I have rather heroically (or tragically, depending entirely on your point of view) played Skyrim for over 100 hours. I thought that was long enough to have formed enough of an opinion and gained enough first-hand experience and knowledge to enable me to assess and review some of the guides and wiki style websites that are available for the game.
Quentin the Orc pauses for a few moments while deciding where next to cause vast amounts of bloody carnage
Personally, I don’t feel much of a need for guides for a sandbox/exploration game like this, however they do seem to be very popular so I’d be a mug to miss out on the opportunity to write about something that could pull in a few site visitors… I also find the whole topic rather intriguing even if the guides themselves aren’t directly much use to me.
First up, an iPhone application called The Guide – Skyrim Edition. This is a great example of how to cobble together walls of text from other sources and pass it off as your own work. It’s dull, worse than looking at the same text in your browser, and I can’t recommend it. Here’s an example, where they have copy/pasted text from the Wikipedia Skyrim page and haven’t even bothered to remove the numbered links to the source references:
Every page is just a bunch of text. There are no links to cross reference quests and items, so it's not a lot of use
So that’s not a very good start. It gets worse, with rambling self-congratulatory speeches from the authors of the text walls, who may not even be associated with this app, and includes half-hearted, incomplete lists and item descriptions that fail to include the actual statistics of the items.
Universal (iPhone/iPad) app, Skyrim Alchemist has generally favourable app store reviews, but it only covers Alchemy, so its usefulness to you will depend entirely on how deeply you include Alchemy (if at all) in your play-style. At least it uses some decent touch-screen functionality and isn’t just a textual copy/paste exercise.
A fairly good looking (and one of the more expensive) universal iOS app is MAppz – Skyrim Edition, a map application that allows you to add your own notes to maps and use location filters to display different classes of location on the map. I haven’t tried this but it looks quite interesting and appears to be receiving regular updates based on user feedback.
There are plenty of online guides and wiki sites around. Here are the two that I think are particularly worth checking out if you need a bit of detailed information or feel like cheating…
UESP (Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages) Skyrim wiki
This one is probably my favourite (although I don’t use it at all, ever, for anything…) with a great, consistent style, a powerful search facility and tons of well written, clearly illustrated and relevant information. This is what it looks like if you browse it on an iPod:
The IGN Skyrim Wiki Guide
Nicely presented and easy to navigate, with a lot of cross-referencing links. I found one or two pages that ended up in a 404-not-found but, apart from that, this is a good site.
Finally, there’s the Besthesda Skyrim Forums, where you can witness the inevitability with which every player eventually hits a wall of boredom in an open and never ending videogame… good luck!