New Steam Workshop update pilfers a bunch of your favourite features from managers like Mod Organizer, including load orders and automatic sorting

A chicken in an iron helmet stands near a dragon's corpse in Skyrim.
(Image credit: SenorPato / Bethesda)

To me, the Steam Workshop has always seemed like a neglected aspect of everyone's default PC game launcher. It's useful for installing a couple of must-haves, but it doesn't hold a candle to more full-fledged software like Mod Organizer 2 or the Vortex Mod Manager. The fact you can't adjust your load order—meaning you can't ensure that certain mods are loaded before other mods that depend on them—pretty much makes the system useless for managing big mod lists all by itself.

But someone at Valve must have heard my gripes, because a hot new Workshop update just hit the Steam beta client ahead of a full release. Detailed in a post on the Steam Workshop blog, the update means Steam's mod management tools are better able to hold their own against the other mod managers of the world, even if it's still not all of the way there.

If you install the Steam beta client update, which you can find in the Interface section of Steam's settings, you'll find that you can now easily adjust the load order for mods you've subscribed to in the Steam Workshop by clicking and dragging them around in the properties section of your modded games. 

You can also see how much space your various mods take up, enable and disable them individually, and even hit a button to make Steam try to find the optimum order to load them in automatically (basically doing what the LOOT tool for Bethesda games does, if you're familiar with that). I've had a mixed experience with tools like that in the past. The more mods you have, the more likely they are to slip up and load one of them in a place they shouldn't. But it's a nice thing to have, especially for people new to modding or who are only using a few mods in the first place.

Perhaps my favourite feature, though, is the ability to subscribe to a mod as well as all the mods it depends on. The last time I modded my games via Nexus Mods with any regularity, it was always a chore to have to install all of a mod's prerequisite, other mods first. Those lists can run long, and having to laboriously install each one was always a time sink. Being able to get everything I need in one go sounds like a dream come true.

You're still probably gonna want to use a full-on, separate mod manager if you want to truly transform your games (I find Mod Organizer's easy profile-switching absolutely invaluable, and Steam doesn't have that) but I'm glad to see the Workshop get some love. With any luck, this is laying the groundwork for more Workshop updates in future that will see it become more of a competitor to the mod managers we all use already. If you want to try it out, you'll need to install the latest Steam client beta, but I'm sure it'll roll out to the stable client sooner or later.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.