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 the sometimes bleak and cold world of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim 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. Which NPCs are the best followers in Skyrim that players should seek out?

Updated on November 18, 2021, by Reyadh Rahaman: Knowing the strongest skills of one's allies can be useful, as this information would be helpful for traveling and in combat. For example, if the Dragonborn is a mage with powerful spells and little armor, having a burly follower would be best. Conversely, if the player is a stalwart warrior, then having a supportive ally that knows healing spells can come in handy. The possibilities are as numerous as the number of builds one can put together in Skyrim.

10 Armored Troll

non-human ally that the player can hire in fort dawnguard.

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.

Armored Troll's Best Skills

The Armored Troll does not have skills like a humanoid character, however, they pack a mean set of basic melee attacks--as one would expect from a troll. Their armor also makes them pretty tanky and able to continue their fierce rampage.

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9 Brelyna Maryon

mage in the college of winterhold in her room.

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.

Brelyna Maryon's Best Skills

This mage has high Alteration, Destruction, and Conjuration skills. However, none of her weapon-based attacks will be useful. Thankfully, she can manage her magicka pool well enough so that this isn't much of an issue unless an enemy gets right up in her face and prevents her from casting spells.

8 Marcurio

magical mercenary in the winking skeever.

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.

Marcurio's Best Skills

The magical mercenary comes with solid Alteration, Destruction, and Restoration skills. As such, he'll be another ally that can be helpful at mid and long-range but can struggle if foes get too close. His healing spells are particularly versatile and universally useful.

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.

Aela The Huntress' Best Skills

Although she's known best for her superb Archery skill, her other best ones are Light Armor and Sneak, however, her One-Handed and Speech skills are not far behind. This makes Aela a very versatile companion who can be useful at any range--and for any player build. Furthermore, having great Sneak is convenient for players who need to use stealth.

6 Barbas

Barbas appearing in Skyrim

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.

Barbas' Best Skills

This immortal dog has no true skills, similar to the Armored Troll, however, Barbas is great at a few things. Firstly, he's an irreplaceable tank and an additional companion that can follow the player around, essentially meaning that one can have a party of 4 separate entities (not counting summonable allies). With Barbas, the player can potentially bring with them an actual companion as well as a dog, somewhat turning Skyrim into a party-based RPG.

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.

Mjoll The Lioness' Best Skills

As one would expect, Mjoll's best skills are Heavy Armor and Two-Handed, though her Block and Archery are not bad either. Additionally, even if her One-Handed skill isn't very high, it's certainly useable. This means that she may try to equip One-Handed weapons from her inventory instead of Two-Handed ones, even if the damage output of the Two-Handed weapon is higher. As such, players should avoid having Mjoll hang onto One-Handed weapons.

4 J'zargo

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 in Skyrim.

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.

J'zargo's Best Skills

No one will be surprised to learn that J'zargo's best skill is Destruction, however, he's actually got decent levels in all of the other schools of magic as well. His Restoration, Alteration, Illusion, and Conjuration are high-level enough for J'zargo to use spells from all of them to decent effect. Some of the more interesting spells that everyone's favorite Khajiit mage knows are Paralyze (Alteration) and Soul Trap (Conjuration).

3 Cicero

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.

Cicero's Best Skills

Of course the deadly assassin Cicero has very high-level Sneak and One-Handed skills, although, his Archery and Light Armor are nearly as high. Strangely, although his Alteration skill isn't high enough to be noteworthy in combat, it's higher than the rest of his unused skills. Maybe this jester has some hidden tricks up his sleeves in the form of less-used spells.

2 Serana

the campire indoors with hands on hips.

Easily the strongest out of Skyrim's 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.

Serana's Best Skills

Sneak is definitely Serana's highest-level skill, although her One-Handed and Light Armor skills are not far behind. A little bit lower is her Conjuration skill, though this is still far higher than her others. Serana's Destruction and Alteration skills are moderately leveled but are negligible compared to her top ones.

1 Flame Thrall

flame atronach in skyrim

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 Flame Atronachs can be resummoned, they are potentially the best follower in Skyrim if someone needs high amounts of fire damage and a technically unkillable living torch.

Flame Thrall's Best Skills

As a summonable ally, the Flame Thrall does not have skills. However, they heavily use the Flame Cloak, Firebolt, and Flames spells, which are all from the Destruction school of magic.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is available on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.

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