Skyrim Mods: the 20 best so far

Tom Hatfield

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Skyrim mods incoming! It's now been two weeks since the game was released, and there's been and explosion of modding activity. Skyrim was already an amazing looking game, but with just a handful of these mods it can look even better. Not to mention a whole host of bug fixes, stability improvements, interface tweaks and gameplay enhancements.

Once again we've rounded up the best, prettiest, most useful and funniest mods to enhance your Skyrim experience. Check inside for the full list.

Remember, this list will be perpetually updated as more mods are released, so if you have any particular favourites you'd like to be included, mention them in the comments below and I'll test them out before the next update.

1. FXAA Post Process Injector

[embed width="610" height="443"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDNo8aNoF34[/embed]

There's a lot of post processing mods for Skyrim, but FXAA has emerged as the best. It layers on several handy effects like sharpening, technicolour, sepia and saturation, but the best part is that it's all totally customisable. Modifying the settings file will let you turn settings on and off or adjust them to your preferences, giving you full control over the look and feel of your Skyrim game.

2. Val's Crafting Meltdown

Turn your junk into the best weapons in Skyrim with Val's Crafting Meltdown.

Playing Skyrim inevitably results in picking up a lot of items you don't necessarily need. Weapons or armour you aren't properly trained with, or just useless pots and pans, every Dovahkiin ends up with a lot of clutter in their inventory. Val's Crafting Meltdown , has an ingenious solution to that problem, giving players the ability to melt down weapons, armour and junk into raw materials like iron and steel. It also provides an invaluable service for archers, letting them use smithing to create arrows, an ability inexplicably missing from the original game. Val's Crafting Meltdown is built to be compatible with other crafting mods, so if want to expand your crafting options, be sure to check out The Lost Art of the Blacksmith and More Craftables , which let you craft faction specific items like Thieves Guild armour or Skyforge Steel weapons. Alternatively Craftable Staffs lets mages get in on the smithing action too.

3. QD Inventory

QD Inventory is a massive improvement on Skyrim's default UI.

Frustrated with Skyrim's inventory interface? Annoyed at excessive scrolling? Wish you could see the stats of your items without selecting them? QD Inventory is the answer to your problems. The mod replaces the default interface with a very different one, categories are arranged at the top of the screen while the armour, damage, weight and value of your items is displayed along the side. Creator Roltak describes this as a 'quick and dirty' solution to the interface problems, better interfaces will likely come in future, but for now this is streets ahead of the original Bethesda UI.

4. Xenius Mods

Xenius' mods make Skyrim's characters look much nicer.

Xenius has rapidly carved himself a niche as Skyrim's premier character enhancement modder, producing a whole series of texture improving mods at a tremendous rate. He started with No More Blocky Faces and Detailed Faces , but he's since expanded into (deep breath) Detailed Bodies , High Quality Eyes , Detailed Lips and Better Beast Races (breath out) all of which offer significant improvements on the default character models. The only gripe is that you have to download them all individually, hopefully Xenius plans to package all his components into a single install when he's finished.

5. Skyrim HD

Skyrim HD is the start of a massive texture overhaul.

Like Quarl's Texture mod for Oblivion or NeilMC's for Fallout 3, Skyrim HD is an ambitious project to replace the majority of in game textures with new, high resolution versions. It's still very much a work in progress, only Windhelm and Whiterun have both been updated, as well as several forest and cave texture, but Skyrim HD looks set to match it's illustrious predecessors.

6. Realistic Smoke and Embers

Realistic Smoke and Embers won't make Skyrim look this good, but it helps.

Another neat little improvement to Skyrim's effects, Realistic Smoke and Embers completely overhauls the appearance of fire in the game, improving it greatly. It's the mod that screenshotmancer Duncan ' Dead End Thrills ' Harris used to create this stunning image (along with plenty of other mods and tweaks). If you're playing Skyrim as a fire throwing destruction mage, you must install this mod.

7. Realistic Water

[embed width="610" height="340"]http://youtu.be/ALVHYp9RLjY[/embed]

The water in Skyrim already looks pretty lovely, but Realistic Water pushes it that little bit further. Based on high resolution photography, Realistic Water makes Skyrim's streams foam and bubble in a beautiful and convincing way.

8. Skyrim Sunglare

[embed width="610" height="443"]http://youtu.be/bxYV8N5ivQQ[/embed]

If you like lovely sunlight effects Skyrim Sunglare is the mod for you. It makes the game's sun produce delicious rays of beamy goodness, including optional lens flare effects for those who favour the 'cinematic' look. There's something special about cresting a mountain and watching the sunbeams break through over the horizon, and this mod makes it even better.

9. Nicer Snowflakes

Nicer snowflakes has several settings, this one makes Skyrim look like a Christmas card.

There's a lot of snow in Skyrim, so it's a shame it's mostly represented by vague white blobs floating past. Nicer Snowflakes fixes that problem completely, replacing the default snow with beautiful, high resolution flakes. There's several flavours to choose from, but I like the 'Whimsical' version best. It might not be what snow really looks like, but it's what we all wish it did.

10. Glowing Ore Veins

Never miss a mining opportunity again with Glowing Ore veins.

If you're like me, you probably played several hours of Skyrim before even realising mining was in the game. The problem is that ore veins don't actually look that different from the surrounding rock. Thankfully, Glowing Ore Veins solves that problem, tweaking minable rocks to make them stand out more from the background. As an added bonus it'll fade back to normal once you've extracted all the ore, once again blending harmlessly into the background.

11. Map in Full 3D

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Not so much a mod as a set of tweaks, Map in full 3D shows you how to modify Skyrim's ini file to make it possible to zoom the in game map right down to the ground. The result is essentially a free camera mode that lets you roam anywhere in the world. It's like the google street view team was let loose in the frozen north.

12. ENBSeries patch

[embed width="610" height="443"]http://youtu.be/-L-HT2YmqUY[/embed]

The ENBSeries mods are famous for adding improved post processing and lighting effects to make games like GTA4 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution look amazing. Sadly this patch doesn't do that, instead it's focused on fixing graphical errors and letting the game play better on a lower end PC. Don't worry though, ENB creator Boris Vorontsov is already working on a full graphical overhaul, and has included some test footage, which I've included above.

13. Skyrim 4GB

If you've been reading this list and installing all the graphical improvements, there's a possibility you've encountered some stability issues. But fear not! A solution is at hand. Like previous Bethesda games, Skyrim doesn't use more than 2gb of RAM, regardless of how much you actually have. Using a large address aware patch like Skyrim 4GB will fix that, allowing Skyrim to make full use of your system's abilities, reducing crashes and maintaining a stable FPS count.

14. Simple Borderless Window

Simple Bordless Window makes alt tabbing Skyrim much easier.

Simple borderless window does what it says, it makes Skyrim run in a false fullscreen mode, allowing for the easy alt tabbing of windowed mode but while still keeping your screen full of wonderful landscapes.

15. Enhanced Night Sky

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A nice little mod I've enjoyed in previous Bethesda games. Enhanced Night Sky replaces the Skyrim's stars with a high resolution texture taken from starfield photography. This version is so seamless it doesn't even effect the in game constellations, and looks simply beautiful.

16. No Spider Mod

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Arachnophobes like PC Gamer contributor Richard Cobbett have a hard time with games like Skyrim. Which is why No Spiders patches, which remove the offending beasties from the game, are so useful. This first attempt at a spider free Skyrim is particularly hilarious, as it replaces the models of the spiders with completely out of place bears. We'll let you decide which is scarier.

17. Interface Hard Coded key tweaks

Skyrim's interface can be really awkward, Hard Coded key tweaks aims to improve that. Now you can (for instance) turn lockpicks with whatever direction keys you chose, not just WASD, or being able to close the favourites window by pressing Q and myriad other improvements.

18. TESV savegame manager

An update of the popular Fallout 3 savegame manager, TESV savegame manager mod helps save and organise your games far more efficiently than the game does by default.

19. Vurt's Skyrim Flora Overhaul

Vurt\'s Flora overhaul makes Skyrim\'s trees look amazing.

This is going to be one to keep an eye on. Vurt's Skyrim flora overhaul is dedicated to improving the quality of the vegetation in Skyrim, starting with trees. It even offers several different colour schemes to let you tailor your foliage to your own desires.

20. Enhanced Blood Textures

Enhance Skyrim\'s blood for maximum gore.

Enhanced Blood Textures does exactly what it says, it improves the resolution of the blood textures in the game, but does it so well that it's one of the most noticeably improved texture mods available.

Once again, we're going to keep updating this list with new and interesting mods, so if you know of any good ones we've missed please let us know in the comments.

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