Getting strapped in to play Skyrim for a long haul can involve several choices that you have to make before even waking up for your new adventure. You have to pick your character’s race, design the looks, and then decide on the playstyle you want to go with for that character. All of these are valid concerns, but the only one with mechanical implications is the race you decide to play as. Before stressing about this choice, remember that the first and most important rule is to pick what you like the most or what you consider interesting. However, if you are a beginner to Skyrim and want to select an option that will make for the easiest playthrough while you learn the ropes, then this guide is for you.
What are the best beginner races in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim?
Here, we will count down our choices for the best beginner-friendly race picks in Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim.
The native cat-people of Tamriel are natural-born thieves in Skyrim. They bring various thieving skill bonuses to the field, but their passive and active abilities are lacking. Add to that the need to understand how stealth works in the game in the first place, and the natives generally distrust them from the onset. All of that combines to make the flavourful Khajit the worst starting option for beginners.
Like the Khajit, the lizardfolk of Tamriel faces the same problems. They get a slight advantage due to their ability to heal, which can be prized by those learning the ropes, but other than that, everything that goes for Khajit goes for Argonians. It’s not like the ability to breathe underwater will make or break your campaign.
8. Dunmer (Dark Elf)
On paper, the Dunmer are one of the stronger races in Skyrim. However, viewed from an angle of a total beginner, they pose several mechanical and roleplaying challenges. Their skill bonuses are strong in the hands of a player who knows what they’re doing but not so much in the hands of a beginner. Similarly, the native populace of all factions dislikes the Dunmer, making some of the social navigation in the game a bit more complicated.
7. Bosmer (Wood Elf)
The Bosmer are another race that should be considered a strong pick on their own merits, but when viewed from a beginner’s standpoint isn’t that optimal of a choice. They are great at sneaky archery, which is one of the strongest builds in the game, but that also requires you to know the game well enough to pull it off properly. Similarly, their Command Animal ability is a bit of a trap that can be a hindrance than a boon.
6. Orsimer (Orc)
With the Orsimer, we get into the territory of race picks that are much more difficult to rate against each other. For instance, the Elder Scrolls’ Orcs are excellent tanks and, as such, are a pretty good pick for those still getting their bearings in the game, especially if you’re looking to learn about melee combat. Their natural durability and combat prowess can carry the day against most threats in the game. The matter is that there are even better options for beginners than what we would consider a “baseline good” pick.
Imperials, for instance, play a large part in the game’s campaign, so you will be involved in the roleplaying aspect from the start. Imperials’ passives and skill bonuses are great for beginners as they will not only bring you more gold, but their active ability will also help with those accidents in which your character antagonizes the wrong people — the guards, for example.
Similarly, the Nords play a massive part in the story of Skyrim, which makes sense given that it’s their home region. They have some of the best melee combat traits in the game, and with a lot of the damage being Frost-based, their 50% resistance to it will come in handy to those who still don’t know how various enemies fight. As one of the most-picked races in the game, they are the best vanilla option for good reason.
Everything that the Nords can do, the Redguard can do better. They make for an excellent choice for beginners who are serious about mastering melee combat, as their Stamina regeneration ability can help assuage a lot of overcommitment mistakes that they can make early on. The skill bonuses that the Redguard get are also more varied, letting the beginners try out a variety of playstyles and builds with the confidence that they have a bit of a bonus to them from their race pick.
The Bretons represent a good two-in-one option for new players. They can dabble in combat, but their strength will lie in magic. As the game’s natural battlemages, the Bretons represent a great way to learn that part of the game while being confident in your character’s durability. They are highly resistant to spells, and with the Dragonskin active ability that saps Magicka from opponents, they can easily tank some of the tougher fights.
1. Altmer (High Elf)
Going full archmage route has long been considered the strongest beginner option in Skyrim, and there is no better race to augment that playstyle than the Altmer. Their bonuses, passives, and abilities are second to none when it comes to magic and spellcasting. As such, picking the focused High Elf Spellcaster as your starter character is the easiest way for beginners to play Skyrim when just starting.