tried to create an interactive ending where the battle against Alduin is a small part of a larger world. Unfortunately, this open-ended conclusion makes no sense. Alduin was responsible for reviving the dragons, so dragons should slowly disappear from the world. Instead, dragons continue to appear throughout the game.
An interactive ending could have been brilliant, but the main questline gets in the way. Since Skyrim could only logically end with Alduin’s defeat, Bethesda should have ended the game there and made a cinematic ending like Witcher 3.
10 Unclear Enemy System
Enemies and friendly NPCs are clearly distinct in Witcher 3. Red dots on your mini-map show you exactly where hostile monsters and characters are located. Enemies’ names and health bars —both of which are red— hover above NPCs, allowing you to instantly identify enemies.
Skyrim’s enemy system is much more confusing. The game only labels NPCs as enemies when they target you. Red dots appear on the compass but only show the general direction of your foes. Since the red dots don’t hover over specific NPCs, you can easily mistake an ally for an enemy. If you accidentally strike a non-hostile NPC, the NPC will turn into your enemy.
Skyrim’s enemy system may be more realistic, but it’s infuriating when you accidentally lose quests because you mistook a friendly NPC for an enemy. Since Skyrim already includes red dots on the compass, Bethesda should have expanded their enemy system and made enemies instantly recognizable.
9 You Can Hurt Invincible Characters
An unclear enemy system supports Skyrim’s realism, for you can’t distinguish enemies and allies based on appearances. If you accidentally attack a friendly NPC, you must battle that NPC. This would be a great mechanic if there weren’t invincible NPCs. Most NPCs can be killed, but a large number of characters are invincible because they are central to quests. If you battle that NPC, you’ll only find out they’re invincible right before they would normally die. The only way to “win” such a battle is by running away; if you stay near the NPC, they will continuously attack you. Multiple hours can be wasted trying to fight characters who players don’t realize are invincible.
Witcher 3 lacks this problem because you can’t harm invincible characters. If you do hit an invincible NPC, they, fortunately, won’t fight back.
8 Undeveloped Romances
Any successful, mutual romance feels rewarding, but affection in Skyrim is an uncomfortable reward. In order to marry certain NPCs, you have to complete quests connected to those NPCs. After a single quest, you are rewarded with an NPC’s love — but only if you have an amulet equipped that shows you’re looking for love. The system feels clunky and objectifying: characters marry because of mechanical requirements instead of chemistry and genuine romance. Players can imagine romantic relationships, but it’s hard to imagine romance when NPCs can only say a few lines.
Witcher 3 uses cutscenes and dialogue trees to develop more authentic romances. If you want to live happily with an NPC, you have to act faithfully (for the major characters, at least) and say the right things — just like relationships in real life. Although romance is more difficult to obtain in Witcher 3, the resulting relationships are much more rewarding and believable.
7 Long-Lasting Projectiles
Archery is thrilling in Skyrim until you’re close enough to see the results. Arrows stick in characters for quite a while, which would be perfectly realistic if Skyrim’s combat wasn’t so clunky and unrealistic. Arrow-filled corpses look fine, but a living NPC with three arrows in their head is ridiculous and somewhat terrifying. The same thing happens with magical projectiles like ice shards.
Witcher 3, on the other hand, rarely keeps arrows in sight. When arrows do stick in NPCs, they almost immediately disappear. Geralt walks away from fights without arrows dotting his body, which is much more immersive than the long-lasting projectiles in Skyrim.
The arrows in Skyrim are already extremely strange, but they’re especially curious when you combine arrows with the game’s overpowered stealth mechanics.
6 Overpowered Stealth
While stealth is realistic and tense when you start Skyrim, players with a high Sneak level are unrealistically overpowered. Enemies walk into you without seeing you, and you can “disappear” by crouching in front of enemies — even if they’re staring right at you.
One ridiculous aspect of stealth is how it interrupts battles. When you attack an NPC, they initially search for their attacker. If you wait long enough while sneaking, your enemy will forget you ever existed. You’ll cringe as NPCs walk away with arrows in their head saying “I must have just been hearing things” or “Is someone there?”
Witcher 3 has no sneaking mechanic. Sneaking could have been fun, but we’re grateful CD Projekt avoided the overpowered stealth found in Skyrim.
5 “Realistic” Graphics
Skyrim’s graphics look great in many ways, but they are quickly becoming outdated. The game tries to look realistic, particularly with the playable races. The humanoid characters looked spectacular when the game first came out in 2011; since then, the characters have looked less and less realistic. While the fantastical monsters and settings still look amazing, the more realistic aspects of the game suffer from outdated character models.
Witcher 3 looks amazing and has high requirements because of it (the game is still unplayable for many computer players), but it, fortunately, avoids absolute realism. Landscapes look fairly realistic but not entirely, using oversaturated colors to create an artistic aesthetic. Characters share these colors and possess a few other unrealistic qualities, such as perfectly smooth skin. While Skyrim’s visuals are declining, Witcher 3’s graphics won’t become outdated anytime soon.
4 Less Color
Witcher 3’s colors prevent the game from looking too realistic, but they also create one of the most beautiful worlds in gaming history. Thanks to its heavily saturated color palette, Witcher 3’s world feels vibrant and alive. Characters are far more interesting to look at than the playable races of Skyrim; Geralt’s and Ciri’s scars burn across their faces, and Triss’s red hair lights up the screen.
Skyrim’s world is beautiful, but its settings and colors are so monotonous that it’s easy to get bored. The creatures and plants blend into their surroundings; even the flowers are almost as colorless as the gray and brown landscapes around them. Witcher 3’s colors may not be particularly realistic, but even the real world has more color than Skyrim.
3 Uniform Environment
Skyrim’s visuals are less interesting than Witcher 3’s not only because of a lack of color but also because of an unchanging environment. It isn’t bad that Skyrim commits to a single environmental theme; Witcher 3 simply offers more variety and thus is more likely to please players. Whether you prefer the luscious vineyards of Toussaint, the icy North, or the mountainous Skellige islands, Witcher 3 gives you several environments so you can pick and choose which settings to explore.
Fortunately, Witcher 3 doesn’t sacrifice realism through multiple settings. Thanks to its massive map, the game can realistically present a variety of environments. The game’s placement further justifies the environment: you can explore islands, the coast, or the mainland, all with their own environmental themes.
2 Protagonist Without A Backstory
The Elder Scrolls franchise generally excludes backstory so players may imagine their own backstories. However, the games force you into storylines and scenarios that might defy your imagination, requiring players to rethink their characters consistently. Witcher 3 allows players the same amount of freedom without pretending it offers unlimited freedom. Players choose how Geralt reacts in certain scenarios, but they can’t change Geralt’s backstory or his central motivations. By creating a character with clear, unchanging motives, Witcher 3 justifies its storyline. Skyrim, on the other hand, uses a storyline that can easily contradict players’ roleplaying.
Geralt’s backstory also connects players to his world and the characters he knows, which is much more interesting and logical than Skyrim. Skyrim pretends its protagonist is an adult crossing into Skyrim, yet the protagonist knows nothing about Skyrim or the surrounding nations.
1 Clunky Combat
Apart from the occasional cinematic kill, Skyrim has awkward combat. You simply hit enemies until their health is gone. Characters swing weapons as if attacking a wall. You might as well be a wall: you barely budge even when massive monsters slam into you.
In Witcher 3, combat is fluid, realistic, and endlessly fun to watch. Geralt’s entire body moves when he attacks or takes damage, giving battles the dance-like movement they deserve. You can dodge and parry attacks, rip enemies apart with explosive spells, and knock characters back with a series of well-timed hits. Monsters can hit you aside like dolls, giving larger, tougher enemies the strength they deserve. Skyrim’s combat is fun, but the battles in Witcher 3 are absolutely thrilling.