The 50 best Skyrim mods
Lighting and Weather
Boris Vorontsov’s ENB mods are famous for adding improved post processing and lighting effects to make games like GTA4 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution look amazing. The Skyrim version is one of his best, because there’s a whole community of modders dedicated to tweaking and adjusting it to come up with their own distinctive looks. To use an ENB for Skyrim, just download the default files from the ENB website, drop them into your Skyrim folder, then pick a preset (I recommend Seasons of Skyrim, Project ENB or K-ENB) and drop those files in too, overwriting anything it asks you to. Also make sure you add the line “bFloatPointRenderTarget=1” to your SkyrimPrefs.ini file, unless you want to see the sun shine through buildings.
Climates of Tamriel OR Pure Weather
For years Climates of Tamriel was Skyrim’s go to weather mod, but now it has a competitor in Pure Weather. Pure weather is a more stripped down mod, offering only weather and exterior lighting, while Climates of Tamriel is extremely customisable. Other modders have added tons of tweaks, changes and extensions to CoT over the years, including foggy weather improvements, better storms or even custom ENBs built specifically for CoT’s lighting.
Enhanced Lights and Effects OR Realistic Lighting Overhaul
Enhanced Lights and Effects and Realistic Lighting Overhaul are both virtual cinematography mods, repositioning Skyrim’s light sources and editing effects for more pleasing lighting. The difference is in intent. RLO is all about realism, emulating natural light, and trying to make each scene’s lighting as logical as possible. ELFX takes a more ‘cinematic’ approach: lights sources are still tied to objects, but their brightness might be boosted or lowered to create more dramatic effects.
Some people just aren't happy unless a game tries to murder them at every possible opportunity, and for those people the chance to freeze to death in Skyrim must be mana from heaven. Frostfall is a sophisticated hypothermia simulator, forcing you to wrap up warm if you venture into Skyrim’s frozen north. The amount of detail is amazing, every piece of clothing, including some from other mods, has a different level of warmth. Even the rising steam from a dwemer pipe can keep you alive. Just don’t go swimming in Winterhold: it’s a death sentence.
Better Dynamic Snow
Skyrim has a lot of different kinds of snow. There's the snow that falls from the sky, there's the snow that's already part of the textures on objects, and then there's dynamic snow. Dynamic snow is the texture that's applied to objects after snow falls on them. The problem is that the original dynamic snow texture is far too bland, which means in a blizzard, everything gets coated with flat, unappealing white textures. Better Dynamic Snow forces the game to use your regular snow texture (or any replacements you've downloaded) instead of the rubbish dynamic snow one. It's a very small change, but it makes a huge difference.