The Live Action Trailer. Everyone is running and screaming to get away from the Dragon-attack, only to cut to the Dragonborn, standing in the middle of the chaos with a look of utter calm on his face, slowly walking forward and drawing his sword. Then the Dragon lands straight in front of him, as if accepting his challenge.
In the Gametrailers short demo at E3, Todd chooses to mess with some normally peaceful Mammoths and their Giant masters, who normally would not attack the player. While he's facing off with one of the Giants, there's a roar and suddenly a massive dragon swoops down, grabs the Giant in its talons and drops it from the sky to its death before turning its eye to the player for its next victim.
In another E3 demo, Todd slows down time and uses a two handed lightning blast to Kamehame Hadouken a Draugr into the ceiling, receiving a round of applause for his efforts.
Storm Call is a weaponized Empathic Environment on demand. Watching as the dragon desperately tries to keep flying as it's hit by lightning, knowing that abandoning its tactical advantage and meeting you on the ground is death...and not choosing in time and plowing into the ground as it dies. Cue soul absorption.
The first time you kill a dragon. Especially if you're high enough level (around 10) to fight it with little trouble. Regardless of how easy or hard the fight is, once you strike the final blow, Mirmulnir realizes just who and what you are and yells: "Dovakhiin?! ''No''!"
Occasionally, when fighting a high-level enemy (such as a dragon), One They Fear, a triumphant remix of Dragonborn begins playing. Whatever's happening on-screen is instantly transmuted into pure win, because the song's title is exactly what you are. Having this happen when a dragon is attacking a town just compounds the awesome. Imagine the Dragonborn saying, "Oh, you just picked the wrong town..."
The Dark Brotherhood gets one in their introduction. In Oblivion, you awaken to find a Speaker of the Black Hand offering an initiation contract. In Skyrim, you still have to sleep but the local leader kidnaps and places you in the middle of a remote cabin, along with three similarly kidnapped individuals, one of whom is a contract target. When you awaken, she tells you to kill one of them. No matter who you pick, you are accepted because you followed orders to kill. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Dark Brotherhood. They're in one of their low points. And if you're good, you can instead kill Astrid herself, and then go on to have the Imperial Army commission you to assault the Sanctuary and wipe the Brotherhood out. Payback for all the deaths in Oblivion has never been sweeter.
A certain mod makes this potentially even more awesome. Said mod makes it possible for the Dragonborn to be part of the Uchiha clan and obtain the Sharingan and all its associated powers, including Tobi's (and Kakashi's) Kamuinote allows the Dragonborn to teleport himself and others to an Alternate Dimension complete with a cage, chest, alchemy, enchanting and forging stations - and a bed. Sleeping in the bed in the Kamui dimension still won't stop Astrid from getting at the Dragonbornnote despite not even having the Sharingan eye (or the associated ability) required to teleport there.
Speaking of the Dark Brotherhood, the final mission has you assassinating the Emperor.
The whole final confrontation is almost more of a Crowning Moment for HIM than for you; He greets you calmly, explaining that he knew nothing as simple as a fake would stop the Brotherhood. He then willingly accepts his death, leaving you with one final request: kill the man who ordered his assassination, as a final act of justice. The tranquility and authority that he holds throughout this exchange proves that, were he a Nord, he would be worthy of Sovngarde.
And if what the Ebony Warrior says about his own fate is true, it's still quite possible that Titus Mede was given the chance to enter the Hall of Valor, after all.
Also with the Dark Brotherhood, we have the return of Shadowmere; a nearby pond turns into pitch-black bubbling tar, and the demonic steed rises up from its depths with fire in her eyes. The Subquest is even called "Behold! Shadowmere!"
The Companions quest line has you avenging the death of the previous leader, and then storming an ancient tomb to save his soul from the hellish afterlife that awaited him. All while carrying an ancient battleaxe into the fight, which you get to keep afterwords.
The first time you kill a dragon outside of the main quest.
Especially if it attacks you while you're in a village and you manage to keep anyone from dying. Picture it: You're just harvesting cabbage, and see two people walk by, maybe give you a nod. Suddenly, there's an unholy sound and a nightmarish monster swoops in, torching everything in its path. The two people don't run from it like all the rest. They actually shoot arrows at the thing! Then lead the creature outside down, and actually defeat it, one with just the power of their own voice — just before the monster burns up and all of its power flows into the one using their voice! "I've never seen anything like that!" is an understatement.
The final main storyline mission. Wow. After finding a lost Elder Scroll and using it to look back in time, you bring Alduin down to your level and nearly kill him. But then he flees to Sovngarde to eat the souls of dead warriors to recharge himself. But how are you going to get there? Well, you simply catch a live dragon after negotiating a cease-fire between two hated enemies, have him tell you how to get there, then ride on his back there. Have fun storming the ruin, filled with high-level Druagr and two dragons at the gate, then when you reach the top and fight a lich, you literally are transported to Sovngarde, where you team up with three legendary heroes, combine your forces, and defeat Alduin for good.
And once you're finished and return to Skyrim, (assuming you didn't kill Paarthurnax) you will find yourself surrounded by dozens of dragons who are roaring and thundering into the air, loud enough to shake the snow and deafen an unwary player, as they all acknowledge Paarthurnax as their new leader. There's something deeply moving about that entire sequence.
The heroes of Sovngarde — who are the biggest badasses in Nordic history — acknowledging you as their superior, and Tsun himself promising you a place in Sovngarde upon your death, no matter your race.
On top of it all: the translated version of the song in the background makes it clear that the Nords in Sovngarde aren't just singing any song. they're singing a song about you, coming to save them all from Alduin. All of Sovngarde is singing for your victory. All of Shor's realm has your back, Dovahkiin. Kick that lizard's ass.
To prove the above point, Every. Single. Soul. In the Hall of Valor was begging Shor to let them be your backup for the fight. Imagine having Tamriel's greatest Badass Army at your back, a numberless legion of warrior ghosts including the founder of the Graybeards, a king who once locked up a dragon in his palace for kicks, and the original leader of the Companions who butchered the Falmer so hard, they decided being a blind slave-race to the Dwemer was preferable to extinction.
The battle to save Winterhold College, the Eye of Magnus, the atmosphere, the special effects and everything else, a really fitting ending to the quest line of what is basically Skyrim's Mage's Guild.
The fight against Queen Potema. There aren't many fights this flashy and cinematic in games running with this sort of engine.
Roaming near a village en-route to a town on the other side of some mountains, Alduin is flying around and lands by a burial site to resurrect another dragon. Doesn't seem like much, right? The encounter is done by chance alone. This encounter isn't scripted, it just catches your curiousity enough for you to check it out. You'll never feel more powerless no matter how much you've leveled up in the middle of the game knowing the big guy's doing as he pleases. This is a pure moment of awesome for the developers alone for thinking outside the box and showing us the main antagonist is doing more than just sitting around waiting for you.
During the Dawnguard quest Touching the Sky, you come across an icy lake with a Word of Power sitting on a small island in the middle of it. Take a few steps onto the lake and two dragons emerge from the ice. The ensuing fight is nothing short of awesome.
The prisoner beheaded before you at the start of the game. Verbally flipping off your executioner as you're about to be killed takes some serious courage.
Hell, everything he said was made of awesome! He defended Talos by telling the priestess to shut up, yelled at the Imperial Captain to hurry it up all without fear in his voice.
And he does all in this annoyed voice as if his own execution is making him late for work.
Listen to it in Japanese here starting at 0:28; his soldiers already cheering while he spoke, then they all cheer together right after just when they begin the seige. And even Ulfric's ending speech is just as good, and he knows it (after asking Galmar how he did, Galmar replied "Not bad", and Ulfric remarked "I thought so").
Whether you think he's heroic or misguided, there's no denying that much of Ulfric's dialogue is pure 24k awesome (and Vladimir Kulich's voice doesn't hurt). Please refer to this video for proof.
Galmar Stone-Fist, of all people, also has his moments. The speech he gives before the Battle of Whiterun is actually very moving.
Galmar: This is it men! They say that our cause is false and that we are nothing more than thieves, thugs and murderers! But no! We are farmers! We are craftsmen! We are sons and daughters of shopkeepers, maid servants and soldiers! We are the sons and daughters of Skyrim! And we have come this far because our cause is true. Because we fight as one. And because our hearts are bursting with anger!
The first time you see Alduin resurrect one of his long-dead dragons. The sheer spectacle of watching a godlike dragon do his thing is beyond words.
Also related to encountering dragons at the College of Winterhold is something of a Self-Imposed Challenge. Instead of fighting the dragon in the courtyard, you can choose to make your way to the top of the main building and fight it up there. It sounds pretty basic, but given the heightened arena-like design of the building's roof, the blizzard thundering at you non-stop and the aforementioned music playing continuously, it's a really good opportunity to impress yourself with your character's skills with fitting imagery to boot.
The way that the Greybeards summon you once you find out that you're the Dragonborn. You're walking back to Whiterun after slaying the dragon and suddenly there's a bellow of "DOV-AH-KIIN!" that's loud enough to make the heavens and earth tremble.
It's implied that everyone in Skyrim heard the summons.
Made somewhat more awesome, as you later learn that one can summon Dragons by speaking their name via the Thu'um, who will almost then certainly seek out the one who called them either out of curiosity or to accept the implied challenge. The Greybeards just summoned the Dragonborn to High Hrothgar in the exact same way.
A subtler one for the designers: if you've played Morrowind, taking a walk through the Grey Quarter, on a windy day, while The Jerall Mountains is playing, is an instant nostalgia trip.
Most non-scripted dragon battles are awesome events. Picture this: You're talking to a guy. Maybe requesting entry to the College of Winterhold, maybe asking a bard for a request, maybe just selling some cabbages. All of a sudden, a dragon swoops in. You quit out of the conversation, kill the thing... then go back to the conversation and pick up from where you left off. The entire event of slaying a dragon oozes with epicness, no matter where you are, who you are or how you kill it.
"JOOR ZAH FRUL!" Basically the shout which drives down a dragon. Not only can you get those nasty lizards down - them faceplanting being an option - but each time you use it, you're introducing them to the notion of their own mortality. Which kinda makes you the dragon equivalent of the Grim Reaper. Bonus points if you're using Volendrung and punctuating each of your blows with "JOOR!" (mortal) to keep the dragon from taking off or roasting you: here, you're not just introducing him to the notion of death, you're literally beating the sense of it into him, one bash at a time.
Speaking of shouts, "TIID KLO UL!", also known as Slow Time. Think about it for a minute: it's a Shout that slows time. You are yelling at time itself to slow down. And it complies.
Actually becomes Fridge Brilliance when you remember that dragons are related to Akatosh, who is not only king of the Divines, he is the god of time. It makes perfect sense that his children would be able to command time, and for Alduin to survive being blasted into the future through a time wound without any loss of power.
A dragon attacks Whiterun. The Stormcloak guards put up their defense as the citizenry flees, all the while, one screams out to the beast; "I'll rip your heart out!"
For ones that are inclined to do so, there is a mod (Heart Breaker, for those interested), that allows you to literally rip the hearts out of enemies when they're catching their breaths after you beat them to within an inch of their lives. Ever wanted to go Temple of Doom on somebody that gave you a 'heart' time? Now you can!
While negotiating a peace treaty between the Stormcloaks and the Empire, you can kick Elenwen out of the negotiations.
Regardless of how you feel about Ulfric Stormcloak, hearing him refer to Elenwen as "that Thalmor bitch" just beforehand will probably make you want to cheer. If you do keep her at the negotiating table, he later delivers a Shut Up, Hannibal! that is arguably even more satisfying. The knowledge that she was the interrogator who tortured him past his breaking point during the Great War makes it that much sweeter.
The peace treaty itself. The Greybeards want nothing to do with the civil war and the political strife of Skyrim, Ulfric and Tullius are at war, Elisif is the widow of the High King that Ulfric murdered, the Blades are enemies of the Greybeards hunted by the Thalmor, and Elenwen, well, everyone hates the Thalmor. But, teeth-clenching though it may be, you manage to get all of them to sit down in a room together to discuss a temporary truce so you can deal with the larger threat of Alduin. And inevitably they each look to you for your opinion on how Ulfric and Tullius should handle the other's demands, and even if they don't like what you say they yield to your will.
A particularly good one is if you keep Elenwen in the treaty negotiations, either Ulfric or Tullius will tell her to shut up and she does so.
A villainous one: You and Mercer Frey track down Karliah, who betrayed and killed the previous Thieves' Guildmaster Gallus. Gallus's death and the infighting that followed are responsible for the Guild's run of bad luck, and Mercer wants revenge. Except Mercer was the traitor, having killed Gallus in that very same spot then framing Karliah and devoting all the Guild's resources to hunting her down for her "betrayal." And then he stabs you and leaves you to die, with no one but the "traitor" the wiser. You go on to learn that he, Gallus, and Karliah were all Nightingales sworn to protect Nocturnal and her artifact, the Skeleton Key. Mercer took the oath to get rich, stole the Key, killed/framed the other two to cover it up, and used the Key to break into the Guild Vault. Then he bought a manor with a secret passage into the sewers, so he could take more at his leisure. Then he forged an alliance with the most powerful noble in Riften, to keep up a steady flow of riches that he could easily steal back. Then he used the Key in the most abstract and badass manner possible to unlock his own potential. Since he's now a perfect human being, he can hack through huge hordes of Draugr, open Nordic puzzle doors in seconds, and smash giant stone towers the size of dragons. After bleeding the Guild for all it's worth, he does a runner, stopping to steal the most valuable gems in Skyrim from a Dwemer ruin crawling with traps, mechanisms, and Falmer. So, to recap: Mercer Frey, already a highly skilled thief, steals a ridiculously powerful artifact from the Goddess of Darkness and Thieves, then gains incredible abilities with it that not even the Dovahkiin can use, swindles his own organization out of a crapton of cash, eliminates the only two witnesses (in a way that nobody else would ever suspect him), becomes insanely wealthy with a swank mansion to boot, then—after screwing everyone he can possibly screw—gets away scot free and throws in one more badass heist. He even takes out the player, the one and only Spanner in the Works. And it would have worked perfectly if not for Karliah happening to shoot you with a poisoned arrow.
In Winterhold, there's a skeleton clutching a tattered flag. No matter what you do to disturb it, the skeleton will not let go of the flag. Nearby, there's a book about the fall of the Knights of the Nine. The implications are astounding.
If you kill enough of the wandering Thalmor Justicars (or trick them into attacking you, then killing them), eventually the Justicars will start attacking you on sight. Loot their bodies to find out why; the Thalmor have put out an order for your execution. They consider you such a threat they've ordered their troops to kill you on sight. Not captured, not tortured, they want you dead. How does that feel? It feels pretty awesome.
They have the same standing orders for Delphine, with the addendum that coming at her with anything less than a full legion of battlemages will basically have the same effect as tossing meat into a grinder.
Simply learning a word - you hear echoes of chanting, then you approach the place where the word was written, then it fills your vision as you receive a Theme Music Power-Up
Even some of the books that can be found in the game have their moments. For example, one book, The Marksmanship Lesson tells the story of a Bosmer Slave getting a boy to kill his father by telling him exactly where to aim his bow and shoot, then leading his father to be exactly where he needs to be when the arrow ends up getting there. And he does this all while being whipped by the man who ends up dead.
"The Locked Room" tells of a master thief who trains people on how to pick locks, but one student prefers to tinker and study the locks instead of break them, even when she has an obvious talent for it. Fed up with her wasting his time, the teacher locks her in a room with a crated vampire and tells her to hurry and get out before it wakes up. The student breaks the lock in seconds, but comes back the next day and asks the teacher if she can use the vampire room to test a lock she's been designing. She promptly locks the teacher in the room and triumphantly announces her lock is impossible to pick, but she was nice enough to leave the key in the room if he gives up. The teacher refuses to submit and tries again and again to pick her lock, and when he finally gives up he can't find the key she left. Eventually the vampire wakes up and descends on him, the teacher seeing the key around its neck as it rises.
"The Black Arrow" tells of a man living in the Bosmer province of Valenwood. He makes some friends in a nearby town. The rich lady he works for decides she wants the space in that town. What does she do? Burns the village down, killing many people in it, including the main character's friend. Another friend of the main character who manages to survive ends up holding a grudge on the woman. So, every night, he fires a single ebony arrow through the keyhole of the door. Every night. Finally, the main character is assigned to keep watch for the shooter of the arrow. He happens to move his chair away from the spot the arrow hits. The lady hears something in the bushes, goes to the door, puts her eye to the keyhole, and - splat.
The character meets with the shooter, Missun Akin, later. "As we left one another that day, and he was waving goodbye, he said, "I am pleased to see you doing so well, my friend. I am happy you moved that chair."
"The Last Scabbard of Akash" increases your Smithing Skill, but it could just as easily increase One-Handed, Stealth, or just about anything else. The story revolves around slavers being murdered by a mysterious vigilante known as "The Lopper," because he tends to lop his victim's heads clean off. Turns out "The Lopper" is a Khajiit slave, and the sword he uses is Akash, which belongs to the patriarch of a slaver family. Who keeps getting The Lopper this majestic blade, and refinishing and polishing it so its owner never even knows it was missing? Why, the owner's daughter, who's in love with The Lopper. It all ends tragically, but the three main characters are all consumate Badasses. . . yes, even the villain.
Simply seeing Blackreach, the huge underground area with glowing plants, Dwemer ruins, and red nirnroots. Plus the Dragon that shows up if you FUS RO DAH at the orange orb at the middle of the whole place.
Any time you kill a new type of enemy is bound to be this for you.
Bonus points if you used Fus Ro Dah instead of the sword.
After witnessing Ulfric curb-stomp Tullius to the ground, he starts giving us his summations, telling us we've pretty much given the Thalmor what they wanted. Ulfric replies that while the Empire may not be the villains in all of this, they are certainly no heroes either. Tullius agrees with him. It's moments like this that truly show how well-written the Civil War storyline truly is.
"I faced him fearlessly - my fate inescapable, yet my honor is unstained - can Ulfric say the same?" This quote from High King Torygg sums up how his death went. He wasn't scared of Ulfric, even knowing he was going to die, but as a true Nord, he was honorable and fearless in battle. His only regret is leaving behind Elisif.
This seems to have been the mindset of the Emperor as well when you're about to kill him. Apparently being awesome is a requirement for the job.
A simple one, but there is nothing so satisfying as calling Odahviing to rip another dragon's throat out. He's even nice enough to never poach souls from you after a kill.
The march on Windhelm was epic enough, but halfway through the fight, Legate Rikke and General Tullius were knocked down, whilst every other soldier died. It was a huge Crowning Moment of Awesome standing there, being swarmed by Stormcloaks, being the only one left to keep the battle going.
After many games, the Player finally gets to read one of the titular Elder Scrolls. And it turns out it's not so much "reading" them, but using it is as a viewport to scry events elsewhere/elsewhen in spacetime. And it turns out that's but a simple use of them: you can also use them to unbind entities from spacetime, and do many other things to screw around with the fabric of reality with them.
Becoming a Nightingale toward the end of the Thieves' Guild questline. Getting to put on that badass gray armor and stand in front of a Daedric Prince with Karliah and Brynjolf is little more than ceremony padding out the quest, but the setting and armor make it look and feel like a massive accomplishment. The final battle against Mercer running around a massive statue and narrowly escaping the flooding chamber isn't too shabby, either.
Bonus points if you finish Mercer off with Chillrend. Killing a traitorous thief with a sword stolen from the home of said traitor?Oh, thedelicious ironyof it all.
This fight is all the more awesome by the fact that Mercer's possession of the Skeleton Key unlocks his full potential, yet you, the Dragonborn, don't even have to reach or surpass the level cap in order to defeat him, so basically, the game is telling you that it's virtually impossible for Mercer to compete with the Dragonborn, because he/she has no need to unlock his full potential to be way more than capable of kicking his ass.
And the icing on top? Nocturnal thanks you for returning the Skeleton Key. In person.
It gets even better if you take the time to do enough side-jobs with Delvin and Vex to get Thieves' Guild influence in all of the major cities in Skyrim, which is more than enough to earn your place as the new Guildmaster, complete with armor, Amulet of Articulation, four new merchants at the Flagon, the ability to bribe guards at every major hold, access to the Tribute Chest, and the pure satisfaction that comes with restoring the Guild to glory and prominence again.
Dawnguard allows you to meet the spirit of Saint Jiub in the Soul Cairn, which is awesome. The fact that he has the same voice Dunmer had in Morrowind is even more awesome. To top it off, Jiub also reveals he'd moved to Cyrodiil to write his memoirs in peace and quiet...and settled in Kvatch, which is why he's where he is.
Further to this in Dawnguard is the Dawnguard's questline ending. Lord Harkon's Vampire Lord form final fight is absolutely drop-dead amazing with atmosphere. Bonus points? You can practically spit in his face about your most likely companion at this point. Actually, let's be honest. Serana may well be the most well-developed character in the Elder Scrolls, and while the attraction is obvious...So is the fact that it goes into CMOH territory as well in the aftermath. However, the biggest, best thing about Dawnguard has to be the DLC name's storyline final boss. Nothing beats a boss that uses his abilities even better than a player potentially can, but not seem too overly powerful during the fight.
And possibly the most awesome thing about Dawnguard is the final reward, Auriel's Bow, which can turn off the sun.
Even better is the other effect; you can turn the frickin' Sun into a Kill Sat.
When you find out just who created the prophecy. Serana is not pleased with him. The only thing that could make the scene more badass is Serana chomping on his neck after delivering the following dialogue, but that would have deprived us of the finale to an epic Climax Boss.
*Neck Lift* "You've waited all this time, just to get my blood!? Well, too bad, I plan on keeping it. Let's see if yours has any power in it!"
One of the random "finishing move" cutscenes when you're fighting a dragon involves you climbing right onto the dragon's head.
Almost all finishing moves can be considered this. With a battleaxe or warhammer, you can trap your opponent's neck and headbutt them to death. With two swords, you can force your opponent to kneel, then scissor-decapitate them. And if you're unarmed, you can finish them off with various wrestlingmoves. Or just chokesalm the poor bastard to the floor and then stomp his head in. Killing Grelod the Kind with this particular finisher is DEEPLY satisfying.
Cinematic archery kills. There is no more satisfying way to end an archer duel than seeing your arrow spring off the bowstring, hurtle across a hundred or so yards of terrain, and pierce your target through the chest/head/eye, sending them flying backwards. Bonus points if you were sneaking and your target was unaware, or if they're standing on a bridge.
Destructionists can get in on the fun too, watching a fireball careen towards its victim.
The first time, as a Stealth-oriented character, that you take down multiple enemies in one room without being spotted will make you feel badass.
Once you reinstate the Blades at Skyhaven Temple and recruit some more members for them there is a chance of them all hanging out in front of the entrance practicing and training their fighting style. A completely random event can have a dragon (bonus points if it is an elder or ancient dragon) swoop down and land right next to them. You can just hang back and laugh as they proceed to utterly curb-stomp it in the most awesome way possible, usually within less than ten seconds. Whatever you may think of Delphine and Esbern you can't deny that they still kick ass.
The first time a new, stronger breed of dragons shows up after you just have proven yourself capable of overcoming their much weaker cousins. If your level isn't high enough, your first Elder Dragon may very well prove to you that you are still far from being the most dangerous creature in Skyrim.
And once you manage to kill it, it proves that you are the most dangerous creature in Skyrim.
Then Dawnguard introduced the Revered and Legendary Dragons, the latter being so powerful they don't even appear until the player character is level 78 (just three levels below the former level cap of 81). Defeating a Legendary Dragon is such an awesome feat that it even warrants an achievement.
Odahviing's entrance when you first summon him. After you use the shout, a few seconds pass... then out of nowhere, Odahviing swoops down and flings the guard to his death.
The Festival of the Burning of King Olaf. You've convinced Jarl Elisif to reinstate it, based on a verse you made up (and it can be as hilariously unrealistic as claiming that Olaf was a dragon), it takes place at nighttime with a big bonfire, and everyone comes around to celebrate it. There's music playing, free food, and you're officially inducted as a bard.
Dragonborn's release trailer is made of awesome. Just to give one example- you can ride dragons. And there's another Dragonborn - one strong enough to devour the souls of three dragons at once. This 'new' Dragonborn is powerful enough to command a dragon to land and hand over it's soul just to heal himself. That's awesome no matter which way you slice it. Even if he is the bad guy.
Miraak's reveal in the trailer also references the official trailer for Skyrim where the Last Dragonborn is slowly revealed to be absorbing a dragon's soul. Whereas Miraak is shown to be absorbing 3 at once. The two scenes are very similar, and it foreshadows Miraak's similarities to the Last Dragonborn and his superiority during their first encounter.
While out for a stroll in the Forgotten Vale, you'll pass over a frozen lake. Normal fare, yeah? Then Serana says she thinks the ice looks pretty thin. Ha, just a simple program trick to increase immersi— then two Revered Dragons, Voslaarum and Naaslaarum, burst out of the ice, scaring you and roaring off into the sky. Nothing you can't handle, right? Wait, they can dive? Yes, they dive in and out of the ice, leaving gaping holes for you to fall in. By the end of the fight, there might not be much ice left.
Just the Forgotten Vale in general, one of the most breathtaking visual feasts in all of Skyrim in general.
A vampire player on the Bethesda forums once gave the epic story of a single determined town guard. After the player committed a crime in a hold, half the town guard came after him. The player ran, all the way from the hold, to the vampire's lair, dodging animals, guards, and dragons along the way. When he finally reached the vampire's castle, and thought he was safe, he entered, and a few seconds later, he hears a noise behind him. He turns to see a guard slowly advancing on him. Said guard demands the player turn himself in. Picture this: said guard just walked into a vampire lair, where humans are being eaten like a buffet. He had dodged wild animals, angry dragons, and was now in the middle of a place that can be considered certain death for any human intruder. And he just demanded that the character give up without a fight, despite the fact that he is outnumbered and outgunned, and that the character in question was a vampire lord. The player surrendered to the guard without a fight. As one commenter put it, the guard was channeling the spirit of Sam Vimes.
Until Dawnguard's perks helped fix the impractical part of the Awesome, but Impractical werewolves, they were rather weak after a while, but the transformation is still incredibly badass. With the perk tree, werewolves are terrifyingly epic, able to summon other werewolves from the Hunting Grounds with a howl, devour the heart of anything that isn't a Dwemer automaton to heal and extend the transformation, and fling scores of human opponents around like ragdolls. Oh, and getting a finisher with the two-handed power attack makes you grab your victim by their head with both paws, and then pop their skull like a grape.
They can also be strong enough to maul a dragon and a Dragon Priest (At Shearpoint) to death in about 10 seconds.
Plus those Giants that can boot you into the atmosphere if you get too close? A werewolf can just bitch-slap the thing to the ground and claw it to death like it were nothing.
The final battle of Dragonborn: you're fighting Miraak at the summit of Apocryphha, a daedric realm, while three dragons do battle overhead (Sahrotaar for you, the other two (Relonikiv and Kruziikrel) for Miraak). Each time you think you have him on the ropes, he whirlwind sprints away, summons one of the dragons, then drains their life away. He does this three times, and each time he does, he comes back with full health and more power. He swings an eldritch blade that drains your stamina, uses a staff that causes venomous combat tentacles sprout from the ground, and his armor has a chance of making a field of the same tentacles sprout around him. Oh, and his gear allows him to absorb 25% of any spell or dragon shout used against him. Oh, and he uses the Dragon Aspect shout to make himself even more powerful during the fight. With the possible exception of the final battle with Alduin, this is the most epic battle in the game.
This fight is one of the most incredible for one very good reason: Miraak is the first foe to have an answer to everything that you can do to him: His melee attacks can weaken melee users, preventing power attacks. His armor takes away the normal advantages magic users would have against him. His staff allows him to weaken ranged users while he closes the distance. Regardless of what your character may do, he's ready for you.
And he can Shout at you. Finally, and while this has minimal impact on actual gameplay, if he beats you, he's gonna consume your soul.
This makes it triply awesome when you have a counter for his counters, showing how evenly matched you are, and making it that much more of an accomplishment when you defeat him.
There's also a good chance that both the Last Dragonborn and Miraak have fully activated their Dragon Aspect shouts. Making them basically the Elder Scrolls equivalent of Super Saiyans.
Hermaeus Mora's line when he intervenes on the fight. He finally breaks his calm monotone, and it's a sign of how furious he is.
"Did you think to escape me, Miraak?!? You can hide NOTHING from me here!"
Both Storn Crag-Strider and Miraak being Defiant to the End when they get impaled by Hermaeus Mora's tentacles. The latter even hoping that you'll be rewarded with the same fate he was.
Those rare occasions where the Kill Cam kicks in for both the Dragonborn and their Follower. Nothing screams overkill than watching your enemy get your arrow through the face while simultaneously being impaled with a Ice Spike to the gut from your follower.
Long-time fans of the series should get one on Solstheim when you can look off the east coast and see Vvardenfell with Red Mountain belching smoke in the distance. You can't go there, but it's just nice to be able to see it again after all this time.
The Mind Rape they conducted on Ulfric Stormcloak is a CMOA for the Thalmor, albeit a particularly nasty and evil brand of awesome. By convincing him he was responsible for the fall of the Imperial City and then preying on his guilt, they laid the foundations for a civil war that would weaken the Empire without any direct military action on their part.Manipulative bastardry at its finest.
As a random encounter, you can find the Old Orc, a warrior who wishes for a good death. While speaking to him, a dragon can attack both of you. The Old Orc can kill the dragon. Not even death by dragon is good enough for him.
As an Archer-focused character, nothing is quite so satisfying as looting the body of an enemy and noticing that all of your shots were dead-center into their face and chest. It's even more awesome at higher levels, when you can start casually one-shotting your foes with a single arrow through the skull.
In the DLC Dragonborn, Ahzidal's boots give you the ability to walk on water like Jesus.
At the end of the Dragonborn quest "Deathbrand", you enter a tomb that contains a treasure room. Not just a chest, not just a bunch of coins on the floor. This one contains piles of coins (which give you 100+ at a time), weapons, gems, poisons and potions, and two chests full of goods.
Also in the Dragonborn DLC, near the end of the "Old Friends" Quest, you fight Neloth's previous apprentice Ildari Sarothril, who's been plotting revenge on her former mentor for an experiment gone wrong. When The Dragonborn takes out most of her health, Ildari simply falls to her knees like most essential NPCs do, but tells you the Heart Stone within her keeps her alive, so what does your Dragonborn do? He/she walks up to Ildari, grabs her, and rips the Heart Stone right out of her chest. It's possibly the most brutal killcam move in the game.
Dawnguard adds an enemy type called the Chaurus Hunter, which is basically a surprise-attacking wasp-thing that spits poison at you. It has a specific killcam, too: you raise your foot and stomp its head flat.
The Ebony Warrior: this guy will come up to you once your level is high enough, and he claims that he has done everything in Skyrim. And he has the gear to prove it. He challenges you to a fight at his encampment. When you face him, you'll find that his boast of having done everything in Skyrim is no idle boast. He can even shout, which can result in you being shouted off the top of a mountain. He has a set of what can be considered some of the best gear in the game. While he may not have any game-breakingly powerful gear like you might, for a normal character, short of Miraak or Alduin himself, there is no foe more challenging.
Another moment can potentially arise whenever an NPC that knows Dragon Shouts uses Disarm. Whether it be a companion picking up your weapon and killing the threat with it, or you punching them out after having your weapon knocked out of your hand.
Somebody made a mod (for PC) that allows the Dragonborn to remind the Blades that they are his servants, not the other way around, and persuade them to let their vengeance against Paarthurnax go.
Dragonborn: That is not your decision. You are sworn to follow me, and obey my orders.
The mod's creator couldn't get the dialog delay right, so he couldn't put in a response, which weirdly, makes it even MORE awesome. You're so tough that you don't even need to raise your voice to cow Delphine and Esbern into silent obedience!
An even better fix made by the modder who currently administrates the Unofficial Patch Project has the Dragonborn escalate in an argument, and then start yelling at Delphine or Esbern in the Dragon Tongue, causing the entire place to shudder like it does with the Greybeards. Delphine/Esbern quickly shuts up and falls in line.
The dialogue written for the scene is pretty badass as well for both the Blades and the Dragonborn, realistically presenting neither as being willing to back down without a damn good reason. In the Blades' case, the reason turns out to be their lives. As killing the Dragonborn is beyond their capabilities, "Because if you don't submit, you will die" is an argument they can't refute.
The Hearthfire DLC allows the Last Dragonborn to be a Self-Made Man, as they can now buy plots of land and build up to three mansions and all the furniture with their own two hands! Turns out they're just as good at making new things as they are at destroying them.
Hearthfire and Dawnguard both have a side-quest added where your spouse gets kidnapped and it's up to you to save them. It is oh so satisfying to bash Rochelle the Red's face in with your bare hands. Don't threaten the Dragonborn's family.
Two simple words that show up in the final quest of the main storyline - "Defeat Alduin".
The Thalmor Dossier on Delphine reveals that she had managed to evade three different attempts on her life, in one case killing an entire assassination team.
Storming through the Thalmor embassy on your own feels incredibly satisfying, particularly as you may not be a high level, but in any case you're not only holding your own against the Thalmor, you're utterly handing their arses to them. Then, after you've recovered the military intelligence, you and Malborn both flee via the dungeons, with any of the hostages you've rescued- and bump straight into a Frost Troll. If you have a follower, he'll show up to save you all, meaning it's about five people versus one Frost Troll. Talk about an epic escape.
Even better? If you go back to the Embassy later with a horse, you can jump over the fence which leads to the back, and murder Elenwen in her Solar. Vengeance has never been sweeter.
One that's easily ignored, but impressive when you think about it. In past Elder Scrolls titles, the PC would become stuck upon being overencumbered, being unable to take even a single step. However, being overencumbered only manages to slow the Dragonborn down. It's entirely possible to walk around with enough junk in your inventory to make a small mountain, and you'll only be reduced to being unable to run.
Lydia gains several new Badass Boasts when fighting the creatures on Solstheim.
"I don't have to know what you are to kill you!"
"I don't plan on being killed by the likes of you!"
After the Great War, the Aldmeri Dominion forced the Emperor to sign the White Gold Concordat, banning Talos Worship. The natives of Hammerfell were in such an uproar that Titus Mede had no choice but to declare that Hammerfell was no longer a part of the empire, leaving them as fair game for the Dominion to invade and wipe out. The Redguards drove them back.
How awesome was Skyrim in impacting the Japanese video game market? Not only did it score 40/40 in Weekly Famitsu (the first Western video game to do so), but Square Enix's bosses declared that they instructed their devs to "beat" Skyrim in designing one of their Final Fantasygames!
Have you ever fought a dragon except for Alduin that flies away at low health rather than to fight to the bitter end? Depending on your view on honour vs pragmatism, it can either be awesome seeing a dragon too scared to fight you, or it can be refreshing finally to see a dragon smart enough not to face impending oblivion due to an over-the-top sense of honor. (Or it can be annoying when you need a dragon soul).
One for the mod community. There are three large groups working to recreate Morrowind, Oblivion and the whole Tamriel. Nojoke, really. And if some of them look unfinished, that's because they're still in progress! This is on top of the mods that add realms like Elsewyr and Falskaar.
Clavicus Vile is the Daedric Prince of wishes. You're warned before you see him not to make a wish, because he willfully corrupts wishes. It doesn't exactly matter, because he doesn't have access to half of his power, pointing out that the Dragonborn is about as strong as he is at that very moment. You can encounter this quest as early as level 10. It's empowering to know that the Dragonborn, in the early game, is around half as strong as the demons that most mortals are powerless to defy, that very nearly destroyed the world in the previous game.
There is a line in the Dovahkiin song that translates to "with power to rival the sun"...
Meeting Sheogorath again, and realizing that he's YOU. To be more specific, he's the Hero of Kvatch, who's fully grown into his mantle and is now apparently enjoying his new role quite a whole lot. YMMV on whether this is a moment of awesome, a tearjerker or outright nightmare fuel, but the fact that the Hero still remembers his days as an adventurer and fondly states that you remind him of himself at a young age give the impression less that s/he has been subsumed by Sheogorath's personality and more that s/he has melded with it to become something new.
Meridia's quest starts off in an awesome manner when you find her beacon and suddenly a booming voice commands you to take it back to her shrine. Do so and Meridia transports you way up into the sky and tells you to rid her shrine of the foul undead infesting it and retrieve Dawnbreaker. The barely contained fury in her voice over the desecration of her shrine can be rather intimidating. The best part is when she reveals that the necromancer had barred the doors to keep people from entering. Here's one Daedric Prince who is not to be trifled with:
Similar to the above, the first thing you'll see when walking into Markarth is a man sneaking up on a woman, preparing to stab her from behind. If you're quick enough, you can stop him, saving her life and making a later quest slightly easier.
How Hermaues Mora one shots Miraak easily and only had you fight him for his amusement is awesome in a dark way. The guy it took the Dragonborn hours to try to take down, Mora killed in seconds by just showing up
It's relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but the climax of the vampire quest in Morthal becomes one if you do it at night. You emerge from the Jarl's longhouse to find the entire population of the town gathered out front holding Torches and Pitchforks and ordering you to take them to Movarth's lair. You can meet them there later... or you can pull out your own torch and lead the charge. Admit it, who hasn't wanted to be at the head of an angry mob at some point?
Here's a major point of awesome demonstrated by a Miraak Follower Mod. Simply put, this mod lets you use Bend Will on Miraak to make him loyal to you as a follower. Hermaeus reappears (as the outcome of them both surviving displeases him) and he sics just about every spirit, daedra and warrior under his thrall at you. However, the Last Dragonborn and Miraak must hold them off until Hermaeus simply stops sending more, to which Miraak leaves (and returns to reality at his own Temple) and the Dragonborn is free to go back to Tamriel. Why is this so different from the normal ending, where Hermaeus simply spears Miraak? Here's your answer: as noted above, a Dragonborn is equal to a Daedric Prince at half of their power. In the mod, it was Miraak and the Dragonborn against Hermaeus Mora. In short, Miraak and the Dovahkiin together are just as strong as a Daedric Prince! The Dovahkiin's combined ability to match a Daedric Prince is a huge crowning moment of awesome!