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The best Skyrim mods

Some of these Skyrim mods overhaul and add to the game's item pool, while others add entirely new systems and ways to play. Want to go fishing? Become the king of Skyrim? Turn Skyrim into a survival game? It's all here.

Weapons & Equipment

Cloaks of Skyrim 

the best skyrim mods: cloaks of skyrim

It's not real fantasy if people aren't wearing big flappy cloaks. Cloaks of Skyrim populates the world with a variety of new capes and cloaks, automatically adding them to the inventories of random guards and bandits and so on, which makes them look much more impressive. And then you can loot those impressive cloaks off their corpses. It's worth adding 360 Walk and Run Plus as well, which prevents some of the clipping issues that otherwise ruin the effect. There's nothing to be done about Argonian and Khajiit tails, however, so this mod simply removes them when cloaks are worn.

Fall of the Space Core 

the best skyrim mods: fall of the space core

A collaboration between Valve and Bethesda to celebrate the opening of the Skyrim Steam Workshop, this mod adds the space core from Portal 2. Yeah, the little guy who is obsessed with space. He falls to earth when you're near Whiterun and can be picked up, then crafted into armor. Make sure to keep an eye on your skills screen for another effect added by this mod.

The Dance of Death and VioLens 

Bethesda left several unassigned kill moves lurking in Skyrim's code when the game was released, including some very cool shield bash kills. The Dance of Death re-enables them and re-organises all kill moves so that they're gradually unlocked as you earn perks. It also includes a full menu that lets you control the rate of kill moves. Alternatively there's VioLens — A Killmove Mod, which features much of the same functionality but also works for ranged attacks. 

Immersive Animations

the best skyrim mods: immersive animations

Immersive Animations adds dozens of little touch-ups to Skyrim's existing animations, plus a few nifty new ones. It's also compatible with Dual Sheath Redux, allowing for all sorts of nice animations for having your shield on your back, or sheathing two weapons at once.

Zim's Immersive Artifacts

the best skyrim mods: zim's immersive artifacts

Makes lore-friendly and balanced changes to many unique items in the game, including Auriel's Bow, the Gauldur Amulet, Harkon's Sword, the Jagged Crown, and plenty more, including artifacts from the Dawnguard and Dragonborn expansions. There are lots of customization options for the player in case they don't want all the items affected.

Immersive Weapons

the best skyrim mods: immersive weapons

This mod provides a hefty selection of new weapons that fit in nicely with the existing look and feel of Skyrim. You'll find axes, daggers, maces, and any number of new swords, all beautifully designed and textured and suitable for veteran characters and those just starting out.

YY Anim Replacer — Zweihander

the best skyrim mods: yy anim replacer - zweihander

Zweihander is a set of new animations for two handed weapons in Skyrim. The big selling point is the idle animation, which sees you resting your sword/axe/hammer on your shoulder. There's lots more than that though, with animations for running, turning and even a leaping overhead strike included. It's all customizable too, so you can mix and match new and old animations.

Belt Fastened Quivers

the best skyrim mods: belt fastened quivers

Belt Fastened Quivers moves all arrow quivers from the back, where they often clip through things like backpacks or cloaks, down to the waist, adding new animations for the new position. It was originally made as part of Frostfall, so if you're using that, you don't need the standalone mod. If you aren't, however, it's still well worth getting just to stop your arrows from clipping through the items from Immersive Amours and Wet and Cold.

Immersive Armors

the best skyrim mods: immersive armour

This mod brings you a huge collection of great-looking lore-friendly armor. And it's not just for you, either: the armors are assigned to various NPCs and randomized loot lists throughout the game. You can even turn individual armors on and off through SkyUI's configuration menu, giving you full control over what items actually appear in your game.

Warmonger Armory

the best skyrim mods: warmonger armory

Warmonger Armory is another compilation mod. It adds a ton of great looking new armor, clothing and weapons to the game, including some using DLC equipment. Once again these items are carefully distributed around the world, given to specific NPCs, and added to randomized equipment lists.

Unique Uniques

the best skyrim mods: unique uniques

Skyrim is full of unique items with fascinating lore behind them, but unfortunately very few of them have the looks to go with their backstory. InsanitySorrow's Unique Uniques adds new textures and meshes for several of the game's unique weapons, giving you a great excuse to bust out Dragonbane again.

Project Flintlock

the best skyrim mods: project flintlock

A lot of games have been called "Skyrim with guns" but now Skyrim fits that description too, thanks to this mod that lets you carry a blunderbuss, a flintlock rifle, and a grenade launcher. With custom sounds and bayonets, it's time to introduce those primitive Skyrim screwheads to your boomstick. We tried it out here.

New Systems

Fishing in Skyrim

the best skyrim mods: fishing in skyrim

A great addition to survival playthroughs. No more fishing with your bare hands! Adds fishing poles, fishing nets, a bait mechanic, spellbooks, and the explosive “Dwarven boomfishing” ability. You can also fish up new and exciting junk, some of which you can sell off for extra gold.

Religion - Prayer Meditation Workshop

the best skyrim mods: religion - prayer meditation workshop

For immersive roleplayers, religion in Skyrim may feel a bit lackluster. This mod makes several significant changes, including the ability to build an actual relationship with one of the Divines (or with a Daedra). You can expect blessings or curses depending on your character’s actions, and praying at a shrine may gain you divine favor. You can also meditate for inner strength if you’d rather not deal with a deity. 

Moonlight Tales

the best skyrim mods: moonlight tales

Being a lycanthrope is so much better with this mod, which features new music, over 200 new beast skins, new enemies, and lots of customization through MCM. Also, who doesn't want to try being a werebear?

Perseid's Inns and Taverns

the best skyrim mods: perseid's inns and taverns

Wandering into a tavern or inn on a cold and blustery night isn't the experience it really should be, and this mod makes inns a bit more realistic. Room rates widely vary, you can arrange for an extended say, and you can even arrange lodging for your followers so they're not just standing next to your bed all night while you sleep.

Become High King of Skyrim

the best skyrim mods: high king of skyrim

With great power comes great responsibility. But what about great rewards? With all of your accomplishments and deadly abilities, it would make sense for you to become King of Skyrim, don't you think? Move into a huge castle, have your own army follow you everywhere, and throw citizens in prison or have them beheaded. It's good to be the king.

Tame the Beasts of Skyrim 2

the best skyrim mods: tame the beasts of skyrim 2

You don't just have to slaughter every creature in Skyrim: you can also tame them, keep them on a farm, and have them accompany you on quests. Whether you want a pet mammoth or a pet chicken, this mod will allow you to assemble an impressive bestiary of loyal creatures. You can even breed them to create more powerful animals. Here's our write-up.

Alchemy and Cooking Overhaul

the best skyrim mods: alechemy and cooking overhaul

Spice up cooking and alchemy with this expansive mod that adds dozens of new ingredients, recipes, and effects. Portable alchemy stations mean you can craft on the go, potions can be sorted from weakest to strongest, and you'll even be able to cook up alchemical bombs to hurl at your enemies—even while on horseback.

Survival & Immersion

Frostfall

the best skyrim mods: frostfall

It's cold in Skyrim, and Frostfall lets you really feel it. An immersive survival system tracks weather, climate, time of day, and even the type of clothing you're wearing to determine how cold you are. It also allows you to gain experience in terms of camping and endurance skill, and a new ability helps you find the creatures and items you'll need to survive.

Realistic Needs and Diseases

the best skyrim mods: realistic needs and diseases

In Skyrim you may contract a disease or two from time to time, but they're typically unchanging and you can deal with them at your leisure. This mod makes diseases progressive, meaning they get worse and worse until they're cured, though there's also a chance your might fight off the infection with bed rest. Hunger and thirst also have stages of severity, food can spoil, and getting enough sleep is important. It's entirely customizable as well.

Wet and Cold

the best skyrim mods: wet and cold

You're not the only one dealing with the harsh elements in Skyrim. Using this mod, NPCs will bundle up in the cold, move inside if its raining, and do their best to avoid blizzards. The mod also adds effects like wet-sounding footsteps, visible vapor from your breath when it's chilly, and reduced movement speed in heavy snow and strong wind.

Hunterborn

the best skyrim mods: hunterborn

This mod provides a more immersive experience for hunters. No longer do you simply yank loot or food out an animal's inventory, you can now dress the carcass, skin it, and butcher it. You can even carry the entire animal back to your camp or to a vendor. The mod comes with hunting knives, dozens of new ingredients that can be harvested, and new recipes.

Campfire

the best skyrim mods: campfire

Intending to make outdoor living a robust experience, this mod lets you build several different kinds of fires, from a weak and flickering fire to a roaring blaze suitable for cooking. You can also buy or craft camping gear like tents and tanning racks, and backpacks that display your various cooking pots and waterskins. If you're married, your spouse can camp with you. Here's our piece about it.

Skills & Abilities

Immersive College of Winterhold

the best skyrim mods: immersive college of winterhold

Ever thought the College of Winterhold should better resemble an institution of higher learning? This mod adds awesome visuals, ongoing experiments, the ability to specialize in certain schools of magic, and even an option to refuse the title of Arch-Mage (and give it to Tolfdir instead). Custom options in MCM. 

Individualize Shout Cooldowns

the best skyrim mods: individualize shout cooldowns

Another simple mod that just makes sense. This mod gives a separate cooldown for each Shout, allowing the player to use several Shouts at the same time. It also adds SkyUI-type Active Effects so that you can see how many Shouts are active. The actual time for the cooldowns has not been adjusted from vanilla, and no Shouts have been altered. 

Perkus Maximus

the best skyrim mods: perkus maximus

Some of Skyrim's perks and skills are a wee bit drab. Enchantment, for example, is a useful skill but isn't much fun to put points into simply because most of its perks are simple increases in enhancement strength. Perkus Maximus overhauls a number of systems, keeping passive effects but adding powerful and interesting active effects as well. We covered this mod here.

Duel: Combat Realism

the best skyrim mods: duel: combat realism

So long, hack-and-slash combat: you're going to need to be far more careful tackling foes to-to-toe. This functions due to some changes to AI and especially damage: getting hit with a sword or an axe is something you can't just shrug off anymore. As a result, combat is more tense, takes more patience, and is considerably more challenging.

Apocalypse—Magic of Skyrim

the best skyrim mods: apocalypse - magic of skyrim

Apocalypse adds 140 new spells to Skyrim, most of them pretty well balanced. These aren't just 'spray lightning/fire/cold until someone dies' spells either. There's a whole variety of cool summons, disabling effects, and unusual attacks available.

Arcanum

Skyrim mod - Arcanum

(Image credit: Bethesda, modded by Kosorsomesaykosm)

Arcanum is another enormous quest mod that adds over 100 spells inspired by all sorts of fantasy settings. It includes spells from schools of Destruction, Restoration, Illusion, and Conjuration. When you're feeling experimental, you can also use its spell crafting system to throw together spell effects and visual effects to make your own combinations.

Way of the Monk

the best skyrim mods: way of the monk

You probably don't spend much time fighting unarmed: it's just not that much fun. Way of the Monk fixes this by giving you more combat options when taking on the world fist-first. There are new skills, perks, spiked gloves, and ways to enchant your fists to do different types of magic damage.

Sneak Tools

the best skyrim mods: sneak tools

There should be more to stealth than just being invisible and gaining surprise damage bonuses. Now you can be a genuine slippery, filthy, sneaky type. Slit the throats of the unaware. Knock people unconscious from behind. Wear masks that hide your identity. Douse torches and lanterns to move through the shadows. Add an arsenal of trick arrows, including one that launches ropes that allows you to climb walls.

Thunderchild

the best skyrim mods: thunderchild

Skyrim's Dragon shouts are cool. Much cooler than regular magic. The best fighter/mage in Skyrim is frequently just an ordinary fighter who yells a lot. Thunderchild expands the Dovakhin's magic vocals with a bunch of cool new shouts. Yell until you teleport, shout ghosts into existence, holler until the earth quakes or just scream so hard you open up a black hole.

Gifts of the Outsider

the best skyrim mods: gifts of the outsider

Bring a little Dishonored into Skyrim. Some of the powers like Blink, Possession, Devouring Swarm, Wind Blast, and Void Gaze are at your disposal once your read a mysterious book, meet the mysterious Outsider, and visit a series of shrines.

Ish's Souls to Perks

the best skyrim mods: ish's souls to perks

How many spare dragon souls have you got? If you've been playing a while, probably tons. Now you can put your spare souls to use. This mod adds a Dragon Stone (look for it near the Guardian Stones) where you can exchange souls (the amount is configurable) for perks.

Imperial Mail 

the best skyrim mods: imperial mail

Post offices may not sound like an exciting addition to Skyrim, but Imperial Mail adds a heck of a lot of convenience. Once you open an account at either the central office in Solitude or any of the marked taverns, you can forward equipment between them for a fee—meaning you can send a bunch of heavy gear back home after a quest, then carry on. There are also quests on offer if you want to help the Imperial Mail out by delivering messages, and it's compatible with Legacy of the Dragbonborn so you can send items direct to the gallery.

Convenient Tweaks

Project Proteus

(Image credit: Bethesda / Phenderix)

While you could switch to another savegame to play your Khajiit archer for a while, Project Proteus lets you import your characters into an existing world state—meaning you can switch to a character with their own items, skills, and spells, but keep your current quest progression. NPCs who have died remain dead, items left in storage can be retrieved, and so on. It also lets you edit NPCs and items, even the weather. Some of what Project Proteus makes possible is already doable with Skyrim's console commands and existing mods, but this brings it all together in a single pop-up menu. 

No NPC Greetings

Sick of NPCs repeating the same catchphrase from across the street every time they see you? Sick of guards commenting on your best skills, which they somehow know all about just by looking at you—even Sneak? This mod has a few options for fixing the issue, whether you want to reduce the distance these barks trigger at, or get rid of them altogether.

Simply Knock

the best skyrim mods: simply knock

One of those small mods that just makes sense. Created by Chesko, author of Frostfall, this mod gives players the ability to knock on locked doors instead of having to break and enter. Someone might answer the door, or you can convince them to open up with your Speech skills. Customize options through MCM. 

Convenient Horses

the best skyrim mods: convenient horses

Basically, it makes horses a million times better. Your followers can ride them, and fight while riding. You can conduct conversations and loot while on horseback. There are a variety of new saddles and armor types. Dismounting is quicker and automatically draws your weapon. You can auto-mount horses when they're called, and even dictate their AI in combat.

Unread Books Glow 

the best skyrim mods: unread books glow

Want to know which skill books you haven't read? Now they glow bright red. Spell tomes are green until you've learned their spells, and other books are different shades of blue depending on whether they trigger quests or not. The other advantage of this mod is that you can tell which books you need for that completionist library you're putting together at a glance.

Honed Metal

the best skyrim mods: honed metal

Does your character have better things to do than learn smithing, or are they opposed to getting their hands dirty like a common peasant? With this mod, you can simply hire blacksmiths to craft, temper, and hone your gear for you. It's a fantastic gold dump, as they'll automatically craft everything to the very best of their ability and charge you for it. Also different blacksmiths have different skills—the smith in Solitude can craft up to Legendary, but not so much the smith in Riverwood. Eorlund Gray-Mane is basically a smithing god. MCM supported with lots of customization options.  

Wearable Lanterns

the best skyrim mods: wearable lanterns

If you're using some of the lighting mods you'll notice that nighttime in Skyrim has gotten much darker. Spells and torches can help, but warriors who want to use their off-hand are out of luck. Chesko's Wearable Lantern mod sorts out this problem, letting you clip a light source to your belt, front or rear. Companions can also carry the lanterns, and will automatically douse them when you enter sneak mode.

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Table of Contents

Page 1: Getting started - How to install mods, patches, interface, and textures
Page 2: Content mods - quests, characters, creatures, and places
Page 3: Gameplay mods - weapons, skills, systems, and tweaks