Whenever you talk to someone about The Elder Scrolls V one particular aspect always pops up – best Skyrim mods. Indeed, it’s safe to say that Skyrim, or even the entire Elder Scrolls series for that matter, would not be where it is today without its incredible modding community. The game still receives new mods on a daily basis almost eight years since its initial launch. Now that’s a dedication for you.
However, with well over 60K mods currently available for the game, it can be quite challenging to choose the best ones. That’s where we come in. In this article we’re going to take a look at the essential mods you’ll need in order to make the game worth playing even in 2019. We’re mainly going to cover PC mods here but don’t worry because some of these are actually available on consoles as well.
Models and Textures
Skyrim HD – 2K Textures
Skyrim tends to look a bit rough around the edges in 2019, especially when you get too close to certain objects and notice the low-resolution textures. With Skyrim HD, you won’t have to worry about that anymore. This mod replaces hundreds of textures across the game with high-resolution ones that look incredibly crisp. Despite its name, the mod actually includes textures that range from 1K in the Lite version up to an incredible 8K in the Full version. It’s up to you to decide which ones you want to download.
Static Mesh Improvement Mod
Better known as SMIM, Static Mesh Improvement Mod is a huge mod that touches upon pretty much all static meshes in the game. This includes things like furniture, architecture, clutter, landscaping, and so much more. Ropes, chains, barrels, lanterns, and a wide variety of other objects look almost unrecognizable with this mod. In a good way of course.
Skyrim Flora Overhaul
Trees and flora in vanilla Skyrim look incredibly flat and uninteresting. That wouldn’t be a problem if the world was just a barren wasteland but Skyrim has quite a few regions completely covered in lush vegetation. Well, the vegetation isn’t that lush in the vanilla version but you can make it so with Skyrim Flora Overhaul.
Enhanced Night Sky
This is hands down one of the best Skyrim mods out there for making the game’s night sky look absolutely stunning. The mod adds realistic looking stars, galaxies, nebulae, auroras, and more. There are a few different presets to choose from, some more colorful than others. If you want to make Skyrim’s night sky look absolutely surreal, this mod is for you. If you only want a better-looking version of the original sky without any extra bells and whistles, this mod is for you as well.
Visuals and Graphics
Enhanced Blood Textures
Whether it’s wild animals, bandits or dragons, there’s a lot of things to fight in the world of Skyrim. And you’ll definitely be doing a lot of fighting throughout your playthrough. Unfortunately, the original blood textures do a pretty bad job at making you feel like you’re in a life or death situation whenever you’re in combat. That’s where Enhanced Blood Textures comes in. This mod makes combat a much more visceral and realistic experience while also adding a few interesting features for good measures. Some good examples include the addition of green blood for spiders and oil for automatons.
Glowing Ore Veins 300
Mining in Skyrim can be a bit of a hassle. Not only is the mining animation incredibly slow and wonky but you’ll also have a difficult time finding ore veins in the first place. With this mod, there’s no need to worry about the second part anymore because ore veins will become impossible to miss thanks to their new glow. The effect is particularly noticeable while you’re in darker environments.
Have you ever found it strange that caves and dungeons in Skyrim are always so well lit despite having very few light sources inside them? Relighting Skyrim aims to fix all that. The mod makes it so that light actually comes from light sources instead of thin air. This makes interiors darker and sometimes more dangerous as it will be more difficult to spot enemies and traps. On the bright side, that adds a lot of realism to the game as unexplored dungeons are expected to be dark. Just make sure to bring a torch with you.
Footprints is one of those Skyrim mods that adds a feature which should have been present in the first place. Much of Skyrim is covered in snow and yet you never see any footprints around. That’s not exactly immersive. Well, this mod fixes that and even goes one step further by adding suitable footprints (or paw prints I guess) for the various animals found throughout Skyrim.
Gameplay Effects and Changes
Alternate Start – Live Another Life
Tired of trudging through the opening cutscene? Wish you could skip the tutorial area and jump straight into the good stuff? If you’ve played Skyrim before you already know how tedious the first couple of hours can be. Well, not with this mod. Alternate Start – Live Another Life lets you skip the boring part and allows you to create a new character right away. The mod also allows you to start your journey in one of several locations, including quite a few randomly generated ones.
Realistic Ragdolls and Force
One of the must-have Skyrim mods for those looking to add a bit more realism to their game. This mod makes it so that people no longer fly around like crazy whenever they’re killed by an arrow or a spell. Don’t worry, though, Fus Ro Dah still blasts enemies away as intended. The mod comes with various settings that allow you to adjust the amount of force applied to ragdolls. In addition, ragdolls are also less rigid and will bend and twist in a more realistic manner.
Cutting Room Floor
Bethesda decided to cut a bunch of nearly finished content shortly before releasing Skyrim either due to time constraints or technical limitations. As a result, this content never made it into the final game, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t still play it regardless. Cutting Room Floor adds much of the content back into the game, allowing players to experience it for the first time. The new content includes everything from items and locations to quests and NPCs.
Run For Your Lives
One of the simplest mods on this list but don’t underestimate its impact. The mod makes citizens inside villages and cities run indoors during vampire or dragon attacks. The only NPCs that will remain outside and will proceed to fight the monsters will be guards. As it should be. Not only does this add more realism to the game but it can also save some important NPCs that may otherwise get killed during these attacks. Like they often do in the vanilla game.
Quests and New Lands
You don’t get to see much of Helgen in the original game due to it being destroyed by Alduin and all. Just as its title suggests, this mod lets you help rebuild the town and restore it to its former glory. However, that’s just part of it. The mod also adds several new quests, new dungeons, many fully voiced NPCs, new items, and much more. Helgen Reborn also adds a new player home inside the village so you can take up permanent residence there and make sure no dragons dare to attack it ever again.
Beyond Skyrim – Bruma
This is by far one the most ambitious Skyrim mods out there. The mod lets you venture past the borders of Skyrim and explore Cyrodiil’s county of Bruma. If you’re familiar with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, this will be an excellent nostalgia trip for you. The mod doesn’t just allow you to visit Bruma but also delve deep into a wide variety of quests and explore many new dungeons along the way. This mod is part of the Beyond Skyrim project, which aims to recreate the entire continent of Tamriel in TES V’s engine. Beyond Skyrim – Bruma should give you a good idea of what to expect from the final version of the project.
Darkend is a very grim and atmospheric mod that’s unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced in Skyrim. The mod was inspired by the Dark Souls games and features the notoriously difficult combat that made that series popular with so many people. The other aspect that made Dark Souls stand out from the crowd are the epic boss battles, which are present in Darkend as well.
The Forgotten City
The Forgotten City is an award-winning mod that offers an intriguing new storyline complete with quality writing and voice acting. This mod is famous for being the first of its kind in history to win a National Writer’s Guild award thanks to its script. Needless to say, this is an absolute must-play if you’re into quality storytelling.
Legacy of the Dragonborn
No list of essential mods for Skyrim would be complete without Legacy of the Dragonborn. This is an incredible DLC-sized mod that introduces a new museum for the purpose of displaying the Dragonborn’s many items gathered throughout their adventure. Legacy of the Dragonborn is compatible with many other mods that add new items, including some that we already mentioned earlier.
Weapons and Armor
This mod adds hundreds of new weapons to the world of Skyrim. The new weapons can be crafted, purchased or found randomly while exploring. The mod creator went to great lengths to make sure all the new weapons are completely immersive and lore-friendly.
This mod does for armors what the previous one does for weapons. Immersive Armors enhances the game by adding over 60 new sets of armor and hundreds of new shields. The mod also introduces a few other items such as eye patches, capes, scarves, and more.
It’s definitely not a stretch to say that SkyUI is one of the most essential Skyrim mods out there. In fact, some might say it’s the most essential. The mod introduces a brand new PC-friendly user interface that’s miles ahead of the original UI. SkyUI comes with many advanced features and is required by literally hundreds of other mods because of this.
A Quality World Map
Skyrim’s original world map is pretty bland and uninteresting but luckily there’s a mod that makes it so much better. A Quality World Map is exactly what it says on the tin and makes the game’s map a lot more useful. Some of the best features include higher resolution textures, more detailed terrain, roads, and more. That’s right, the original didn’t even include all the roads.
Immersive HUD is a simple mod that can have a big impact on how you play the game. The mod hides the HUD while you’re out and about exploring so you can take in the views of Skyrim in all their glory. Don’t worry, though, because the HUD shows up again whenever you aim at an object or interact with something. Just like its motto says, “HUD when you need. Hide when you don’t.”
Unread Books Glow
Unread Books Glow will be of big help if you’re the type of person who likes to delve deep into Skyrim’s lore. The mod gives unread books a visible glow, which will disappear when you read the book for the first time. The glow also applies to skill books but is a bit more noticeable to make sure you never miss out on acquiring free skills ever again.
Playing Skyrim without any mods in 2019 is pretty much unheard off even if you’re on consoles. This game is one of the main reasons why mods are so popular today so you owe it to yourself to see what all the fuss is about. As mentioned, there are over 60K mods available for this game so creating a complete list would be nearly impossible. However, the ones discussed in this article are a good place to start and are certain to greatly enhance your experience.