Survival Mode in Skyrim is a particularly unforgiving experience, but for players who like a challenge, it’s a great way to experience something new in the 2021’s Anniversary Edition.
This page explains everything you need to know about Survival Mode in Skyrim, such as how to enable Survival Mode, survival mode differences – including changes to travel and camping – as well as our Skyrim survival mode tips.
A feature which ties nicely into the addition of survival mode is fishing – which you can also use in a non-survival mode playthrough.
On this page:
How to enable survival mode in Skyrim, and what to do if not in settings explained
Survival mode can be found in the Settings are of the menu, by selecting Gameplay then enabling Survival Mode.
If it is not in the settings, then you are likely in a new save – and you have to complete the tutorial of Skyrim first.
Once you complete the ‘Unbound’ intro quest with either Hadvar or Ralof, you’ll receive a pop-up notification about Survival Mode. It gives you a brief explanation on what to expect from the mode: such as you needing to eat, to be more wary about catching diseases, the need to sleep, etc before asking you whether you want to enable it or not. If that sounds like fun, you select yes.
From there on out, you’ll be playing Skyrim on Survival Mode – which means it’s a fair bit harder, but who doesn’t love a good challenge?
Nonetheless, if Survival Mode turns out to be too difficult, it’s easy to turn off. Head to Settings, go to Gameplay and you’ll be able to disable it without having to worry about any consequences.
The opposite of this is also true, as you’re able to enable Survival Mode on any previous saves you have started or imported into the Anniversary Edition.
What is survival mode in Skyrim? Survival mode changes, including fast travel, explained
Survival Mode in the Anniversary Edition is a new, exciting way to make your time in the continent of Skyrim a little more challenging and fun.
When enabling Survival Mode, players will need to meet certain requirements in order not to get sick and die. These requirements are: be well-fed, warm, physically well, and well-rested.
However, these requirements won’t always be easy to meet as Survival Mode puts a heapload of restrictions on you. These are:
- No Fast Travel: You want to just do a quick trip to Riften to pick up something you forgot? That’s no longer possible in Survival Mode. You’ll have to walk!
- Reduced Carry Weight: Skyrim’s carry weight restrictions are already pretty unforgiving at times, this makes it so you really do need to just pack the essentials.
- Level Up via Sleeping: In vanilla Skyrim you can level up wherever and whenever, but here you can only do so after you sleep.
- Reduced Stamina/Mana: If you’re hungry, cold or fatigued, you’ll suffer from a reduction of Stamina or Mana, represented by the darkening of the Stamina/Mana bar.
- Warm/Cold Meters: Depending on whether you’re hot or cold, you’ll be shown a Snowflake or a Sun at the top of your HUD. This can affect you to the point you can die if you don’t cool down or get warm.
- Health: When in Survival Mode, health doesn’t come back after waiting for a little while. You’ll need to eat, sleep or use a health potion in order to get back to tip-top shape.
Skyrim survival mode tips and tricks, from survival mode camping to cooking
There’s a lot of factors to consider with survival mode – here are some tips and tricks to help you along the way:
- Want to know what’s affecting you right now? Head to Active Effects in the Magic menu and you’ll see what being hungry, tired and cold does to affect your gameplay.
- Don’t enter water when cold – you’ll more than likely catch a disease and there’s a high chance you can die and lose your progress.
- Warm soup can heat you up – In the frozen tundra with nowhere to go for another 10 miles? Don’t fret, eat some soup. It’ll not only keep you fed, but will keep you nice and toasty. If that doesn’t work, there’s always a torch to keep your bones warm.
- Cook your food – sometimes it gets desperate when you’re in a dungeon and there’s no food to eat but the raw fish you caught outside, but it’s always better to cook your food before eating it. Just like real life, eating raw food can lead to food poisoning in Skyrim.
- Fishing is the best way to get food quickly and easy, as long as you know where the best fishing spots are.
- Craft camping gear – Included in the Anniversary Edition content through the Content Creation Club, crafting camping gear will make it so you’re able to set down camp in the wilderness, giving you a warm fire, a place to cook and a place to settle in for the night.
- The colder you get, the slower you are. It also affects your stamina and how fast you swing your weapons and the effectiveness of your stealth.
- Travelling in a horse and cart to far off places will make you tired and hungry, so don’t get into one if you’re already pretty fatigued and hungry, otherwise you risk dying on the journey to your location.