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Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim guide: how to slay your dragon

by Steven Williamson on 14 November 2011, 13:29

Tags: Bethesda Softworks

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Okay, so you've spent the weekend getting to grips with Skyrim's much-tougher-to-master combat system. You've worked out that giants are not be messed with, mammoths are tougher than they look and saving every ten minutes is the best course of action. You've headed out on missions equipped to the hilt with the best weapons, armour and enough health-regenerating potatoes to feed an entire army of Stormcloaks, yet still - even if you're the most battle-ready of Bretons - you can get caught out by one of the many tough enemies that Skyrim throws at you.

Some of the trickiest customers are the numerous dragons that sweep the skies and scour the land for victims. There are numerous dragon-slaying quests in Skyrim, but quite often they'll also appear when you're least expecting them, so it pays to be ready. Check out our top tips for beating Skyrim's dragons.

Note: some dragons are much tougher to kill than others. Though you'll be able to kill some of the dragons while at a lower level, we recommend reaching level 10 or above before you take them on.

Be prepared

1. Dragons breathe fire so make sure you have fire resist potions in your inventory and that you're wearing fire-resistant armour. You can pick up supplies from any of the major towns.

2. Potions and food that improve your stamina are also worth bringing with you. You may need to flee to cover and your stamina will drain quickly so keeping it topped up will help you out.

3. Potions and scrolls that improve Magicka or Destruction are worth taking to the fight. Using magic to slay dragons can be very effective.

4. Top up on 'ice resist' potions. Dragons can also breathe frost as well as fire.

5. Pimp up your major weapons at the blacksmith's, turning them into "fine" or "superior" models. It's also worth enchanting items. An enchanted bow will help you out big time in hurting a dragon from afar.


- If there are other enemies, or creatures, nearby, such as those cute (but not very friendly) woolly mammoths, the dragon will usually focus on them. Keep an eye on red dots on the map while fighting a dragon and head over that way to distract the dragon's attention. The dragon will attack those creatures giving you ample time to attack him from range, or to get up close while he's on the ground.

- If you're out in the open you'll have to tackle the dragon head-on, but always make note of your surroundings. There are often cover spots, behind rocks or inside buildings, where the dragon can't attack. Use cover to your advantage to watch the dragon's movements and bide yourself time to plan an attack

- While the dragon flies above you, use ranged attacks to wear him down. A bow and arrow is handy, but using destruction magic is also effective. The idea is to attract the dragon's attention and lure him to the ground where you can focus your attack.

- If you have a 'follower' with you command them to focus their attack on the dragon. Two fighters are definitely better than one.

- Heal whenever your health bar is a quarter full. One attack from the dragon can drain your bar rapidly so keep an eye on the damage it's doing at all times.

- Dual-wield spells and weapons – Use 'Sparks' and 'Flames' to blast the dragon from range and then dual-wield two one-handed swords to slice away at the dragon while on the ground.

- Use the block technique with a shield or a sword to deflect some of the fire damage when he breathes at you.

Survey your surroundings for cover spots

- . Track the dragon's movement in the sky. They'll often follow the same pattern. When they land on the ground head over and get ready to attack.

- Do not stand directly in front of the dragon otherwise he'll dish out a lot of damage when he attacks.

- Head to the back or side of the dragon and hack at him with your weapon. If you're using a two-handed weapon remember to execute a heavy attack to deal more damage. Dual-wield two swords, or use a heavy axe (superior or enchanted) to knock down his health bar. You can also use Destructive magic while up close.

- If you have a 'Shout' power that stuns or blasts fire, use it when the dragon is on the ground to give you the edge. Remember you can only use a 'Shout' power once it is charged, and this may take time for a full-power 'Shout'

- If you're low on health and have no potions or spells left that can help you replenish it, make a run for it. You can move out of the range of the dragon and give yourself time to heal automatically, or fast travel back to a town and stock up on health replenishing items before heading back.

Good luck, Dragonborns! You'll need it.

Stay tuned for the Skyrim review this week on HEXUS.

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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I've given one a few tasty chops with the Wuuthrad axe.
I couldn't get the last one I encountered to land! After flapping around frantically and cooking some poor innocent bystander I managed to take him down with my trusty glass bow and ancient Nord arrows. Hurrah!

Word of advice though, Mammoths are pretty tough so try not to pee them off.
I've killed one Mammoth, I just sat back in Sneak mode, and kept firing arrows, it never even saw me.
the dragons are much easier than giants its silly… i found the hard way that giants one hit lol!.

Ive killed 2 dragons, encountered 5…. i cant kill them as all they do is circle around me for HOURS they wont do anything or even attack me i try to hit them but cant hit with my arrows (probably my poor aim) was moving everywhere to get it to land and they never do so i gave up and waited 24 hours and it left.

Probably a stupid bug :(
They don't always breathe fire either, you may need frost resist potions armour too