There’s no Fighters Guild in Skyrim. There should have been, but there isn’t. Instead, we get the Companions. These guys claim to carry on the traditions of the 500 companions of Ysgramor, the elf-killing badass, but really, they are a bunch of smelly idiots.
I mean it. They’re douchebags. Well, Aela the Huntress is, but she’s the character you spend most of the Companions quest line with. The first time you meet the Companions, you see them taking out a giant on a farm. If you don’t manage to get a hit in, even if you tried, you’ll be scolded for not lending a hand. Except most of the time the giant is dead before you even get there unless you run super fast. And really, you’re just some random guy or gal who escaped being killed by a dragon, you’re exhausted and slightly on fire, what are you going to do against a giant that already has three strong people fighting it?
Either way, you can still just walk into the Companions’ base, the longboat-turned house Jorrvaskr, and ask if you can join up. Apart from a quick fist-fight, you just get to do some small, petty chores. Really, why are you being given a sword to sharpen? The Skyforge is literally a short walk away. They’re all just lazy.
So you slowly climb the ranks, being told by everyone how great and honorable it is to be part of the Companions. Then you get invited into the ‘Circle’. Which sounds cool and all, until they tell you that they’re all werewolves.
So much for ‘honorable’.
You can’t continue with the quest line until you succumb to lycanthropy. You HAVE to do it. Never mind that you’re all supposed to be noble warriors wanting to go to Sovngarde, there you all are, willingly accepting a gift from the daedra Hircine.
Anyway, being a werewolf is alright, if you don’t like looting things. Luckily, you’re only forcibly changed once, and you can avoid killing anyone by leaving via the secret exit, which skips you forward to being yourself – but naked. Then you’re immediately told to go and kill a bunch of werewolf hunters.
Hang on, I thought we were honorable or something? Okay, sure, the Silver Hand torture and kill werewolves, but werewolves have a nasty habit of killing people too, and there’s no real cure for lycanthropy. Really, running in there and killing all those Silver Hand people (who think they’re doing the right thing) doesn’t exactly help the image of werewolves.
Turns out, you’re not the only person who thinks being a werewolf is kinda silly. Kodlak Whitemane, the Harbinger of the Companions, not so much a leader but an advisor, wants to go to Sovngarde and knows he can’t. Damn werewolf blood. So he sends you out with a plan to cure himself (and maybe you too if you want it). Small problem, he’s dead by the time you get back. The Silver Hand managed to get in and kill him.
The question though is HOW? The Companions are a group of super strong warriors. They are in the middle of Whiterun, one of the safest and best defended cities in Skyrim. There are guards everywhere. And from the looks of it, the Silver Hand barged right in the front door. A group of rag-tag bandits managed to run through almost the entirety of Whiterun, through the front door of Jorrvaskr and downstairs into the living area to stab Kodlak, a mighty warrior in of himself, with a sword.
Really, it’s their own damn fault. If they hadn’t gone and hunted down the Silver Hand in the first place after they attacked them and got Skjor killed.
So you go and kill all the Silver Hand guys (in revenge of course) and reclaiming some bits of axe that are stolen from you, you need to fulfill Kodlak’s wishes to help him get to Sovngarde. You get the three remaining members of the Circle following you… except two of them chicken out. Aela follows you until the end but is a stubborn bitch in general and doesn’t let you sneak or anything. Finally, you can fulfill Kodlak’s wish by, uh, burning a witch’s head and killing a ghost wolf. Oh and if you don’t cure yourself now, you have to convince Vilkas and Farkas to cure themselves before you can cure yourself again. Assuming the whole thing doesn’t bug out.
But the thing is, the Companions in general just feel shoddy. They’re not very strong, they don’t seem to do much and they’ve lost their ways. You can say the same about the other guilds in Skyrim, but the Companions are supposed to be honorable and brave and powerful and they really don’t feel like that. Oh and of course, you become their leader at the end.
Not that you really want to, nor does it make any difference to you. It’s pretty much the same as being a newly joined Companion.
At the end of the day, the Companions don’t feel special or anything. The whole werewolf thing goes against the Companions in general and feels tacked on. The Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood feel like they have actual reasons to be there, and feel like you’re doing things for them, bringing them back. The College of Winterhold was mostly cut so you can excuse it for being mediocre.
The Companions though don’t really have an excuse…