With Skyrim Special Edition on the horizon (tomorrow), our minds inevitably turn to mods. In fact, Nexusmods have already announced that they will be creating a dedicated new site separated from regular Skyrim in order to provide an optimal service. But while we wait for the future to arrive, it certainly can’t hurt to dream of it. And one thing some of you may be dreaming about are what great mods could possibly be ported over.
And it is for this reason that I present you with a list of mods we hope will find a new life in Skyrim Special Edition‘s modding scene.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. I don’t expect much to change in terms of Skyrim‘s UI when the Special Edition arrives. Call it a hunch. But even if some changes were made, I would hope that they borrow inspiration from SkyUI.
SkyUI is pretty much a staple to anyone who’s ever thoroughly modded their Skyrim game. It incorporates a vast amount of changes to the User Interface that range from better usage of the available space, to a better layout for your inventory and spell lists. Even the favorites menu is improved to allow you to assign favorite groups so you can switch equipment sets on the fly. In other words, it improves the basic Skyrim UI in every possible way without weighing you down.
When it comes to modding Skyrim, there’s generally one of two directions a mod will take. Either a mod will improve gameplay and mechanics, such as combat, or it will improve it visually. In terms of modifying visuals, a mod tends to either improve the world around you or the characters within it. But the best mods of all are those that give you the power to easily improve something as you see fit.
RaceMenu gives you the option to perform more in-depth customization of your character. A valuable in-game tool for people who have the patience and desire to perfect the looks of their character. It’s quite frankly impossible for me to properly summarize in one paragraph what this mod can do for you, even if you’re not interested in detailing out your character, so I’ll just refer you to its mod page.
Again one of those things Bethesda could just include by default in the Special Edition. Some gamers only desire a typical hack and slash game and don’t care much for aesthetics. But some prefer to be immersed in a game like Skyrim and are subsequently thankful for a mod that allows them to have legs and a body in First Person. Which is exactly what Immersive First Person View does.
Far and few in between are mods that can please both the action and immersion oriented player. The action oriented player wants to jump into the action, while the immersion seeker wants to edge on believing they are actually leading a life in Skyrim. Alternate Start – Live Another Life helps set that in motion, as it replaces the long-winded introduction in a new game with a small room in an abandoned dungeon.
No more horse cart and the same dialogue every time you start a new game (unless you explicitly want that, which is an option still within this mod). Instead, you can pick from a variety of locations and motivations or simply tell the statue of Mara to drop you off somewhere randomly. Then go to bed and presto, wish fulfilled! Starting new characters was never this easy! Not to mention that upon a New Game you immediately start in the character customization (which works perfectly with RaceMenu, by the way), meaning you can test out different character mods in a quick fashion.
Do you like Lockpicking? Hate it? Get bored of it, or would you like it to be just a little easier? Well, lucky for you, I couldn’t decide on just one mod that touches on this aspect of the game. Instead, have three!
There are plenty of mods that will make lockpicking harder for you if you so desire. But if you want an easier time at it without removing the feature entirely, Lockpick Graduation adds indents to the visual interface, giving you a visual reference to help you pick the lock.
Still not easy enough? How about the Lockpick Pro, a mod that will give you a visual reference of where the “sweet spot” is. Ideal if you want to hear that satisfying click but can’t bring yourself to do the work of fiddling with it.
Of course, there are stalwart roleplayers that prefer to let their stats do the talking when it comes to unlocking doors and chests. And some would just like to the skip the minigame altogether. Automatic Lockpicking will automatically unlock any doors for you that you have the required lockpicking perk for; there’s even a Force Lock option for when you don’t have the perk and would rather rely on luck to open that chest full of loot. If you feel like this mod is too much of a cheating tool, you can change some settings around to make it more fair.
A legendary mod to those who have braved its difficulty, Frostfall’s sole purpose is to truly make you feel the cold and unforgiving climate of Skyrim. What once was a game where you only had to be concerned about your healthbar, you now also need to concern yourself over your own core temperature. The mod uses a sophisticated system to track your location, current weather, time of day, worn clothing, and more to determine what condition you are in.
If you are too cold, your combat skills will suffer and so will your capability to survive. Don’t stand in harsh winds for too long and don’t swim in ice cold water for too long, lest you die from Hypothermia. Heat sources will both warm and dry you, giving new value to the various taverns dotted around the map. But if need be, you can set up camp and even start a campfire, granted you’ve got enough wood on you.
Included is a system that will actually drop your core temperature quicker if you’re not wearing warm clothing or thick armor. Gamers who believe fashion is secondary to survival will appreciate this (optional) feature.
Being forced to take heat and cold into account in your survival adventures is certainly an interesting gameplay mechanic, but it doesn’t do that much for the immersion if the world doesn’t react to the cold as well.
Wet and Cold is perfectly compatible with Frostfall and takes care of the visual and immersion aspect of the cold Skyrim winterlands. From donning NPCs in cloaks and hoods when it gets cold and sending them home when it rains, to actual visual effects on your character, such as water drips in rain or after swimming and visible breathing moisture in frigid areas, and much much more.
But surviving the cold is only one aspect of Survival. Surviving means you also need to be fed in a survival situation. Thirst becomes a priority. And if you’re not well-rested, then all your other survival skills will suffer for it.
There are various mods for Skyrim that simulate a basic set of needs. Most commonly these mods will require you to consume food and drink regularly, with most of them also including a requirement to sleep. Every primary needs mod has aspects to it that set it apart from the others. Some work with calories, while others just rely on you frequently sustaining yourself. For beginners, iNeed is a good start.
But if you’re not interested in solely relying on merchants to buy your food, you can also hunt for it yourself. You don’t need any mods to do that. Just grab a bow and arrow and shoot down the nearest wild animal. This is hardly challenging and absolutely doesn’t feel impactful.
Hunterborn tackles this aspect of hunting and turns it into something more immersive. Just as the Indians are said to have used every part of the Buffalo they hunt, so can you with the wildlife you hunt. From skinning the animal for its pelt, to taking materials from it for alchemy and butchering it for meat. The amount you gain is based on the weight of the animal, but you can also choose to pick up the animal (granted you have enough carry space—very useful with rabbits) and skin it closer to home as you desire.
In what seems to be a trend of things that Bethesda should have implemented by default, Glowing Ore Veins is a simple and old mod that retextures Ore Veins to make them easier to spot, especially in darker areas.
When it comes to follower mods, you’ve got the typical follower mod that introduces a new follower to your game, sometimes with some special features to set themselves apart
Alternatively, you’ve got follower system overhauls that greatly expand the functionality. This can range from controlling what gear they wear regardless if there’s better in their inventory, to deploying more complex combat tactics.
Most system overhauls have one thing in common. They raise the maximum follower count. A common frustration in vanilla Skyrim was that you were limited to one humanoid companion at a time. UFO – Ultimate Follower Overhaul and Amazing Follower Tweaks address this issue while also including a more complex and powerful system that allows you to fine tune almost every part about your companion. Just make sure to not use both mods at the same time—that’s a recipe for disaster!
But there are also mods that tweak smaller aspects of followers. My Home Is Your Home will allow you to set a custom location for a dismissed follower to travel to. Followers Can Relax adds a feature that will let your followers interact with the environment when they are told to wait, adding to the immersion and making your companions look far less … bored.
And that’s about it! I could go on for hours or days on end about what other mods also should be included, such as Unofficial Patch to fix so many of Skyrim‘s imperfections I’m sure Bethesda will overlook. Or a body mod to make NPCs look more appealing. Or Immersive Armors/Weapons to enrich the world of Skyrim with more of everything. But in the end, I wanted to compile a list that showcased unique features that I had tried myself. Some of them are outdated, so I hope that the Special Edition reinvigorates the authors to update their mod and breathe fresh air into Skyrim once more.
I also know I left out any major overhauls. The reason for this is because I consider them very subjective. Most Skyrim overhauls tend to focus on a specific aspect or idea and balance the entire game around it. This means that something I could very much like in an overhaul is something you could absolutely hate. Not to mention that overhauls are far less essential unless you’ve already sunk many hours in the game.
That said, I hope I’ve exposed a few solid mods to you. I’ve provided links to all of them, so be sure to drop an Endorsement if you end up downloading and enjoying the mod. Every Endorsement counts!
Any of your favorites that I’ve missed? What’s your favorite mod that you’d like to see reappear as a mod for the Skyrim Special Edition?