Skyrim: Legendary Difficulty Guide

The new Legendary difficulty will challenge even the most hardcore Dovahkiin in Skyrim. That’s why we’ve put together a guide in honor of Bethesda’s Legendary Edition re-release, containing all three major DLC add-ons to their open-ended RPG opus. See what’s different in this difficulty level, how to exploit it, and how to survive with our guide below.

For even more Elder Scrolls awesomeness, check out the Skyrim Survival Guide, featuring every easter egg, exploit, and glitch on Game Front. If it’s step-by-step help with every story quest you’re looking for, browse our Skyrim, Dawnguard, or the Dragonborn walkthroughs.

Legendary Difficulty Guide

Legendary Difficulty Modifiers: Three times (3x) more damage received, one-quarter (1/4) damage output.

Legendary Difficulty, in essence, is twice as difficult as Skyrim’s previous highest difficulty level. Enemies’ attacks deal three times more damage, while the Dragonborn’s attack damage is cut down to one-quarter it’s original amount.

Example: An enemy hits for 25 damage, and the Dragonborn attacks for 40 damage. On Legendary difficulty, enemies will hit for 75 damage, while the Dragonborn will attack for 10 damage.

Difficulty can be changed at any time (out of combat) in the options menu. If Legendary is too challenging, there’s no penalty for lowering the difficulty settings.

The Benefits & Drawbacks of Legendary Difficulty

Combat skill growth sees a vast increase compared to certain other skills. Weapon skills (one-handed, two-handed, archery) and some mage skills will improve at a faster.

Enemies require many more strikes to take down. Your combat skills will improve faster, because they’ll require more use for each battle.

But, because enemies are so much more powerful, evading will save the Dragonborn earlier on until you’re able to acquire some of the unique armor sets found in the links below.

Combat skills will improve, but armor skills will flounder. Other skills (sneak, speech, etc) won’t be effected by the increased combat difficulty.

Legendary difficulty goes hand-in-hand with the new Legendary skills (learn all about Legendary Skills here). One way to quickly farm skill points is by altering the difficulty. Earn the best gear in the game, then turn up the difficulty — your combat skills will rank up much faster, making farming easier.

This can be exploited; turning the difficulty up to Legendary during the Greybeard training sequence and attacking your trainer, or by sneak-attacking Ralof in Helgen Keep at the beginning of the game.

Inversely, by lowering the difficulty the Dragonborn can stand still and allow weak enemies to attack him or her, earning quick and easy armor perk points over time.

Surviving Legendary Difficulty

Damage is modified with Legendary difficulty, but nothing else is changed. The best weapons and gear are still great. Instead of making the Dragonborn incredibly powerful, unique items are required to survive.

Check out more of our guides to get the best weapons, gear, and spells in Skyrim:

Source: [1], [2]

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8 Comments on Skyrim: Legendary Difficulty Guide


On June 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I’m all for armor locations and spells but can’t see the place of cheats or exploits in a guide about beating the highest difficulty. You haven’t really accomplished anything by exploiting and you only serve to damage your own skill. In place of exploits, builds should have been. What’s the most effective combination of perks/armor/potions, how to dodge projectiles, best area’s for beginners, and why you should always have a companion on that difficulty on the lower levels.

I’ve played over 1000 hours of skyrim and can say that if you have played master difficulty, there is nothing new here. Bethesda need to learn how to improve difficulty the smart way, instead of the dumb way (increasing health and damage).

Kevin Thielenhaus

On June 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm


The strategies listed above aren’t really “exploits” in the sense most gamers throw the word around. That implies that the player is using the systems in a way the developers did not intend. Up to patch 1.9 and three downloadable additions, no changes have been made to the difficulty system.

There’s no true exploitation here. It’s no different than turning up the difficulty in Borderlands or Diablo to earn better loot and to gain experience faster in exchange for more challenge. Activating Legendary difficulty causes certain (combat) skills to naturally increase much faster.

Sometimes people like to play their own way, so I don’t see any harm in discussing how the different difficulties affect stat growth. It doesn’t really push people to get more skilled, there’s no denying that.

Basically, the best builds for Legendary difficulty are all about damage and avoidance. Do more damage, try to avoid more attacks — it’s a good topic to go into, and one I’m sure you know all about!

It is kind of unfortunate that Bethesda designed the difficulty settings this way. Something like New Vegas’ Hardcore mode would be a lot more interesting.


On June 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

I would like a hardcore mode in skyrim, that would be awesome.

About the combat, you are mostly right. You have to dodge a lot of attacks on master or be able to heal. Bethesda makes great game worlds but they fail to make each play style truly unique. Stealth needs an overhaul. You should be able to walk up behind someone and strangle them, they need to add thief tools like grappling hooks, and they need to add bomb or throwing daggers.

Aside from stealth, the spell system was a disappointment. You should be able to combine spells in the game. I want to combine an earth magic with a fire magic to make a meteor. Each spell should also have the choice of casting style. for example, on target, on self, or area of effect.

The A.I. in the game was still as bad as the other elder scrolls as well. Yes they finally added a.i. that will run when they are about to die but they can take is so much further. Every time I encounter a group they all act as if they don’t have allies. No one will heal each other and none of the heavily armored will be up front to take the brunt of the attack.

Sorry for a bit of a rant but you mentioned a problem and I just had to elaborate. Anyway thanks for your input!


On December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Yes too bloody right. and to all of what you said. especially for me the play through, i do one and you can be the fighter, mage, and thief all in one. It leaves no replay ability, I rather baulders gate 2 style, or something that makes you have a different exp each time you play a different class. they did make it a bit better after oblivion though.


On July 2, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I bought legendary skyrim for my 360. I just leveled my smithing to 100, but the option doesn’t appear for me to legendary it. Has anyone else had this problem. Please help. I already had the regular skyrim, but bought the legendary to get all of my perks. Feel like I wasted my money :(


On July 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Wow your completely wrong your skills level up way slower because your dealing way less damage

K Le Blanc

On January 18, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Where it helps is in armor not so much in weapons, as you are able to shug off damage the faster you level up, as long as don’t die.