How do I succeed at lockpicking?
I saw there are multiple types of locks. Is it possible to remove any lock regardless of your lockpicking abilities? How can I improve my keyboard/mouse dexterity to have better success?
Does the game leaks information on the right position, such as through a sound or visual clue? If I make little tries, so as not to break the pick, is it possible to find the solution?
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You can indeed unlock any chest regardless of your lockpicking mastery. Despite having no proficiency in lockpicking I was able to unlock a master chest that I found, albeit with great difficulty. As far as I can tell, your proficiency affects the speed at which your lockpick breaks, and perhaps the accuracy of where you have to slide your lockpick.
When you hit on the wrong position, the game makes a distinctive resisting sound and your lockpick shakes. As a result, the easiest way to succeed at lockpicking is to adjust your position a few spaces over to the right or left, make a very brief unlocking motion to see if the lockpick shakes or not, and if it doesn’t continue sliding it in. If the lockpick shakes during the middle of twisting it in, don’t change your starting position but instead just test going either right or left from the shaking position to see which direction is the correct one.
The correct movement will not change in-between successive failed attempts at picking the lock(but will change if you exit the lockpicking screen or reload your game), so even if your lock breaks, use the information you gathered from your last attempt to try and succeed with your next one.
First off you can increase your chances with a Potion of Fortify Lockpicking. The Spider Eggs and Namira’s Rot ingredients in particular are not too hard to come accross as they tend to be both in caves.
I haven’t placed any skill points into Lockpicking yet. What I do when I come accross a Master or Expert locked chest is:
- Drink a Potion of Fortify Lockpicking. This makes it just doable rather than extremely frustrating (imho). Since you don’t come accross these chests so often, you can always keep one potion handy on you.
- Use a divide and conquer approach (I’m sure there is a good term for this but I can’t remember…): I try left, right, and middle. Then I try halfway here and there. Having a good framerate and thus smooth input definitely helps here, as it gives you a small chance to release the key before the lockpick breaks.
- Once I get closer (the lockpick shakes only after a quarter of a second or so, again I think you need a good framerate for this…) then I will make note of some texture detail in the background, on the left or right edge of the lockpick. I think Bethesda artists purposely put a lot of texture there, as well as the rivets on the side, to help you remember the lockpick position.
- Use that point of reference and inch a few pixels left and right.
- You will always break lockpicks. Using a potion and the approach above I generally open Expert and Master chests in less than 10 lockpicks. Since all other chests are fairly easy, and the merchants appear to restock lockpicks every now and then, you shouldn’t run out of lockpicks. I always have 99+ on my level 30 ish character.
You can also heat the lock with a torch to make it easier to pick. Just equip it and pick.
Source: One of the books in Skyrim said so. (Forget which one)
Edit: Apparently the author is a liar so disregard the above.
If you want lockpicking experience the ragged flagon cistern has locks that respawn at every difficulty.
Is it possible to remove any lock regardless of your lockpicking
There is, indeed. The mod, Lockpick Pro, allows you to see the “sweet spots” of a lock, allowing you to easily unlock any lock regardless of lockpicking abilities.
The mod in action:
Another option is to give yourself the Skeleton Key (an unbreakable lockpick) by entering
player.additem 3a070 1 in the console and giving yourself the Skeleton Key perk (required to make sure the Skeleton Key works properly) by entering
player.addperk 10F13F in the console.