In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360, let’s face it.. not all followers are created equal. Some (or should I say most) followers jump right into the fray, and die rather quickly. Some have no business getting hit at all, let alone jumping into a pit of five Draugr’s to get beat up on all at once.
I’ve used quite a few of the followers in the game, and I have to say that in my experiences, the mages are by far the best followers out there, and here’s why..
** Note that there is currently a bug where followers you meet are set to the level you are WHEN THEY ARE FIRST LOADED. This means, at the beginning of the game, followers that you come across in Whiterun stay low leveled. This doesn’t mean when they joined you, it’s when they were loaded for the first time.. so if you see them (even if you don’t see them) and their character is loaded, then whatever level you were at that point is the level that they will always be. This explains why followers you meat early on like Lydia start to die easily as you gain levels. There are commands on the PC to fix this, but us PS3 and Xbox 360 players are stuck until they fix it. Apparently the only exception to this is the Dark Brotherhood followers, which seem to be leveling up properly.
Why Mages Are The Best Followers
Power – The power of the mage is not 100% dependent on you crafting the best equipment for them like the melee followers. They already have powerful spells, and they are ranged so they don’t get beat up on a whole lot. You’ll find that with the power of a mage, you don’t need a tank to absorb damage because the fights really won’t last that long.
Range – Mages are powerful ranged characters, so they can literally have most melee enemies dead before they even reach you. If you’re a ranged character as well, you’ll be clearing out dungeons without much effort, and hardly taking a scratch in the process.
Smarts – I’m sure you’ve noticed that your AI followers aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, but mages are pretty smart when it comes to battles. They use fire on trolls (most trolls are weak to fire), they use lightning on mages (to drain their magicka), and so on.
Finding Mage Followers
There aren’t a whole lot of mage followers in the game honestly, which is somewhat disappointing. There are a couple that you can hire very early in the game though without doing any quests for them.
Marcurio can be found in The Bee and Barb in Riften. You’ll typicaly find him near one of the entrances sitting on a bench. He costs 500 gold to hire, but he’s worth every penny. He’s a pro at destruction magic, and can kill most enemies within a few hits.
Belrand can be found in The Winking Skeever in Solitude and can also be hired for 500 gold. He boasts himself as a “spellsword” and used one-handed attacks and magic as well. Belrand is ok, but I don’t feel that you get the “bang for your buck” like you do from Marcurio.
There are a few other mages that can follow you for free, but you’ll have to do quests for them. Brelyna, Onmund, and J’zargo can all be recruited in the College of Winterhold after doing quests for them. Illia can be found in the Darklight Tower south-west of Riften, but you’ll have to kill her mother to convince her (it’s ok, she wants you to). Erandur is found in Dawnstar and will follow you once you figure out their “nightmare” issues. Eola can be found in the Hall of the Dead in Markarth, and will follow you after clearing Reachcliff Cave for her.. and if you decide to be a cannibal (steep price to pay if you ask me.)