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How To Play Skyrim Like A Professional

by Jeff Marchiafava on Nov 24, 2011 at 05:00 AM

Playing video games for a living allows you to hone your skills in ways most players will never achieve. In this feature I'll give you some invaluable tips to help you play Skyrim more like a professional.

Below you'll find a list of some of the tricky situations you may encounter in Skyrim (don't worry, they're spoiler-free), along with an example of how an amateur gamer might respond to them. If these descriptions sound familiar, don't fret – we were all amateurs at one point or another.

After the amateur description is where things really get good. The professional entries are how I personally handled each of these situations – feel free to study them closely and take notes so you can be more like me.

Situation: You've entered a crypt full of fearsome Draugr enemies laying in wait for foolish adventurers.
How an amateur handles it: Use a combination of magic and arrows to fight these terrifying foes from a distance.
How a pro handles it: Sneak your way through the entire crypt, not realizing the dormant corpses are actually enemies. Clumsily make your way through a swinging blade trap, then accidentally trigger a Draugr attack by using your restoration spell. Get scared at the sudden presence of mummified enemies, then backpedal into said swinging blade traps. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger (or at least raises your heavy armor skill).

Situation: What's that sticky-looking red puddle on the ground?
How an amateur handles it: Ignore the puddle and focus on the archers shooting arrows into your head from afar.
How a pro handles it: Forget the archers – that's what your helmet is for. Instead, use your fire spell to illuminate the mysterious puddle while standing in it. Get horribly burned as you realize it's an explosively flammable liquid.

Situation: What's that switch on the floor do?
How an amateur handles it: Avoid it.
How a pro handles it: Deftly make your way around the suspicious switch, then stop in your tracks when you reach the door. Return to the trap and trigger out of curiosity, only to get hit by the swinging spike wall that you totally didn't see was there the entire time. Super pros will forget to save before doing all of this.

Situation: You've stumbled upon a pack of bandits that will require a multitude of techniques to take down.
How an amateur handles it: Crouch down and take a few shots with your bow. When the bandits approach, switch to your shield and melee weapon. Use a few magic spells to finish off the remaining stragglers, then heal with your restoration spell.
How a pro handles it: Map your trusty mace and fire spell to your quick switch buttons. Start with your shield and fire spell, attempting to burn your approaching enemies while they're still too far out to hit. Then switch to your mace, accidentally replacing your shield with your fire spell instead. Pause the game by going into the favorite menu just before the first bandit attacks. Equip your shield and your mace to the correct hands, then unequip your shield by trying to block too early while exiting the menu. Get hit in the head.

Situation: Another enemy archer is raining arrows down upon you, and you need to quickly close the gap.
How an amateur handles it: Sprint towards your enemy in a zig-zag pattern, holding up your shield the moment before an arrow hits.
How a pro handles it: Confuse your sprint and sneak buttons, because every modern first-person game puts sprint on the left analog stick. Slowly crawl towards your enemy as he or she continues shooting arrows at you, while trying in vain to quick switch back to your shield (see previous entry). Taking that many arrows while crouching in plain sight will surely confuse your foe!

Situation: You come across a treasure chest filled with stuff you want but you can only carry one more pound before you're over encumbered.
How an amateur handles it: Don't pick up a bunch of crap you don't need in the first place. Drop the equivalent weight of whatever you want to pick up.
How a pro handles it: Eat 50 cabbages in a row, while wondering why and how you managed to get 50 cabbages in your inventory in the first place. If you're still over encumbered, drop the heaviest item in your inventory on the ground, then pick it up in-game and walk it to your nearest merchant. Sell it for 20 gold while refusing to acknowledge what a waste of time it was.

Situation: You're on your way to meet the Greybeards, when a giant frost troll starts attacking you. You're drastically underpowered.
How an amateur handles it: Capitalize on the frost troll's slow speed by running past it and continuing on your journey.
How a pro handles it: Enter a war of attrition, saving the game every time you get a successful blow in and reloading every time the troll one-hit kills you. Once you finally finish the troll off, attempt to push his corpse off the edge of the mountain as a futile act of revenge, only to realize he's too heavy to drag. Burn his face some more with your fire spell, then continue on your way.

Situation: Three guys with big weapons show up stating they're going to "teach you a lesson."
How an amateur handles it: Realize you're vastly underequipped having just made your way through a dungeon, and flee to fight another day.
How a pro handles it: Assume the gang is talking to the local blacksmith (who has conveniently disappeared), and keep on using the forge to create cheap armor to sell. Act really surprised when they start beating on you, then stubbornly fight them to the death by saving and reloading every 30 seconds (see previous entry). Once they're all dead, true pros will loot all of their armor and weapons, over encumber themselves, and slowly crawl to the nearest shopkeeper.

Situation: Your objective is up in the mountains.
How an amateur handles it: Look for a path that winds around to the objective, like a total chump.
How a pro handles it: Try to jump your way up over the top of the mountain, taking advantage of Bethesda's patented inability to stop you from cheesing your way up steep slopes. Stop every once and a while to look out at the gorgeous view, then slide to your death when you get to the peak.

Situation: A well-meaning merchant walks up behind you and says hello.
How an amateur handles it: Turn around and engage the NPC in some lighthearted banter.
How a pro handles it: Startle at the sight of an unexpected NPC, pulling the dragon shout button as you clench the controller in terror and swear in real life (the swearing bit is vital). Curse again as you reload your last save because your Force shout knocked the NPC on the ground, which she foolishly interpreted as an act of aggression. 

Got any humorous tips for your fellow readers? Share your experiences in the comments below!