Originally released in 2011, The Elders Scroll V: Skyrim has proven its worth as one of the most played open-world RPG games in the last decade. The remastered edition was released recently for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and players are remembering all over again why they fell in love with the game in the first place.
The land of Skyrim has many things for players to do. The player is given the option (after the tutorial) of exploring as much of the world as they can take in, or sticking to the main quest line provided for them. Developer Bethesda has always been keen on providing agency for all players, and Skyrim is a prime example of that.
There are so many quests to be found in the game that I myself have been playing on and off since its initial release over half a decade ago, and I have still not found everything there is to do. While there are some pretty great quests to be completed in this epic title, there are some rotten apples that fell a bit too far from the tree. So here is our list for the 8 Best and 7 WORST quests to complete in Skyrim.
And if you like this list, or you're just a Skyrim lover who thinks they have played all of the quests the game has to offer, then be sure to check out our list of the 15 Skyrim Quests That Most Players Don’t Know About.
15 Best: Forbidden Legend
“Forbidden Legend” has everything that a Skyrim player wants in a lengthy quest. The name alone leaves the player in a shroud of awe and wonder. After reading a copy of Lost Legends somewhere in the world, this quest will rocket to the top of your to-do pile.
The quest has the protagonist solving an ancient mystery of the Gauldur Amulet. First, they'll need to learn the history of the amulet. The hunt for truth then guides the player to different areas of Skyrim, obtaining different pieces of the amulet. The quest culminates in a dungeon that ends in not one, but three quick paced boss fights. Once the three enemies are defeated, the player is given the Gauldur Amulet itself, which gives the protagonist +30 to health, magicka, and stamina. Talk about a good reward!
14 Worst: The Thieves Guild
The Elder Scrolls games are known for featuring different factions that the player can interact with. The Companions, The Dark Brotherhood, and The Blades —to name a few— have become old friends to Elder Scrolls fans. Yet, in the case of faction-based quests lines, Skyrim tends to fall a bit behind in comparison to earlier titles like Oblivion and Morrowind. Nowhere is this expressed more than in the “Thieves Guild” plot line.
Ask the players themselves, and they will tell you the Thieves Guild in Skyrim is nothing more than a couple of whiny babies. If this does not bother you, then perhaps the repetitive gameplay and limited experiences will. Players want an enriching storyline from the factions of Tamriel, not some cluster of two-bit thieves that have little to no character. Consider this plot line to be a major skip.
13 Best: House Of Horrors
“House of Horrors” is exactly what its name implies: a horror-driven quest that the player obtains shortly after entering the town of Markarth. One of the game’s many deadric quests, the player finds themselves literally trapped in a cage, forced to bring Logrolf The Willful to an abandoned house to complete the quest. Once done, the player is actually forced to beat Logrolf while he also is caged. Coupled with all of the creepy narration, and earthquake-like shaking that comes from the abandoned house, makes for one spooky trip in this otherwise not so terrifying game.
12 Worst: The Book Of Love
In the vast land of the north realm of Skyrim, there are mountains to climb, dragons to slay, and epic quests to complete. In the midst of these feats, there is a quest entitled “The Book of Love,” and it does not involve any of the things we love about the open-world genre. It is given to the player in the town of Riften, and requires solving a girl’s relationship problems in order to obtain the Blessing of Mara, which is an ability that decreases the cost of restoration spells by 10%. Going to another town, talking to multiple people about a young woman's boy problems, and then fixing things for her, just to get a small ability, is not really worth it. It's an immensely annoying quest to complete.
11 Best: Hail Sithis!
One of the last quests in the Dark Brotherhood storyline, “Hail Sithis” shows off how story and gameplay can be interwoven to create a fantastic experience for the gamer. The quest begins during the climax of The Dark Brotherhood storyline. The Night Mother confirms that the contract for Emperor Titus Mede II (Yeah, the emperor of all of Tamriel) is still on after the old man escaped assassination previously, and the quest takes the player to a big ol’ ship named The Katariah. Though stealth is encouraged for this quest, the player themselves can choose how to go about fulfilling the contract.
This quest is hardly a walk in the park; there are plenty of sailors and enemies for you to get through, and traversing the dank and dark ship makes it easy to get lost along the way. “Hail Sithis” shows that you don’t need a complex quest to create fun.
10 Worst: No One Escapes Cidhna Mine
Skyrim is an open-world game, and so when there are quests that are purely devoted to narration and story, with little to no interesting actions for the player to make, the game tends to feel a bit… dull, or off. “No One Escapes Cidhna Mine” is one of these more narration-based quests in Skyrim.
The quest begins after the protagonist —framed for a crime— is thrown into an underground prison in Markarth. While there is a list of decisions for the player to make during a series of events, the quest itself is slow, leaving the player waiting for things to progress. Sure, you get some pretty good armor towards the end (and it is certainly worth completing the quest), but this reward does not change how boring and monotonous the journey through Cidhna Mine really is.
9 Best: Unbound
As the tutorial quest of Skyrim, “Unbound” shows off just how formidable the game can really be. The Elder Scrolls franchise has always been known for featuring the protagonist as a prisoner at the beginning of the game, and it has become a tradition of sorts at this point. Skyrim changes things up, by starting the epic open-world experience with the player waking up in a moving cart, surrounded by others on their way to execution. It seems to be a quick end for the protagonist until a dragon shows up and begins to rain hell fire down on everyone. The player is pushed into a quick-witted scenario where they must stay on their toes while adapting to whatever the games throws at them.
“Unbound” displays the graphical qualities that Skyrim has to offer, as well many of the key gameplay mechanics that make it a great installment in The Elder Scrolls series, and an even greater beginning to Skyrim.
8 Worst: Mind Of Madness
Earlier on I stated that “No One Escapes Cidhna Mine” was not that great of a quest (even though many players do in fact like it) because it was ultimately uneventful for the player. This is the same sort of case for “Mind of Madness.” After visiting Solitude, this deadric quest leads the protagonist through a portal into the mind of Pelagius III. In order to escape the mad man’s inner psyche, the player must go through three trials of corruption to free themselves. As a reward, the player is given the Wabbajack, a deadric staff that comes with plenty of great spells to cast. It seems like a good quest, no?
The problem with “Mind of Madness” is that it feels like nothing more than an interruption for the player. It is not too long of a quest, but there is no open-world fun to be had, and the player is given three chores to complete, rather than three tasks to progress through the game.
7 Best: The Black Star
Regarded as one of the best quests by many players, “The Black Star” is yet another in the list of deadric quests that Skyrim has to offer the player. The quest can be obtained just south of Winterhold, where the player is given the task to find an elf mage (because the protagonist is the chosen champion of Azura or whatever), and obtain Azura’s star.
The quest then leads the player to Ilinalta’s Deep, a formidable dungeon that leaves the player biding their time as they battle other mages. Of course, that's only if they are a high enough level necromancers in the hold. If the player makes it through the dungeon, then they must continue on and cleanse the star itself. I am not kidding when I say that this leads the player to travel into the star itself, to battle against Malyn Varen's consciousness, which still plagues the star itself. Word of warning: this fight is not an easy one, and it goes down as one of the most memorable fights in the game as a whole.
6 Worst: The College Of Winterhold
Much like the lackluster Thieves Guild, “The College of Winterhold” quest line is nothing short of disappointing, as it features repetitive quests for one-dimensional characters. To gain entry into the College of Winterhold, you must first show off that you can use a spell of some kind, which —while adding to the atmosphere of the area— does nothing more than waste the player's precious time for a short moment.
Once the player gains entry, they are greeted with multiple quests and side quests that inevitably become dull and mundane. Players were disappointed with the quest line as a whole, as it features nothing more than fetch quests where you must leave and return to the college. If players are looking for a break from this sort of activity, then they can surely spice it up with a slightly less, but still boring, collection side quest.
5 Best: The Wolf Queen Awakened
After completing the quest “The Man Who Cried Wolf,” the player is given the ability to start a follow-up quest “The Wolf Queen Awakened.” Many of the quests in Skyrim have the player fighting deadric plagued beings, and literal dragons, that pop up out of nowhere, but this quest actually has the protagonist going up against a god.
Obtained in Solitude, this quest is fairly simple in execution. After a series of conversation, make your way over to Potema’s Catacombs so that you can face the deceased queen herself. While on the surface this quest may not seem to offer anything out of the ordinary, the catacombs that the player must venture through and the boss waiting at the end are far different from anything else seen throughout the rest of the game. Breaking the chain of somewhat repetitive dungeons found in Skyrim is a blessing — enjoy it!
4 Worst: Civil War
From the moment that Skyrim begins, the player is introduced to a feuding civil war that is taking place in the region. At the end of the previously mentioned “Unbound” quest, the protagonist is given the choice to follow a Stormcloak soldier, or an infantryman of the Imperial Legion. Though the end result is, for the most part, the same, it adds a level of atmosphere to the beginning of the game that leaves the player wanting more.
The “Civil War” quest line is one of the first major plot lines that the player can get involved with, but unfortunately, doesn't hold up to scrutiny. The tasks given to the player are simple, and after having chosen to be on both sides of the war, I can tell you firsthand there is no difference in choosing to side with the Stormcloaks or the Imperial Legion. Sadly, the whole scenario feels like nothing more than a case of the reds versus the blues.
3 Best: A Night To Remember
In open-world based RPGs, there is always bound to be one or two quests that hold their roots in humor over anything. Some players would do well to remember the mission in Borderlands 2 in which the player is actually given the task to shoot the quest giver in the face. Though the land of Skyrim is filled to the brim with grim characters and gritty fantasy reality, there are moments when a funny quest gets dropped into the player's lap.
“A Night to Remember” has the protagonist drinking a bit too much, passing out in a Hangover type situation, having to piece together one happened the night before. There is cleaning up to do and questions to answer, but that does not mean that the mission is without combat. The quest brings you to yet another temple with mages to fight, but the humor brings about a freshness that keeps the player going through hours of gameplay.
2 Worst: A Return To Your Roots
Look, I am all for alternative side quests. Collecting items, “fetch” quests, and other monotonous tasks do in fact have a purpose in an open-world game such as this one. But it is important to recognize that these quests are meant to be peppered around the main quests, so that the player can make progress with them when they are doing something more eye catching.
“A Return To Your Roots” is everything that a bad, collect-em-all quest can be. When the player picks up a crimson nirnroot for the first time, they will then be given the task to collect thirty more. Are they scattered around the reaches of Skyrim in order to promote adventure for the player? Nope, they are only found around Blackreach, making the quest feel more like a chore than something that the player would actually want to actively participate in.
1 Best: Dawnguard
That’s right, one of the best quest lines in Skyrim isn't even a part of the main retail release. The “Dawnguard” quest line gives the player everything that they have ever wanted from this type of game. The first official DLC add-on for Skyrim “Dawnguard” was first released in 2012, and boy did the developers know what they were doing with this one.
The story centers around a malicious group of vampires who aim to blot out the sun, and the group of hunters known as the “Dawnguard” who are forever engaged in battle with them. The player is given the option to side with either faction, and unlike the lackluster “Civil War” plot line, this set of quests keeps the player wanting more. The DLC adds new weapons and items, new characters, and above all else, the ability to turn into either a werewolf or a vampire lord. When it comes to Skyrim, “Dawnguard” is as good as it gets.