The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The 50 best Skyrim mods

Tom Hatfield at

NPCS

Guard Dialogue Overhaul

Steam
Nexus

Guards in Skyrim are total arseholes. They constantly belittle you, even when you’ve saved the world several times over. This mod helps fix that. It seems Bethesda recorded a lot more dialogue for the guards than most players will ever hear: high level compliments, for example, are only rarely used. Guard Dialogue Overhaul rejigs this whole system. Rarer comments become more common, while those you’re sick to death of gradually phase out as you level up. Soon that awful 'arrow to the knee' line will be but a distant memory.

Legionettes OR Diverse Guards

Legionettes: Nexus
Diverse Guards: Nexus, Steam

Ever noticed that Skyrim’s Imperial army is a no girls allowed club? Oh sure there are female named characters like Legate Rikke, but the actual rank and file soldiers are always male. These mods both edit the list of models that town guards and Imperial soldiers are randomly drawn from, adding some women into the mix. Diverse Guards also adds in several different faces for the male guards, while Legionettes adds a handful of male elves into the army. Pick one based on your preference for pointy ears.

Immersive Patrols

Nexus

Immersive Patrols is my favourite way to add more life to Skyrim. It creates a series of patrols for Skyrim’s different factions: Stormcloak, Imperial, Thalmor, Dawnguard, Bandits, Skaal, Redoran, Reavers and Rieklings. Plus travellers and merchants between cities. These factions wander the world, moving along pre-determined routes. Occasionally these routes intersect, resulting in two opposed factions fighting to the death. Imperials and Stormcloaks regularly clash at designated warzones, with the survivors either reinforcing or taking control of the nearest fort. It adds a tremendous amount of life to Skyrim’s conflict, and generates far more of those emergent clashes I love about Skyrim.

Run For Your Lives AND When Vampires Attack

RFYL: Nexus, Steam
WVA: Nexus, Steam

Skyrim’s citizens have always had something of a deathwish, frequently responding to dragon attacks by running outside and trying to punch the scaly monster to death. This usually ends in them getting eaten. For those of us who don’t want to lose key NPCs to suicidal behaviour there’s Run For Your Lives, a simple mod which instructs vulnerable NPCs to run the hell indoors when a dragon arrives. Tougher customers, like town guards, potential followers or college mages are unaffected, so you can still see Savos Aren destroy any dragon silly enough to attack Winterhold. When Vampires Attack is exactly the same thing, only for Dawnguard’s vampire attacks.

Wet and Cold

Original: Nexus, Steam
Dragonborn: Nexus, Steam
Holidays: Nexus, Steam

Wet and Cold is about making sure that Skyrim’s NPCs actually react to the weather around them. The simplest change is that it allows snow to stick to monsters and NPCs (creating the beautiful scene you saw in that Frostfall pic). But it also changes NPC behaviour and clothing depending on the weather. Rain will cause them to equip hoods and cloaks, or get inside out of the wet, while snow will force them to don furs to keep warm. Appropriate items from other mods like Frostfall and Immersive Armours will even be integrated into this system. There’s also a Dragonborn mod that forces NPCs to equip goggles and bandannas in ash storms (pictured above). Recently Isoku also added a ‘holidays’ version of the mod, which will make NPCs gather together for celebrations based on various holidays based on Elder Scrolls lore.