When it came out in 2009, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was considered to be one of the most massive, extremely intricate, and highly immersive games of all time. Now, almost a decade after its release, and with respect to other immersive franchises like Fallout and Red Dead Redemption (my personal favorites), and it’s still one of the most expansive games of all time. It’s not just that the vanilla game plus DLC’s (Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn) take up a little over 22GB of HDD space, but also because most, if not all, of the vanilla game’s secrets, are still being unearthed almost 10 years on. And that’s not including all the amazing and intricate mods you can download online (click here if you want to know where to find Skyrim mods).
With more than 100 hours of vanilla gameplay (i.e., main quest line + ‘official’ side quests), Skyrim without mods or DLC’s was already expansive, and that was just the quests they told us about. Yes, it turns out, the developers threw in a host of easter eggs, secret codes, and locations that are only being explored now.
Of course, hardcore players who haven’t stopped playing the game since ’11 will most likely have discovered most of the secret and hidden gems the game has to offer, but for the more casual gamer like myself, running into these secrets just gave me an even fuller appreciation to one of the best games of this decade. Here are some Skyrim secrets from the vanilla version of the game that you may or may not have heard of:
Fishing in Skyrim is More than Relaxing, It’s Rewarding
Alchemy fans of Skyrim know that salmon fishing in Skyrim’s many, many rivers is one of the best ways to get ingredients. It’s also the best way to get salmon meat because, well, duh. But here’s the thing: all the budding alchemists can benefit from a little time with the ole’ fishing pole (metaphorically, considering the Dragonborn can’t use fishing poles. But there is a mod for that).
That’s right, in a sneaky move by Bethesda during one of their regular patches, the studio added a little extra something-something for people with mad archery skills every time they tag a salmon in the stream. Prior to this update, players would be rewarded with mostly salmon meat regardless of how they catch the fish. However, Bethesda snuck in an extra reward: shoot the salmon as its mid-jump, and you get salmon roes, one of the most powerful alchemical ingredients in the game that’s necessary for stuff like water-breathing potions. It also gives you a metric-ton of Alchemy points, so that’s pretty cool, too.
Console commands are generally used by developers to debug the game during glitches. Most games will usually leave this lying around in the vanilla game just in case players encounter a bug they weren’t expecting. For Skyrim players, however, console commands became a very popular way to cheat the game and add a little bit of spice.
You can use console commands for a variety of things, like adding legendary weapons to your inventory or summoning a creature, but by far the most popular use of Skyrim console commands: skills. That’s right, you can use console commands to give your heroes a little extra oomph, or turn them into unstoppable killing machines.
To use this: open up your console command and type in either AdvSkill or SetSkill. AdvSkill is a Skyrim console command that raises skill levels in a more ‘natural’ way by giving the player the appropriate amount of experience needed to raise a particular skill level by one. To get the exact amount of points needed, type in [player.AdvSkill <skill> <#>] in the command console and it should tell you how many points.
On the other hand, the Skyrim console command SetSkill actually sets a player’s chosen skill to whatever level they so choose, even going beyond the 100 skill level cap. Faster and easier to use, the downside of the Skyrim console command Set skill is that it does lead to glitching, particularly if the player decides to go above the 100 skill level cap.
Journey to The Center Of Blackreach
In Skyrim, the massive underground city of Blackreach is perhaps one of the most exciting, mysterious, and dangerous locations in the entire game. It’s a fan favorite because it touches on the Elder Scrolls most enigmatic and ancient races, the Dwemer. The Dwemer disappeared long before the start of the very first Elder Scrolls game after an unknown cataclysm led to their sudden and mysterious disappearance.
The Dwemer left a complex network of ruins all throughout Tamriel, with Blackreach being one of the largest. The Dragonborn is tasked with exploring Blackreach for a few samples of Crimson Nirnroot, the only place where the mysterious ingredient can be found. But if you stay in Blackreach after your quest ends and start rooting around, you’ll find yourself deep in the heart of the Dwemer city, where a huge, brass, a chandelier hangs from the cavern’s ceiling.
If you use your shout Unrelenting Force (or, Fus Ro Dah, the game’s most iconic skill) on the chandelier, it will awaken a secret boss within the chandelier called Vulthuryol. He’s immune to the Bend Will shout, but it’s ok: for an Ancient Dragon, Vulthuryol actually has pretty meager stats that make him easy enough to kill for mid-level players. He drops Dragon Bones, Dragon Scales, and a Dragon Soul, so the loot is good.
Bullseye Your Way to Archery Mastery
Archery is possibly one of the most popular skills in Skyrim, and why wouldn’t it be: it’s powerful, and sneak-sniping enemies from yards away is just one of the most fun things you can ever do. For Archery-focused players, getting your Archery skills up can be a bit tricky, so any chance you can get to level this up is a blessing. While many Archery players will probably go about seeking every single Archery-related side quests there is, not many people know about the side quest available in Angi’s Camp.
Angi’s Camp is located near Falkreath, at the top of a steep mountain*. In-game, Angi is one of, if not the, best archer in all of Skyrim, and if you find her ‘camp’, which is actually just a little cabin in the middle of the forest, she’ll give you a series of tests that involve hitting targets with your bow and arrow. Pass these tests, and you get to jump up the Archery skill tree for free, not to mention a whole lot of unique items. If nothing else, visit Angi’s Camp because the tests are actually pretty relaxing.
*In Skyrim, wood elf blood is pretty rare, but also necessary for the Discerning the Transmundane quest. If you’re looking for Angi’s camp near Falkreath, be on the lookout for some wood elf bandits so you can harvest some blood.