( Want to know what Skyrim looks like when you install 200 mods at random? Find out in our eye-opening, eye-bleaching diary: Skyrim: Week of Madness . )
If you haven't already seen, we're pulling together all our favourite Skyrim mods from the Steam Workshop into two collections. Collections are just lists of mods, but they make it super easy to install them all at once: we check they're good and that they all work together, and you just click a 'Subscribe to all' button. They'll all be downloaded and added to your game the next time you start it up, and they'll even be updated as the creators improve them.
To give you more choice, we've split our favourites into two collections. The Improvements collection is full of mods that just tweak the game, round out rough edges and add useful features. The New Content collection is about mods that add something substantial to the game, new areas, or more significant features like camping.
We'll be adding to both collections continually, so you know any mods you think we should add, let us know in the comments and we'll check it out. Here's what we've put in both collections so far, and what it does.
I've always had a weakness for player home mods, and The Asteria is one of the best. Instead of the rather dull selection of houses available in the vanilla game, the Asteria gives you a gigantic flying ship to make your own. It's not just the dramatic location that makes The Asteria stand out though, it's one of the most complete and carefully constructed player homes I've ever seen.
There are herb gardens, weapon stands, mannequins, a forge, and alchemy station and even an archery range. All these amenities are laid out beautifully, with tastefully themed rooms that are not only convenient and gorgeous to look out, but give the player a sense of a functioning, real home. To find The Asteria, simply travel to the map marker you get from the start, and touch the statue to be teleported aboard. Check out the stand next to your bed for a lore book on the ship's history.
Elvenwood is one of the most beautiful and original player made cities Skyrim has seen. Built as a network of treehouses, it nestles in the forest between Helgen and Falkreath. The town sports an inn, a blacksmith, a general store and a full population of Bosmer inhabitants, including several mercenary followers. It's a lovely little construction that's like no other village in the game, and well worth your visit.
This mod gives you a taste of Elsweyr, the home of the Khajit. It adds a quest that takes you through two types of terrain you've never seen in Skyrim: lush jungle caverns, and wind-swept deserts. Those who fancy a change from snowy mountaintops can find the entrance between Twilight Sepulchre and Crask Tusk Keep. The waypoint is already active, so you can fast travel there at any time.
Ever got jealous of all those bandits and their spiffy campsites? Well why not make your own? This mod lets you purchase camping equipment such as tents, tinderboxes and cooking pots from general stores across Skyrim. Drop a tent to put it up, drop your tinderbox to consume firewood and make a fire, instant campsite! There's a lot more you can add to it too, including the using a cooking pot on the fire for some nice outdoor cooking. Perfect for all those realism lovers who can't always find an inn in the middle of the night.
Most of Skyrim's monsters only go up to level 30, meaning high level players rarely find themselves facing a major threat. This mod addresses this problem by introducing levelled versions of current creatures and bandits that are carefully introduced as you level, sustaining the challenge all the way to the endgame.
Midas Magic was a fantastic magic overhaul mod for Oblivion, which added flashy, powerful new spells to make high level mages even better at setting people on fire with their minds. The Skyrim version is just as good, with spells that summon mini dragons and call down meteor strikes. You can also summon a player house, just because. It's not exactly balanced, but it is hilarious.
This hilarious mod turns Skyrim's famous Unrelenting Force shout into a spell that can be learnt from a tome in Jorrvaskr. It works as long as you hold down the button, making it totally overpowered but utterly brilliant to use.
Next page: The Improvements Collection explained
The Improvements collection comprises of all the little tweaks and adjustments that make Skyrim just a little bit better. There's no big mechanical changes, and no major new content, just seamless improvements. This collection is designed so you can just hit the 'subscribe all' button and enhance your game without changing the fundamental experience.
We should also mention an excellent enhancement not included here. SkyUI is a terrific interface overhaul that fixes all the problems with Skyrim's dodgy inventory. The only reason we didn't include it is because it requires you to install the Skyrim Script Extender , which isn't hard to use, but we didn't want to complicate the one-click install that makes these collections so easy to use.
Fast travel in Skyrim can be really useful, but it can also be very frustrating when it doesn't go where you want it to. This mod adds Mark and Recall , two spells from back in Morrowind, to give you full control over your fast travel experience. Mark sets a destination, and Recall teleports you to it. It's a great way of getting around, which makes it puzzling that Bethesda ever decided to remove it. The spells will randomly appear at stores once you've reached a high enough conjuration or alteration level, but Brand Shei in Riften will always stock a scroll version.
You there, have you ever lost your Lydia? I know I have. If so, then I'm sure you'll be interested in this fabulous product . Simply speak to your follower and select 'get Map Marker', this will add a mini-quest to your journal which points at your companion. Toggling this quest on and off will result in them being highlighted on the map. The marker works whether they're currently following you or not. This is especially useful for Kharjo, the nomadic Khajit, who is easily lost as he guides his merchant caravans across Skyrim.
Not one mod, but two, the Sounds of Skyrim sets out to improve your audio experience by adding a huge variety of lovely sounding new sound effects to the game. The Wilds focuses on the outdoors, concentrating heavily on animal noises. The mod adds different sounds depending on the weather, giving the player the sense that the Skyrim wilderness is teeming with birds, insects and other creatures, just out of sight. The Dungeons meanwhile adds atmosphere to Skyrim's caves and ruins, depending on the enemy type that inhabits the dungeon you might hear the moans of zombies or the screams of captured victims. Journey there with the lights off for maximum creepiness.
Faster Vanilla Horses is a mod that makes Skyrim's horses faster. The horse's speed has been increased. The horses, that were previously slow, are now fast. That's all it does. There's not really any more ways I can phrase it. It just makes the horses faster. Sorry.
A nice, simple mod that adds map markers to all possible player houses. This means you can fast travel direct to your house, instead of always running from the city gates, taking some time off your frequent journeys to and from your storage locker.
Hunter's Discipline isn't good enough. Half way up the archery tree, and all it does is increase your chances of getting an arrow back from a corpse? Rubbish. This mod changes it so it lets you get back every arrow you fire (assuming you can find the body).
Next page: Less Condescending Guards, less sass from Lydia
Dragons have hoards. Everyone knows this. Remember that scene in the Hobbit when Bilbo sees Smaug for the first time? It would have been a lot less impressive if he was snoozing on fifty gold coins, an elven bow and a half eaten Whiterun guard's uniform. More Dragon Loot makes sure that each Dragon you slay has a sizeable and interesting hoard to loot, with each one including at least one magic item.
Guards in Skyrim are some real smart alecs. Always ripping into you by praising your low level destruction magic. This mod nips their sarcasm in the bud by forcing them to only mention skills beyond a certain threshold.
The second most popular meme about Skyrim is just how sassy Lydia gets every time you hand her something. This mod removes the offending line. Sadly it doesn't do anything for other characters, like the horribly whiny Marcurio.
This mod is terrific, it gives you a power that lets you whistle for the last horse you rode. If your horse is nearby, it'll run to your side. If the horse is far away it'll appear a short distance behind you and run up. The result is a simple and natural way of ensuring you always have your trusty steed ready when you need it.
Skyrim's version of the enchanting system has a lot of restrictions on it. Certain enchantments can only be added to certain items. This is silly, if it was intended to stop playing from being overpowered by stacking enchantments, it failed - high level Skyrim characters are absurdly powerful anyway. This mod takes away all those restrictions, letting you put whatever effect you want on an item. As an added benefit it also lets you disenchant extra items, meaning you can use awesome enchantments like 'backstab damage' and 'muffle' that were previously inaccessible.
The Werewolf ability in Skyrim is a lot of fun, but it often gets overshadowed by high level weapons and armour. This mod scales your lycanthropy up as you level, increasing your health regeneration and melee damage for extra moon howling goodness. Plus you can now eat animals! Fun!
That's our lot folks, hope you enjoyed them all. I'll be back next month to summarise the newest additions to the collections.