[Top 25] Skyrim Best Mods For A New Experience

Make Skyrim's selling point worth selling with Diverse Dragons Collection.

Let’s face it—even after countless rereleases, Skyrim hasn’t changed a whole lot since its initial release in 2011. Fortunately, the modding community is constantly contributing their time, effort, and creativity to preserve Skyrim’s status as a fan favourite and help it meet the standard for the games of today. Nearly 12 years later, you can find any addition imaginable, whether you’re in the market for a graphics upgrade, custom companions, formidable new foes, or just bug fixes. If you’re looking to revolutionize the way you play the game, keep reading for 25 of the best Skyrim Special Edition mods available in 2023.


25. Diverse Dragons Collection

One of the many unique new types of dragons added by Diverse Dragons Collection.

If you were disappointed by the lack of variety among Skyrim’s dragon population, this is the mod for you.

Diverse Dragons Collection combines resources from 13 mod authors to add a whole set of levelled dragons to the game. Each type of dragon has its own distinct look and abilities, and can appear in random dragon attacks just like the vanilla Skyrim dragons. Being the Dragonborn gets a lot more exciting when your foe can breathe lightning instead of fire.

Key Features:

  • Adds 28 new types of dragons and a combined total of 16 attacks and 19 abilities.
  • A configuration menu to customize which dragons you see and how often dragons appear for a personally tailored experience.
  • Fully compatible with any other creature mods you may have.



24. Sounds of Skyrim

Sounds of Skyrim brings the game's wilderness to life.

Enhance your game’s atmosphere with Sounds of Skyrim Complete, a mod that increases immersion by adding new ambient sound effects to Skyrim’s environments. It merges three different editions of Sounds of Skyrim: The Wilds, The Dungeons, and Civilization. 

You’ll hear birds and insects in the woods, raindrops falling on tents, Draugr growling in Nordic dungeons, patrons talking in taverns, and much more. Best of all, you have full control over which sound effects will play.

Key Features:

  • More than 460 high-definition ambient sounds across nearly every area of Skyrim.
  • Many sounds are dependent on location, time of day, and weather. For example, in the woods, you’ll hear birds and deer during the day, and wolves and bats at night.
  • A start-up menu where you can toggle each type of sound on or off. It can be accessed at any time afterwards through the magic menu.



23. A Quality World Map

Revamp your map with realistic high-quality textures.

An adventurer is only as good as their map, and IcePenguin’s A Quality World Map is one of the best there is. 

You can download one of three different versions: Classic, Vivid, and a hand-drawn Paper map. You’ll also find additional customization options depending on which type you choose. There’s no excuse for having an unsightly Skyrim map in 2023, especially with mods like this available.

Key Features:

  • A total of 5 different map styles to choose from.
  • Never get lost again—the map now shows every road. 
  • An optional clear map skies plugin removes the clouds from the middle of the map, allowing for easier viewing.



22. Believable Weapons

Bring cleaner, more realistic meshes to Skyrim's weapons for an immersive experience.

Believable Weapons replaces over a hundred of Skyrim’s vanilla weapons with sleek new meshes to make combat more immersive, while also staying true to the original artwork. It aims to remove any irregular, clunky, or unrealistic details and create designs that are clean but still unique. 

The mod covers nearly all swords, axes, maces, and hammers, plus a couple of shields. That includes some unique items, DLC content, and Creation Club additions. The weapons of Skyrim are finally worthy of battle.

Key Features:

  • New meshes for every instance of 113 different weapons.
  • All new models are still fully compatible with whichever texture replacers you choose to use, in addition to the original vanilla textures.
  • The installer comes with compatibility patches for multiple other weapons mods and full control over which weapons are included.



21. Realistic Water Two

Realistic Water Two gives the shorelines of Skyrim a makeover.

If you’ve had enough of swimming in plastic lakes and mucky ponds, you’ll love Realistic Water Two. This huge overhaul makes water as realistic as possible while staying performance-friendly. It uses tons of high-quality assets—including new textures, effects, and meshes—to revive the water of Skyrim, and fixes issues present in the original game, like seams and unrealistic flow.

Key Features:

  • Includes smoother meshes, better particle effects, up to 4K quality surface textures, extended ambient sounds, and new animations.
  • Multiple resolution options to choose from, depending on how powerful your gaming rig is.
  • An optional file with darker gradient textures for ENB users, as well as several compatibility patches.
  • If you have Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) and SkyUI downloaded, you can access a Mod Configuration Menu (MCM) that allows you to customize the features of RWT. 



20. Immersive Citizens

Now the lives of Skyrim's citizens are nearly as rich as your own.

Skyrim is infamous for the wacky behaviour of its NPCs. It’s difficult to feel immersed in a world where the people don’t act like, well, people. Immersive Citizens flips the script by overhauling the AI of Skyrim’s friendly NPCs to make them feel more real. 

Citizens will react realistically to their environment, running away from powerful attackers and staying indoors when it rains. Many NPCs also have improved and more detailed schedules based on their role, personality, and relationships, adding considerable depth to the world.

Key Features:

  • Upgrades the AI of NPCs in nearly every settlement in the game.
  • A Survival Instinct feature that allows friendly NPCs to determine their chance of winning against an attacker and react appropriately.
  • More realistic schedules—NPCs will eat and sleep a reasonable amount, perform activities related to their profession, etc.
  • Bug fixes improving NPC navigation, reducing repetitive dialogue, and more.



19. Vivid Weathers Definitive Edition

Take in the skies of Tamriel like never before with Vivid Weathers.

Some of my fondest memories from playing Skyrim center around seeing the aurora dance in the night sky, or standing at the edge of a cliff watching the sun rise. With a little help and the power of graphics mods, Skyrim’s views can still hold their own under even the most scrutinizing eye.

Vivid Weathers is an atmospheric visual overhaul that acts as a performance-friendly alternative to an ENB. It revamps the look and feel of all outdoor environments, adding hundreds of new weathers, quality weather textures and sound effects, and tweaked colours. Day or night, rain or shine, Skyrim’s wilds always look stunning with this mod.

Key Features:

  • Over 500 new weathers and imagespaces.
  • Various new textures, particles, and sound effects for a more realistic weather simulation.
  • An in-game menu to customize visuals to your liking.



18. Campfire - Complete Camping System

Campfire allows you to set up a tent and start a fire virtually anywhere.

Live the true adventurer’s life with Campfire. This mod provides a realistic survival and camping experience by adding new gear and a vanilla-style skill system. Set up camp with new tents and equipment, sit around a bonfire with your followers, and hunt for resources and crafting materials. Whether you’re putting together makeshift tools or sleeping under the stars, your journey just got a whole lot more immersive.

Key Features:

  • Adds camping equipment like tents, portable crafting kits, cooking pots, backpacks, and more.
  • Lightweight and performance-friendly.
  • Highly compatible with other mods, and even modded companions will interact with your campsite.



17. Frostfall - Hypothermia Camping Survival

Craft brand new survival gear to weather the cold north.

If you’re looking to add a new layer of challenge to your gameplay, you’ll want to have a look at this engaging survival mod. Frostfall works with Campfire to add temperature and weather-based survival mechanics to Skyrim, while being less tedious than the Creation Club's Survival Mode. Even casual players will appreciate the level of depth it gives the game.

Frostfall tracks your condition based on variables like your current location and the clothing you’re wearing—certain types of clothing and armour will keep you warmer for longer, in addition to being near a fire or consuming warm food and drinks. Bundle up to stay alive!

Key Features:

  • A detailed temperature tracking system that looks at multiple factors for maximum immersion.
  • A huge set of craftable items and equipment.
  • A new cold weather survival skill tree.
  • Compatible with many other mods.



16. Noble Skyrim

Solitude looks better than ever with Noble Skyrim.

Why download dozens of different texture replacers when you can improve almost everything you’ll see on your travels in just one mod? Noble Skyrim includes custom textures for architecture, as well as landscapes, dungeons, and clutter. From cobblestone to crates, give Skyrim a complete makeover with this massive texture overhaul.

Key Features:

  • Retextures the architecture in cities, villages, dungeons, and forts.
  • Includes new textures for other objects like ships, furniture, and crafting benches to match the rest of the mod.
  • Options for both 2K and performance resolutions.



15. JK’s Skyrim

JK's Skyrim's additions to Markarth.

Make the settlements of Skyrim look inhabited with JK’s Skyrim. This all-in-one compilation enhances the atmosphere of Skyrim’s cities and villages in an immersive way by adding foliage, clutter, and new structures. It also makes small towns more useful by adding thematically appropriate buildings and vendors.

If you like the style of JK’s Skyrim, you may want to consider downloading JK’s Interiors, which gives new life to most of the important buildings in Skyrim (like taverns, temples, and Jarls’ halls).

Key Features:

  • Covers the exteriors of all major cities and multiple towns.
  • Expands on the theme of each village it covers to give it a unique ambience.
  • Also available as modular versions that edit each settlement separately, so you can choose which ones you want to overhaul.



14. Skyrim Flora Overhaul

Skyrim Flora Overhaul transforms the forests of Skyrim, adding new models and textures for all types of foliage.

Transform Skyrim’s wilds with new lush, diverse foliage for every hold in one mod. Skyrim Flora Overhaul replaces the models and textures of trees, grasses, and plants, giving the environments you’ll come across a more overgrown look. With a greater variety and quality of foliage than you’d find in the original game, this mod turns the forests of Skyrim into a northern paradise.

Key Features:

  • 18 new tree models, over 65 grass and plant models, and over 180 textures.
  • Ground textures now spawn more grass, making the wilds appear more dense.
  • 3D distant LODs for more scenic views.



13. Manbeast - A Werewolf Overhaul

Manbeast overhauls the werewolf perk tree for more rewarding gameplay.

The Companions make lycanthropy out to be a bigger deal than it really is—it has little effect on gameplay, and is often more trouble to acquire than it’s worth. Manbeast adds depth to werewolf gameplay by revamping its skill tree, adding new abilities that make lycanthropy more rewarding in addition to passives that affect both your werewolf form and mortal form. But watch out—if you don’t make use of your beast form often, you’ll risk losing control and transforming involuntarily. 

Key Features:

  • New powerful werewolf perks, including passive bonuses and howls.
  • Werewolves are changed even in their true form—lycanthropes have a bonus to unarmed attacks, weakness to poison, and resistance to disease.
  • Forced transformations occur after 7 days without using the beast form power, adding a layer of challenge to playing werewolf characters.



12. Alternate Start - Live Another Life

In Alternate Start, you wake up in an abandoned prison and get to choose where you start the game.

Tired of waiting through Skyrim’s intro? Want to start the game somewhere other than the chopping block for a change? You’re not alone—which is why this is such a popular mod.

With Alternate Start installed, you start off in an abandoned prison and—through divine intervention—get to choose a new beginning. You’re given a long list of different backgrounds, from outlaw to new guild member, including a few race-specific ones. The original intro is also still an option, making this a perfect mod for any playthrough.

Key Features:

  • Skip the intro and choose from a list of many different beginnings.
  • Create your character at the start of the game just like you would normally.
  • Start the main quest whenever you see fit by either going to the ruin of Helgen or joining the Civil War.



11. RaceMenu

RaceMenu's expanded character creation screen.

RaceMenu is a Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) plugin that completely changes the character creation menu to add dozens of new options for customization. Fine-tune facial features, change facial expression, and select custom colours. When you’re done, save or export your presets and character gen data to use later.

Key Features:

  • Uses SKSE as a prerequisite to expand character creation far beyond the capabilities of vanilla Skyrim.
  • Download and use custom assets, like warpaints and body paints. 
  • An optional plugin that allows you to adjust body proportions.



10. Static Mesh Improvement Mod - SMIM

With SMIM installed, static objects look smoother than you've ever seen them.

SMIM is a must-have for graphics connoisseurs. If you’ve ever been bothered by Skyrim’s low-poly models, this is the mod for you. 

SMIM enhances the meshes of hundreds of static objects and adds new high-quality textures, making the game more visually appealing. It even covers typically neglected objects like stones and ropes. Best of all, it does this without sacrificing FPS.

Key Features:

  • Replaces over 900 static meshes with detailed 3D models.
  • Several high-definition custom textures.
  • Performance-friendly for most computers.



9. Immersive Armours

Several of the epic new armour sets Immersive Armors adds to Skyrim.

Find it strange that everyone in the province has the same set of armour? Looking for unique gear for your Dragonborn? Look no further than Immersive Armours, a compilation of lore-friendly armour, shields, and other gear designed to blend seamlessly with the look and feel of Skyrim. With 55 distinct sets plus several variants to discover, this mod has something for everyone regardless of your tastes or play style.

The new items can be found, crafted, enchanted, and repaired just like vanilla armour. The distribution is also levelled and scales with you, so you won’t be finding overpowered equipment too early on in the game.

Key Features:

  • Adds over 60 sets of armour, nearly 400 shields, and loads of other standalone items and accessories.
  • Menu with many customization options, including those for item variants and distribution.
  • Patches available for multiple different body mesh mods.



8. Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim

Reduce your enemies to ash with the new Inferno spell.

Magic in Skyrim is, on the whole, less useful than it was in previous games—especially considering the increased limitations the game puts on mages. Apocalypse makes magic more powerful by adding over a hundred new spells that are integrated seamlessly into the existing magic system, with tomes, scrolls, and staffs, as well as custom visual effects. Spellcasters of all types are now more viable as a character build, so go wild.

Key Features:

  • Adds 155 balanced and lore-friendly spells for every school and level.
  • New high-quality animations and effects.
  • With SkyUI installed, you can access customization options through an MCM.



7. Lucien

With your help, Lucien can grow into a hero himself.

Lucien Flavius is a lore-friendly follower with thousands of lines of dialogue, including quest commentary and interactions with other followers. This polite and enthusiastic Imperial scholar can be found in Dead Man’s Drink looking for a travelling companion. If you choose to travel with him, you’ll discover multiple unique features like his custom training mechanic, dynamic personality system, customizable combat style, and much more.

Key Features:

  • Over 5,000 lines of custom-voiced dialogue and 2 personal quests.
  • A custom follower framework, which means he doesn’t affect your follower count.
  • A training system which can be used to advance his combat skills and teach him new spells.
  • Interactions with many mods, including dialogue with other modded followers and commentary on quests like those from Beyond Skyrim and Creation Club.



6. Inigo

Inigo and his insect companion, Mr. Dragonfly.

The Inigo mod introduces a fully voiced, lore-friendly Khajiit follower to Skyrim. With a rich backstory, unique personality, and loads of witty commentary, Inigo will add depth and charm to the world of Skyrim as he accompanies you on your adventures.  

In addition to the expected follower functions, Inigo comes with a personal quest, dialogue with other Skyrim NPCs, conversations based on your skills and adventures, and more. The only way to fully know what he has in store is to meet him for yourself!

Key Features:

  • Over 7,000 lines of custom-voiced dialogue.
  • Has his own follower framework.
  • Many customizable options for combat and follower mechanics, which can be accessed by selecting the dialogue option, “Mind if I ask you something?”
  • Interactions with many other custom followers.



5. Interesting NPCs

Anum-La, one of several followers added by Interesting NPCs.

Enrich the world of Skyrim with Interesting NPCs, which features a diverse cast of 250+ custom-voiced NPCs—including marriage candidates and followers—with immersive backstories and extensive dialogue branches. In addition to its many intricate characters, it also adds a multitude of new quests to enjoy where your decisions have real consequences. Whether your goal is more populated cities, the next adventure, or a new best friend, Interesting NPCs is a valuable addition to any playthrough.

Key Features:

  • Adds over 250 NPCs, more than 25 followers, and 20 marriage candidates.
  • More than 50 new quests.
  • Patches available for many popular mods.



4. Beyond Skyrim - Bruma

Explore the city of Bruma in this Beyond Skyrim release.

If you’ve ever wondered what Cyrodiil looks like after the Oblivion Crisis, you’re in for an incredible journey exploring beyond its northernmost border in Beyond Skyrim: Bruma. This expansive mod is larger than the Dragonborn DLC and comes with new locations, quests, soundtracks, gear, and fully-voiced NPCs. A testament to the dedication of Elder Scrolls fans, Beyond Skyrim: Bruma delivers many hours of engaging gameplay for fans of the series.

Key Features:

  • Visit the present-day county of Bruma recreated in Skyrim.
  • More than 70 fully voiced citizens of the city of Bruma.
  • High-quality custom visuals and more than 24,000 lines of dialogue.
  • Compatibility patches for multiple mods.



3. SkyUI

A comparison of Skyrim's inventory menu with and without SkyUI.

If you want to spend less time managing your inventory and more time slaying dragons, you need SkyUI. This SKSE plugin streamlines gameplay with a more intuitive and visually appealing user interface, making it easier to navigate the various menus. It covers nearly every aspect of Skyrim’s UI—including inventory, spells, and crafting—so you can get back to dungeon diving and stealing sweet rolls.

Key Features:

  • New active effects HUD, item sorting, search bar, and more.
  • Mod configuration menu that allows you to access customization options for mods that support SkyUI.
  • Compatible with all versions of Skyrim SE, so long as the appropriate version of SKSE is installed correctly.



2. Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch


UESP fixes hundreds of bugs found in vanilla Skyrim.

USSEP is one mod that every Skyrim player must have. This ongoing fan project is dedicated to optimizing the game by fixing as many bugs and inconsistencies as possible (and longtime fans know those are found in great quantities). In doing so, it significantly improves the overall player experience. USSEP makes Skyrim playable, and for that, we’re all grateful.

Key Features:

  • Fixes hundreds of bugs in quests, NPCs, objects, text, etc.
  • Designed to be compatible with nearly any load order.
  • Listed as a requirement for some larger mods to make sure they don’t overwrite USSEP fixes, so depending on your load order, USSEP might be mandatory.



1. Legacy of the Dragonborn


Legacy of the Dragonborn adds a new museum where you can display your precious finds.

Turn your game into a massive treasure-hunting adventure with this DLC-sized expansion.

Legacy of the Dragonborn adds a museum in Solitude to display your collection of artifacts, relics, and unique items, encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny of Skyrim to fill all the exhibits. With an extensive questline to complete, a guild to establish, and a myriad of new relics to discover, it’s no wonder Skyrim fans of all stripes love LotD.

Key Features:

  • A sprawling museum for the display of almost 3,500 artifacts.
  • A new guild faction, The Explorer Society, which you manage and build from the ground up.
  • Hundreds of new items to find.
  • Multiple custom mechanics, including loot shipment crates and automatic display sorting.
  • Compatibility patches for many other mods.



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Gamer Since: 2012
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Red Dead Redemption 2
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Dragon Age II

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