Skyrim world mods
Skyrim is densely populated with areas to discover and explore. But if you’ve already spent a hundred or so hours with the game, chances are you’ve seen it all. It’s time to add new areas to the world with a great set of mods.
Open Cities - Legendary Edition
More detailed environments bring with them a notable curse: loading screens. Skyrim has them everywhere; it feels like you can’t open a door without going through a loading screen. Open Cities banishes loading between outside and inside cities, allowing you to pass through their gates and into the streets in one seamless movement. Now you can gallop through Riften on horseback, or coax a dragon into a city centre to fight the local guardsmen.
Hermit Tree House
If you’d rather live a more humble existence out in the beauty of Skyrim’s forests, this Tree House mod is tailor made for you. It’s not made up of cells, meaning you don’t need to load to get inside, so you can still admire those beautiful, serene vistas from the windows. And thanks to its height, it’s a great vantage platform for hunters, too.
Build Your Own Town - Becoming a Lord
The Hearthfire DLC introduced the ability to build houses in Skyrim but this mod takes things several steps further. Becoming a Lord grants you a plot of land as a blank canvas for building an entire city. It’s SimCity-meets-Skyrim, and you don’t even need to own Hearthfire for the mod to work, either. It is very much a work in progress at the moment, so only wooden constructs can be created, but this is certainly a project to watch and test as new features are added.
If you prefer your fortresses ready-built then Castle Volkihar is about as grand as they come. A colossal vampire castle filled with winding corridors, turrets, and dungeons, it also comes bundled with its own questline. Set after the events of Dawnguard (you’ll need that DLC, by the way), you’ll need to take Auriel’s Bow with you to defeat Harkon’s occupying army in order to free his brother and his coven who have been locked away in the castle crypt.
Tundra Defence grants Skyrim a Tower Defence/Horde mode style minigame. Build your own outpost in the wilderness of Skyrim and then defend it from waves of attackers. Guards can be hired to help defend your land and citizens can live in your boundaries in exchange for taxes. Enemy raids can be triggered manually for instant action, or set to random intervals where attackers can strike at any time. This adds a nice element of responsibility to the game, as ignoring attacks can leave your camp in ruins.
Located east of Whiterun, the Skyrim Community College is home to 18 trainers and 18 merchants who will aid you in becoming a master in the many arts of adventuring. Finally, you won’t need to waste your time trekking across the land in search of the trainer you need; simply attend the community college for a course in sword-swinging and gain all the knowledge you need in one convenient campus location.
An exceptionally grand player house located on a cliff northeast of Ivarstead, Greystone Castle is an elaborate bespoke build containing chambers for every kind of crafting imaginable. There’s no questline associated with it, but there’s no denying that it's an impressive creation that no Dragonborn should live without.
Into the Deep - Atlantis
As the name suggests, Into the Deep recreates the sunken city of Atlantis within Elder Scrolls lore. A huge sunken dungeon accessed by a boat from the Dawnstar Sanctuary, Atlantis is teeming with mermen, goblins, traps, whirlpools, and even the agents of Hades. The journey to the end of the dungeon’s ten chambers is a good four hours, and you’ll have to defeat a challenging boss before the sunken city reveals its treasures to you.
Val Lyrea is a vast dwarven citadel located in the field of Whiterun, made up of cavernous halls with gilded monuments and great hissing clockwork machines. Populated by merchants and new characters, you’ll also find a great set of enchanted Dwemer armour in the halls.
Wyvern Rock Castle
A beautifully designed player-home castle, the fun in Wyvern Rock comes from its multiple secret rooms. A labyrinth of secret passages behind hidden doors will lead you to chambers containing the previous owner’s treasures.
The Asteria Dwemer Airship
If one of the modding community’s vast castles and mansions isn’t quite flashy enough for you, perhaps a flying boat will be something worthy of your tastes. The Dwemer were well known for their ingenuity and, surprisingly, airships are actually part of The Elder Scrolls lore. The Asteria is inspired by the Morrowind quest Bloodmoon, and not only looks fantastic, but has decks kitted out with all the forges, enchanting tables, and tanning racks that you could possibly need to lead a life of luxury in Skyrim.
Sounds of Skyrim
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.
The Elder Scrolls Places
Places is an intriguing mod that recreates a variety of locales from the very first Elder Scrolls game and places them into Skyrim’s landscape. To keep it lore friendly, the places have been reimagined as they would be 200 years on – the time difference between Arena and Skyrim. For long-term players, this a true piece of fan-service.
Falskaar is a particularly famous mod. More expansion pack than a simple questline, the mod adds 25 hours of campaign content and a whole new continent. 2,000 hours in the making, creator Alexander J. Velicky created it to gain the attention of Bethesda. He now works at Bungie creating Destiny, which should shout about the quality of his work. An absolute necessity and the most ambitious mod on this list.