Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
The Skyrim Endgame Most Players Won’t Experience
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Skyrim is a massive game. You can play for hundreds of hours and still be doing content. For most players though, they may never see the game’s toughest content which comes in the form of insanely hard to beat enemies.
Basically once you start hitting certain levels you’ll be able to encounter the game’s biggest challenges. You don’t have to be the highest level in order to see this content, though. Skyrim has plenty to throw at you starting at level 35.
As you rise in level the dragons you encounter in the game get progressively harder. Starting at level 35 you’ll activate a chance that a dragon in the skies could be much more powerful than the previous type. At that point in the game you’ll have fought against normal Dragons, Blood Dragons, Frost Dragons, and even Elder Dragons. The chance that activates at level 35 starts to throw even stronger challenges at you, though.
Without the DLC this is the strongest dragon you can face in Skyrim. Ancient Dragons become a possible encounter beginning at level 35 but once you hit 50 they are extremely common. As you rise from level 35 and on they will become easier to find.
Ancient Dragons are similar to Elder ones except they are stronger, have much more health, and very high defense. It will take a lot to pummel these guys down.
You’ll meet two of these guys during the Dawnguard questline and you fight them both at the same time on a frozen lake. This can obviously happen before level 42, though. That means this scripted encounter will not show you the full strength of a Revered Dragon, so don’t be fooled by the fight.
Revered Dragons can drop Daedric armor and weapons which are great rewards but you’ll have a tough time getting it out of them. These dragons have Drain Vitality which makes them even deadlier.
These Dragons are rare and stay that way no matter what level you reach but when they do arrive you sure know about it. They have the Drain Vitality skill as well as both the Frost and Fire Breath attacks. They rarely land which makes the fight even harder due to the ranged nature.
Legendary Dragons have tons of health and are easy to point out due to their unique in-game model. They are black, purple, have curved horns, and a bunch of eyes.
As you can see, the game’s Dragons change drastically once you begin to level up. The game’s main story and even the DLC questlines won’t normally take you anywhere close to level 50 so this is going to require dedication and lots of time. You’ll be exploring every inch of Skyrim on your way to activating these fights.
Unlocking powerful dragons isn’t the only endgame unlock you get if you decide to level up very high. If you have the Dragonborn DLC you’ll be able to unlock the hardest boss in the game.
The Ebony Warrior
You must have the Dragonborn DLC and be at level 80 to unlock this quest. This is the hardest fight in the game and you must be prepared for an extremely tough fight on a difficult arena. To begin the quest once you’ve reached the required level is easy, you’ll be randomly approached by an armored warrior.
The Ebony Warrior is clad in, you guessed it, Ebony armor and talks about his spoils of combat. He then asks that you send him to Sovngarde as his reward. Yes, he wants you to kill him in an honorable fight. He’ll ask you to meet him high up on a mountain where falling is a very real possibility during this encounter.
This is the most insane fight that you’ll go through. The Ebony Warrior has tons of tons in the One-Handed, Heavy Armor, Archery, Block, Magic, and a few other skills not in trees. He is immune to a handful of magics and resistant to shock, frost, and fire by half.
Not only that, he has a bunch of magic at his disposal that will make the fight a living hell for you. He constantly uses Frost Cloak which shields him and hurts you at the same time. He can paralyze you for 15 seconds making you easy prey. He can shout with Unrelenting Force somehow.
If you try and keep your distance, he’ll pull out a bow and shoot you down. If you stay close he can take you out within seconds. Oh, and his enchanted armor regenerates his health as you strike at him.
Couple all of that with the falling possibility thanks to his shout and you’re in for a truly epic confrontation. The Ebony Warrior is no joke. Bethesda basically thought up of an enemy that can counter our built up heroes and give us a final battle worthy of the Dragonborn and his triumphs.
As I said above, the main game and DLC quests won’t bring you near these levels. Starting at 35 you can begin seeing Ancient Dragons but as you rise in level you’ll begin to see that those are just the tip of the iceberg. Bethesda wanted to make the game more challenging for the dedicated few that will continue playing and exploring. The extra strong Dragons were a nice touch but the Ebony Warrior is just evil and infuriating — in a good way!
If you want to experience all that Skyrim has to offer, you’ll need to temper your character to an obscene height. If you’ve explored Skyrim once or twice over, comb over it again and again. There are epic dragons and a true test awaiting the Dragonborn. You just have to sink in tons of more hours to see them. This is endgame, folks!