This article provides suggestions on combat techniques.
The specific controls on how to attack are different for different weapons, but they are all controlled using the right mouse button. First, you must draw your weapon (you cannot attack without it out) by clicking on the Toggle Weapon ("Crossed Swords") icon or pressing the A key. To attack with non-ranged weapons (e.g., swords, staves, maces), click and hold the right mouse button and move the mouse. Moving the cursor up or down is a thrust or a chop; moving from side to side is a slash. For ranged attacks, such as with bows or spells, targeting the foe with the cursor will send the arrow/spell that way. At close ranges though, the arrow/spell tend to angle more towards the center of the screen, so some adjusting might be necessary. To sheathe your weapon, click the Toggle Weapon icon again.
There are different tactics on taking down baddies, all depending on the type of foe you are fighting. This article lists all of the monster and gives several tips on how to fight each.
There is more to this kind of fighting than just randomly swinging the cursor. Here are some things to consider:
- When you and your opponent attack at the same time, you will parry the attack (or the foe will parry yours, depending on your point of view). That is why it is important to always watch the enemy's attack.
- When you make a successful hit, more often than not, the foe will make some sort of sound as well as a bleeding animation on the opponent.
- Stabs are less likely to be deflected, but they leave you open to counterattack.
- The better quality metal your weapon is made out of, the more damage it does. From worst to best: Iron, Steel, Silver, Elven, Dwarven, Mithril, Adamantium, and Ebony.
- Different types of swords also do different amounts of damage. Generally, the longer the weapon, the more damage it does.
- The optimal position for your target is the dead center of the screen. So you should begin by turning to the left or right so that the target is centered.
- In order to get the weapon to slash, thrust or chop you will need to hold down the right mouse button continuously and move the mouse so that the cursor changes. For example, a slash from the right starts with the cursor on the right side of the screen showing a right pointing arc, moves through the X cursor over the target, and finishes showing a left pointing arc that can in turn begin a slash from the left. A forward thrust starts with the cursor at the bottom of the screen showing a down arrow, moves through the X cursor over the target, and finishes with the cursor at the top of the screen showing an up pointing arrow that can in turn begin a downward chop. The cursor changes at fixed but invisible boundaries on the screen. Practice so that the cursor movements go just over those boundaries to increase the rate of strikes. If you make movements that do not change the cursor, no strike will occur.
Bows are good for ranged attacks, especially if you prefer to be out of range of your enemy. Some things to consider when using bows:
- Bows do not need arrows. They wear out eventually, though, which is in its way like running out of arrows.
- The quality of the bow determines the damage done and the rate of attack by the arrows. The best bow in the game, the Artifact Auriel's Bow is almost like a machine gun, shooting off several arrows per second.
- The arrows are aimed by the cursor; however, they tend to angle more towards the center of the screen. Most of the time it isn't an issue, but you might have to adjust your aim.
- Bows are great for those enemies you can't easily reach, like when a few square tiles of water divide you (since most opponents you'll meet can't cross water).
- Choose a spell by clicking the Cast Spell ("Sunburst") icon or pressing the C key. A list will pop up in the lower right of the screen listing all the spells you know. Select one you would like to use, aim at the target if necessary, and let it fly. To cast the same spell again, you can right-click the Cast Spell icon or press the Shift-C key to save time.
- To use a magic item's dweomer, click on the Use Magic Item icon or press the U key. You'll see a list in the lower right of the screen showing all the magic items you can use. Select the one you want, aim at the target if necessary, and release.
- Be careful when using target-explosion spells, because if you get too close, you will be affected by it as well. Spells designed for explosions centered around yourself (e.g., Firestorm) are O.K., though.
- When casting from behind a corner, be sure to walk out into the open before firing the spell; otherwise, the spell will rebound against the wall, even if it seems you have just enough room to let it slip through. Although going out into the open may not be in your best interests....
- Always keep a lookout at your spell points. Once they reach zero, you are powerless until the next time you rest or use a Potion of Restore Power.
 Environmental Features
Apart from the fighting itself, there are a lot of strategies to tactically use the environment to your advantage. For example, in a dungeon there may be a enemy that uses ranged or magic attacks, and there also may be a pillar. You can use that pillar to your advantage by separating you and the enemy with it. If not aware of these things however, you might find yourself quickly dying.
Water is probably one of the greatest environmental effects on general combat. In dungeons, they commonly separate hallways or flood across rooms. The greatest risk of being in water is being unable to attack. Which means that the enemies on dry land can still hack away at you, yet you will be helpless. This is made even worse by the fact that you have to climb out of the water to be able to attack, which by itself takes a few precious seconds. If you are hit while you are climbing, or you accidentally attack too soon, you will be thrown off back into the water. For places that are transversed by water in only 1 tile, it is a good idea to jump to the other side (Shift-J). For 2 or more tiles, you will not make it that way unless you are a Khajiit and/or Acrobat, and it might be best to consider a ranged weapon. If you fall into the water while jumping, it is best to swim back to the side you jumped from and try again. You will sustain less damage that way than if you try to climb up onto the opposing bank.
Swimming in water is also very tiresome. Your fatigue will drop dramatically during shorter periods of time, so be sure to plan for any excessively long swims in the water. If you run out of fatigue, you will drown. You will also drown if you get paralyzed while in water.
- Always listen to the game. The sounds will let you know whether or not you have been spotted and even who is chasing you. You will definitely hear if a door is opened. However, keep in mind that doors that are open will soon close automatically so if you hear a door making a noise it could just be a door that you have opened closing on its own.
- Each creature also has its own distinct sound. For example rats generally make a high pitched squeak and goblins make a distinctive growl.
- During combat, keep an eye on your enemy. In melee, it will let you know when to attack and when to deflect. In ranged, you will know when to dodge attacks and when to attack to get the maxium effect out of your spells or arrows.
- Use the terrain to your advantage. If you are being chased by a melee foe, put a body of water between it and you. If you are a mage, you can magically lock doors behind you.
- While it may seem obvious, remember to pace yourself and note down the safer places to rest. Combat (and enemy speed) is generally faster than in later games in the series, and progressing too fast into an unsecured area can be fatal at any level. Sleeping off damage/fatigue/magic loss can also can take longer than in other TES games, so rest whenever the opportunity presents itself. In other words, take things slowly.
- Get cure disease and poison potions from the Mages Guild. There are various weapons, armor and items that can be purchased and found that will cure poison, but only potions can cure diseases [verification needed — This needs to be checked further]. Therefore, get 5 potions of cure disease at a minimum before embarking in a dungeon. One may find that death is not too far away when fighting ghouls and/or monsters that transmit diseases.
- If a monster at the edge of a trench is prohibiting you from climbing it, or if you are blocked from moving in a trench because there is a monster actually in the trench with you (flying monsters such as ghosts can hover above a trench), the best way to get rid of it is with an offensive spell that affects an area centered on the caster. Keep casting until the monster is kaput. If you can in fact see the monster, an offensive spell that works on touch will work for less magicka.