In addition to innumerable combat abilities (from melee to magic), the Dragonborn has access to the actual words of power, or Thu’um, that are employed by the Dragons. As these words have dwindled in terms of usage and historical memory, not many characters are shown to be able to wield them.
Including the Dragonborn and Dawnguard DLCs, there are a total of twenty-seven Dragon Shouts in Skyrim, most of which are hidden well and protected by a host of powerful entities. This doesn’t, of course, mean that all of them are actually worth picking up by players. These are the most useful and useless Shouts of the bunch, and we’ve added a few more to this list to either unlock or steer clear of.
Updated on November 22nd, 2020 by Derek Draven: As mentioned in our updated intro, we’ve added a few more of Skyrim’s Dragon Shouts to this list that you should either pick up immediately or pay no attention to. Some are highly effective at upping your game, while others are just a waste of time and resources.
15 Useless: Gol Hah Dov (Bend Will)
The thought of bending deadly dragons and other animals to one’s will is an interesting and tempting prospect, but this Shout is far less meaty than it sounds. First, it requires the knowledge of all three words in order to ride dragons, which is the primary reason for unlocking it in the first place.
Second, Bend Will doesn’t work on the undead, nor does it offer any special privileges such as the ability to pickpocket NPCs. Finally, there’s a chance that any dragon under one’s control will turn hostile again once dismounted. The pros far outweigh the cons.
14 Learn Immediately: Fo Krah Diin (Frost Breath)
Fighting in Skyrim can be a frustrating affair, especially since many enemies are practically impossible to run away from. While going toe-to-toe with one or toe might be feasible, a pack of enemies can quickly make mincemeat out of even a seasoned adventurer.
Frost Breath helps level the playing field by allowing the player to Shout a powerful blast of arctic cold at their opponents. Anyone caught in the blast suffers frost damage while their mobility is drastically reduced. This can either set up a good counter-attack or give an open window for a retreat.
13 Useless: Mid Vur Shaan (Battle Fury)
This Dragon Shout benefits your allies by enchanting their weapons which allows them to increase the speed of their attacks. While technically this sounds good, it doesn’t take long to figure out that the reality is far less impressive than the premise.
Most allies are rather useless in a fight on a good day, and many gamers prefer to walk the path alone. For those who want to curse themselves with an ally who gives away their position while offering up some rather lackluster AI, then this could be useful, but it’s easier to simply rely on normal attacks to tag-team your enemies.
12 Learn Immediately: Gaan Lah Haas (Drain Vitality)
This Dawnguard Shout can be incredibly useful, and it’s not easy to figure out why. Many Skyrim players have experienced that point in their adventures when they’re tapped out and unable to hang in a fight. Death soon follows, with much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Drain Vitality can provide a much-needed boost in a fight by sucking the stamina, life force, and Magicka from a foe, which can quickly turn the tide. It’s a shame these energies can’t be absorbed by the player, however.
11 Useless: Laas Yah Nir (Aura Whisper)
Nothing says “shout” quite like a whisper, and that makes Laas Yah Nir an automatic fail when it comes to Dragon Shouts. Sure, one can believe they are speaking in the ancient tongue of the Dragons and effecting some form of magic, but shouts are shouts for a reason.
At the end of the day, the ability to detect the life force of the creatures around you is rather gimmicky in nature, and it’s hard to picture most players using this Shout repeatedly, especially given the base game’s rapid leveling. It’s better suited to players who mod Skyrim heavily, and who may choose a difficulty mod that drastically increases the challenge of the game. Everyone else, don’t bother.
10 Learn Immediately: Tiid Klo Ul (Slow Time)
The Slow Time Shout is immensely helpful, as it allows the Dragonborn access to considerably speedier motions than everyone else around them (which comes in handy when the opponent is either too quick or too powerful to be taken down in one go).
Some of these enemies include Dwarven Centurions, Trolls, Dragons, and so on, making Tiid Klo Ul a great asset for players who prefer to hide in the shadows rather than charge into battle. It is important to note that certain attacks that cause specific amounts of damage per unit time are not reduced in velocity even under the effects of Slow Time.
9 Useless: Zul Mey Gut (Throw Voice)
The benefit of Zul Mey Gut is minimal, even for assassin-type Dragonborns — although it does provide a sufficient degree of distraction, making enemies leave the area in order to examine the nature of the sound they just heard.
Unfortunately, while it helps during sneak attacks, it cannot be employed to divert the attention of neutral characters, as it only works with hostile ones (who are naturally more paranoid). In all fairness, though, the Thalmor Embassy quest, “Diplomatic Immunity”, can benefit from this particular Shout.
8 Learn Immediately: Wuld Nah Kest (Whirlwind Sprint)
This is one of the first Dragon Shouts taught to the Dragonborn by the Greybeards and is easily one of the handiest ones in the game. Aside from allowing the player to bypass game glitches (getting stuck in random locations, for instance), Wuld Nah Kest allows passage through dangerous locales without taking much damage, one of them being Draugr dungeons filled with hallways protected by swinging blades.
In general, the Whirlwind Sprint has a range of applications, from bypassing the carried weight limit to escaping perilous situations in order to recover before dying.
7 Useless: Kaan Drem Ov (Kyne’s Peace)
Kyne’s Peace is theoretically great, considering it helps relax hostile animals in the vicinity of the Dragonborn (consequently allowing the player to run away without having to kill them).
This is only relevant if one is trying to play a moral character, which is an oxymoronic concept in Skyrim considering all the other incredibly unethical things the Dragonborn does. The role that Kaan Drem Ov plays in the game is outweighed by the benefits of using literally any other Shout in its place.
6 Learn Immediately: Strun Bah Qo (Storm Call)
Strun Bah Qo is a tough Shout to learn, as the Word Walls required to complete the incantation are rather difficult to locate, but the overwhelming power that results from using it makes the whole journey worthwhile.
It seems that the lightning bolts generated by Storm Call make no distinction between friends, enemies, and neutral characters, striking everyone down with casual abandon. However, this just means that it is not prudent to use the Shout in towns or cities, but as long as there are only antagonists around, it offers an incredible advantage.
5 Useless: Lok Vah Koor (Clear Skies)
Clear Skies is definitely worth learning, and it is a crucial part of the mission to access the Throat of the World from High Hrothgar, but aside from this, there is no added profit, except, perhaps, the aesthetic outcome it provides.
In fact, the effects of Lok Vah Koor are greatly limited to the point that it just seems like a diluted version of Fus Ro Dah, made worse by the fact that it is only significant when used in the open air. Also, there are several locations in the game where this Shout has zero results, for example in the eternal snowstorm of Winterhold.
4 Learn Immediately: Joor Zah Frul (Dragonrend)
This Shout isn’t absolutely essential, to be very honest, but the efficiency with which it brings Dragons down from the sky, so the player can attack them directly, cannot be denied.
Apparently, Dragonrend forces the Dragons to experience the bizarre concept of mortality, which is so different from their naturally undying state that it staggers them into temporary confusion. Another advantage is that Joor Zah Frul can be used to block the Dragons from completing their own Shouts, which is probably why it is granted the honorific, “Alduin’s Bane.”
3 Useless: Hun Kaal Zoor (Call Of Valor)
First of all, the Call of Valor is only received after the death of Alduin and the end of the main quest, at which point the Dragonborn is usually powerful enough to not really need the extra help in combat.
And, if they did, they could probably call on Dremoras, Atronachs, Followers, and so on. There is literally no reason to bring back Gormlaith, Felldir or Hakon from the Hall of Valor to help, except perhaps for the bragging rights.
2 Learn Immediately: Fus Ro Dah (Unrelenting Force)
This is the defining Dragon Shout in Skyrim — not only is it the first one the player learns, but it also needs a single Dragon soul to completely master (rather than the standard three for the other Shouts).
It is a fantastic defensive maneuver, as it doesn’t necessarily kill those who happen to be hit by Fus Ro Dah, but just tosses them out of the way like rag dolls. This effect is the most useful because the Dragonborn can immediately continue attacking the enemy as they try to get back on their feet.
1 Useless: Faas Ru Maar (Dismay)
Faas Ru Maar is most helpful in the early stages of the game, but its efficacy begins to dwindle rapidly as the player accrues greater and greater abilities that basically negate the necessity of “scaring” enemies into running away.
Further, if the player has developed their Illusion tree, several spells thereof are much better alternatives to Dismay, even working on more powerful opponents (for instance, Hysteria or Rout.) A horde of skeletons would still flee the scene, though.