Skyrim...the most recent chapter in the iconic Elder Scrolls series, released by Bethesda Softworks. A series renown for its immersive atmosphere, creative storytelling, and near limitless in-game content that can take months, if not years to fully explore. Those lucky enough to experience Skyrim on the pc are treated to a constantly growing selection of user generated content that shapes and molds Bethesda's universe into something the modders can truly call their own. Modding is likely the reason that even after three years, Skyrim still has an active and loyal fan-base that continues to log hours in the game - as well as a dedicated army creating content simply for the love of their robust title.
Over the last several years I have dabbled in the released content and mashed together my own collection of these mods, developing a list of must have add-ons. Many of these lists exist, but this one is simply my preference - it does not encompass all the modifications I use. However, all of these additions change the gameplay in a way that improves immersion, ease of use, or adds content to the game in a way that I feel enhances the existing content without breaking you out of the universe Bethesda has created.
1. Skyrim script extender (SKSE): Its effects are not immediately noticeable, but this simple launcher program is required to allow some other mods to function in game.
SKSE - http://skse.silverlock.org/
2. SkyUI: Lets face it, a lot of the menu systems were optimized for use on console systems. This mod is a complete overhaul of Skyrim's user interface and menu systems to be more pc friendly.
3. Immersive Armors: A compilation of several armor mods into one. All the armors in this pack feel like they belong in the Skyrim universe and are run the gambit of armor types and strengths. All the armors have been added to the level lists so they are not hard to loot from npcs or purchase in one of Skyrim's many shops.
4. Immersive Weapons: Building off of the same theme as Immersive Armors, this mod adds a large and varied list of weapons that fully integrate into the world.
5. Immersive Creatures: Another mod using the theme of immersive armors, except this one adds plenty of lore friendly critters to the game world. Some are brand new, and some are new versions of existing creature models.
6. Wet and Cold: A simple mod that modifies NPC behavior. This causes NPCs to equip face covers, hoods, and cloaks when it rains or snows. A small piece of immersion that adds a surprising level of depth to the game. (if you also have Dragonborn don't forget to download the Wet and Cold Ashes version as well)
7. Cloaks of Skyrim: This mod adds a huge collection of cloaks to the game that the player and NPCs can wear with their existing attire. Guards will now dawn cloaks bearing the banner of their respective Hold. Around the world you will also find rare and unique cloaks as well, adding a treasure hunting element to the mod.
8. Winter is Coming: Another mod that adds a wonderful set of cloaks and helms with fur hoods over them. Compatible with Cloaks of Skyrim.
9. Frostfall: A great little mod that tries at every opportunity to kill you. With this mod you now have to be aware of the protective qualities of your clothes and exposure to the elements, otherwise you will find your character suffering from penalties and eventually death by hypothermia. It also adds plenty of ways to survive through inclement weather with the use of tents, fires, and other survival skills. A must have for those looking for greater immersion.
10. Inconsequential NPCs: As the name suggests, it adds many npcs that fulfill a multitude of roles in the Skyrim world. This leaves the world feeling far more populated and lively without being to obtrusive or feeling out of place.
11. Interesting NPCs: In my opinion the best quest mod created for Skyrim. A massive mod that adds dozens of new npcs all with decent voice acting and great personalities. Some of these npcs can become followers, others are part of elaborate quests, but no matter what, any interaction with these added characters will be interesting.
12. Convenient Horses: A great addition to help manage and control your horses. This allows you to summon your horses, render them invincible if you so choose, use them for storage, initiate conversations, and even harvest herbs on the go.
13. Vilja in Skyrim: An evolution of a popular mod from the previous Elder Scrolls edition. Vilja is a follower that over-time develops a relationship with your character (how that develops is up to you and your decisions) and includes a long and compelling quest line that further develops Vilja as a follower - improving her abilities. Vilja has decent voice acting and is able to interact with many common NPCs that the player will find themselves around. A beautifully crafted mod that will keep you invested in the game in a way no other mod will.
14. The Dance of Death: A fun mod that unlocks kill moves that Bethesda disabled before final release. You can control how often a kill move is triggered and at what skill levels certain ones will be used. A great way to add variation to your game.
15. Ultimate Follower Overhaul: A new system that gives you greater control over your follower's actions and what gear they use. In addition it will allow you to have more than one follower at a time all controlled though the dialogue menu.
16. Alternate Start: The opening to Skyrim can take...a little longer than one might want on multiple playthroughs. This mod takes you straight to character creation, where you create a simple backstory about your character - giving you a new way to start your story outside of Helgen.
17. Helgen Reborn: A great quest mod where you rebuild Helgen after the initial destruction of the town at the beginning of the game. You make several decisions that shape the town, and adventure on many quests to see it completed - culminating in your rise to the ruler of Helgen.
18. Bosmer Armor Pack: I am an avid fan of the Wood Elves. Their stealthy nature and skill with a bow appeal to my play-style. So when I saw a Bosmer armor pack added to the game, I just had to check it out. The Full pack adds five sets of Bosmer armor to the game, two sets of daggers and bows, and even two sets of arrows all inspired by the Bosmer. The armor looks great, has balanced stats, and is craftable.
19. Deadly Dragons: A great mod if you feel dragons should be much better at killing you. Dragons will be smarter, tougher, and employ all new abilities against you. Additionally, the mod adds new species and unique dragons for you to run screaming from.
20. Magic Duel: Ever felt combat magic was rather...dull? Well, this mod adds a chance to enter a sort of instanced mode when two spellcasters lob spells at each other at close to the same time. Combatants are locked into a harry potter-esk duel, fighting to take the upper-hand of the encounter. Whoever loses will suffer a large amount of damage, and may even be knocked off their feet. A great way to add variation to magic combat.
Are there any additional add-ons to Skyrim that we didn't cover, but you just cannot live without? Comment below and tell us about your favorite Skyrim mods.