Best Quests To Do Early

When players start a new Skyrim journey, the world can seem a little overwhelming with all the choices available to them. Players that are new to Skyrim don’t always realize how much freedom they have in the game. Following the main quests is easy but tedious at times, and moving blindly between side quests and alternative storylines does not always yield the best results.




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Whether it be sharpening a sword, selling a family amulet, or transporting an enchanted ring, players do not have a time limit on completing quests and can keep quest items for as long as they want. However, players can benefit more from certain quests early in the game as they offer more high-stat equipment than others.

Updated December 14, 2023 by Erik Petrovich: In Skyrim Quests to do first typically revolve around min-maxing items and level gains, which is a totally valid way to experience the RPG. But ultimately, in such an expansive game, players’ first priority should be opening up as many branching pathways as possible. The Skyrim best quest order really depends on what you want out of the game, but the best Early Quests Skyrim offers tend to set players out on a path rather than reward powerful gear. Choose a side in the Civil War, begin the Greybeard main story questline, check out the College of Winterhold – all things that unlock major story moments, which eventually lead to more powerful items. This list has been updated with new suggestions on the first things to do in Skyrim, as well as more specific information about what players can get out of each quest or questline.

The original article was published on April 4, 2020, and was written by Ian Phillpott-Kenny.

9 Joining The Stormcloaks, or Joining The Empire

Skyrim Should You Join Stormcloaks Or Imperials Guide

First things first, new Skyrim characters must make a decision before beginning the rest of the game: side with the Stormcloaks, or side with the Empire when escaping Helgen. Whether players choose to follow Ralof or Hadvar, upon leaving the cave beneath Helgen, players are directed towards either the Stormcoaks or Empire, respectively.

It’s a hard choice to make, though each is worth consideration for different reasons. Once players have locked in their choice by completing this initial introductory Civil War questline, the other faction locks off forever. Once you get into the Anniversary Edition content, try the Civil War Champions mod for some more faction-based questing and combat.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Bannered Mare

Some quests reward items and equipment that prove their worth in the long run, but in a pinch, having strong potions available can mean the difference between life and death (or reloading from the last save). In the early game, high-level Healing potions are hard to come by – but one can be acquired as soon as players reach Whiterun.

After getting through the gates to Whiterun, players should look for a beggar named Brenuin. Talk to him, and give him a coin. Then, a new dialogue option will appear. Ask Brenuin if he is always drunk, and he will ask the player to bring him some Argonian Ale. He points players to the nearby inn The Bannered Mare, where it can be found in the tavern’s kitchen atop a cupboard. Unless players are friendly with Hulda – the innkeeper at The Bannered Mare – this can’t be acquired without stealing, so be sure to crouch and get out of NPC sight before taking it.

Return to Brenuin with the Argonian Ale, and the quest will complete.

For their effort, the Dragonborn is rewarded with one 100-point Health Potion. The Argonian Ale Extraction quest doesn’t reward much, but it takes so little effort to complete that it’s worth stopping for on the run to Dragonsreach.

7 The Taste of Death

Skyrim Namira Statue

The Taste of Death is a quest that begins in Markarth’s Hall of the Dead, after talking to the owner of the Silver-Blood Inn. There has been some kind of desecration in the Hall of the Dead, eventually found to be thanks to the Daedric Prince Namira, and by the end of its far-reaching questline players can earn two powerful trinkets: an Amulet of Arkay, and the Ring of Namira.

The Ring of Namira is only earned if players become the champion of Namira by slaying and eating a sleeping priest – but what’s a bit of brutality in exchange for self-healing buffs?

The Taste of Death Quest Rewards

The Amulet of Arkay has a simple +10 Health effect when worn. The Ring of Namira, on the other hand, lets players consume corpses to get extra Health and regen for a few minutes.

6 Innocence Lost

Aventus Aretino Performing Black Sacrament In Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

Innocence Lost is the initial quest for the Dark Brotherhood questline, considered by many to be the best faction-based questline in Skyrim (aside from the Civil War arc). Players find out that a boy is attempting to summon the Dark Brotherhood through a profane ritual to kill the abusive head of an Orphanage in Riften.

For completing Innocence Lost players are rewarded with a thump to the head the next time they go to sleep. They wake up, are greeted by Astrid, a member of the Dark Brotherhood, and are sent on their quest to restore the group to its former glory.

Innocence Lost Quest Rewards

For completing Innocence Lost players start their way towards getting the Blade of Woe, a powerful Dagger wielded by master assassins of the past.

5 First Lessons

Skyrim Fan Builds Impressive College of Winterhold Recreation in Minecraft

First Lessons is, as the quest name might suggest, the first official quest of the College of Winterhold storyline. This quest sees the player learn about Warding magic with Tolfdir and can grant the player a free Ward spell (as well as other free spells) as long as they aren’t already learned.


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This quest leads to the Under Saarthal quest which gives a great amulet for Magicka-users. Getting to Winterhold can be a bit of a chore, but luckily there are carriages at every major city that can take you there for just a few dozen gold.

First Lessons Quest Rewards

This quest also unlocks the ability to purchase spells and train from College professors.

4 The House of Horrors

Molag Bal's Mace

One of Skyrim‘s most iconic quests, the House of Horrors sees the player become an unwilling servant of Molag Bal in his attempt to force a Priest of Boethiah to renounce his deity and serve the Lord of Brutality instead. It’s a particularly brutal quest as players are forced to beat up an old man to near-death to make him submit.

You can of course just ignore the quest objectives entirely, but completion of The House of Horrors rewards players with one of the most powerful weapons in the game: the Mace of Molag Bal. Head to Markarth and look for a Priest of Stendarr outside an abandoned house.

The House of Horrors Quest Rewards

The Mace of Molag Bal, which has a Soul Trap enchantment, which is extremely useful early on for Gold-making and leveling Enchanting. Its melee stats are nothing to sneeze at, either.

3 Greatsword For a Great Man (Or Take Up Arms)

Jarl Balgruuf Of Whiterun

Both Greatsword For a Great Man and Take Up Arms are quests available in Whiterun, and they offer a weapon to players that can greatly improve early gameplay. Greatsword For a Great Man will provide players with Balgruuf’s Greatsword, a two-handed weapon that deals high damage while Take Up Arms will provide Vilaks’ Sword, a one-handed weapon that has equivalent stats to Skyforge steel.


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Both quests ask the player to take the weapon somewhere to complete the quest, but there is a third option: take it for oneself.

Greatsword For a Great Man Quest… Rewards?

If players simply keep the weapon and do not complete the quests, they can use the weapon for as long as they want, making this a great way to get a good weapon early.

2 Andur’s Arkay Amulet

Statue Of Arkay From The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

Andur’s Arkay Amulet is another example of a Whiterun quest that asks players to take an item somewhere in exchange for petty cash, only in this quest it is not a weapon but an amulet that, when worn, grants the player a 10% boost to HP.

The quest can be found in the Whiterun Catacombs and not only offers a nice boost to HP if players keep the amulet instead of returning it to Andur, but it also has an Unusual Gem in the catacombs which triggers the Thieves Guild quest. The Thieves Guild quests offer good gear especially helpful to players interested in stealth gameplay.

Andur’s Arkay Amulet Quest Rewards

The eponymous Amulet, which boosts HP, as well as an introduction to the Thieves Guild.

1 The Greybeards Questline

Skyrim Arngeir Greybeards

After getting some early high stat gear quickly from Whiterun, players have a decision they need to make words of power now or later. The Greybeards quests are part of the early main quest storyline and offer a full Dragonborn shout and access to other shouts early in the game.

If players decide to skip over the Greybeards questline, they will likely not get a full shout until much later in the game. But it’s one of the few required questlines to beat the main story of Skyrim, so it’s better to get it over with sooner rather than later to take advantage of the full Fus Ro Dah shout.

The Greybeards Questline Rewards

Players who decide to get through the begging half of the Grey Beards quests will be rewarded with a full shout, access to new questlines, as well as the location of new words of power if they speak to Master Arngeir and inquire about them.

elder scrolls 5 skyrim cover


November 11, 2011

M for Mature: Use of Alcohol, Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes

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