Home to more than just its cold-resistant natives, the towering and pale-skinned Nords, the lands of Skyrim is a pretty diverse place.
In fact, there’s as many as 10 races to choose from for players to play in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and just as many races if not more that you’ll find and encounter in the game.
Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to be politically correct, not all races in Skyrim are equal.
While the choice of race mostly boils down on your preferences, the fact is, some races in Skyrim are just logically better compared to the others.
Well, for starters, race doesn’t just determine your physical appearance in Skyrim.
Your chosen race also affects what kind of skills, spells, and stats you start with, as well as any kind of special race-exclusive powers that you can use to your advantage all throughout the game.
This essentially means that choosing the “wrong” race is pretty much like shooting an arrow to your knee (get it?).
So, which races in Skyrim are the best, and the worst ones? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Below, you’ll find all 10 races that are available for players to play as in Skyrim, ranked from worst to the very best.
10. Race: Nords
Skyrim prominently feature the Nords, and for good reasons — they’re the original people of the place.
So, why exactly is the race of the default protagonist ranked this low?
Well, for starters, Battle Cry, the Nords’ special race ability, is nowhere near as useful since you can only use it once a day and it can be easily replicated using other simpler spells.
Plus, the 50% frost resistance isn’t even that good to begin with — frost damage is very rare in Skyrim.
Then, once you factor in how Nords get Blocking at 20 but Two-Handed at 25, rendering one or the other useless, you’ll realize just how you’ll never want to play Skyrim as a Nord unless you’re up for a challenge.
9. Race: Breton
It’s easy to get tricked into creating a mage and choosing Bretons as your race, but we’re here to tell you, don’t do it.
Why? Because, for starters, Conjuration, which Bretons start at 25, aren’t really all that powerful.
But, if it’s any consolation, you do get 25% Magicka resistance as a Breton, so if you find yourself up against the occasionally overpowered mages that you’ll encounter in Skyrim, you won’t be dying as quickly.
Unfortunately, all things considered, being a Breton in Skyrim doesn’t really come with too many advantages.
If you’re patient enough, and you like their look, you can put in the time to train your Breton into a potent battle mage.
But, be warned. It will definitely take you a lot of time.
8. Race: Imperial
Versatility is always great to have in games, but in Skyrim, you’re better off being a master of one than being a jack of all trades.
Imperials are a good example of a race that seems intent on giving you the best of multiple worlds, only to end up falling short.
Like, for example, you get High Restoration, Destruction, and Enchanting as an Imperial, which might make them look like they’d make decent mages.
However, you also have One-Handed, Heavy Armor, and Block, which also means that the game isn’t really quite sure which way to steer you into.
If nothing else, being an Imperial is nice in Skyrim because you get access to Voice of the Emperor, which pretty much pacifies all humanoid threats around you for a full minute once a day.
Outside of that and wanting to play a slightly versatile humanoid race, the Imperial race in Skyrim isn’t really that good.
7. Race: Wood Elf / Bosmer
The Wood Elf or the Bosmer can make for the most dangerous stealth archers in Skyrim, which are not to be messed with.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all that they’re good for.
With bonuses on Sneak and Light Armor, as well as passives like Resist Disease and Poison, playing as a Wood Elf or Bosmer in Skyrim forces you to play a singular role.
This is nice, when you’re one-shitting most if not all enemies you encounter in the game. But, the lack of variety can get too boring too fast, so you can’t really get a lot out of playing the Wood Elf.
If you like sneaking about and solving your problems from afar, the Bosmer is a great option for a race in Skyrim.
If you prefer to have a little variety in your gameplay, then you might want to try a different race.
6. Race: Red Guard
Finally, we’re off to the more versatile if not better races in Skyrim.
The Red Guard has access to the Adrenaline Rush ability, which allows them to restore massive amounts of stamina for 60 seconds, basically allowing players to keep on charging with their power attacks and blocking attacks for a full minute with little to no repercussions.
If you’ve ever wanted to just go ham in Skyrim, the Red Guard is for you.
The race is pretty much all physical though.
Outside of the bonuses in Destruction and Alteration, Red Guard gets Archery, One-Handed, Blocking, and Smithing bonuses, which make them great melee warriors with a little bit of archery flair.
5. Race: Orc
The Orcs of Skyrim excel at being warriors, and pretty much nothing else.
Normally, that would’ve landed them way lower on our list, but the thing is, you can’t just deny just how awesome Orcs are when built as a hulking tank that’s just all but ready to decimate everything in its path.
Equipped with the properly enchanted Heavy Armor and with proper perks assigned, there’s no race that can soak up damage quite like an Orc in Skyrim.
Also, the great thing about the Orc in Skyrim is that all of their bonuses are meant to make them great warriors.
That means you can choose from a wide variety of weapons that you’re bound to be good at when it comes to pummeling your opponents to the ground.
4. Race: Dark Elf / Dunmer
If you want to play as a sneaky destructive combat mage that can also do a lot of damage from afar, then the Dunmer or Dark Elf is the race for you.
With Destruction raised all the way to 25 right from the start, you’ll be flinging fireballs and casting destructive spells at your opponents in no time.
Not to mention, because you’ve also got bonuses in Alternation, Illusion, Light Armor, and Sneak, catching you will be quite the difficult task for any of your opponents in Skyrim.
You also get a 50% Fire Resistance boost, which is just perfect.
I don’t know if you already know this, but dragons do breathe fire, and they’re quite common in Skyrim.
The only reason why we’re not ranking the Dark Elf any higher is because the Ancestral Wrath isn’t really that useful. 8 damage per second might get you out of a pinch early in the game.
However, once you get to at least level 25 or 30, that’s pretty much nothing already.
3. Race: High Elf / Altmer
From this point on, the three races of Skyrim on top of our list could easily be ranked as 1A, 1B, and 1C, because they’re all equally great.
The High Elf, or Altmer, for one, make for the best mages in Skyrim.
With bonuses in pretty much every magic-related skill in Skyrim, especially Illusion, as well as a +50 increase in Magicka right from the start, and the ability to regenerate insane amounts of Magicka, playing a High Elf in Skyrim lets you pretty much do everything that other races can only do using their special abilities.
The only difference? There’s no limit to how much you can do them!
If your goal is to fling spells all-day long, playing the Altmer or High Elf in Skyrim is for you.
2. Race: Khajiit
Arguably the game’s best assassins, playing as a Khajiit in Skyrim gives you huge bonuses in Sneak, Lockpicking, Pickpocket, One-Handed, Archery, as well as Alchemy.
While the Wood Elf might still make for better archers, no other race in Skyrim makes for more lethal killers.
This is especially true because Khajiit in Skyrim can do a lot of damage, even without any weapons.
In fact, early on, you’re better off clawing your enemies to death than using a sword, and you can even clear the entire game without ever picking up a weapon if you’re playing as a Khajiit.
Plus, the ability to see well in the dark is a boon for the many dimly lit areas that Skyrim has.
Night Eye lets the Khajiit go adventuring everywhere without any fear of setting off as many traps nor missing out on as many items.
1. Race: Argonian
If you’re going the sneaky thieves route instead of the sneaky assassins, then you might want to choose Argonian as your race in Skyrim.
With high Sneak and Pickpocket skill bonuses, playing as an Argonian in Skyrim literally lets you get away with stealing anything and everything you want.
Also, you’ll be saving a lot on lockpicks, since Argonians are considered the best at picking locks in all of Skyrim.
Another good thing about the Argonian race in Skyrim is that they have excellent Alteration and Restoration bonuses as well.
So, even though the race does indeed make for great thieves, they do get early access to the other more potent spells of the game, making them quite versatile as well.
At the end of the day, bonuses and special abilities that you get from your race of choice in Skyrim aren’t really game-breaking.
Sure, some races might technically be better at certain things compared to others.
However, as you play the game, you’ll learn and improve on your own as well, which means that you’ll find ways to cope with what your race isn’t able to do and achieve what you want to do, even if the race you choose isn’t particularly adept at it.
What’s important here is that you enjoy your choice and have fun.
After all, the entire point of Skyrim is to roleplay as whoever and whatever you want, so feel free to build an Orc mage if you want!