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Skyrim is one of the most important games to come out in the past decade. To say it’s inspired others is an understatement as you can’t look at a genre without seeing an open-world game. It didn’t create the open-world RPG, but it perfected it in many ways and there’s a good reason it’s been re-released so many times.
Of course, PC players used to brag about being the only ones to get the true Skyrim experience because of their access to mods, but now, PS4 and Xbox One users have that ability as well.
Modding a game is an intimidating venture to be sure. After all, you’re literally inputting programs that alter the code and scripts of your game. While this is pretty safe on consoles, the breadth of the PC modding library is staggering and some mods might not work for you and worse, could break your game.
Because of this, make a backup of your files and save your files as well. If you’ve done all that and are getting ready to start modding, there are a few things we’re going to need before we get started.
In order to efficiently download mods, we’re going to need a mod manager. While some mods might require manual modding, most will work fine with a Mod Manager and this will make the process as smooth as can be. In terms of what we can get as far as Mod Managers go, you can either go with Mod Organizer 2 or Vortex.
They both work fine, but in my experience, Vortex can be a tad unwieldy at times and requires a lot of manual pathing and altering of settings and just ends up being a bit of a headache in the end. To counter this, just go with Mod Manager 2. It’s a painless process that orders all your mods properly and allows for seamless integration with the Nexus site for quick downloads as well.
Once you’ve got your Mod Manager, you need to make a Nexus account. You don’t need to pay for it, but trust me, you’re going to have questions for these mod authors at times and this will allow you to converse with them on message boards. It will also let you mark favorite mods or ones to come back to as well, so definitely create an account.
Skyrim Script Extender
The majority of your mods will involve scripts and in order for Skyrim to execute these scripts, the capabilities of the game must be expanded and that’s where Skyrim Script Extender comes in.
This allows for things like new quests, new animations and new events to be added into the world without issue. Almost every mod requires it, so save yourself the hassle and download the latest version before you do anything.
While Skyrim is still a great game capable of eating up a lot of hours of your time, it’s not the prettiest experience in this day and age. Luckily, we’ve got this mod to make everything look remarkably better. Though it says 2K textures, it actually includes everything from 4K up 8K textures as well.
This makes the game look nearly new and while some rough designs will definitely stand out a bit, this mod is a must-have if you want to get a more modern visual experience.
Skyrim’s interface is one of the clunkiest in existence. While it works well enough on the controller, on PC it is way too difficult to perform simple tasks and if you’re not using a controller, the game menus are incredibly difficult to navigate for no reason. To fix this, SkyUI pretty much revamps the entire HUD and Interface to become much more friendly to PC users. It’s a subtle change, but PC users will appreciate it nonetheless.
While they were decent enough for its time, Skyrim’s animations are completely ridiculous by today’s standards and whether its enemies sliding across the floor or awkwardly swinging their weapon at nothing. Things look bad a lot of the time when melee combat is involved.
Animated Armory fixes this by adding new weapons to Skyrim that all include their own unique animations. You’ve got claws, whips, halberds, spears, rapiers, and more and the result is a game that is not only improved but feels way better to play just because of how it looks. All these animations and weapons are available for you to play with as well.
Common Clothes and Armors
The NPCs of Skyrim generally have a pretty plain look to them. That’s not only because of the decade-old animations but rather because they all look so similar. Whether you’re in Winterhold, Windhelm, Markart, or Riften, a lot of the time, NPCs are wearing the exact same thing. That will happen no more as Common Clothes and Armors adds 130 new clothes and armor sets to the game that liven up the population of Skyrim in a great way.
The Book of UUNP Volumes 1, 2 and 3
The armors of Skyrim are cool and all, but they are decidedly male-based and for female players, the options for armor are less than thrilling. That’s where The Book of UUNP Volumes 1, 2, and 3 comes in. It adds 325 chest pieces and 500+ armor parts total that the world will now use.
Warriors will now be adorned in these brand new armors and there are even 26 male chest pieces as well. These items can be found everywhere from shops to dungeons in caves, so your entire game will soon be adorned in some incredible-looking equipment.
Total Character Makeover
While it’s basically a meme at this point, you can’t emphasize enough how bad some of the faces look in this game. Considering you’re going to be conversing with a lot of characters, their flaws are glaring up close and nobody wants that (especially in VR).
Not only does Total Character Makeover fix all of the faces, but it adds more makeup variety, facepaint, beards, and more. You’ll have better eye textures for every race, better vampire textures, better snow elve textures, better eyebrow textures, and a ton of variety in freckles and scars to make every NPC finally feel unique.
Immersive Sounds- Compendium
Although it’s one of the most played games in the world ten years after its release, Skyrim is still an old feeling game in many ways and one of the most notable ways is in its sound. While the music is still fantastic as ever, everything else in the game uses a very copy and paste approach.
What I mean by this is every cave sounds pretty much the same as every dungeon does and whether you’re smashing your greatsword or ax off a shield, that will be the same sound too. What Immersive Sounds- Compendium does is give a unique quality to every single thing in the game. Enemies of all kinds will now have unique sounds when dying. Your greatsword will sound much different than your dagger and magic attacks now will reflect their immense power.
If this wasn’t enough, there are several options for each kind of effects in the mod manager installation menu, so you can make your experience feel more realistic or fantasy-like depending on what you choose. This includes arrow sounds, weapon sounds, and general ambient noises and you can mix and match however you would like.
It is pretty unanimous that the music of Skyrim is among the best soundtracks of all time. I’m not just talking about video games, I’m talking movies, TV, whatever medium you want, Skyrim is an elite competitor in its music. Its tracks create a sense of wonder and majesty that other fantasy RPGs often fail to realize and it suits the journey perfectly.
The problem is that there aren’t a ton of different tracks to listen to and considering Skyrim can last you over 100+ hours, you might want some variety. Immersive Music comes to the rescue by providing an additional 3.5 hours to the original music tracks or even replacing them completely.
The music tracks are incredible and they have something for every situation. Battle music tracks are now wildly varied and there’s some awesome stuff in here that amplifies the feeling of a tense encounter even better than the original. The ambient music is the highlight here and it fits so perfectly with the game world that it barely even feels like a mod.
Wildcat- Combat Overhaul
Skyrim is a game that you can get lost in very easily, but unfortunately, the thing that can rip you out of the experience faster than anything is melee combat. While the ranged and magic combat are both excellent, the melee combat has never faired as well.
Repetitive animations, predictable enemy AI and just an overall rushed feeling of the melee combat in Skyrim. Wildcat-Combat Overhaul is a complete combat makeover that makes the action faster and the attacks way more visceral.
It does this by adding speed to both you and your enemy’s attacks by tying them to stamina. That means the more stamina you have, the harder you will hit. It also adds attacks of opportunity, which adds damage bonuses to attacking an enemy while your target is hit from behind, staggered or paralyzed, readying a power attack, pulling back a bow, sleeping or sitting, and when casting a spell.
In addition to this, it takes off the auto-aim on bows and crossbows too, making ranged combat feel way less streamlined and more based on your skill. Wildcat also adds injuries that get randomly applied when you or your enemy is hit.
You can get a head injury that quickly drains Magicka, inflict an arm injury which causes your enemy to drop your weapon or injure their legs to make them stagger or even fall down. Wildcat is an incredible addition that changes everything in the melee combat arena.
Inpa Sekiro Combat
Skyrim’s melee combat can be tweaked by many mods, but they all keep the game seeming relatively familiar. Other mods go a bit further though and completely change how the game feels, creating a whole other kind of combat system in Skyrim. Inpa Sekiro is very much that mod. What this mod does is basically input the combat from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice into Skyrim.
The posture system from Sekiro is the first thing you’ll notice here and much like that game, it’s what will be used to govern what you can block and you can’t block. It’s similar to your stamina, but it’s based heavily on blocking and deflecting attacks.
Instead of being able to tank attack after attack in regular Skyrim, you now are staggered by just about any attack. That makes blocking and praying integral to surviving. Your enemy has a poise value as well as you do, and if continuously wear it down, your enemy will be badly staggered as well.
You can now parry the majority of attacks, arrows, and even magic attacks and this mod is so comprehensive that it honestly feels like a different game after a while and a better game as well.
The cities and towns of Skyrim are part of what gives this medieval fantasy world its personality. From the variety of NPCs to the blacksmiths, kings halls, and taverns, they are one of the most important parts of the Skyrim experience. The thing that has always stood out though is how small everything felt.
Yes, Solitude feels appropriately huge seeing as it’s the richest and most populated city, but other places like Windhelm and Riften just feel way too small. JK’s Skyrim was created because of the above issues and the result is a massive overhaul of all of the cities and towns in the game to create a far more interesting Skyrim civilization.
This mod takes the 5 major cities of Skyrim as well as the biggest towns in Riverwood, Dragon bridge, Ivarstead, and Rorikstead and adds tons of buildings as well as vendors to make them feel more lively. This is a massive mod, so you need to make sure it’s compatible with the other mods you’re using. This is an awesome mod that makes traversing the civilized areas of Skyrim far more enjoyable.
While there are some nearly endless dungeons you can discover and explore in Skyrim, at a certain point, you’re going to be sick of fighting your way through Bleak Falls Barrow for the 1000th time. When that fatigue sets in, you might wonder if there are any mods to increase the dungeon count in Skyrim. You’re in luck because Forgotten Dungeons is exactly that mod.
It adds 50 new radiant quests and 15 extra dungeons into the game. These aren’t just quick run-throughs that are an easy trek either. The dungeons in this mod are extremely long and have tons of treasure chests to find and enemies to fight.
They’re often quite difficult too, so you’ll want to be well-stocked with equipment and healing potions before entering one of these as it’ll be quite some time until you’ll find your way out of them. They aren’t overwhelming in their locations too, so when you come across a strangely named dungeon, it’s often tough to recognize whether you came across an added dungeon or just one that you never found in the first place. Dungeons here vary from dank caves to ancient ruins and even Dwemer dungeons as well.
Lanterns of Skyrim
Sometimes the smallest mods can make the biggest difference. While some players love exploring dungeons and finding the best loot in the game, others just love to wander around in this mystical world to see what they can discover around the next turn.
If you wander around long enough though, eventually the beautiful days of Skyrim will turn into frightening nights and when that happens, if you don’t have the Magelight spell or a torch handy, you’re going to be wandering through some unknown darkness.
Lanterns of Skyrim fixes this issue by adding lanterns along the main roads to all main roads, towns, villages, and settlements. The result is a far more sensical seeming world and your night travels will be way easier to navigate at night thanks to the addition of all these lanterns lighting up the path forward.
Amazing Follower Tweaks SE
Skyrim can get very lonely and even scary at times and sometimes, it’s great to have a few friends along for the ride. Followers in Skyrim add a ton to the game, but they’re pretty light on the management side and when you recruit one, you can give them weapons and armor and tell them to go places, but that’s really where the management side ends.
Amazing Follower Tweaks introduces a huge suite of options for managing each of your Followers. Options include the ability to set outfits that you can select at any time to fully equip your followers based on whether they’re wandering around town or fighting, managing combat style, assigning them to specific homes and they even level up alongside you.
If you ever were annoyed that your Followers couldn’t join you on your Vampire or Werewolf journeys, worry no more as you have the option to turn them alongside you if you so choose. Followers now can ride horses, avoid triggering traps, dodge friendly fire, pose and even dance if you want.
The options here are incredible and really makes your Followers feel like real parry members rather than just some tag-along NPCs of no consequence.
Lucien- Immersive Fully Voiced Male Follower
There are a ton of Followers for you to find and recruit during your time in Skyrim. No matter how many you find and recruit though, one fact remains constant with all of them.
They don’t feel like real people. That may be an obvious statement considering you’re playing a videogame, but these days, characters in games are incredibly well voice acted and motion captured so it’s hard to distinguish the difference between real acting and video game acting anymore. When the same stale lines get thrown out by your Followers time after time, it can grow tiresome.
Enter Lucien- Immersive Fully Voiced Male Follower Mod. This mod adds a Follower named Lucien to Skyrim who has over 5000 lines of dialogue that is both perceptive and lore-friendly. Lucien even has character growth too and while he starts off as a wimpy scholar, he slowly gains the courage to be your loyal Follower and then ascends even past that.
You can find him at Dead Man’s Drink in Falkreath and from there you can choose to continue on whatever quest you were on, or you can embark on Lucien’s quest. Lucien’s quest is an awesome one that will take you to a Dwemer Ruin with some incredibly unique visuals.
Lucien also interacts with Hoth, Inigo, and Auri, who are other popular Follower mods and can interact with the base game Followers as well. He adds so much color and life to the game and it’s just a far less enjoyable ride without Lucien by your side.
True Directional Movement
If you play Skyrim for an hour and then go play a modern RPG such as The Witcher 3 or Horizon: Zero Dawn, one thing is very apparent. The modern game movement is smooth and fully 360. Not only that, but their combat systems feel smooth, including the ability to lock on and overall just flows way better. This is understandable because Skyrim is a 10-year-old game.
What if you could take some of that modern gameplay and infuse it with the world of Skyrim. Why, you’d have almost the perfect RPG then wouldn’t you? Well, now you can! True Directional Movement completely changes the movement in Skyrim. This includes the new ability to move in any direction at any time and this includes being able to attack or aim in any direction on a whim as well.
While the movement system is an awesome addition, perhaps the best addition is a lock-on system. Much like The Witcher 3, Dark Souls, God of War, and just about any modern RPG you can think of, now you can lock on to your enemies in Skyrim.
This means you no longer will have those wild and ugly attack animations that seemingly hit nothing. You’ll instead be able to focus your attacks on your enemies and the result completely changes how the combat feels and brings it into the current generation of RPG gaming.
Skyrim has never been known as being the hardest game out there, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges to be had. You can definitely find some tough bosses out there in form of Dragon Priests, The Ebony Warrior and even Alduin can mess you up if you’re not properly equipped when you face him.
Eventually, though, you’ll become so damn strong that nothing will even make you flinch. You can jack up the difficulty all you want, but when you’re high level, you’re going to mop the floor with just about anyone or anything that crosses your path. While this might feel immersive as you’re the legendary Dragonborn, it just isn’t that fun when a game becomes too easy.
High Level Enemies introduces 874 new enemies to the game that come equipped with a custom scaling level if you so choose. These enemies include variations on Bandits, Falmer, Warlocks, Vampires, Dragon Priests, and just about any other kind of enemy you can encounter.
These enemies start spawning around level 10, so you need to be pretty careful when traversing unknown areas regardless of your level now because you could stumble on upon a level 80 enemy that will absolutely wreck you if you get too cocky.
For the players looking to turn Skyrim into a much tougher experience, this should add in plenty of challenges to keep you playing way after you’ve beaten the game.
Challenging Spell Learning
Magic is something that is given quite easily in RPGs. Sure, you might need to level up a little bit or select a certain class to be granted magic abilities, but there’s really not much trial and error involved. For those that believe that this intense power should be earned and not given, Challenging Spell Learning is the ultimate mod. It’s not that much different than learning a different spell, but it does require that you’ve invested a bit into your magic skill.
Each time you want to learn a new spell, you will begin a little ritual that you must survive. This ritual shows you meditating while your Magicka drains and if you manage to finish the ritual with enough Magicka, you will learn the spell. If you fail, however, you will be knocked out and given a disease called Mental Exhaustion that causes your total Magicka to be reduced and lowers your magicka regeneration rate is well.
This adds significant risk to learning each spell, so if you really want to unlock new spells, you need to make sure your magic skill is high enough to handle it. You will be able to gauge how much Magicka you need per spell based on the level of the spell you’re learning.
If you’ve invested nothing into magic and are trying to learn an Adept level spell, you will definitely fail the test. This adds a whole other level to the magic experience in Skyrim.
Arcanum- A New Age of Magic
Are you a magic-user of Skyrim? Are you also sick of the same fire, lightning, and Ice spells that you’ve been learning again and again for the past ten years? Maybe you’re a new user and you’re just looking forward to a different kind of magic system for once. If you’re either of the above, Arcanum- A New Age of Magic is absolutely the mod for you.
Instead of the same three kinds of elemental spells, Arcanum- A New Age of Magic is a wildly experimental magic mod that aims to create a list of spells from tons of different schools of magic to create a magic system that is all it’s own. These aren’t just color swapped spells either as these have incredibly unique visuals attached that make you feel far more formidable than any spells you’ve used in Skyrim in the past.
All the spells are integrated into spell vendors organically, but some spells can only be acquired by taking on specific mini-quests that take place in fully custom dungeons.
Spells have traditionally been used one at a time, but here, combos are not only encouraged but very much required as some effects are only available through the combination of certain spells. The depth of this mod is insane and a must for any magic users.
The Forgotten City
There are dozens and dozens of quest mods in Skyrim, but only one of them can say it’s won an award for the National Writer’s Guild.
That is exactly what The Forgotten City is worthy of. The writing in this mod and game design involved is so damn good that the team behind it turned it into a separate game that came out in the summer of 2021 and became one of the best games of the year in turn. In Skyrim, you get the same experience just with the mechanics of Skyrim involved.
You investigate a city that is seemingly lost in time and once you arrive, you’re pulled into an elaborate narrative that involves unraveling all kinds of mysteries with some extremely unique mechanics involved as well. If you only get one quest mod for Skyrim, The Forgotten City certainly deserves your consideration.
Immersive World Encounters
The world of Skyrim is so amazing to explore because of all the things you can see. You can run into bandits, be attacked by mountain trolls, see a dragonfly overhead and so much more that keeps things feeling fresh.
When you play Skyrim enough though, these things start to repeat themselves and after a while, you’ll stop seeing anything new, and the feeling that you’re playing in a real world will slowly drift away. That’s when you need Immersive World Encounters to come inject some life back into your game.
This mod adds about 100 new random events and new quests into the game that will completely reinvigorate your exploration in Skyrim. Not only are there tons of new quests and events that happen in Skyrim, but the original events are tweaked now. This will result in brand new rewards, new quests, and other surprises that will spring up for seemingly familiar encounters as well.
Question: Do these mods work for all versions of Skyrim?
Answer: That all depends on what the mod is. While there are tons of mods available on all versions of the game, only some work for all versions, so you need to read the mod author page to find out for sure.
Question: I love Skyrim, but I only have it in VR, can I still use these mods?
Answer: While most of these mods should work flawlessly in VR, some specific ones that alter animations should definitely be avoided. If the mod alters strictly NPC animations though, you should be okay, just stay away from things that change player movement and attack animations.
Question: How much space do these mods require?
Answer: Some mods are very small and will barely take up any space. Once you start getting to mods that add items into the game or comprehensive overhauls though, that’s when you can expect a hefty amount of storage to be taken up. On their own, no mod should take up that much space on your hard drive, it’s when you start downloading 100+ of these things that you can get in trouble, so keep that in mind.
Ultimate Skyrim Mod Guide: Conclusion
Whether you’re a new player or returning to take on the quest of the Dragonborn for the 50th time, the above mods should definitely improve your experience.
You don’t need to download all of them, just pick and choose which ones seem like they fit your play style best. I would suggest the True Movement mod above all else to make your Skyrim feel way more like a modern game. Good luck and read up on each mod to make sure you’re doing everything required of it.