31 of the Best Skyrim Mods of All Time

31 of the best skyrim mods
If my unread books glowed, I would go blind.

It only takes a few moments to master modding!

If you’re a fan of The Elder Scrolls and game on PC, you know that mods are a necessary part of the experience. While Skyrim is a fantastic game in its vanilla state, mods allow you to really tailor the game to your preferences. Do you want all of the dragons to be Thomas the Tank Engine? Go for it. Think the combat music should be exclusively ‘X Gon Give it to YA’ by DMX? Have at ‘er. Me, I prefer mods that don’t totally break immersion, so I go for content mods that add new weapons and armour or spells and potions. With that in mind, I’ve created a list of 31 mods (in no particular order) I feel are fantastic and worth checking out if you’re looking for something to spice up your next Skyrim play through.

1. Unread Books Glow

Unread Books Glow does exactly what it says on the tin. There are so many books in Skyrim, and UBG will not only stop you from opening the same book every time you see it, it also marks spell and skill books differently, so you can avoid reading altogether if all you want is the skill boost. This is a must have mod that I don’t play without.

2. Alternative Start - Live Another Life

If you’ve created more than one character in Skyrim, you know the opening can drag on a bit. Rather than going through the opening sequence in Helgen, LAL will start you in a dungeon where you create your character before proceeding to choose one of many beginning scenarios. This means you can create your own backstory, which is especially awesome if the roleplaying is a huge part of your experience.  

3. A Quality World and Solstheim Map - With Roads

The map in vanilla Skyrim is pretty unhelpful. The lack of roads means getting anywhere without fast travel can be quite difficult. This mod adds in highly accurate hand drawn roads to the map, making navigation a breeze. Another simple fix that I cannot live without.

4. Bandolier - Bags and Pouches

BBP adds bandoliers, bags, and pouches to the leather crafting station, allowing you to dramatically increase your carrying capacity while also making you look cool. The best part is you can layer the bandoliers and pouches and most of them don’t take up other armour slots. You can craft side pouches, potion belts, spell book bags and more. This is one of my favourite mods because not only is it helpful, but it also enhances immersion.

5. Guard Dialogue Overhaul

The NPCs in vanilla Skyrim are dreadfully dull and repetitive, so any mod that increases the number of things they say is a welcome addition. This one affects the guards by making them more interesting to listen to as they react to the changing world around them. They now have custom responses to things like your outfit, your position in different factions, and will no longer treat you like a nobody after you finish the main quest.

6. Castle Grey

Castle Grey is a huge estate just outside of Dragonbridge that has all available storage options and crafting tools. When I say huge, I mean it. In fact, I tried it and it overwhelmed me, but I know that for a lot of players a big house is a must-have. If you want an estate that puts the Solitude Castle to shame, Castle Grey is for you.

7. SkyUI

SkyUI changes all the menu systems (inventory, barter, spells etc.) from the nested fly-outs to a list style menu. Its most helpful features are the search and filter functions. While it isn’t as aesthetically interesting as the vanilla menu it still fits completely with the design of the game.

8. Immersive Weapons

Immersive Weapons adds a collection of lore-friendly weapons to break monotony. No more coming across the same elven bow or barbarian mace in every dungeon or cave you explore. It’s a simple mod that you didn’t realize you needed, but I’m telling you; you need it.

9. Cloaks of Skyrim

This mod adds a bunch of cloaks, many that can be worn over equipped armour and helmets and can be enchanted. You can craft, buy, or find them on NPCs. There are cloaks designed for each Hold and a bunch of factions, and several colours and fabric types, and there are also unique cloaks that you have to search for in the world. It’s a great mod if you want more options for customizing your character’s outfit.

10. Skyrim Script Extender

SKSE is an important plugin that is necessary for a lot of the best mods to work. It replaces your Skyrim.exe file with a modded .exe that allows other mods to change the script of the game so they can work. This needs to be done for most quest and animation mods, as well as many clothing and armour mods. If you mod Skyrim, you should really have SKSE.

11. Enhanced Lights and FX

This mod is fantastic. It cleans up the lighting and atmospheric effects like smoke and dripping water. It removes lights without sources and adjusts light levels to be appropriate to the source and context. It makes the lighting more realistic and while the lighting in the vanilla game is good, the details added by this mod just take it to the next level.

12. Realistic Ragdolls and Force

RRF fixes the strange ragdoll mechanics and stops creatures and NPCs from flying or sliding 20 feet away from you when killed. It also makes it so they don’t look like they’re melting in on themselves during their death animations. I know some people swear by the ridiculous ragdoll physics in Elder Scrolls games, but nothing is worse than having to chase down a body to loot it when all you’ve done is hit it with a sword.

13. Interesting NPCs

This is a huge mod that adds over 250 voiced NPCs, 50 quests, 25 followers, and 15 marriage candidates. The impressive part, besides the variety of additions, is that the voice acting is really good. You can tell that there was care put into the writing and recording of the new dialogue and it doesn’t break immersion at all.

14. Ultimate HD Fire Effects

This mod retextures fire effects to be more realistic. It adjusts the textures on spells, torches, fireplaces and campfires, and candles. If you have a rig that can support the framerate associated with higher resolution effects, then I highly recommend giving this one a try.

15. Falskaar

This is an award winning ‘new lands’ mod that adds a new province with over 20 hours of content and fully voiced NPCs. Clearly, a lot of effort went into the development of this mod and it’s a must-have for anyone wanting a new adventure.

16. Wearable Lanterns

Wearable Lanterns allows you to craft a lantern that can be hooked to one of 3 positions on your belt. With this, your hands will be free so you can continue to explore and fight unhindered at night or in dungeons.

17. Skyrim HD - 2K Textures

Skyrim HD is another mod for those who appreciate visual upgrades. It overhauls most of the textures in the game, making them sharper and more realistic. I’ve been using it since it came out and it just makes the vanilla textures look drab by comparison.

18. ApachiiSkyHair

Apachii is a well-known Sims content creator, and this mod puts some of their best hair meshes and textures into Skyrim. Many of them are super high fashion and they’re all very sleek. What’s great is that the meshes move with your character, so long hair doesn’t move as one chunk when you turn your head. That’s some attention to detail right there.

19. Immersive Armors

Like Immersive Weapons, this mod adds new content and improves some of the vanilla content. It’s all lore-friendly and the designs are really good. The newest version of the mod also includes crafting upgrades that allow you to paint shields and works even harder to make sure that this mod is compatible with your mod collection.

20. Beautiful Whiterun

Beautiful Whiterun overhauls Whiterun to make it fuller and more interesting. It adds a lot of new trees and foliage and makes the town looked more lived in and cared for. Given that the main questline has you spend so much time in Whiterun, it’s nice that this mod makes it more visually appealing.

21. Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim

Apocalypse is the highest rated magic mod that adds 155 new lore friendly spells. It’s hard to play a spell caster class of any kind early on in Skyrim because of poor balancing and spell availability before you have a lot of gold.  This mod changes all that and makes playing as a magic user a more viable option.

22. Spell Crafting For Skyrim

This mod allows you to create your own spell combinations using a new item, “Altar of Spells.” You can mix effects from different schools of magic, the magicka cost is balanced based on the components of the spell, and it is fully SkyUI integrated. If you’re really into the crafting systems and play as a magic user, this mod is definitely for you.

23. Helgen Reborn

Helgen Reborn is a fully voiced questline that leads to the restoration of Helgen. The voice acting is stellar and the writing is very polished. Unlike a lot of quest mods that only give you one or two scripted responses and put you on rails, Helgen Reborn is an immersive quest that gives you a lot of choice in how the quest goes.

24. Moonpath to Elsywer

This is another popular and award winning ‘new lands’ mod. The number of new assets the modder created for this mod should be enough to impress you. It’s a great looking mod and is a ton of fun to play through, especially if Khajiit lore is of interest to you.

25. The Forgotten City

By far one of my favourite quest mods. It is also award winning and has fantastic writing. You wake up to find yourself stuck in The Forgotten City and have to explore and try to find a way out only to discover that there is something much bigger going on. It’s got great voice acting, time travel, immersive dungeon design… seriously, it’s just awesome, you have to check it out.  

26. Duel - Combat Realism

If you find that combat in Skyrim is too much like button mashing, especially later in the game when you are super OP, then Duel can help you. It enhances NPC fighting AI to make them fight smarter and therefore harder to defeat. Duel also changes stagger times and makes it so that blocking costs stamina. Looking for a challenge? Check out Duel.  

27. Immersive Citizens - AI Overhaul

Any seasoned Skyrim player will be the first to admit that the vanilla game’s NPCs are pretty, well, boring. The ones that have quests aren’t so bad, but the random passersby are flat and uninteresting. This mod corrects that by drastically overhauling NPC AI and adds reactions to weather, new social behaviours and interactions, and just generally makes the NPCs more alive.

28. Realistic Needs and Diseases

When you have more than 400 hours invested in Skyrim, like me, the gameplay can get repetitive, even with new quests and lands. That’s where needs immersion mods come in. This mod makes it so that you have to eat, sleep, manage your thirst, and more. The great thing is that you can change what needs you want active and how strong time affects each need. 

29. Expanded Towns and Cities

What I like about this mod is that it focuses on the lesser towns and cities in Skyrim and leaves the 5 main cities untouched. I usually have other beautification mods on my main cities, so this is great for preventing conflicts and game crashes. Expanded Towns and Cities makes these places more visually attractive and also adds a few new quests and voiced NPCs. It’s a great little immersion mod for those with the processing power to handle it.

30. Requiem - The Roleplaying Overhaul

This is one of the biggest overhaul mods out there, as it affects just about every system of the game. Possibly the most significant change is the de-leveled world. In open world RPGs like Skyrim, the world typically adjusts around you, meaning everything is kept balanced based on your current level. However, in Requiem this isn’t the case, and instead the game follows more traditional roleplaying rules where everything is based on a dice roll. This mod isn’t for everyone, but check out the video series I linked to if you’re at all interested.

31. VioLens - A Killmove Mod

Finally, we have VioLens (get it, like violence?), which is a mod for killmove customization. It adds a collection of killmoves to the game and gives you control over which ones are enabled for which weapons and their triggers. A cool immersion feature is that the killmoves are restricted to the weapon best suited to the move, meaning you won’t use a giant one handed sword like a dagger or cleanly decapitate someone with a mace.

So, there you have it, 31 mods that you should definitely check out if you’re looking to freshen up your Skyrim experience. Now, one thing to keep in mind is that some of these mods are incompatible, so I wouldn’t recommend heading to the Nexus and stocking up on all 31 at once (especially if your PC isn’t equipped with a solid graphics card and processor). Modding is a fickle practice, and you should make sure you backup your game folder and read all of the install information for each mod before moving forward. With that out of the way, go out there and get modding, Dragonborn!

You may also be interested in:

15 Skyrim Armour Mods You Should Be Using Right Now

15 Best Skyrim Graphics Mods You Should be Using Right Now

Top 11 Best Skyrim Mods That Will Make Skyrim Super Awesome

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Saviour of the Milk Way Galaxy, Defeater of the World Eater, and certified Simlish translator; I have a geekdom resume 100 lightyears long. I live to escape to other realities. Won't you join me?
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