The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The 50 best Skyrim mods

Tom Hatfield at

Textures and Meshes

aMidianborn Book of Silence

Nexus

Cabal is one of the most talented texture artists on the modding scene, and eventually intends to retexture just about everything in the game. Right now Cabal's mods represent a grab bag of different landcapes, creatures and some stunning armour and weapons. I love the black and gold take on elven armour, which fits Skyrim’s Thalmor far better than the classic gold look. The downside is that while Cabal is a talented artist, his mods aren't especially well organised orpackaged. The Book of Silence is supposed to be a best-of collection, but currently some parts are missing and others require hotfixes. You might need to spend a while browsing Cabal’s mod collection to get everything, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Skyrim Flora Overhaul

Nexus

Modder Vurt has a single purpose in life: to give you nicer looking plants, and Skyrim Flora Overhaul is their magnum opus. The trees are more luxurious, the grass is longer and the flowers are prettier. With even special new plants hand placed throughout the world. You’ll want to set “iMaxGrassTypesPerTexure” (yes you have to spell Texture wrong) in your Skyrim.ini to get the full effect, but trust me, it’s worth it.

SMIM

Steam: Part One and Part Two
Nexus

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 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.

Realistic Water Two or WATER

RW2: Nexus, Steam
W.A.T.E.R.: Nexus, Steam

Let me tell you a story. Once there was a mod called Realistic Water, made by a modder called Isoku. Isoku eventually got burnt out with modding, and so handed Realistic Water over to another modder called SparrowPrince. SparrowPrince expanded and improved Realistic Water into Water And Terrain Enhancement Redux (winning my personal best acronym ever award in the process). Then Isoku returned to the modding scene and created Realistic Water Two, which expanded on Realistic Water, even using some modified features from W.A.T.E.R. Both offer some things the other doesn’t, Realistic Water Two has bobbing ice and some lovely contrast between stagnant and flowing water, but W.A.T.E.R. throws in water plants and animated rowboats. Generally I go with Realistic Water Two, but the more tech savvy might want to consider using the Skyrim Mod Combiner to get the best of both worlds.

Xenius Character Improvement

Steam
Nexus

There are hundreds of Skyrim mods to improve the appearance of NPCs. The trouble is that most of them are rubbish. There’s a huge saturation of glamour models, anime hairstyles and nude mods, that it’s a real chore to find something that actually fits the tone of Skyrim. But fear not! I have ventured through the forest of lizard dongs (seriously people never view the adult section of Skyrim Nexus) and brought you this! Xenius Character Enhancement is a collection of small tweaks, improvements and high resolution textures that will make your Skyfolk look better without clashing with the original art style.