If you cast your mind back, what was your biggest problem with Skyrim? The bugs? The main quest that paled in comparison to most of the other stories? All those bastard Falmer lurking in the Dwemer ruins? If you answered any of the above, you were wrong, because the worst thing about Skyrim was, of course, its lack of grass density.
Thankfully, game’s modding scene is here to help! The Lightweight Grass Overhaul mod, published over on Nexusmods yesterday, aims to massively increase the density of the game’s rolling fields, managing to bring a little extra life to the game and eliminating pop-in.
The grass being used in the mod is so much more efficient than that in the vanilla game that the mod’s poster, JonnyWang13, says the team has managed to render grass on three times as many surfaces as before, totally transforming areas like the Reach. The sheer quantity of new textures will mean that memory usage will take a bit of a hit, but I’m going to assume many of you are able to run Skyrim pretty happily anyway.
When my editor pushed this story my way, I was a little sceptical, but some of what the team behind the mod has managed to do is genuinely interesting. In vanilla Skyrim, and in many mods, a typical blade of grass can be made up of anything between 12 and 200 triangles. The mod brings that number down to just 3, and Jonny says that “adding a whole bunch of extra triangles isn’t going to change or improve” the quality of your grass.
Now, my maths isn’t brilliant when it comes to things like this, but I’d imagine that means the mod allows you to have at least four times as much grass in play than before. You’ll also have some 3D low-lying ground cover from the trees, and patches of flowers, “because flowers are sexy.”
You can get a look at some of those sexy, sexy flowers, as well as the effects of the mod, in the gallery below. I’m genuinely impressed by what’s on display, particularly in the area around Whiterun.
To get the mod working as intended, you will need to meet a few requirements. A second mod, Obsidian Weathers & Seasons, will need to be installed, and you won’t be able to have any other landscape or terrain LOD mods installed. It’s also part of the Cathedral Concept, “a comprehensive visual overhaul for Skyrim,” using plenty of lightweight textures. The idea is to use work from several modders, creating an overall effect greater than the sum of its parts. All of the other mods included in the Cathedral Concept are listed on the Nexusmods page linked above.