Skyrim Special Edition brought advanced support for modding with 64-bit on PC, meaning players can load up more heavy mods with fewer issues and instability. The only downside to this release is that modders need to update all their hard work to take advantage of the new version of Skyrim.
For all the mods listed in this round-up, we’ll be using the Nexus platform and the Nexus Mod Manager to install them. We’ve already got a guide on how to get started if you’re new to modding Skyrim.
The map isn’t necessarily bad in Skyrim, but there are a few improvements that A Quality World Map by IcePenguin brings to the table. The mod includes a set of highly-detailed world map textures, complete with roads. This is a must-have for anyone who enjoys walking (or riding) everywhere without the use of fast travel. This mod also adds a detailed Solsteim map. And there’s even a paper-style map!
When modding Skyrim, some bad things can happen, especially during the opening scene. This is a heavily scripted part of the game and one that can cause problems if you have mods that interfere with Bethesda’s code. Alternate Start provides the option to skip the start of the game altogether, protecting against crashes, and can even allow for some interesting role-playing adventures.
This is an important mod for anyone looking to do a mage build. We’ll let the list of features do all the talking:
- 155 all-new spells (31 per school) with high-quality custom effects and animations.
- Immersively adds the spells, scrolls, and staves to existing spell vendors and loot lists.
- Balanced to match the power level of vanilla magic while providing more options.
- Compatible with popular magic scaling mods.
- Enables viable spellcaster characters without Destruction or Conjuration.
- Includes a fix for the Restoration Ritual Spell quest bug in vanilla Skyrim.
- Low script load, no save bloat.
- Configuration options available in the Apocalypse MCM if SkyUI is installed (SkyUI not required to use Apocalypse).
Well worth downloading for Magicka users. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to wait for something like ASIS (Automatic Spells, Increased Spawns) to be ported to Skyrim Special Edition for NPCs to be given new items and spells.
As the name suggests, this mod makes the nights in Skyrim darker, depending on personal preference. For many, the evenings in Skyrim were far too bright, and Darker Nights provides the option of 6 different levels that can be set to create a more atmospheric experience during the late and early hours of each day.
Enhanced Lights and FX
Enhanced Lights and FX is a sizeable mod that creates a more dynamic and realistic mood to the Skyrim landscape by adding actual lighting to all light sources and removing any light without a source, as well as the addition of numerous effects including smoke, volumic lights, and more. If you want dungeons, interiors and Skyrim, in general, to look better, you need to install ELFX. Just don’t install the weather part of the mod if you plan to use True Storms.
Skyrim has a bunch of armors already available, but Immersive Amors is a mod that takes kitting out your characters (and NPCs) to the next level. Here’s what is included:
55 new sets of armor to the game (over 60 including variants), tons of additional non-set helmet options, 396 new shields, and a large number of other items such as eye patches, capes, earrings, scarves and more! There are 2693 files in all. They are all craftable, upgradable, enchantable and are integrated into the game through leveled lists, quest rewards, placement in dungeons and/or onto specific people.
That’s a lot of new items to play around with. The best bit is how the different sets and items have specific stats that are integrated into the game through quest rewards, placement in dungeons, and given to certain people.
Much like the Immersive Armors mod, Skyrim has a number of weapons already available for you to use, but Immersive Weapons adds around 230 more. Here’s what is included:
- 230 new weapons.
- News duel wielding opponents to give variety to combat and better utilize the new weapons.
- Allows for breaking down weapons at smelters for base components.
- Adds 21 new weapon archetypes to Skyrim (the vanilla game has 8) to increase combat variety and promote more choice in play-style.
- Adds custom crafting requirements (such as quest completion or specific item acquisition) to promote immersion and protect the game’s lore.
Not only is it great to see and use the new weapons, but hothtrooper44 made sure that the mod doesn’t have a negative impact on the lore, just in case you wish to play as close to vanilla as possible.
The perk tree could do with some improvements to make each playthrough and build feel more interesting and unique. This is where Ordinator comes in, adding more than 400 perks to the game, completely overhauling each skill tree. You’ll need to visit the Nexus page to see all the perks added, but it’s a comprehensive list and Ordinator is a mod I simply cannot play without.
Realistic Ragdolls and Force
The ragdoll effect in Skyrim can lead to some hilarious situations, including those moments when a giant will send you to outer space with a whack of its club. That’s no good for role-playing and immersion, which is where Realistic Ragdolls and Force can lend a hand. Bodies now react to gravity and force more realistically. It’s a small, but effective, mod.
Realistic Water Two
With the updated water flow system and more included in Skyrim Special Edition, mods that affect the natural liquid are now more important when the aim is to create a more realistic-looking environment. Realistic Water Two takes Bethesda’s improved system and takes everything to the next level with higher quality effects and textures, not to mention more accurate water body movement depending on the location (sea, river, pond, etc.).
Run for your lives
Run for your lives is a package of two handy mods, developed and uploaded by the same author. Run for your lives and When vampires attack affect the way NPCs react to dragon and vampire attacks, namely those who are unable to fight back. Instead of witnessing absolute carnage due to citizens of Skyrim not fleeing to the safe indoors, installing these mods lets you fight off deadly beasts with guards by your side.
When Vampire attacks was merged into Run for your lives so you no longer need both installed.
Skyrim Script Extender 64-bit
Finally, the extremely talented modders behind the exceptional Skyrim Script Extender has released a version in beta that works wonderfully with Skryim SE. What this tool allows you to do is install mods that require additional functionality that the base game engine simply cannot offer. I’m talking a better UI experience that wasn’t designed for consoles, more feature-packed mods, and more.
Just make sure you download and install the version for SE and not the old Skyrim. Afterward, you need to launch the SKSE64 .exe and not the Skyrim executable through Steam.
This is currently an early testing build of the excellent SkyUI mods, but it’s well worth checking out now. What it does is revamps the entire UI, allowing you to more easily navigate your inventory and such, seeing more information at a glance.
Static Mesh Improvement Mod
SMIM is a huge mod. And by huge we mean massive in both scale and size of the download. Totaling nearly 1GB, this package contains a bunch of improved 3D models for various things like robs, chains, lanterns, and other objects. It’s particularly effective if you’re one to notice when things look slightly out of place or aren’t high-quality assets.
The Forgotten City
How does an expansion sound? The Forgotten City has you covered with an award-winning unofficial experience, backed by superb writing, original orchestral score, and voiced dialog that offers around eight hours of gameplay. You’re tasked with entering an underground Dwarven city and uncover a mystery, and it’s non-linear too with multiple endings.
If you’ve finished the main plot numerous times and are soon running out of things to do, give The Forgotten City a go.
The weather effects in Skyrim are pretty good, but since everything was compiled way back in 2011, there’s definitely room for improvement. Cue True Storms. This is a must-have mod for anyone looking to create a more immersive Skyrim experience with the weather really adding to every outing. It brings fog, variable weather, high-quality sound effects, new textures, dust storms, and more.
Unofficial Skyrim: SE Patch
This is a must-have download for anyone, even if you do not wish to get into modding your Skyrim install. As the name suggests, it’s a compiled package of fixes, improvements, and additions to the title. Here’s a quick look at what’s actually included:
- Hundreds of gameplay, quest, NPC, object, item, text and placement bugs fixed.
- Created by the authors of the Unofficial Oblivion Patch series.
- No unsafe changes (such as deletions of stock objects).
- Designed to be compatible with as many other mods as possible.
Seriously, there’s no reason as to why you shouldn’t install this patch.
But what are your favorite mods for Skyrim Special Edition? Are there any you have for Skyrim that haven’t been ported yet? Sound off in the comments. We’d also like to thank modders for their continued support in extending the enjoyment of games, particularly Skyrim. You guys are incredible.
Updated May 25, 2018: This guide was updated with the latest information on the best Skyrim SE mods for PC.