Important choices are crucial parts of all video games. What separates them from other forms of media, like movies and books, heavily pertains to the ability to affect the world in some way. Whether for righteous or selfish reasons, the player is the one who should be at the helm of all digital adventures.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim has great examples of player decisions which not only feel satisfying and appropriate but also ones that have a profound impact on the world. Much of these choices can weigh on the Dragonborn's mind quite heavily, so it can be useful to know what will happen before committing to any path.
10 Delayed Burial
There is a chance that the player will spot one of the Dark Brotherhood's most noticeable members in the northern parts of Whiterun Hold's open plains. Along a road, Cicero will be found is a broken-down cart. He will ask the player for aid, and if repeatedly spoken to this will start a short quest.
Called "Delayed Burial", it involves the Dragonborn either helping Cicero by getting a man from Loreius farm, Vantus, to help repair the wheel or reporting Cicero to the guards as a weirdo potentially up to no good. If one convinces Vantus to repair the cart, the jester will be happy and will give the player some money when they next meet him. However, if one reports Cicero at Vantus' behest, the farmer and his family will turn up dead soon after.
9 Blood On The Ice
A serial killer is on the loose in Windhelm, and it is up to the Dragonborn to stop the killings. After attaining a lot of evidence, much of it points to Wuunferth the Unliving, court wizard of Ulfric Stormcloak. The player can accuse him, leading to his arrest. However, Wuunferth is not the culprit.
Three days after the mage's imprisonment, another murder will happen. Talking with Wuunferth in prison reveals that the elderly mage was investigating the killings and can predict the next murder. Following his advice, the player can apprehend the real serial killer. Though, if the Dragonborn did not accuse Wuunferth and instead spoke with him, this conclusion would have lead to the killer being caught sooner, preventing another death.
8 In My Time Of Need
Just inside the entrance of Whiterun, there are two Alik'r warriors discussing their intent within the city. When spoken to, they will reveal that they are after a Redguard woman who is apparently in hiding nearby. Saadia, the woman they are looking for, will offer the Dragonborn a proposal if they agree not to turn her over to the warriors.
She will ask the player to get rid of the warriors with brute force for a decent payment afterward, though it is possible to just tell the scimitar-sporting men of her location for some monetary compensation. Either way, one side will perish while the other pays the player.
7 Escape From Cidna Mine
After completing the quest "The Forsworn Conspiracy", the player can be framed by the guards of Markarth and thrown into Cidna Mine as punishment. The Dragonborn, clearly not content to live out the remainder of their days in bondage, will find a way to break out.
In the process, the player will discover Madanach, the leader of the Forsworn rebellion. It is possible to escape the mines with Madanach's help. Alternatively, one can simply murder him and take the note on his body for information on how to break out. Killing the old man will also grant the player the Silver-Blood Family Ring but siding with him will grant one the unique Armor of the Old Gods.
6 The Blessings Of Nature
One of the most notable features of Whiterun is the huge tree growing near the stairs leading to Dragonsreach, although this impressive plant has seen better days. Danica Pure-Spring informs the player that the Gildergleam is dying and that she needs help to save it. Things are a bit complicated since the Gildergleam needs sap from the tree it was created from, the Eldergleam, to be healed. However, only the weapon Nettlebane can pierce this mystic tree's bark.
After acquiring the short, unique weapon from Orphan Rock, a location in Falthreath Hold, the player will need to travel to Eldergleam Sanctuary for the sap. When they reach this destination, they can cut the tree for a sample, or be dissuaded from doing so by a pilgrim named Maurice. Apparently, harming the tree will be a sin against Kynareth, the goddess of nature. Maurice will offer the player a sapling from the tree instead. If one accepts this proposal it will still lead to the Gildergleam being healed, though without having to fight the angry spriggans who spawn when cutting the tree.
5 A Daedra's Best Friend
As a Daedric quest, "A Daedra's Best Friend" is quite the quirky adventure that includes a talking dog, a Daedric Prince, and unique equipment. After adventuring about with Barbas, who is actually a portion of the Daedra Clavicus Vile, the player will be tasked with retrieving the Daedric artifact the Rueful Axe.
Clavicus Vile will request that the Dragonborn kill Barbas with the axe, which will return the dog to Oblivion. The player can refuse to harm the chatty pup, which will forfeit the axe but will grant them the Masque of Clavicus Vile.
4 Slay The Dark Or Become It
After helping out young Aventus Aretino with his assassination request in Windhelm, the player will wake up somewhere strange the next time they sleep. A wooden shack will be their surroundings when they arise, and they will be spoken to by Astrid, leader of the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim. Normally, the player can follow her instructions to join this assassination guild, though this is not the only choice to be made.
If one is sufficiently outraged by being kidnapped, they can simply murder Astrid on the spot, which will start the quest "Destroy The Dark Brotherhood!" After this, the player will be prompted to meet with Commander Maro in Dragon Bridge, which will lead to a mission to murder all of the assassins in their sanctuary. This will prevent the acquisition of the unique items gained through the Dark Brotherhood quests but will net the player a neat 3'000 gold from Maro.
3 Guard The Realm Or Drink Blood
The Dawnguard DLC adds quite a lot to the game and allows the player to obtain many new interesting traits and weapons. However, a side will have to be chosen: the Dawnguard or the vampires of Castle Volkihar.
Joining the Dawnguard allows the Dragonborn to craft and use what is arguably the most powerful ranged weapon in the game; the crossbow. Special bolts can also be crafted for this mighty weapon that can unleash elemental explosions when the bolts pierce foes. On the other hand, the player can become a vampire lord from the gifts of Lord Harkon, which offers numerous new traits and cool powers.
2 Nords Or Imperials
The main conflict affecting Skyrim in regards to its civil status is the strife between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks. Much of the game involves picking a side and helping them defeat the other.
If one chooses the Imperials, they can expect a more unified and equal Skyrim for all races, however, they will all be at the feet of the Altmer. Conversely, if one sides with Ulfric and his Stormcloaks, they can liberate the northmost province of Tamriel and make it a true place for Nords to thrive, although one where non-Nord races will likely suffer.
1 Blades Or Dragons
Towards the later stages of the game, the leader of the Greybeards will reveal that they were once one of Alduin's lieutenants. Paarthurnax, despite being kind to the player, was responsible for horrible crimes against humanity.
When The Blades learn of this, they seek to slay the dragon despite his change of ways and the aid he gives the Dragonborn. There is no benefit to slaying Paarthurnax, as he is no threat to the world anymore. The only thing that will change is that the player will not get his cool speech during the epilogue.
The Game Awards have a shortlist for Best Action Game, and while there is some stiff competition here, only one of these titles can be the winner.