The 50 best Skyrim mods
Textures and Meshes
aMidianBorn Book of Silence
Cabal is one of the best texture artists in the Skyrim community, and the unusually named Book of Silence is his most ambitious work. It's an ongoing attempt to retexture all the armour and weapons in Skyrim, no less. Right now he's finished all the major armours except for dragonbone and dragonscale, and he’s starting work on the weapons and faction armours. All of his retextures so far look great, but my favourite has to be the Thalmor style black and gold Elven armour, pictured above.
Skyrim Flora Overhaul
Skyrim has always had pretty foliage, but Skyrim Flora Overhaul makes things even better. Vurt has been obsessively upgrading Skyrim's flora since release, and that dedication has really paid off. The trees are more luxurious, the grass is longer and the flowers are prettier. Beware though, it can be rather processor intensive. Those of you playing on low spec PCs may want to grab the ‘basic’ version, or skip it altogether.
The splendidly acronymed Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux does exactly what you’d expect from a mod called W.A.T.E.R. in which the W also stands for water. Once installed rivers flow more realistically, waterfalls spray and bubble and ocean waves crash against the shore. Waterside terrain is also improved, with wetter, more slippery rocks, underwater plants and other goodies. Install it, then try and resist the urge to drown yourself just to get a better look.
S.M.I.M. is a mod about the little things. Little things like potatoes, benches, plates and barrels. When Bethesda created Skyrim they created a truly enormous world, but they understandably had to skimp on some of the fine detail. As a result a lot of the minor clutter objects in Skyrim are a little blocky and rough. Thankfully in the last two years modders have had time to try and fix some of those flaws. S.M.I.M. replaces the meshes and textures for these objects, smoothing them out, upping the resolution and helping them to fit into the world.
HD Enhanced Terrain
After you’ve installed a few visual improvements in Skyrim the gulf in detail between nearby and distant landscapes can become jarring. Thankfully the HD Enhanced Terrain mod can solve those problems. It upgrades the long distance textures to much larger and more detailed versions, and ups the noise level. The result is that distant plains actually look like grass, rather than smooth slabs of painted-on green.