A survey conducted by The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim subreddit has shed light on some interesting trends. The survey covered a wide variety of topics: preferred game genres, chosen play style, and whether players preferred the main story of Skyrim or focused on countless side quests.
With so much freedom built into Skyrim’s design, it’s natural for players to find their own unique paths through northern Tamriel. Poll initiated redditor u/AlfredoTayloro, has revealed some of the most popular, as well as less-traveled paths. 70% of the 8229 participants said that they prefer side quests over the main story and other content on a new playthrough, and only 10% of players choose to complete the story for each new character. When choosing between Warrior, Mage, or Stealth playstyle, 45% chose Stealth, while Warrior’s aggressive playstyle was behind with 35%. Not surprisingly, 90% of the participants named role-playing games as their favorite game genre.
Survey participants were also asked to elaborate on their gameplay choices, with over 7,100 players offering additional information. The Scandinavian setting of the game inspired warrior players to emulate the old Viking culture. Stealth archers have cited the lethal nature of long-range shooting as the reason for their chosen style, while others have found stealth archery too easy. Players who prefer mages enjoy the feeling of directing lightning and launching fireballs right out of their hands. Meanwhile, one respondent who preferred a warrior simply replied, “Swords. Big swords.” Survey responses really reflect the whole range of player preferences.
In open world RPGs, it makes sense for players to only go through the main story once or twice before focusing their efforts on side quests. For many players, Skyrim’s main story isn’t as interesting as the extra content. Moving up the ranks in the Thieves Guild, the Mages Guild, or joining the assassins of the Dark Brotherhood are complex and interesting storylines in their own right. The main story has a lot of competition for players’ attention, and those who have already completed it most likely won’t be looking forward to another fight with Alduin.
Despite players’ obvious preference for side content, Skyrim’s main story quest shouldn’t be completely discounted. Bethesda is famous for its worldbuilding, and the world of the Elder Scrolls is greatly expanded thanks to Skyrim’s main storyline. It’s also important to progress through the main story if players want to take advantage of the Dragon Shouts, powerful special abilities that the Dragonborn can use to slow time, teleport short distances, and mind control.