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Exploring the Best Skyrim Mods

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Skyrim, when it first launched back in 2011, attracted a huge swarm of eager videogamers with its diverse location settings, in-game independence, and progress-based gameplay. The videogame has mesmerized players across a host of platforms who were eagerly waiting for a re-release of the title – which happened in 2016. However, now the crowd craves for more.

Modding is an essential part of any videogame’s fan-base. After hours of extensive gameplay and exploration, when no stone is left unturned, people desperately strive to keep the adventure alive. However, with Skyrim, finding the best mods is not all that simple; you see, there are over 28,000 of them on the Steam Workshop alone. You can also find tons more on Nexus and other sources and, from such a plethora of mods, it is hard to find the ones that will add the most to the game’s value.

In this article, we will explore some of the best and most easily accessible Skyrim mods that will radically alter the way you experience the game – visually and otherwise. These mods, if applied in a smart combination, can not only add great replay value to the game but also make it far better than the re-released version.

For simplicity purposes, we have arranged the mods in the following categories:

  • Basic Mods
  • Graphics Enhancements
  • Gameplay Enhancements
  • Weapons and Armor Mods
  • Game World Mods

Installing Skyrim Mods

Installing mods with Skyrim couldn’t be simpler. Two of the most commonly used methods are via the Steam Workshop and Skyrim Nexus. In either case, mods may have specific instructions that you will have to follow to make them work properly. The links embedded in mod titles will take you to the website of the mod from where you can add it to your game.

The mods will almost always target the Data folder of your game which is, by default, located in the Program Files directory:

C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\Common\Skyrim\Data

For Steam Workshop mods, all you have to do is log in to your Steam account and then hit the subscribe button for the mod. This will automatically download and install it to your game’s target directory. Make sure to look out for any specific steps if they are mentioned. Some mods may require you to move your game files from the default pathway.

Be sure to make a backup copy of the original game folder so that you can revert to the original version if the modding goes wrong (which it can). Just a final heads up: don’t stuff the game with a ton of mods at once; instead, test them one at a time. If you feel like having several mods for the game at once, use an optimization tool such as Mod Organizer 2 or Order Optimisation Tool for better results.

Basic Mods

Basic mods are either an attempt at revamping the feel of the game, which is much appreciated after hours of gameplay, or patches to resolve existing issues. In either case, they will add much to be appreciated in the game, transforming it into an evolved or superior form of the original.

  1. Ultimate Skyrim

Ultimate Skyrim is a conglomeration of 16 different mods that come together under one umbrella. If you think you’ve had enough of the original game, then perhaps this will help you up the ante. The mod emphasizes greatly on roleplaying, more so than the original game. It does so by adding more factors to consider, like temperature and hunger. It also revolutionizes the combat aspect of the game. The automation feature built into this mod allows users to create and install modpacks with ease.

  1. Skyrim Script Extender

Some more sophisticated mods require you to fumble with the script of the game which is otherwise impossible without a script editor. Though the Skyrim Script Extender is not a mod on its own, it is very helpful as it will allow you to modify the game’s script so that it can handle complex commands. Mods that require the script editor will mention so on their page, so be sure to read the instructions carefully and then proceed likewise.

  1. Unofficial Skyrim Patch

The Unofficial Skyrim Patch is a must-have patch if you wish to tackle the various bugs and issues that plague the retail edition. With a game as complex as Skyrim, it is no wonder that such issues may remain hidden or unnoticed until the game is out. Not to worry though, this regularly updated unofficial patch will resolve all items, text, NPC, quest, gameplay, and assorted imperfections.

  1. Relighting Skyrim

The lighting mechanism of Skyrim makes no point at certain times. Perhaps it was done to boost the aesthetics or maybe it was a developmental flaw; in either case, it is very disturbing. This relighting mod ensures that only luminous elements like the stars and fires emanate light and not planks.

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  1. SkyUI

Since Skyrim was built for multiple platforms, the PC version did not translate so flawlessly for keyboard and mouse controls, especially the UI. The interface indicates that it was meant to be navigated only through a controller. However, the SkyUI overhauls this and makes it much more compatible with a keyboard and mouse.

Graphics Enhancements

Even though it is a gorgeous game, Skyrim’s looks have aged by no fault of its own. This was inevitable due to the leaps being made in gaming technology. Even these graphics were bound to run out of fashion. But fret no more, as these mods will give Skyrim an overhauled look and make it visually presentable for 2020.

  1. Towns and Villages Enhanced

If you’ve played the game a couple of times by now, you’ll probably be fed up from the looks of the towns and villages. They look barren with minimal tree cover and unexciting once you’ve seen them this way for hours. However, with the Enhanced mod added, towns and villages will exude a fable-like aura. Every settlement will have trees dotting its area, in the gardens, by the roads, and anywhere else you’d expect to find trees. This radical transformation may not be suitable for some; those people can skip to the next mod. And did we mention there will be chickens too? Well, there will be, lots of them.

  1. Detailed Cities

The Detailed Cities mod is a moderate attempt at tweaking the look of settlements rather than radically overhauling them. It falls somewhere in between the preceding mod and the vanilla experience. It adds some greenery, tree cover, and decor but not so much as to completely reinvent the look of the settlements.

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  1. Real Vision ENB

In case the name did not make it clear, the Real Vision mod does exactly as it sounds; it creates a realistic look for the game. The photorealistic effects, when combined with some other overhauling mods, will have you staring at the screen for hours. Be sure to not lose your breath for too long (you will lose it for sure) when you experience the magic firsthand.

  1. Static Mesh Improvement

Skyrim has some graphical flaws, especially with the objects. The edges are often unrealistic and objects don’t appear to be as smooth as they should be. The added polygons and reshaping of existing textures can be hard on the performance side but they are worth the effort. The game will look flawless after these improvements and playing it should feel like a brand new experience.

  1. FXAA Injector

What can create an even better image than the one we were given by the game’s production team? The FXAA Injector adds several anti-aliasing techniques under one mod and makes the visual appeal of the game flawless. The mod also adds several post-processing effects to give a new vibe to the game’s imagery such as bloom, sharpen, and Technicolor. You can adjust the levels of all added effects until they fit to your liking.

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  1. 2K Textures

The name may be a bit misleading here; 2K Textures can in fact create a 4K resolution for your game. To give you some perspective, this is eight times what the game looks like after the HD patch. To say that this will alter the look of things is an understatement; we are looking at a radical overhauling of the imagery to create a more modern and sophisticated appearance.

The textures overhaul almost every aspect of the game including the skies and the ground, and whatever that lies between them. However, such radical improvements and replacements also demand a very strong system memory and assorted hardware requirements. In case you think that your system can’t handle the load (or simply don’t want to push things too far), you can use the lite version instead of the standard and enjoy some less extensive upgrades.

Gameplay Enhancements

Even if a game is fantastic, it will lose its gameplay value over time due to repetition. Skyrim provided users with endless hours of immersive fun and engagement, so to say that the gameplay is nice would be an understatement. However, after so many replays, there comes a time when the “same old” becomes tedious and unattractive. This is where these mods will help rekindle the game’s potential and help you play it with a new style.

  1. Interesting NPCs

NPCs are boring, no matter what the game is. It is very hard to find a truly realistic blend of in-game characters that are not involved in the main game. There are hundreds of NPCs in Skyrim but most of them are bland and repetitive – after some time, you will not bother asking people who they are.

This modification is the result of arduous programming and voice acting from 80 different individuals. The result? Every NPC has a unique and diverse dialogue tree and they reveal information about who they are and why they matter.

  1. Sneak Tools

The stealth aspect of the game is not all that interesting, especially when compared with the rest of the game. If you wish to overhaul the sneaky aspects, try out this mod. With Sneak Tools installed, not only will you get an assortment of equipment to help you on your stealth missions like rope arrows, but also many abilities like slitting throats, knocking out people, extinguishing fires, and so on to make the gameplay more realistic.

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  1. Invested Magic

The in-game sorcery mechanism can be quite off-putting at times but this mod can change that. It changes the mana consumption process (now it remains deducted until the spell’s effect fades off), Buffs last longer, and the mana reserve for some spells is limited.

  1. Realistic Needs and Diseases

With the survival genre catching on quickly in the videogaming community, it is no wonder that such elements have also found their way into Skyrim. The Realistic Needs and Diseases mod forces you to go to all extents for survival. You will have to eat, drink, and sleep regularly to stay in peak shape and avoid diseases as they can be a major drain. The occasional stop at a tavern will become a regular visit as it will now be necessary for survival. This added challenge makes the game re-playable after hours of playtime.

  1. Fishing

If Skyrim was missing one cool hobby, it was fishing. Fishing makes an entry into the franchise with this mod. You can set up your rod and cast the line or place nets in a water body. Alternatively, you can make a massive haul by throwing in explosives and bagging a huge catch which will earn you quite some profit.

  1. Better Combat AI

The default combat AI in Skyrim lacks diversity and intelligence, which is ironic as AI means artificial intelligence and you would kind of expect it to be that way. However, if you ever wished to change this, now you can. With the better combat AI mod, duels are much more tactical, enemies are smarter, and their intelligence is based on their personas (i.e. bandits will be more tactical compared to farmers).

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  1. Camping Kit

Forget fast traveling to locations; while it is convenient, it is also unrealistic. Now your character can make a camp using this kit. This shelter will help you rest in the dark and avoid enemies via the ‘dark fire’ which only gives off heat and does not reveal your position to any aggressor.

  1. Better Hunting

The Better Hunting mod changes the demand for animal products, making hunting a time-worthy activity. Animal fur, pelts, and meat now have a higher demand, meaning that they will bring you higher rewards. With such alterations, your money saving efforts should bear fruit before the whole thing becomes one repetitive and monotonous charade.

Weapons and Armor Mods

Stylish and awe-inspiring weapons and armor go a long way in showing your enemies that a dreadful fate awaits them – and they look good too. Are you done with the sight of plain old weapons and default armor options? If yes, then these mods can help you recreate the experience:

  1. Bandolier Bags and Pouches

If you have ever played an RPG, you need not be told that collecting the booty after a bloody showdown is the most exciting part. However, your Dragonborn hero is not Superman, so don’t expect him to carry everything (there’s limited inventory anyways). You will have to leave a lot of things behind and there’s no coming back for them in most cases. If only there was a way…

There is indeed; although it will not make the inventory infinite, this mod can help you carry more items, which can be pure bliss in certain situations.

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  1. Throwing Weapons

If you’re done with casting spells and firing arrow volleys to hit distant targets, use some of the ranged weapons from this mod. You can throw axes, javelins, knives, and explosives with this mod, and there is a learning curve and skill tree to master too, making it all the better.

  1. Immersive Armors

This mod adds 55 new armor sets that can drastically improve your gameplay. These sets are designed to fit in the game mechanics and lore perfectly, meaning that they play very naturally. You can find these armors not only from craftsmen (as in the case of most original in-game pieces), but also from dead bandits and inside treasure chests.

  1. Immersive Weapons

This mod adds 224 immersive weapons to the game. Much like the preceding mod, this version makes sure that the weapons play naturally and are not grossly overpowered. If you were sick of watching the same old weapons from the game, now you can change that.

  1. Cloaks of Skyrim

Fantasy games cannot be complete without cloaks. They add a certain wonder-like feeling to the game. This mod adds 100 highly detailed and nicely designed cloaks to the game, which you can stitch on a tanning rack. However, before you go on making your cloaks that can be worn on any armor, you will need to find an in-game book called Fryssa the Wide’s Nordic Tailoring. Player characters and NPCs will all be wearing these lustrous cloaks and add a fantasy flavor to your gaming experience.

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Game World Mods

If you’ve seen it all and experienced it all, then perhaps some additions will make you want to revisit the realm. These mods will add features of the in-game world of Skyrim and impart a greater repayable value to this legendary game.

  1. Campfire Unleashed – Wild Fires: Legendary Edition

The Campfire Unleashed – Wild Fires: Legendary Edition mod provides a type of sandbox experience for your Skyrim. With this installed, you can craft well over a thousand items for the in-game world. These items can be as simple as some furniture pieces or as stunning as a catapult with fire ammunition. You may even build breathtaking castles, change the landscape, and alter the Skyrim world’s look to your liking in almost every aspect.

  1. Open Cities – Legendary Edition

What does every videogamer hate even more than the “You Lose” screen? The loading screen. They are everywhere in Skyrim. With a game universe as diverse and rich as Skyrim, this limitation was bound to surface sooner or later. But the entire gaming experience and the adrenaline is ruined by these screens that pop up constantly when entering or leaving a city; it’s as if they are just a door away. However, with this mod, you can finally say adios to these screens and play Skyrim in a more open universe.

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  1. Build Your Town – Rule as a Lord

This project is under development but it opens up an exciting avenue for Skyrim players. It is as if SimCity came to the fantasy realm. As a lord, you will be given a plot of land upon which you can build an entire city based on your preference. At present, you can only build wooden structures but it is a work in progress and it promises a lot.

  1. Into the Deep – Atlantis

The mythical (or perhaps real) city makes an entry into the franchise with a boom. Into the Deep lets you explore Atlantis via a boat from the Dawnstar Sanctuary. But beware, this arena is perhaps one of the most challenging ones you’ve ever faced. The waters are teeming with goblins and other underwater beasts and the final treasure is guarded by a mighty boss.

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Final Words

These mods are easy to install and will introduce a new dimension in your videogaming sessions. With a couple of these installed, the fantasy realm of Skyrim shall be transformed into a new, alternate gaming universe.

While some mods attempt to overhaul the gaming experience, others merely add to or alter certain prevailing aspects. Nonetheless, these were some of the finest mods that we could find on the internet and, truth be told, personal preference was involved. Feel free to share your views and happy gaming to you!

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