My 8 essential Skyrim mods

2013-09-21_00001Bethesda’s Skyrim is an out-of-character game for me (I’m more of a simulation/strategy gamer) but somehow I’ve racked up 400 hours of playing time over two characters and it’s still as engrossing and fun to play as it was the first time.

That said, I think a lot of its enduring appeal to me has been in the mods created by the community and Nexus has been one of my favourite bookmarks for a while. I have a lot of mods but there are some I consider essential now to the way I play the game, some that are the first I’ve gone for when I’ve installed on a new PC.

These are my favourite mods. Your mileage may vary.

1. SkyUI

SkyUI is a mod that aims to improve Skyrim’s User Interface by making it easier to use with mouse and keyboard, less wasteful of available screen space, and nicer to look at.

I love SkyUI. It takes the vanilla interface and makes it usable. Easy to find everything in your inventory, easy to pick out the specific item you’re looking for. If you go for no other mods, go for this one.



2. A Quality World Map – With Roads

This mod aims to give you a World Map that is fun to look at. It now has better textures and introduces detailed roads.

So much better than the vanilla map; again, this makes the interface simple and easy to use. The roads especially are incredibly useful for finding your way around Skyrim.


3. Alternate start: Live another life

Live Another Life provides an alternative means to start the game for those who do not wish to go through the lengthy intro sequence at Helgen. You will be given the opportunity to choose your race and then choose a new life for your character to lead.

I’d seen people reference this mod for a while but never really considered it until I started my second character. I didn’t want to play through Helgen again and the concept of the mod intrigued me. Not really one for novice players but if you’ve already grasped the basics of the game and want to start again, this is the mod to use.


4. A Matter of Time

Have you ever find yourself walking through a dungeon or sitting at the bar and asking yourself: How late is it? Will the sun shine outside or will I see the moons if I go outside? If so, this mod is for you!

This mod provides a clock/moonphase calender for your HUD and it’s surprising how much of a difference this makes to the sense of immersion. It also makes certain time-sensitive quests (such as getting married) much easier! I use BorderSense with it and together they’ve significantly increased the immersion.



5. Terrain Bump

This mod ramps up the quality and detail of the landscape vanilla normal maps, while retaining the same dimensions as the original textures. This results in an enhanced, more 3D-looking ground terrain throughout Skyrim.

I have other visual mods (though I’m not really a fan of the lighting/saturation changes) but this one is my favourite for improving the look of Skyrim.


6. Pure Waters

This is a pure, clean, and natural water, as it should be in the cold mountains of Skyrim.

Another visual tweak; Pure Waters makes Skyrim’s lakes, rivers, and streams look stunning, and it’s a huge improvement over the vanilla look.



7. Glowing Ore Veins

Does what it says on the tin. Sick of hunting around for ore to mine? This is the mod for you.


8. Smelters for Riften and Solitude

Riften and Solitude are my two favorite cities, but unfortunately, neither one has a smelter. This mod simply adds a smelter to these two cities. This is something I made for my own use and decided I might as well make it available for others.

A tiny gameplay tweak – but a huge improvement. I never knew I needed this mod until I tried it.




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