Your first couple of hours in Skyrim can be disorienting. Sudden dragon attacks have a way of scrambling your sense of direction.
Here are step-by-step instructions for getting through Skyrim's opening scene., This guide teaches you how to read your maps and navigation bar, and how to track quests.
As you journey through Skyrim, you'll pick up tons of quests. Some of these are story-related and necessary to drive the game's plot. Other quests net you bonuses like companions and comradery. Some are just quick, easy ways to pick up extra coin.
Regardless of the quest's source, you keep track of its progress via your Journal. Given the volume of Skyrim's quests, all those points of interest will clutter up the navigation bar on the top of the screen in no time.
You should therefore turn on the "Focused" quest option in Skyrim's options menu. Doing so clears your navigation bar of markers that aren't related to the quests you track via your journal.
How Do I Get Where I'm Going?
-Again, use your journal to track your progress on quests.
-Consult your map via your Journal, too. You can mark points of interest that aren't necessarily related to any quest you're currently undertaking. Then use your navigation bar to head in that direction.
-To use the navigation bar, center the relevant arrow or icon in the middle of the bar and move forward. You should get there eventually, but Skyrim's a mountainous land, so you might have to perform some detours (or skilled climbing).
My Map and Navigation Bar Are Covered in Icons. What Are They?
In time, you'll come to learn what each icon stands for. Most are self-explanatory: A sickle and wheat sheaf represents a farm, a horseshoe represents a stable, and a hammer and pick crossed-over represents a mine. And so on. Each of Skyrim's major cities are represented by their emblem, and each of these emblems are contained in a shield.
The downward-facing arrow on your navigation bar marks a point of interest, and is usually relevant to a quest currently active in your journal.
An icon that shows up as black is for an area that hasn't been visited yet. A white icon indicates it's been visited. When you've discovered an area, you can fast-travel to it using the game's map. Make sure to meander when you have the time, though. Smelling the roses is part of Skyrim's fun.
If you espy an interesting icon nearby (icons get larger in your navigation bar as you get closer to the location), feel free to go off the beaten path and see what's up. However, do note that certain icons indicate significant danger may be present:
-A dragon's head marks dragon lairs. You typically find Dragon Shouts here, but you'll also find dragons. If you're not prepared, steer clear.
-A mammoth skull marks the location of giants' camps. Giants won't bother you if you're not aggressive (and you don't harass their mammoths), but if you provoke a giant's anger, it can mean death if you're low-levelled.
-A tent indicates a camp. These usually contain lower-level enemies for you to bust up, and are therefore a good source of loot. That said, some camps are pretty large and well-populated with aggressive foes. Tread carefully.
Now that you've got your footing, why not learn where to go in your first few hours of play, how to build up a strong character, how to join up with the Companions, and how to become a werewolf so you can awoo the nights away (or just really mess up your enemies)?