Believe it or not, the fifth main installment of the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim, turned eight years old this past week! And yet, the game seems to not be slowing down due to the incredibly enthusiastic and clever modding community. So, I thought to celebrate the 8th birthday of Skyrim, I would count down my favourite 7 must have Skyrim mods, all free to download from Nexus Mods.
7. Sky UI
If you are still using the vanilla UI, my heart bleeds for you. Honestly, it is almost as bad as the Oblivion UI, which was specifically designed for consoles! Sky UI is one of the most popular downloaded mods on the Nexus, and for a good reason. Its ease of access and practical design, makes it five times more enjoyable to use than the standard vanilla UI. Sadly, I have a bit of a hard time running it sadly on my copy of Skyrim: Special Edition due to it requiring Skyrim Script Extender. If this is also you, the QD Inventory can also work as it doesn’t require SKSE. But it’s still not quite as good as Sky UI, who is unquestionably the King of Skyrim User Interface mods.
6. Immersive Armors
If you are like me and are too lazy to download new individual armour sets, then this is the mod for you. It overhauls all the vanilla armours, as well as adding in 55 new sets of armour. All of these are incredibly immersive and fit seamlessly into the world. They are also all craftable and fully customisable. They will also be worn by others in the world, so this mod doesn’t just affect you as the player character. This is always one of the first mods I install if I’m doing a clean installation of mods, as while it’s subtle, I have also reached a point I can’t play without it.
5. Apachii SkyHair
I can’t help it, I just like my female characters to have pretty hair OK, don’t judge me! The vanilla hair textures and styles are both incredibly dull and plain. Personally, I find it quite difficult to get into a playthrough if my character doesn’t look how I want, and hair, for me, is a big part of that. This hair mod set comes with options for all races, male and female characters, with 216 new hairstyles. With so many options, you are sure to be able to create the perfect looking character for your next playthrough.
4. Total Character Makeover
Are you tired of all your Skyrim NPCs looking like potatoes? Well, this mod fixes that… sort of (the kids will still look like potatoes, sorry!). This mod makes over all the NPCs in the game, to make them look a little more like people. The textures of their skin and hair have been improved, and they all look uniform – so, there isn’t just one or two incredibly different looking characters. While it doesn’t add any new hairs or specific changes to individual NPCs, it is an easy to install mod which makes everyone look slightly less awful.
3. Apocalypse – Magic of Skyrim
If you are like me and are trying to resist doing another stealth archer playthrough, this mod is a big incentive to do so! Playing as a mage in Skyrim for me can get quite tedious at times due to that annoying Magicka bar and the repetitive animations of the spells. But all average looking spells have been tossed to the wayside now, due to this mod. Apocalypse adds 155 new spells, which not only are lore friendly, but also use fully customised high-quality visuals. These new spells are so well done, I would say they have the potential to finally get you off that fifteenth stealth archer playthrough you just started!
2. Skyrim Flora Overhaul
This, along with Immersive Armors, is ALWAYS one of the first mods I install. The game without it just fails in comparison. As a huge fan of game landscape design, the Flora Overhaul makes the world of Skyrim feel so much more alive. It comes with 18 new tree models, 65+ new grasses and plants, and improves the textures of all the trees as well as making them much taller. This mod makes walking through Skyrim feel like a whole new game. No more barren empty areas and no more average grass textures. The game starts looking just as amazing as many newer RPG landscapes seen in games like The Witcher 3.
1. Alternative Start – Live Another Life
Let’s be honest, once you have seen the vanilla starting sequence fifty times, the dragon really starts to lose its impact. Therefore, I don’t even start a new playthrough anymore without this mod – and hence why it’s my number 1. It really only impacts the first few seconds of your playthrough, however can do worlds for role playing. In this mod, after creating your character, you speak to a statue of Mara, who gives you a variety of new options for how to begin your game. These include: arrival by ship, being a member of a guild, a patron at an inn, and even more! Whichever you chose, the game will start you from there instead of in Helgen. This also technically means you can avoid the main quest entirely if you wish, and after a while, in my opinion, the dragons grow quite tiresome, so it’s a nice change.
So those were my favorite must have Skyrim Mods, what are yours?
Let me know in the comments down below if you have any recommendations! And blessings of the Divines upon all you wonderful modders out there, thank you for keeping Skyrim alive and well all these years later.