Should You Join The Imperials Or Stormcloaks in Skyrim

Since Skyrim came out more than a decade ago, players have been trying to figure out if they should join the Imperials or the Stormcloaks.

The Imperials are, of course, the group that came close to killing the player. Even though they are less bureaucratic, the Stormcloaks have also done a lot of questionable things.

At the end of the Civil War questline in Skyrim, players can either free Skyrim from Imperial rule or restore Empire power in the Nordic province by killing Ulfric.

Even though there are a lot of loyal fans on both sides who fight hard for their alliance, both the Imperials and the Stormcloaks have as many pros as they do cons.

What If You Don’t Choose Stormcloaks or Imperials?

Skyrim encourages players to go their own way, so it is possible to finish the game without ever choosing between the Stormcloaks and the Imperials. In your search for Alduin, you don’t have to do this questline, which is more of a side quest.

The world will act as if the war is still going on, and neither side will move towards the other until the player gets to the part of the main quest where they go to the negotiating table.

In this game, players decide how to settle a temporary peace treaty between the two sides. It can be easier to make decisions if you don’t care about either side’s claim.

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The Legion Offers The More Satisfying Questline

In Elder Scrolls games, quests and stories are very important because they shape the player’s experience, especially when their choices have real effects.

Both Stormcloak and Imperial questlines are about taking back areas that the other faction controls, and they both lead to a final showdown in either Solitude or Windhelm.

It’s a toss-up when it comes to the story and quests that players are given. But the Imperials are just barely ahead because they don’t force players to attack Whiterun, which is one of the most popular cities in Skyrim and in all of the Elder Scrolls games.

Stormcloaks Have More Interesting And Unique NPCs

While the Imperial Legion doesn’t force players to kill Jarl Balgruuf, their leadership and important NPCs are far from the most interesting in the Elder Scrolls games.

General Tullius and the rest of the upper echelons of the Legion are one-sided military types, while the Stormcloak leadership is rife with interesting and unique characters.

It’s hard to forget Galmar Stone-raspy, Fist’s scary voice and movements, and Yrsarald Thrice-Pierced is as mysterious as he is powerful.

Ulfric Stormcloak is a flawed person, but after reading about how he was tortured in the Thalmor Dossier, you can start to understand how he feels about the Empire.

Imperials Stand A Better Chance Against The Aldmeri Dominion

Even though the Civil War is the centre of most big fights in Skyrim, the Stormcloaks aren’t the only immediate threat the Empire has to worry about.

The Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion only signed the White-Gold Concordat as a temporary peace treaty. As soon as the agreement ends, the Great War of the Fourth Era will start up again.

The Stormcloak Rebellion started because of the agreement’s terms, especially the ban on worshipping Talos.

But if the Stormcloaks win and take over Skyrim, they won’t be ready to fight a force as well-organized and strong as the Aldmeri Dominion.

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When the elves attack, it will be easier for the Empire to fight back if they can take back Skyrim.

The Legion Is Diverse, While The Stormcloaks Are Mainly Nords

The Empire covers all of Tamriel and has many different areas of influence in the different cultures of the continent.

Even though the bureaucratic Imperials have a lot of problems, they are more accepting of non-human races than most. This is because their culture is a mix of many different things, which can be seen in the Legion’s ranks.

The Stormcloaks, on the other hand, seem to hate almost every race that isn’t Nord. Their views on Elves are understandable, but they see Imperials and Bretons as lower-class humans.

Because of this, almost all of their fighting force is made up of Nords. Depending on the race of your character, it makes more sense from a story point of view to join one side over the other.

Stormcloak Cities Are Rustic and Rugged, But Disorderly

When it comes to the overall beauty of their settings, the Stormcloaks usually win. Their cities, towns, and major settlements are all built into mountains and surrounded by nature, which can be as harsh as Windhelm’s biting blizzards or as relaxing as Riften’s calm waters.

The problem with Stormcloak settlements is that there isn’t much law, or rather, there isn’t anyone in charge to keep the people in line.

Riften is a good example of what can happen to a Stormcloak city when it doesn’t have the same level of order as an Imperial city. But because there isn’t much order, the people feel more real and more like they belong in Stormcloak territory.

Imperial Settlements Have Order and Architecture, But Lack Personality

The cities of the Stormcloaks tend to be in beautiful parts of the world, but the cities of the Empire are beautiful on their own. Solitude is a great example of this because it is the Empire’s main stronghold in the province.

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However, other Imperial-controlled towns also pay attention to architecture, how space is used, and grandeur in the same way (even in a smaller sense).

The problem with Imperial towns is that they don’t have much character. All of them were made for a specific reason, with little thought given to how they fit into their natural surroundings.

Their buildings are very modern, but they aren’t nearly as interesting as the tar pits south of Windhelm or the misty beauty of the area around Riften.

So, Should You Pick The Imperials Or The Stormcloaks?

In the end, whether you join the Imperials or the Stormcloaks is up to you and depends on where you want your character to go.

If Nord characters agree with the Stormcloaks’ view of the Empire, they will fit in with them. If other races give the Empire some of their power, Imperials will welcome them with open arms.

If you want to play a character from somewhere other than Skyrim, choose Imperial. It doesn’t make sense to fight under a banner that won’t accept you in the end.

Choose Stormcloak if you don’t think the Empire has the right to tell the people of Skyrim what they can and can’t do, especially if you are a Nord.

But if you play as a High Elf, it is lore-accurate to play as a Stormcloak, since several Thalmor documents suggest that they favor the Stormcloaks in their efforts to get rid of the Empire (and thus give the Aldmeri Dominion a stronger chance to take over the province later on).