There are not many gamers who aren’t in one way or another familiar with the legendary game ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ or often called just Skyrim. With over 23 million copies sold all over the world since its release in 2011 and with the release of the better version ‘Skyrim: Special Edition,’ the popularity is only bound to get greater than it is now. One of the main reasons for this scale of popularity is its gigantic modding community which provides improvements as simple as graphics upgrade to the extreme modifications that transform Tamriel into a dark version of some other realm.
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Modding is not something to be wary about and if you have never done it because the process is simple and it is very easy to install and activate mods and the more advanced ones will get their own special folders. We have compiled a list of the best Skyrim mods that we believe will help in improving the Skyrim experience a whole lot more for you. But just please note that not all mods are available for all the platforms and keep that in mind while you are considering installing a mod.
Top 20 Special Edition Skyrim Mods:
1. T3nd0’s Skyrim Redone
T3nd0’s Skyrim Redone is one of the best Skyrim mods to try out if you want to give Skyrim a total makeover with a complete overhaul of the most fundamental elements of the game right down to the perks, skills and stats of a character. The main aim of this mod is to enhance the depth of the character development by giving suitable options to the player and it does so in many ways like specialization in different weapons, harvesting bones as a necromancer and many more. But beware, as this mode is quite complex in nature, there can be some compatibility issues. So make sure that you are reading the fine print through if you wish to give it a try.
In some ways, this mod brings Skyrim’s core systems closer to the Morrowind and Oblivion and in many other ways, makes a lot of difference between the both of them. The mod has got a lot of changes like more potent frostbite venom and dual-casting spells result in 200% cost and 220% magnitude and there is also a respec potion. All the new spells can be found in loot and bought from appropriate merchants and Dawnguard crossbows also appear on enemies. The mod also adds a modified in-game menu to reflect these changes and also has a few loading screens to help you.
Falskaar is one of the top Skyrim mods for a player who has seen and experienced everything the vanilla version of the game and wish to try out a new scenery. This mod adds an entirely new world space and is accessed by the dungeons the first time and then by a boat from then on. There is a new land, quests, places, people, dungeons and adds roughly over 20 hours of additional content and suits all sorts of characters. The mod also has 26 quests including 9 quests long main story and 17 side quests along with some unmarked content, new items like books, recipes, weapons and armours and two new spells and a new shout.
For hundreds of years, Falskaar has been inhabited by Nords, and for the first time since the party’s arrival in Falskaar over 600 years ago, a portal opens deep within the ruins of Mzubthand and the player steps through it arriving in Falskaar and they are called ‘The Traveller’ and those who arrive through the shimmering wall will mark the start of the worst. Falskaar contains 14 brand new tracks composed exclusively for it, adding more than 40 minutes of new music and a fully voiced experience featuring almost 30 semi-professional and professional voice actors and actresses all contributing to make this mod an entirely separate land and experience independent of Tamriel.
3. Realistic Needs and Diseases
Realistic Needs and Diseases is a need and survival that offers extensibility and extra features. Realistic Needs and Diseases makes eating, drinking and sleeping a must for the players and if they don’t do this with conviction, they will face some serious consequences but given the ample amount of food and water resources, this won’t be too difficult and is not the most severe survival mod there is. When you are in tune with the workings of this mod, try branching out into Frostfall, a mod that makes the commute in the frozen extremities of Skyrim very challenging.
This mod is also compatible with the vampire, werewolves and cannibalism and vampires have no need for food or water and werewolves/cannibals feeding will curb both hunger and thirst. Also, with this mod, diseases are not supposed to be easily ignored like the vanilla diseases and at the beginning, you will only have mild syndromes but if you don’t get treated fast enough, things will go very wrong over time, so find a cure as soon as possible. Hunger has 6 stages – gluttony, satiated, peckish, hungry, very hungry and starving with the latter three affecting your stamina and health in a very bad way.
4. Interesting NPCs
Interesting NPCs is one of the biggest & the best Skyrim mods which fill the game with an array of detailed characters each with their own stories and their own voice acting. Each NPC is integrated into the world with a backstory and an extensive dialogue tree to explore and many of these characters were given voice by a talented team of over 80 voice actors. The dialogue selections allow you to role-play, providing humour and intensity to each conversation. You can be a jerk or a comedian, a white knight or an assassin, as the most prominent character is you.
Interesting NPCs mod has got 250+ voiced NPCs, over 50 voiced quests, and over 25 followers with location-based commentary and even 15+ marriage NPCs. For better control of which NPCs are in your game, you can remove the base dialogues of the non-quest NPCs using the “setstage DialogueNPCNAME 500” console command. Some quests may have different names like “KavaldDialogue”, so if it doesn’t work type “HELP NPCname” in the console to find the proper quest name. This will turn them into vanilla clutter. Unvoiced or unfinished Dialogue can be enabled via the console by “setstage 3dnpcenable 1.”
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5. Immersive Armors, Immersive Weapons
Immersive Armors and Immersive Weapons are armour and weapons compilation mods assembled for you if you are seeking to enhance the gameplay with a greater selection of armour and weapons without losing the natural feel of the game. The Immersive weapons mod adds many custom weapons and the Immersive armour mod adds custom armours that are seamlessly integrated into the game world. You will find new and power appropriate armour sets starting from level one to level fifty as the game progresses and the mods are constantly evolving, bringing new life into your Skyrim world.
the Immersive Weapons mod adds 230 new weapons which are craftable, enchantable and upgradable as appropriate and the weapons have 5 identifying statistics – damage, reach, speed, stagger and weight. The Immersive Armor mod adds 55 new sets of armour to the game (over 60 including variants), a lot of extra helmet options, 396 new shields, a whole lot of eye patches, capes, earrings, scarves and more which are all craftable, enchantable and upgradable. The armours and weapons are both integrated into the game through levelled lists, quest rewards, placement in dungeons and/or specific people.
6. Alternate Start – Live Another Life
Alternate Start – Live Another Life together with TES V Savegame Manager (a third party program that allows you to switch between multiple characters saves) is a great mod that you can consider for a more character-driven perspective and lets you begin the game as a tavern patron, a necromancer in a hidden lair, a plain old farmer or a number of other characters that offer a very interesting starting point. Once you choose the character you want, you will start at the appropriate point with the necessary gear and. You can opt to follow the natural story of the game or you can use a mod like ‘You Are Not The Dragonborn’ to turn off the perks of being Dovahkiin and try living the life of a commoner.
Thus, Live Another Life provides an alternate means to begin the game for those who find it weary to go through the lengthy intro sequence at Helgen. You will be allowed to choose your race and also choose the new life your character will lead with a huge variety of choices. To install this mod, you will need an official Skyrim patch 188.8.131.52.8 or higher as the earlier versions will result in CTDs and many other problems and you will also need to turn on the subtitles to see the text for the startup quest.
7. Apocalypse – Magic of Skyrim
Apocalypse – Magic of Skyrim is the mod for someone who isn’t satisfied with the visual enhancements and wants to go all the way through to alter the core of the game. This mod adds 155 new spells to the game and their utilities range from common stuff like summoning to conjuring up raging tornadoes that destroy anything on their way. These spells are also lore friendly which means that they go well with the tone and setting of the game and its history.
The mod also includes scrolls and staves for these custom spells and the custom visuals used are of high quality and blend seamlessly into the magic system. High-quality custom animations, low script load, no save bloat, availability of configuration options (if SkyUI is installed) are some of the main attractive features of this one which makes it one of the best Skyrim mods available. After you install Apocalypse, any spell vendors will start selling the appropriate spell tomes once they restock their inventory (when left without disturbance for 48 hours).
8. Static Mesh Improvement Mod (SMIM)
SMIM is one of the best Skyrim mods that enhances the graphics of the game. Though the graphics of Skyrim cannot be called bad looking, it does require some fine-tuning to keep up with time and competition. Seams show when you focus on mundane objects very closely which are meant to be viewed from a distance. the details blur a lot and the round edges start showing more polygonal structure as the distance decreases.
So if you are familiar with some of the more graphically blessed games like Dragon Age: Inquisition, then this fact may irritate you to a good extent. If that is the case, try SMIM as it will make considerable changes to such small elements of the game which when combined with a few texture and effect upgrades, the overall experience will get a major improvement. Combine it with the free official High-Res Texture DLC, Skyrim Flora Overhaul and Pure Waters to get the most off of it.
9. Immersive Patrols
Immersive Patrols offers a reasonable amount of Stormcloak, Thalmor, Imperial and Dawnguard patrols to Skyrim and a few Skaal, Reaver and Riekling patrols to Solstheim. It also includes civil war battles and some basic non-Khajiit caravans who travel between major cities and the patrols often cross path with each other or the player creating new encounters or unexpected aid. There are no vampires, werewolves or bandits in this mod and all enemies scale but only through stats/player level. You can also use this mod with Open Cities.
Completing the Civil War quest will disable all patrol and battle NPCs (including Thalmor) of the losing faction and destroying the remaining enemy camps after the Civil War quest is completed will completely disable all Civil War NPCs, effectively ending the Civil War within this mod. Also, the Civil War NPCs will attack you on sight depending on your allegiance. Dawnguard patrols within this mod will only exist after reconstruction of Fort Dawnguard has begun.
SkyUI is a Skyrim mod that offers a lot of change when it comes to the navigation and makes it a lot better, especially considering the cluttered inventory of Skyrim. The mod also adds a few features of its own in addition to this as well. There is a control panel in the options menu that many recent mods plug into automatically which allows the players to fine-tune many of the more complex mod systems.
This mod will push you to install Skyrim Script Extender (also known as SKSE) a popular mod that extends what the other mods are supposed to do. Version 5 includes better crafting, alchemy, enchanting, smithing and many other enhancements. They also have a Mod Configuration Menu (MCM) which supports user-friendly in-game customizations and also offers multi-language support for English, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Czech, and Japanese.
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11. A Quality World Map
A Quality World Map is a mod that helps in enhancing the map of the game even though the map isn’t bad at all, this one gives it a few great tweaks. This mod provides a set of very detailed map textures, complete with roads and also adds a detailed Solsteim map and works best when used together with the ‘Clear Map Skies’ add-on. This mod brought to us by the IcePenguin is a must have for everyone who enjoys walking or riding everywhere the normal way instead of the fast travel methods and there is even a paper-style map if that is your thing.
The refreshed look of the new map holds larger and more detailed textures and includes most roads and you can select between All Stone Roads (makes some paths appear cobblestone on the map) and All Flat Roads (more of a dirt-road style). You can also combine it with the ‘Clear Map Skies’ add-on to remove all the clouds from the centre of the map thus providing you with a crystal clear view of the world below but the clouds at the corners will be still there. The paper style map is of a high quality and is a recreated version from the existing paper map texture using world space reference screenshots, the map texture and custom art assets but a paper map for Solstheim is not included in the mod.
12. Darker Nights
Darker Nights mod has a rather obvious name and this mod makes the nights of Skyrim much darker or not much, depending on your preference. The mod has got seven levels of darkness to choose from with Level 0 being the darkest (94% reduction) and Level 6 is the closest to the vanilla gameplay (22% reduction). The interiors of the game will also be darker during the night as well if the mod is activated and will remain so unless they are very well lit.
Draker Nights is one of the best Skyrim mods because, in addition to the perfect working, this mod also provides patches for all major weather overhauls and popular weather tweaking mods thus ensuring a fairly consistent level of darkness regardless of your environmental mod preferences. The mod reduces the levels of sunlight and moonlight coming in through the windows, cave entrances and other openings and the ambient light depending on the time of the day. But this mod does not affect the regular light sources which mean that using the interior light overhaul mod alongside this one will give you the best results.
Ordinator is another mod for Skyrim which adds to the perk tree to make each playthrough and build more unique and interesting by adding more than 400 perks to the game and completely overhauling each skill tree. This mod also enables many new characters builds and is compatible with almost everything with a very lightweight script and no save bloat.
Some of the main features of the mod are the alchemy mastery, physician, stimulants, advanced lab for the Alchemy section, the alteration mastery, mage armour, alteration dual casting, geomancer and philosopher’s stone for the alteration section, archery mastery, clean kill, Wingstrike and the long shot for the archery section, the block mastery, timed block, deflect arrows and poke the dragon for the block section and a whole lot more. Literally a whole lot more because there are even more trees with even more features which you can read through in the Nexus page and that is what makes this mod one of the best Skyrim mods available.
14. Enhanced Lights and FX
Enhanced Lights and FX is another good Skyrim mod and helps to create a more realistic and dynamic depth to the landscape of Skyrim by adding actual light to all the light sources and by removing any light that does not have a source. It adds a ton of features and effects in addition to this like smoke, volumic lights, dripless and more with some friendly redesigns and some tweaks for a more dramatic look. This mod makes sure that all sources emit light, even the windows in the interior and enhances the difference between night and day in the interiors.
Some notable features of this mod are the new candle smoke and water reflection, the new translucent effect to market stands and imperial tents, more shadow lights in the specific places and darker and smoky taverns. Each inn and each city with its own sets of lights and colours respectively based on the local weather. Enhanced Light and FX should be compatible with any mod that doesn’t change light, FX or meshes it adds but make sure that the meshes of this mod overwrite the others because these are must-haves. You can download this mod using the Nexus Mod Manager, activate it and pick the modules that you wish for in the installer.
15. Unofficial Skyrim: SE Patch
Unofficial Skyrim: SE Patch is one of the best Skyrim mods with the goal of fixing every bug with Skyrim Special Edition and requires Skyrim Special Edition 1.5.39 or greater and does not work on the older versions. The mod has got hundreds of gameplay, quest, NPC, object, item, text and placement bugs fixed and was created by the authors of the Unofficial Oblivion Patch Series. This mod is designed to be compatible with as many other mods as possible and no unsafe changes like deletions of stock objects will be experienced.
The load order is very important for this mod and if you are experiencing any errors, it might be because your load order is not correct. For setting the load order correctly with the other mods already loaded, you can use LOOT as it will provide a solid starting point for everything that you can tweak and change as required. Even if you are not into modding, try mod offers a lot of fixes to the actual title and some additions as well.
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16. Realistic Ragdolls and Force
Realistic Ragdolls and Force provide a more realistic reaction to gravity and force instead of like in the vanilla game where the ragdoll effect can sometimes lead to hilarious situations which are not good for the role-playing and immersion. The mod achieves this by reducing the force for ragdolls to realistic level with different force options to choose from and fixes glitches with lightning spells duration causing the ragdolls to launch themselves when killed with any weapons. It is a small but effective mod which offers a considerable difference to the overall feel.
Some other effects of the mod are less stiffness to overall limbs of ragdolls, weight increase or most ragdolls for realistic fall velocity, increased friction, increase neck twist and bend radius and arms can now be twisted behind the back. Arrows will no longer push bodies far away when killed by stealth damage. Also, magic no longer sends people flying 20 feet away and more realistic ragdoll reaction from melee hits.
17. Realistic Water Two
Realistic Water Two makes the water flow systems and other water-related environments more realistic looking and takes everything to the next level with higher quality effects and textures. While the water flow system is much improved in the special edition of Skyrim, water flow was applied to most water bodies indiscriminately resulting in odd looking water in certain situations but with this mod, marsh, pond and river water are visually and aurally distinct from each other but both the lake and ocean water are the same.
The mod also has some optional features in addition to the assets and mainstream ones like the extended ambience which extends the lake and ocean ambient looping sound effects from 30 seconds to 50 seconds long. Flowing lakes, original foam, cinematic rain ripples, smoother rivers and the more realistic and vibrant teal colour for water are some other options changes added which will be available in the main archive. This mod must be placed after any mod that modifies a cell near a body of water to avoid the appearance of seams in the water and it is recommended that the mod should be placed very low in the load order and use xEdit to make any necessary patches with other mods.
18. Duel – Combat Realism
Duel – Combat Realism is one of the oldest mods around for Skyrim and is a true warrior’s test restructuring enemy and weapon behaviour for a more realistic level of challenge above and beyond the vanilla system’s stock hack and slash design. There are a large number of changes that vary from stamina, block and damage values which add up to create a rebalanced combat system and with the mod enabled, waiting for the perfect moment to strike becomes far more important than charging in with shouts. Always use shields because they help you in saving yourself a lot but successfully blocking a powerful attack will drain you of your stamina. In fact, if you use his mod, almost everything you do will suck your green bar empty, leaving you breathless if not tended to properly.
If you are a sneaky type of player, dropping a foe from long range or from behind will still surprise everyone and they will start searching for you but they will keep searching for a longer period of time than usual. Also, slightly armoured foes like mages and archers will try ambushing you by hiding behind obstacles and attacking you when you come closer and unaware which makes getting out undetected an accomplishment. Enemies won’t just stand still during combat and will circle around you attacking you with power attacks and bash combos and don’t think that you can shrug off an unblocked blow because your health will drop dramatically if something sharp or blunt connect with you. Basically, this mod will test you and make the game play immensly harder and is the perfect mod to try out if you are a pro at the game.
19. True Storms
The True Storms Special Edition mod is a full overhaul of the storms system in the Skyrim SE which enhances the weather effects of Skyrim which is good enough but is quite old, being compiled in 2011. The mod includes many new unique and heavy weathers, intense sound effects, interior sounds, particle effects, new rain, snow and dust textures, heavy fogs and new weather for Solstheim including dust storms and a whole lot more. This mod is one of the best mods of Skyrim and a must have for anyone looking to have a more immersive Skyrim experience with the weather really adding to the feel of the gameplay.
The mod offers high performance and is focussed on the vanilla look and feel but with more intensity and variation and is extremely lore-friendly and great for immersive gameplay. More than 25 new, carefully crafted high-quality sound effects for rain, thunder, wind and interior sounds and brand new rain and snow textures have been added to the mod. Several brand new kinds of weather for Solstheim including heavy dust storm, burning ash fall, rain and arbour fogs are also some features of this mod. You can install this mod using Nexus Mod Manager and load order doesn’t really matter.
20. The Forgotten City
The Forgotten City is the first ever mod in history to win a national Writer’s Guild Award for its script and that says something about how good this one is. This mod expansion offers a unique 6 to 8 hours of experience through the murder investigation storyline set in an underground city which you will have to solve using your brains and the ability to travel through time. It differs from the mainstream story and is a dark non-linear story in which you will have to question suspects, explore the city and its secrets and make challenging decisions regarding your morals. The dialogues are professionally voiced and it features multiple endings and an original orchestral score.
The features of the game are a beautiful and intricately designed city with secrets, mysteries and thousand year old relics, a living community of people, each with their own unique stories and roles to play, multiple endings based on your decisions and your character’s history, puzzles that reward lateral thinking, over 1200 lines of dialogues by 18 voice actors from all over the world and an original orchestral soundtrack. This mod is meant to be played solo and you can start the game if you are level 5 or above when you will be automatically approached by a courier when you enter any city. Alternatively, you can find ‘The Forgotten Ruins’ in the south-west corner of Skyrim.