Dark Souls vs. Skyrim: Which Game is Better for You?

Fire breathing dragons, enemy filled dungeons, fantastical creatures, and magical abilities are some of the few aspects these 2 games have in common. Despite these few similarities, they couldn’t be more different.

Now with Dark Souls Remastered and Skyrim Remastered, there’s a chance to replay your favorite games with a few improvements. You might be wondering which game is better than the other, and there’s not really a clear answer to that.

Fans of both games have hated one or the other for years, yet they haven’t considered that these games are great in their own ways. I’m going to take you through many differences between the two games and talk about how they make both games unique.

Character customization

Dark Souls character customization is pretty bare bones. You can choose from a few different character models, and customize some of their features, but that’s about it.

I’ll be quite blunt here: Dark Souls characters look hideous. Granted you’ll spend the majority of the time looking undead, but as a human, you don’t look much better than that

There is a class system at the beginning of the game, though your build will most likely change during the course of your playthrough. You have an option to choose a burial gift which has the potential to make your playthrough much easier if you choose the correct items.

There are other class options such as Deprived, which are for the most hardcore players and speedrunners. Whichever class you choose, it will help you through the beginning stages of the game. After you collect a few weapons and start leveling up, you’ll most likely be in a different build than your original class.

Overall, Dark Souls really isn’t about the character you create, but mostly the build you create with the character. Your face will most likely be obscured by a helmet anyway, so it’s an option many people just ignore.


Skyrim character creation, on the other hand, is much more robust than Dark Souls. From the very start of the game, you can choose your character from 10 available races.

Each race has their own abilities and benefits, such as the Argonian lizard race which gives you 50% resistance to disease and allows you to breathe underwater. Other classes will give you things such as increased magic resistance, improved night vision, or the ability to turn animals into allies.

Once you finally choose which class you’re gonna spend dozens of hours playing as you now get to customize how the character looks. Bethesda games usually have pretty good character creation in them, and Skyrim is no different.

You are able to customize pretty much all of the facial features, change skin color and heights, add tattoos and scars, and make your character look as awesome or as hideous as you want. To finish it off, you create the name for your character.

Make sure you like how your character looks without armor because of you and your avatar will be together for a long time.

Difficulty

Dark Souls is a challenging game. There’s no doubt about that. My brother wrote a post discussing the difficulty of Dark Souls where he wrote about various aspects of the game that make it hard.

It might be a very difficult game, but there’s no other game I have ever played that felt so rewarding to finish. My first playthrough of the game I kept thinking I’d never finish it.

I raged, tried over and over to get through certain areas, and thought about just giving up. Then the time came when I beat the final boss. I literally was sad to see the credits start rolling up, as I knew my amazing journey had come to an end.

Reviewers often make “Dark Souls” synonymous with “hard,” which really isn’t a good description. Dark Souls is difficult because it doesn’t hold your hand. The game tells you some basic controls, but that’s it.

From there you must glean helpful information from the cryptic dialog of NPC’s, and you blindly stumble your way through the world. You’ll die, respawn, and then die again. You’ll die way more times than you can count.

Each death is a learning experience that’ll progress you further into the game. After dying dozens of times in an area, you may discover an alternate route to completely bypass the hard part.

The game gives you TONS of options for each area and boss, and your job is to figure it out. The true difficulty of the game is learning how to do things for yourself.


Skyrim isn’t exactly known for its difficulty. There are 6 different difficulty settings: Novice (very easy), Apprentice (easy), Adept (normal), Expert (hard), Master (very hard), and Legendary (pro).

If you play at higher difficulties, the game becomes hard for all the wrong reasons. Basically, the higher the level you are, you deal less damage and receive more damage.

With increased difficulty it now takes stabbing an enemy 10 times to defeat them then the 3 it took before. The same enemy now also needs fewer hits to defeat you.

For the optimal experience, just play at the Adept difficulty. There is so much to see and do in Skyrim that you won’t want to be burdened with taking 10 minutes to defeat basic enemies.

Open world

The world in Dark Souls isn’t huge, but it sure feels like it. This is mostly because you have to take your time going through and, and you can’t leisurely explore every nook and cranny.

Every corner you turn might have an enemy waiting in ambush, or a trap ready to impale you. The landscape isn’t sprawling, but the depth is just incredible.

I remember the first time I walked into the Demon Ruins and was amazed by how huge the area was. The excitement I got from the thought of slowly and cautiously exploring a world that was foreign to me, as open-world games normally allow you to go wherever you want without consequence.

If the Dark Souls world was paired with Skyrim gameplay, it just wouldn’t seem big at all. Dark Souls feels like an entirely new and terrifying world because of how slowly you get to explore it.


Skyrim, on the other hand, is one of the kings of open-world games. When you think of Skyrim, you automatically think of the sprawling open-world and all of the things to do in it.

I played the game several years after it had been out, and was amazed at all of the content they packed into it. I put 50 hours into it in a short amount of time and felt like I barely made a dent.

The graphics aren’t great, but somehow the world still looks beautiful. There is a good assortment of areas from snowy to mountainous, and there are so many things to do throughout these areas.

I rarely get to my marker without getting sidetracked by an enemy or location. Part of the fun of exploring is being able to go places whenever you want and do whatever you want.

The open-world in Skyrim may not give the same amount of depth that Dark Souls has, but it’s much larger and it still is a joy to explore.

Quests

In Dark Souls, quests are not straightforward at all. For example, one of the first goals in the game is to ring two bells. The only way to find this out is by talking to an NPC, and all he says is to find the bells and ring them.

Where are these bells? How do I get to them? Where do I even start?? This was my reaction to the NPC, so I wandered off blindly to seek out the mystery bells.

Any quest that happens in this game is something you need to figure out entirely on your own. There isn’t any quest marker or way to view quests, and most of the time you don’t even know where you are.

The NPC’s that appear in various places around the world will give you information, but what you do with that info is up to you. When you finally have that “AHA!” moment, you’ll feel much more accomplished than following some lame quest marker.


Skyrim quests are seemingly endless, and actually can be endless with the Radiant Quest System. Everywhere you go you’ll pick up new quests to complete.

Eventually, you’ll have so many quests you won’t know which ones to tackle first. Unlike Dark Souls, the quests are completely laid out in front of you with clear instructions on what to do.

Sometimes the quest will give you a choice on how they can be solved, but most of the time the choices don’t have a profound effect on anything. The quests are fun but can grow repetitive over time.

I spend most of my time running around the world exploring caves and completing dungeons rather than finishing the dozens of quests I’ve accrued.

Story

Dark Soul’s story, like everything else in the game, isn’t directly made clear. There is some pretty deep lore in the Souls series, but none of it is really obvious.

The start of the game gives you an opening cutscene to give you some context, but after that, you must learn from the world itself. There are several different ending you can get based on certain actions you take, but it’s not really possible to know this beforehand.

When you really dive deep into the lore of the series, it’s really quite enjoyable to learn more about it. The world is just a creepy and messed up place, and it becomes even more so when you read the history behind how it got that way.

It’s not a typical story, but it isn’t a typical game. The game doesn’t make the story clear as you play it, but digging into how this intriguing world came to be is a great experience.


The story in Skyrim isn’t groundbreaking, but it is enjoyable to play through. Personally, I find myself exploring and doing side-quests more than I play the main story quests.

The story quests usually take around 30 hours to complete, depending on how quickly you complete them. That’s a lot of missions, so you’ll get quite a bit of playtime even if you don’t do any exploring.

It’s the typical “follow the quest marker and complete the mission” style of story, but it’s still a fun experience. Overall I wouldn’t buy Skyrim just for the story, but it’s a fun addition worth playing through.

Boss fights

It’s hard to write about Dark Souls without mentioning the staple of the series. The boss fights in Dark Souls are unparalleled when it comes to difficulty and excitement.

You need to be precise, skilled, and knowledgeable about their attacks. Without knowing the boss, it’s much harder to defeat them.

There are bosses in this game that are just horrendous (*cough* Bed of Chaos *Cough*), and will make you want to tear your hair out. Fortunately most arent like this, and they are actually enjoyable to fight.

I could go on for hours talking about the 26 bosses in this game. Here is another article where we ranked the bosses in order of difficulty.

If you haven’t experienced the rush of beating a boss in Dark Souls, you need to try it at least once. There’s barely anything else in gaming that tops the thrill of beating a difficult boss for the first time.


The best way to describe the bosses in Skyrim is “meh.” There really isn’t anything special about them. They essentially are reskinned enemies with more health.

The final boss was way less exciting then you though it was going to be, and beating him doesn’t have any effects on the world. It’s worth doing once, but after that, it won’t interest you anymore.

The thrill of fighting dragons gets old quickly, as dragons will seemingly spawn everywhere you go. It gets quite annoying trying to complete a quest when suddenly a dragon comes out of nowhere to attack you.

You at least get some good gear and upgrades for fighting the bosses. I just personally thought Skyrim’s boss fights were uninteresting and sometimes boring.

DLC

Dark Soul’s DLC content was much less than I was expecting. It adds some of the hardest bosses in the game, but after I beat it I thought, “Wait, that’s it?”

The DLC was a fun experience but really didn’t add much content. Figuring out how to start it was a long process as well. I’m really not sure how people are supposed to figure that out without using a guide.

I enjoyed the DLC, but I wish there was more of it. The bosses really beat me up though, so I really enjoyed dispatching of them. One of these bosses is a contender for the best boss in the entire series, so I’ll leave you to figure out which one that is.


The DLC in Skyrim added quite a bit of content. Thankfully all 3 DLC’s come with Skyrim Special Edition, so I didn’t need to buy them separately.

Some people online say that you can easily get 20+ hours out of each of the expansions, provided you do a lot of exploring along the way. These expansions add some pretty cool new maps to explore, along with some decent stories to follow.

New abilities are added, such as the ability to transform into a vampire. You also get a few new shouts in there as well. If you love the base game, then definitely get the DLC’s.

Combat

Dark Souls combat is brutal, satisfying, and risky. One wrong move and your progress since the last bonfire gets reset. This can be very frustrating at times, but you’ll learn from your mistakes.

Every enemy you come across is different, and they all pose different challenges to the player. Every player will struggle with different enemies, although there are some enemies like the Anor Londo archers that are universally hated.

The game has tons of weapons and magic abilities, each equipped with their own movesets and stats. There is so much packed into this game that certain combat aspects make my head spin trying to comprehend them.

Besides the PvE gameplay, there’s a large community of PvP players. Your world can be invaded by real players whose only goal is to find you and destroy you.

Combat is a core mechanic of Dark Souls, and its genius design contributes to the game’s praise.


Skyrim’s combat is cited by many as being stiff and repetitive, but you know what? It’s still fun.

I seriously can’t get enough of Fus Ro Dahing my enemies off a high bridge into the ocean. Whether it be raising up fallen foes as personal zombie minions or summoning dragons from another realm, there are some insanely creative ways to dispatch enemies.

It’s a Bethesda game with an outdated engine, but the wonky physics make it even more enjoyable. One time I walked into an NPC house and bumped into the table. A cup from the table flew straight into an NPC, causing him to fly across the room and die.

I really don’t care if it feels old, because it’s just so much fun. Some of the finishers you can do on enemies are pretty cool too.

Conclusion

Dark Souls and Skyrim are 2 very different games intended for different audiences. If you’re one of the many people like me who love both games, you understand why they are both so unique and enjoyable.

If you haven’t played one or the other, you really should give them a try. They are both great games worth playing, even many years after they were released.

Jay Simmons

I love writing about games and sharing helpful info with others. Whether it be exploring a vast open world or uncovering lore, I always enjoy learning about my favorite games.

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