What makes The Elders Scrolls such a brilliant RPG series is the expansive worlds that Bethesda builds - and the items and objects that fill it. Unique axes, maces, shields and chest pieces hide in dungeons, waiting to be discovered, and finding your new favorite, enchanted sword is every bit as rewarding as slaying a powerful boss.
In anticipation of The Elder Scrolls 6, and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, we’ve scoured Tamriel to find the items that we love the most.
Here are the best weapons, armor, scrolls and shields in The Elder Scrolls- along with some suggestions for what we’d like to see in Bethesda’s next game.
Wabbajack – Daggerfall/Oblivion/Skyrim
The Wabbajack is The Elder Scrolls’ most unpredictable weapon. Point it at an enemy and you might transform them into a sweetroll, but they may also morph into a powerful Daedra that can maul you in seconds.
In Daggerfall and Oblivion, the Wabbajack turns NPCs into a random creature. Skyrim’s version is even better: as well as transforming an enemy into a chicken or a book it might decapitate them, teleport them a short distance, or make them explode in a shower of Septims. That randomness can make fights harder - but the resultant chaos is always worth it.
Boots of Blinding Speed – Morrowind
For the small price of your eyesight, the Boots of Blinding Speed let you sprint around Morrowind as if you have rocket-powered shoes. You have no idea where you’re going thanks to the pure white light filling your screen- but you know you’ll get there very fast.
Certain enchantments, such as resist magic, will keep the blindness at bay so you can see where you’re going, but we prefer to leave it to chance.
Skull of Corruption – Daggerfall/Oblivion/Skyrim
A wonderfully evil item that, in both Daggerfall and Oblivion, spawns a duplicate of any enemy, forcing your foe to fight a corrupted copy of itself.
In Skyrim it’s different, but no less dastardly: it’s a regular staff that you power up by harvesting the dreams of NPCs. The more dreams you collect, the more damage the staff deals, and it can hit multiple enemies at once. Sleep with one eye open.
Severed Nord Leg – Morrowind’s Bloodmoon expansion
Dying by a sword or axe isn’t humiliating. Dying because you’ve been bashed over the head by a severed leg, however, is The Elder Scrolls’ ultimate embarrassment.
Part of the joy of getting this weapon is the beast you must kill to find it: it’s part troll, part gorilla, with glowing green eyes. It’s a tough fight, so stay limber.
Ebony Blade – Arena/Daggerfall/Oblivion/Skyrim
A beautiful, terrible sword that has become more twisted as the series has progressed. What started out as a weapon that leeched life from enemies when you slashed them has become, in Skyrim, a blade that hits harder the more friendly NPCs you slay with it.
You’ll have to kill 10 friendly characters to max out its stats, you awful, awful person.
Dawnbreaker - Skyrim
A sword that smacks the undead so hard they explode. That ability, deriving from an enchantment called Meridia's Retribution, is specific to Dawnbreaker, making it the best sword for cutting down Dragon Priests and Draugr.
These explosions of fire and flesh will damage any other undead enemies nearby, and some survivors will flee in fear. One to keep in mind for the zombie apocalypse, then.
Auriel's Shield – Arena/Daggerfall/Skyrim’s Dawnguard expansion
The Elder Scrolls has plenty of powerful shields that will deflect blades and arrows, but Auriel’s Shield is the only one that’s also a viable weapon.
In Arena, it healed you as you held it, in Daggerfall it reflected spells - but in Skyrim, it absorbs the energy from attacks that it blocks and, when you power bash, turns that energy back on your enemy, blasting them through the air. Who needs a fancy sword?
Scroll of Icarian Flight – Morrowind
You can’t fly in Bethesda’s RPGs - but this scroll is the next best thing. It boosts your acrobatics skill by 1,000 points, which basically makes you springier than Flubber on a trampoline, and you can jump halfway across the map in a single leap.
The way you discover it is one of Morrowind’s best moments: a wizard plummets from the sky, screaming. If you’re quick enough, you can save him with a Slow Fall spell, which is also the best way to safely land after you’ve gone airborne.
Bow of Shadows – Morrowind
This bow takes your stealthy archer build to another level. When wielded, you become invisible, raining down arrows on your opponents while they scan the horizon, clueless. You’ll also get a speed boost, which lets you dart from vantage point to vantage point, constantly flanking your enemies.
It hasn’t made an appearance since Morrowind, sadly - we’d love to see the damage it could do in Skyrim’s dungeons
Mehrunes' Razor – Daggerfall/Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim
Don’t judge it by its size: this dagger can take down any enemy in one hit. It has decent base damage, but on every strike there’s a small chance - around 2% in Skyrim- that you’ll one-shot an enemy.
That goes for dragons, daedra and Dwarven Centurions. Nobody is safe.
Armor of the Crusader – Oblivion’s Knight of the Nine expansion
Technically a group of items rather than just one, but the Armor of the Crusader deserves to be worn as a set, or displayed in its full glory on the Priory of the Nine’s armor stand. Each piece has its own benefits and abilities: the boots will cause usually-hostile animals to pay you no attention, for example.
Really, it’s on this list for how it looks. The red and gold diamond on a white background is iconic, and makes you look every inch a Knight of the Nine.
Bloodskal Blade – Skyrim’s Dragonborn expansion/Morrowind’s Bloodmoon expansion
Without mods, this is the closest you’ll get to a lightsaber in The Elder Scrolls. Power attacks send out a beam of energy that travels through both enemies and walls, letting you deal damage to large groups at once.
It has a devilish red tinge and mean-looking notches on either side of its giant blade. It also made an appearance in Morrowind’s Bloodmoon expansion, where it was simply called Bloodskal. That version looked more vanilla, though, and its effect was just plain old frost damage.
Eltonbrand – Morrowind
A shiny gold katana that smites your enemies with extra fire damage. To obtain it, you first need to obtain the Goldbrand sword and then follow a set of ridiculously precise steps, including having exactly 11,171 gold to your name.
It’s also, to our knowledge, the only Elder Scrolls weapon named after an NBA Basketball player. That player is Elton Brand, who went to Duke University - the developer that made it was a huge Duke fan, and when you pick up the weapon you’ll see the message “Go to hell, Carolina!"
Dawnfang and Duskfang – Oblivion’s Shivering Isles expansion
Two swords for the price of one, this blade is fiery Dawnfang by day, and frosty Duskfang by night, changing colour as the sun sets. As if a transforming sword wasn’t cool enough, it’ll also track how many enemies you’ve killed with it.
Slice up 12 foes before it changes form and you’ll get a superior version the next day that absorbs health or magicka from enemies.
Glass Bow of the Stag Prince - Skyrim’s Dragonborn expansion
Unless we’re roleplaying a ranger, we never really find a reason to hunt in Skyrim beyond the first few hours. But the Glass Bow of the Stag Prince changes that: for every 20 animals you kill, you gain a blessing that boosts your health and stamina.
That’s reason enough to stay on the tail of every stray deer - just try not to think about Bambi.
Skooma – Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim
A few items we’d like to see in The Elder Scrolls 6
We’re sure Bethesda has plenty of unique weapons and armor pieces planned for The Elder Scrolls 6, but here are some specific items we’d like to see in the game when it finally arrives...
Gloves of Fire (or ice, or lightning)
We enjoy enchanting our weapons with special effects, but we wish we could swap out those enchantments to match the enemy we’re facing. To keep that lore-friendly, Bethesda could add magic gloves that imbue whatever weapon you’re holding with a particular effect. The gloves of fire, for instance, would set your sword ablaze - gloves of lightning would add a spark to each of your arrows. It’d make character builds more flexible, and give us a way of adapting to different threats.
Spears haven’t been in The Elder Scrolls since Morrowind. They were fun, but we’d love to see how they’d work in Bethesda’s updated engine, and it’d create a new fighting style to master.
Free Horse Armor
We’ll never forget Bethesda’s ridiculous $2.50 Horse Armor DLC - but we did miss the ability to customise our mounts in Skyrim. We’d like to be able to deck them out in the colors of our choosing, and the extra protection would also make horseback combat more viable.
Speaking of customization: shields need some livening up. Bethesda should let players pick a design or coat of arms to display on the front of their shield - a pack of lions, or a group of Mudcrabs, perhaps. Maybe you could take them to a tailor for a new paint job, and buy new designs as you roamed the world.
Holding a torch all the time is annoying, which is the reason there are tons of wearable lantern mods. It’s a lore-friendly method for lightning your way through dungeons, and you can keep both hands free to do battle.
Pouches and backpacks
In every Elder Scrolls game we end up carrying five swords, three shields, and stacks of potion, with no sign of where our character actually keeps them. Pouches and backpacks would add some visual flair to our hero, as well as explaining where all those items are stashed.
Never take it away from us.