Best quest, a new pet and the chance to fall into another dimension
Skyrim: Special Edition – Bethesda's re-issue of its 2011 hit fantasy game now enhanced for current consoles and PC – is here, and that means it's time to agonize over creating a custom character one more time before dancing off into that wide open world to tell your own stories, possibly as a cat.
But what stories should they be? You can easily spend hundreds of hours in this game and there's no shortage of things to do. Sure, you could just pick a compass direction and walk until the sun comes up on Turdas – stop laughing, that is a real and normal name of a day of the week in this world. Or you could enjoy a more guided experience that doesn't end with you stumbling into a swamp by revisiting these five highlights of Skyrim.
Get drunk with a god in 'A Night To Remember'
Everyone needs a drinking buddy. Sam Guevenne is randomly waiting in one of Skyrim's many taverns to become yours. Have a few drinks with Sam and you'll begin "A Night To Remember", a quest about waking up with amnesia and a hangover that sends you across the land to piece back your memories. You'll need to make amends for the hijinks of the night before by cleaning up a temple devoted to the goddess of beauty, getting a goat back from a giant, and disappointing the hagraven (a sort of witch/vulture hybrid) you swore you'd marry.
Most of these obligations can be short-circuited with a successful Persuade test if you don't want to have any fun, but it's more enjoyable to put in the work untangling the full story of your debauched adventure. The reward is being reunited with Sam and discovering the whole thing was a test – he's actually Sanguine, the Lord of Revelry, looking to put a little more merriment into the world. He definitely succeeds at that.
Become best friends with a dog
There are many dogs in Skyrim worth befriending. There's the noble hound Meeko in the woods on the edge of the Hjaalmarch who will lead you to the shack belonging to his former owner so you can uncover their tragic tale – just be careful not to let this become the beginning of your own tragedy as it did for Twitter user Patrick Lenton. Then there's Vigilance, a tough war dog for sale at the Markarth stables, whose ferocity is improved by the spiced beef he eats (spoiler: it's made of people).
But the puppy most worth befriending is Barbas, the talking dog who haunts the road leading out of Falkreath and triggers the quest "A Daedra's Best Friend." The two of you will trek through the ruins of Helgen, where your own adventure began, all the way to the foot of the Throat of the World and then down into the dungeon of Haemar's Shame to help find his master. Alternatively, you can put off that quest in favor of keeping the unkillable magic dog with you as a chatty sidekick, as if you were a Disney princess in an iron helmet.
Catch M'aiq the Liar
Every Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind has featured a cameo by M'aiq the Liar. One of the Khajiit cat-people, he acts as a voice for the game's designers, letting them crack jokes and respond to comments from fans.
M'aiq has an explanation for everything, including the drastically improved character designs compared to the previous Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion. ("M'aiq has heard that the people of Skyrim are better looking than the ones in Cyrodiil. He has no opinion on the matter. All people are beautiful to him.") If you were wondering how he manages to appear in games set centuries after each other, there's an answer for that too. ("M'aiq's father was also called M'aiq. As was M'aiq's father's father. At least, that's what his father said."). Each time you meet M'aiq he'll have something different to chat about, but first you have to catch him. There are many random encounters that occur on the roads of Skyrim, and not all of them are this friendly, which is probably why he's such a fast runner.
Sail to Solstheim and fall into another dimension
Of the three Skyrim expansions, 'Dragonborn' was the highlight. Travel to the island of Solstheim and you could begin a whole new adventure in a land of giant mushrooms and floating jellyfish where a tribe of tiny blue people called Rieklings would take you in. The end result of that is basically the story you'll ramble at young folks in your gin-soaked dotage, climaxing with "...and then they made me their chief!"
The most memorable part of Solstheim wasn't actually on the island at all, though. Open one of its Black Books and you're transported to Apocrypha, a plane of existence belonging to the Daedra of Knowledge. In Apocrypha passageways made of rustling, unquiet books float on an endless ocean of slime under a sky where the clouds are floating masses of tentacles. And the librarians? We don't talk about the librarians.
Climb the Throat of the World
An obvious one, but for good reason. The Throat of the World is the mountain at the centre of Skyrim that you ascend as part of the storyline, meeting the monks of High Hrothgar and then climbing even further, pushing through the only snow in the land cold enough to kill you to reach its real peak.
Following the path of 7,000 steps up the Throat of the World is much more satisfying than hacking your way up a mountain by exploiting sideways jumps or riding a horse straight up a cliff, and the sidequest where you help an aged pilgrim by carrying a bag of supplies is touchingly ordinary – a favor almost anyone could do but one the Dragonborn finds time for. Plus, when you make it to the top the view is impressive, no matter which version of Skyrim you're playing.