The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The 50 best Skyrim mods

Tom Hatfield at

Fixes, Optimisation and UI

Sky UI

Steam
Nexus

Let’s be honest: Skyrim’s original UI is rubbish. It is slow, inelegant and quite frankly a pain in the arse to navigate. I haven’t used it in years, because Sky UI exists. Simple icons let you know if an item is poisoned or stolen, plus the inventory can be sorted by value and weight or searched by text. More importantly, it also adds a mod configuration menu to the pause screen, letting you tweak and adjust compatible mods (including several on this list). This is the most essential mod you’ll ever install.

Unofficial Skyrim Patches

Skyrim Mods - Unofficial Patch

Steam: Original, Dawnguard, Dragonborn, Hearthfire and HD-DLC.
Nexus: Original, Dawnguard, Dragonborn, Hearthfire and HD-DLC.

Now that Bethesda have stopped patching Skyrim themselves, the fan made Unofficial Patch series has become more important than ever. The patches are run by a group of modders who constantly update them as new problems are found. There’s also a variety of subtle tweaks, like making sure Brand Shei (above) eventually gets out of prison after you frame him to join the Thieves Guild, so you aren’t robbed of his services forever. There's one for every piece of official DLC, including the official High Resolution textures.

Project Optimisation

Skyrim Mods Project Optimisation

Nexus

Originally a part of Realistic Lighting Overhaul, Project Optimisation improves Skyrim performance by occlusion culling: which means not rendering effects you can’t see. If you use a lot of serious lighting mods, like ENB and Realistic Lighting, then Project Optimisation can save you several frames a second. So I’d definitely recommend it if you’re installing anything from the Lighting and Weather section of this guide.

Stable uGrids to Load

Nexus

One of the best improvements you can make to Skyrim is to change the ‘uGrids to load’ setting. uGrids define how many ‘cells’ of the world are fully spawned around you. A higher setting means a busier world. A lower setting means long distance textures pop in a lot closer to the player. Unfortunately loading more uGrids is very taxing, and makes your game less stable. This small mod helps stabilise your game so that you can get away with a larger number of uGrids (I recommend 7 or 11, but the picture above shows 13). You can find more in depth instructions for improving uGrids here.

Better Dialogue Controls and Better Messagebox Controls

Skyrim Mods Better Dialogue

Nexus: Dialogue and Messagebox

It seems like a small thing, but Skyrim’s dialogue and message controls are very strange. Often when you go to select a dialogue option you’ll accidentally say something completely different by mistake. These two mods help fix this and make sure you’ll always select the option you want. It’s a tiny change, but one that will save you hours of frustration.