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The ability to have AI-controlled companions has been a nice feature in many of the Elder Scrolls games. They not only help to stave off loneliness in a sometimes bleak and cold world but also carry the burdens of traveling alongside the player, both figuratively and literally.
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Skyrim is a diverse land with many adventurers seeking knowledge, power, and riches. In their search, some may align themselves with the Dragonborn, although not all followers are made equal. Some lack the necessary qualities to be genuinely useful, acting as baggage. Others, however, can be stalwart shields, deadly damage-dealers, or supportive healers.
Updated on July 19, 2021, by Reyadh Rahaman: While which traveling ally the player chooses to have their back is a subjective matter, there are definitely those that can be more useful due to being proportionately stronger, more supportive, or just have better AI that won"t trigger traps and stand in the player"s ways.
It is also important to consider the Dragonborn"s own strengths and weaknesses, as picking up a follower who can unleash a different kind of damage than the player can increase one"s battle potency against an even greater variety of enemies. There are even non-humanoid followers that players can join forces with while traversing Tamriel"s northernmost province.
10 Armored Troll
For a price, players who have the Dawnguard DLC can hire an armored troll, or armored frost troll, as a follower from Fort Dawnguard after a certain part of the DLC questline has been completed. These brutes may not be capable of conversation, sneaking, or interacting with humanoid NPCs, but they sure do pack a punch in combat.
Usually, facing off against a troll is tedious due to their great health regeneration, but now players can have that very same trait on their side through a bestial companion reinforced with armor on top of their already resilient hide.
9 Brelyna Maryon
This mage can be found in the College of Winterhold and players will gain the potential to recruit her as an ally after they help her with a magickal experiment. Unlike a few other spell-slingers that the Dragonborn can ally with in the game, Brelyna can do more than just fire off Destruction spells.
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She will often initiate combat by casting the Oakflesh Alteration spell to buff her defense before going about zapping and burning attackers. She can also summon atronachs, which can be great to further take the heat off of the player as well as increase the damage directed at enemies.
Found in Riften"s The Winking Skeever bar, Marcurio is a mercenary that players can hire for a bit of coin. However, he"s not the sword and shield kind; he"s a mage and comes with a surprising repertoire of spells. For offense, he favors lightning-based spells, which make him a great ally for when one wants to take down enemy mages, as lightning magick saps the foes magicka bars.
In addition, Marcurio has multiple Restoration spells, like Close Wounds and Fast Healing for increased longevity, and, furthermore, he also knows Turn Undead, which he will prioritize casting against Draugr and other lifeless adversaries for great crowd control.
7 Aela The Huntress
Aela can also be met in the Companions guild. After the player proves themself during the events of the Companions questline, she can become a follower. With her expert archery, Aela can be a great ally if ranged damage is needed.
Aela can even teach the Dragonborn things about using a bow until Archery level 75. She also has relatively high skill in Light Armor, so if the player gives her some, she can make great use of it.
At first glance, Barbas just looks like a cute dog, and he is! But he is also a separated part of the Daerdric Prince Clavicus Vile. He can be encountered near Falkreath on the road, where the player can interact with him and start a Daedric questline.
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Barbas will then begin to accompany the player and will do so on all adventures until a certain stage in his Daedric questline is passed. Although, if the Dragonborn does not continue with this questline right away, they can take Barbas with them on all adventures. This Daedric dog is great because he cannot be killed and does a surprising amount of damage.
5 Mjoll The Lioness
The mighty Mjoll can be met in Riften. If the player talks to her, they can learn of her missing sword. To get her as a follower, the Dragonborn must find Mjoll"s blade in the Dwemer ruins of Mzinchaleft and return it to her. She will be grateful enough to tag along on adventures if her company is requested.
Since Mjoll is also classified as an essential character, she cannot be killed by normal means, making her a great tank. Her Heavy Armor and Two-Handed Weapon skills are high enough to make her useful in a fight if equipped properly.
The Khajiit mage from the College of Winterhold is one of the most colorful characters in Skyrim. His comical questline and his dialogue with the Dragonborn make him one of the most memorable followers.
J"zargo is also skilled in the usage of many spells, particularly Destruction ones. He can deal out decent magickal damage as well as heal the player if needed, making him a versatile and effective follower.
The infamous jester from the Dark Brotherhood can be recruited as a follower if he is spared following the Dark Brotherhood questline"s conclusion. Cicero has excellent Archery, Sneak, and One-Handed skills, along with proficiencies which make him a decent follower if one needs to do some stealth.
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Unfortunately, Cicero dances awkwardly on occasion to the discomfort of many players. His strange jokes also could make one grow weary of his company, so the jester"s presence is very much an acquired taste.
Easily the strongest out of all the humanoid followers, Serana possesses high levels in the Destruction, Conjuration, One-Handed, and Light Armor skills, making her very offensively versatile. Since she is a vampire, she also has access to spells unique to this sub-race, like the Vampiric Drain spell, which she seems to enjoy using frequently.
However, Serana"s greatest combat power is the exceptional necromancy skills that allow her to resurrect corpses to fight for her and the Dragonborn. She"s proficient enough in this area to even raise higher-level bodies than other followers skilled in Conjuration.
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1 Flame Thrall
Flame atronachs can be fought at various points around the northern province and are often difficult foes who constantly unleash gouts of flame. They can also be summoned temporarily with Conjuration spells, though one, in particular, stands above the rest.
Flame Thrall is a Master Conjuration spell that permanently summons a stronger version of the usual flame atronachs. This means that this fiery ally will only disappear if it is banished by its master or is killed in combat. Since they can be resummoned, they are potentially the best follower if someone needs high amounts of fire damage and a technically unkillable living torch.