×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Epic Dragon Battles In Skyrim

First released in 2011, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is one of those games you play again and again. Though it has started to show its age, Skyrim continues to earn its place in the RPG hall of fame.

Skyrim was the first title in the Elder Scrolls series to incorporate randomly generated dragons in the wilderness. Named dragons also feature in many of the game's boss fights and much of the lore you uncover as the story unfolds. Playing as the Last Dragonborn, or "Dovahkiin," battling dragons is one of the main themes and biggest thrills of the game.

Like anything, dragon fighting can grow repetitive, especially for a high-level Dragonborn. But certain battles remain epic no matter how many ranks in archery you have or dragon souls you've absorbed. These encounters make the game stand out from the competition and continue to draw in fans, new and old. 

Here are the most epic dragon battles in Skyrim.

Double trouble

Shearpoint, one of Skyrim's dragon lairs, crowns the southern mountains of The Pale. Many details distinguish Shearpoint from other locations. Unlike other Word Walls, the one here contains all three words of power for the Throw Voice shout. 

If you've completed the quest "Dragon Rising," you must fight your way past both a leveled dragon and Krosis, one of the eight dragon priests in the game. Emerging from the sarcophagus blocking your path, he has several frost-based abilities at his disposal, though he favors his Staff of Fireballs. Shearpoint offers little space or cover, forcing you to rely upon stealth and strategy as you dart between trees and monuments. Companions come in handy, as Krosis uses the Ebonyflesh spell, rendering arrows almost useless. 

Though a challenging fight, Krosis' mask and the effectiveness of the Throw Voice shout make it worth the time, resources, and risk.

The dragon at Arcwind Point

You can reach Arcwind Point, an ancient Nordic tomb infested with high-level draugr, by trekking through one of two mountain passes in The Rift. Two squads of skeletons patrol the area, joining either a Draugr Deathlord or Dragon Priest.

If you have Dawnguard installed or have completed the "Dragon Rising" quest in the main game, a dragon will spawn near the top platform. When the dragon enters the location, the entombed draugr will reanimate and fight it. The dragon is leveled, with its stats and type adjusting to fit your progression. If you're over level 78, it will always spawn as a Legendary Dragon

The battle itself, set among the burial monuments and flurrying snow is intense and challenging. With little space to land, the dragon mostly keeps to the air, attacking mid-flight or while perched upon the surrounding columns. The added risk of the draugr and skeletons make this encounter especially tricky. If you can pull it off, and have Dawnguard installed, you can snag the Drain Vitality shout from the nearby Word Wall.

Skeletal Dragon

To complete "The Staff of Magnus" quest, the Dragonborn must traverse the Labyrinthian, the ruins of an ancient Nordic city dating back to the Merethic Era. At the heart of the crumbling ruins you will encounter the Skeletal Dragon, a fleshless creature made of bone. Grounded within the large ceremonial chamber, several skeletons accompany the Skeletal Dragon. Though it makes uses of the Fire and Frost Breath shouts, this dragon is unlike its living kin, bearing no dragon soul or scales. You also cannot tame or ride it using the Bend Will shout.

Forced to fight in cramped quarters, your best bet is to snipe the enemies from behind pillars. Attacking the dragon alerts the nearby skeletons to your presence; it's easy to end up with a face full of dragon fire and a rusted sword in your back. Whatever tactics you choose, you need to get the job done quickly. Regenerating health twenty times faster than a living dragon, the skeletal dragon will full heal almost instantly if you disengage before finishing it off.

Sahloknir

Sahloknir is a mini-boss encountered during the quest "A Blade in the Dark." Upon arriving at the Kynesgrove dragon burial mound, you discover Alduin resurrecting Sahloknir. According to legend, he was first killed during the First Era by Jorg Helmborg, a famed Nord hero. As Alduin performs the resurrection, Sahloknir's skeleton bursts from the burial mound. You can attack or watch as his flesh and scales regenerate, though interrupting at this stage will skip the lengthy dialogue between Sahloknir and Alduin.

Fighting alongside Delphine, you must slay Sahloknir and absorb his soul to prove you are the Dragonborn. This is a tricky battle as you must face Sahloknir with little cover. He deals higher damage and has greater resistance than other dragons you've encountered up to this point, leaving you to dodge from boulder to boulder while waiting for the right moment to attack. Landing a hit while Sahloknir is in the air can prove challenging, forcing you to wait until he's on the ground to deal the bulk of your damage.

Naaslaarum and Voslaarum

While travelling the Forgotten Vale in Dawnguard, you run across a large, frozen lake. Upon stepping on the surface, twin Revered Dragons burst forth from beneath the ice, treating you to an intense, two-pronged attack.

Naaslaarum and Voslaarum dart in and out of the lake, resurfacing at will, an ability that appears unique to them. Splitting your focus between water and sky, the dragons work together to disorient you. While distracted, they'll blast you with Fire Breath and Drain Vitality shouts. Spending much of their time diving or in flight, grounding the twins using Dragonrend is your best chance for success. Even so, you're forced to chip away at one before the other arrives to pin you in place. 

The frozen lake itself is an unforgiving location for battle, offering little cover and cracking underfoot each time a dragon enters or exits. If you take them down, the game rewards you with a Word Wall containing part of the Drain Vitality shout. They also have a chance of dropping some Daedric weapons or armor. Score.

Mirmulnir

Mirmulnir is the first dragon you fight and defeat in Skyrim. This is significant as absorbing his soul reveals your true identity as the Last Dragonborn.  Unlike many other dragons who serve Alduin, Mirmulnir was not raised from the dead but has been alive since the Merethic Era. He is one of a small number who escaped execution at the hands of the Blades. 

Mirmulnir relies upon his sharp teeth and Fire Breath shout to destroy his opposition. Depending on your level when entering the encounter, he may spawn in a stronger form such as a Blood or Ancient Dragon. As part of the "Dragon Rising" quest, you fight Mirmulnir alongside Housecarl Irileth and several Whiterun guards at the Western Watchtower outside of Whiterun. Winning requires a sound strategy, using the ruins of the wrecked tower as cover or climbing to the summit to pepper Mirmulnir with arrows or magic until he lands. Irileth and the guards create useful distractions, and the fight does a good job capturing the chaos and destruction of real warfare (if real-life battles had dragons).

Sahrotaar

You encounter Sahrotaar, a Serpentine Dragon, during the quest "At the Summit of Apocrypha" in the Dragonborn add-on. Though the game reveals little about his history, Sahrotaar has strong ties to Miraak, Dragonborn's main antagonist.

Set against a writhing green sky, the fight against Sahrotaar is one of the most visually appealing that Skyrim offers. Though similar to other dragons, his use of the Frost and Fire Breath shouts make the encounter deadly. He can kill an unwary Dragonborn within a matter of seconds so make sure you have your save files in order. 

After the combat, you use the Bend Will shout to tame, talk to, and ride him. Though considered Miraak's dragon, transferring his allegiance to the Last Dragonborn requires little effort. According to Sahrotaar "your thu'um is stronger," making Miraak unworthy of his service. The encounter ends with the Dragonborn mounting Sahrotaar and the pair flying off to destroy the First Dragonborn together.

Paarthurnax, The Old One

Paarthurnax is the leader and founder of the Greybeards. He teaches the Dragonborn the Fire Breath shout and helps him defeat Alduin. Later in the game, you discover Paarthurnax was once Alduin's lieutenant and persecuted mankind during the Merethic Era.

You have the option to kill Paarthurnax once you learn of his former allegiance, pitting the player against what was once a central ally. As Paarthurnax filled something of a mentor role in the Dragonborn's life, turning on him adds another layer of betrayal to a tale paved in treachery. Given his unusually tattered wings and decrepit appearance, slaying him kind of feels like attacking a defenseless old man. 

Though you can complete the main quest without killing him, it is necessary to continue the Blades storyline. Your choice muddies the lines of vengeance and redemption, highlighting what kind of Dragonborn you are and will one day become.

Durnehviir

The Dragonborn encounters Durnehviir while in pursuit of the Elder Scroll during the quest "Beyond Death" in Dawnguard. As an undead dragon, he is unique among his kind. Unlike his kin, who pursued more traditional combat forms, Durnehviir studied necromancy. 

Through his studies, Durnehviir sought to raise an undead army, a desire the Ideal Masters preyed on. The Ideal Masters agreed to grant him access to the undead of their realm; in return, he made a pact to watch over the Soul Cairn, guarding Valerica until she died. Unbeknownst to Durnehviir, Valerica was a vampire, binding him to the Soul Cairn for eternity through a nasty bit of trickery.

The reluctant guardian attacks you while in the Boneyard. He uses a special shout to summon Bonemen who the Dragonborn dispatches alongside Valerica and Serana. The moody purple backdrop and dissolving turrets contribute to the atmosphere of death and peril. Like his surroundings, Durnehviir appears to be falling apart. Flies surround his decaying form while fluid oozes from his scales. When you defeat him his body ignites with a unique purple fire though you do not absorb his soul. All in all, this is one of the most memorable and challenging dragon battles of the game.

Alduin, the World Eater

Alduin, also known as the Harbinger of the Apocalypse, is the black dragon who serves as Skyrim's primary antagonist. He first appears in the opening quest "Unbound," interrupting the then-unknown Dragonborn's execution and sending the surrounding encampment into utter chaos.

At the opposite end of the main quest, the player once more faces the World Eater, this time as a mighty (and hopefully highly leveled) hero. Defeating Alduin is a multi-step affair, further intensified by the buildup and research required to reach this point in the game. In the final battle, you must dispel the soul-consuming mist that enshrouds Sovngarde. You then take on Alduin, assisted by the original heroes who banished him. 

Souls you meet en route to the Hall of Valor may join you in the fight if they draw close enough or are struck by one of Alduin's attacks. Alduin's unique wordless shout, Meteor Storm, returns following its debut in the opening sequence. The game's visuals shine once again, treating you to a gleaming, multi-colored cosmos as the backdrop for the fight. You can take Alduin down using a variety of strategies, with the Dragonrend shout featuring prominently once again. 

Upon striking the killing blow, Alduin's body explodes and his soul is absorbed by the vortex above Sovngarde.