The 100 best Skyrim mods

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What are the best Skyrim mods for PC? Gosh, there’s a lot of them, isn’t there? More than 22,000 Skrim mods to download on the Steam Workshop, and countless more on Skyrim Nexus. They’re the work of a thriving and diverse scene; an army of fans and bedroom coders determined to make the game a photorealistic fantasy utopia. Or just transforming farmyard animals into deadly explosives. But when you’re looking for Skyrim mods, just where do you start?  

Welcome to PCGamesN! We're not just about Skyrim; we write about all the best PC games with news, reviews, and features.

Here, actually. That’s where we come in. These are the 100 mods we think are essential to improving Skyrim above and beyond the out-the-box experience. And best of all every one of these Skyrim mods is free!

How do I install Skyrim mods?

Skyrim is one of the easiest games on PC to mod thanks to its deep integration with the Steam Workshop. All you need to do is follow the links we've provided to the Workshop pages, and 'subscribe' to the mod. This will download and apply the mod to your game with no fuss at all. 

Some mods are not on the Steam Workshop. For those, we've linked to the Skyrim Nexus. Each mod will have slightly different instructions for installing, so be sure to follow the steps the creator has provided carefully. You'll likely be adding things to the Skyrim 'Data' file, which can typically be found at:

C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\Common\Skyrim\Data

Windows will alert you that you’re overwriting files, so press ‘OK’ to accept the changes. It’s best to make a backup of your Data folder before you start modding in case you need to return Skyrim to its original form. 

Essential Skyrim Mods 

Skyrim Script Extender

As the years have gone on, mods for Skyrim have become ever more ambitious and complicated. In order for some mods to run correctly, the scripting capabilities of Skyrim have to be increased to allow the game to handle more complicated commands. It’s advised that you have Skyrim Script Extender installed when modding, just in case it’s needed by any mods that catch your eye. 

Unofficial Skyrim Patch

Unofficial patch Skyrim mod

Like everyone of Bethesda’s games, Skyrim is a bit on the buggy side. Despite heavy patching, the official development team have never quite got everything smooth. The Unofficial Skyrim Patch is a constantly updated mod that aims to fix hundreds of gameplay, quest, NPC, object, item, text, and placement bugs. For just basic performance, this mod is essential.

Relighting Skyrim mod

Relighting Skyrim

Have you ever looked at where the light shines from in Skyrim? All too frequently it’s from an illogical source (Doors that shine? Really, Bethesda?). Relighting Skyrim entirely reprograms the game’s light sources, ensuring light beams out from only fires and stars, and not from planks of wood.

Static Mesh Improvement mod  

Static Mesh Improvement mod

A massive mod comprised of numerous Workshop files, Static Mesh Improvement works absolute wonders in removing all those horrible niggles from the objects of the world. Edges have their angles worked away so stones are finally smooth and bowls made round. Textures now run smoothly and those unsightly seams when two textures meet are eradicated. The extra polygons will impact performance slightly, but this really should be at the top of your priorities when it comes to making Skyrim beautiful.

FXAA Injector mod

FXAA Skyrim mod 

The tool of choice for Dead End Thrills, FXAA Injector pumps a variety of anti-aliasing techniques into your Skyrim system to help create a much more sharp and vibrant image. Post-processing effects like bloom, technicolor, sharpen, and tonemap can be cranked up or down on a slider system to alter the visual quality to your own personal preference.

2K Textures 

Skyrim 2K textures

2K Textures actually provides textures up to 4K in resolution, a whopping eight times the resolution of vanilla Skyrim, and four times that of the official HD patch. The mod applies new textures to almost everything in Skyrim, from the floors to the skies and everything inbetween. The effect is understandably astonishing, as is the requirement (4GB RAM and 1GB video memory). A ‘lite’ version can be used on less-powerful systems, or even a mix of full and lite elements for a good balance.

SkyUI mod 

SkyUI Mod

Skyrim is a very solid PC game, but there are telltale signs that the game wasn’t solely designed to be played on a computer. The user interface is the leading clue; wholly built to be navigated with a controller. SkyUI completely rebuilds the HUD and interface of Skyrim, making it much more friendly for keyboard and mouse users.

Sounds of Skyrim mod 

Sounds of Skyrim mod

A massive mod made up of three packages, Sounds of Skyrim adds 450 new sound effects to create a realistically noisy world. It eliminates moments of unnatural silence with birdsong and wind out in the wilderness, and the hussle of human life in cities. Walk by doors and windows to overhear what’s going on inside, approach cave entrances to listen to the drip and echoes within. Effects change depending on the time of day too, with nocturnal animals sounding out at night and children shrieking during the day.

Moonpath to Elsweyr mod

Moonpath to Elsweyr mod

Travel to Elsweyr, a tropical region inhabited by a great variety of new creatures. Hunt hyenas in the desert and stalk raptors in the jungle as you complete the six-quest long storyline revealing wonders of the area. The jungle areas are particularly impressive, and there’s a notable amount of care taken with creating the characters of Elsweyr, who are all voice-acted for a little extra immersion. It’s worth grabbing the HD Texture Pack too, which boosts the mods visuals to 2K quality.

Dwemertech mod 

Dwemertech

The Dwemer left Tamriel years ago, but a small council of scientists stayed behind and are now planning to bring the Dwemer back to the world. A powerful mage is required to help them, and the rewards will be plentiful if they succeed. You’ll need a character with a skill level of 40 in Destruction, Alteration, or Restoration to start this quest, which will take you to an elaborate Dwemer base on Masser. 42 new spells make up part of the mix, but rather than being traditional magic these are Dwemer ‘bionics’, allowing you to tap into the technology of the dwarves. There’s an unusual sci-fi feel to the environments and props, making Dwemertech a exceptionally fresh experience within Skyrim. 

BeArserk

Bear Minstrel mod

The most gallant heroes always have a minstrel in tow to sing of their noble deeds and tremendous victories. Make your minstrel something the townsfolk will never forget with this lute-playing bear.

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MrJinxed avatarMatt Purslow avatarShriven avatarAcid Hoover avatarnu1mlock avatartransparent cat avatar+4
Shriven Avatar
3183
Shriven(8 days 18 hours played)
2 Years ago

Shlongs of Skyrim...right....right guys......r....right?

3
Acid Hoover Avatar
100
Acid Hoover(7 days 1 hour played)
2 Years ago

Out of all the mods that I've currently got installed, the killmove mods are the ones that give that extra wow factor, and heighten the cinematic feel of combat.

As well as Dance of Death, Advanced Kill Moves is also really good. Possibly a bit better than DoD IMO, but a bit more over the top.

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/10291/?

3
MrJinxed Avatar
834
2 Years ago

I was contemplating replaying skyrim for a moment, but there's just no way I would want to install 100 different mods or whatever. I wish there was some sort of mod manager or mod collection pack of the top mods like with morrowind.

1
Matt Purslow Avatar
78
Matt Purslow(3 days 9 hours played)
2 Years ago

It's not quite an instant fix, but if you take a look at our Steam Workshop collection (linked just after the intro paragraph of the article) you'll find almost every mod in this list there. Just click the button on the mods you like and they'll instantly install.

1
MrJinxed Avatar
834
2 Years ago

I noticed that, but that would mean I'd have to go through every single mod of the newspost here and check out the video and judge if it's worth including.

I mean, I might do it sometime, but I just wish there was some sort of definitely skyrim 2.0 mod collection pack or whatever. Maybe some day, eh :)

1
Acid Hoover Avatar
100
Acid Hoover(7 days 1 hour played)
2 Years ago

Personally, I prefer using the Nexus Mod Manager, as it is easier to install/uninstall mods whenever you wish. I then use that alongside BOSS for correcting your load order.

You could have a look at this MrJinxed, there's nothing packaged for you, but it does at least give you a really good head start on getting the modding up and running:

http://www.skyrim-beautification-project.com/

2
MrJinxed Avatar
834
MrJinxed replied to Acid Hoover
2 Years ago

Thanks, I just might. That is if I ever find the time to play this game again. Or I might just wait until Skywind is out. Hmmm decisions, decisions.

3
.zerO Avatar
2
.zerO(12 days 20 hours played)
1 Year ago

you could also get enderal the shards of order it is going to be the largest skyrim mod out and it should be here soon

2
stanscut Avatar
56
stanscut replied to .zerO
2 Months ago

Im currently playing through the german version and I have to say its the best mod/totalconversion I have ever seen, incredible work...

1
Shriven Avatar
3183
Shriven(8 days 18 hours played)
2 Years ago

So, all of these work together and all of them are in the steam collection?

1
Matt Purslow Avatar
78
Matt Purslow(3 days 9 hours played)
2 Years ago

Other than the few which are only on the Skyrim Nexus, these are all in the Steam Workshop Collection. As for conflicts, the only one you should have a problem with is the Enhanced Blood vs Crimson Tide blood mods. They conflict, so you'll have to choose between them.

Otherwise, just download the lot!

1
nu1mlock Avatar
566
nu1mlock(7 days played)
2 Years ago

"heighten the cinematic feel of combat" You know what would increase the cinematic feel even more? Playing Skyrim at 24fps. /s

1
transparent cat Avatar
25
transparent cat(2 days 14 hours played)
2 Years ago

there's a distinct lack of "cute little elf girl" mods on this list

1
ghstwolf Avatar
1
10 Months ago

The follower mod Inigo (http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/40960/?) is, imho, the best follower mod created; incredibly immersive, strong character with a great background story, and also Gamespot award for best mod of the year.

I've tried one heckalot of follower mods, and ditched them all for various reasons; conversely, I won't play Skyrim without Inigo.

1
waltzingandy Avatar
1
waltzingandy(26 days 2 hours played)
12 Months ago

I would agree with a lot of these, but sticking to mostly Steam Workshop has left a few good ones of the list:

Helgen Reborn : http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/35841/?

Blacklands: http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/38635/?

Both are superb, and add a lot of new quests and lands.

Another essential one is "Move it Dammit for NPC Companions and followers", (http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/4020/?) they final get out of your way!!!!

And one final one, I've tried a lot of the big, new player homes, and love quite a few of them, but this one just "expands" Breezehome and really is everything you need:

http://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/11158/?

0