108 ratings
MODDING SKYRIM - The Best mods for Skyrim+How to install them
By insane0hflex
This guide is for modding Skyrim with the best, most essential, must have mods. The guide will cover how to install them, and what mods are the best for almost every category of the game (house mods, magic mods, graphic mods, texture mods, User interface mods, weapon mods, armor mods, and more)
Rate  
Favorite
Favorited
Unfavorite
Getting Started
This post is meant to help new and old players alike, and feel free to share the link of this post with anyone else that has questions about Skyrim mods. Especially those that are switching from the Xbox/PS3 to the PC .

------

To install most of these mods - get the [Nexus Mod Manager - NMM] http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/modmanager/ . It's an easy-to-use program to download, install and uninstall mods with a click of a button although with certain script intensive mods, you NEED to read their individual uninstallation procedure .

If you don't like the Skyrim Nexus, a majority of the mods in this post are also available on the Steam Workshop.

Then, get [BOSS] http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/6 - to keep your mods properly "load-ordered", to improve performance and reduce CTDs due to improper mod load order. Install your mods with NMM, then after that run BOSS to sort the mods.

Next, you will need Skyrim Script Extender SKSE . [Download SKSE here] http://skse.silverlock.org/

If you're interested in seeing daily Skyrim mod videos about the latest and greatest mods for Skyrim new and old , [here's my YouTube channel] http://www.youtube.com/insane0hflex .

If you'd like to see these mods in action - here's my "hardcore", realism playthrough:

[GophersVids] http://www.youtube.com/GophersVids is another great resource for learning about mods. Gopher does a weekly mod video series and Let's Play Skyrim series.

*Please remember to endorse any mod you download and if you enjoy it - its a way of giving thanks to a modder's hard work. I bookmark the pages of the mods I download, that way I remember to endorse the mod after a hour.*
User Interface Mods (absolutely essential!)
At the very least get these mods, even *before* you play Skyrim for the first time.

Please watch see video and/or see the video's description for the mods you'll need to get to really enhance the User Interface (UI) of Skyrim for the best possible experience.


Included mods are SkyUI, iHUD, CFM, Better Quest Objectives, and more.
Unofficial Skyrim, Dawnguard and Hearthfire Patches
These all are community made patches for fixing bugs/issues with Skyrim, Dawnguard and Hearthfire. May increase performance and reduce crashes. Strongly Recommended.

Unofficial Skyrim Patch http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19

Unofficial Dawnguard Patch http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23491

and Unofficial Hearthfire Patch http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/25127
Graphics, Textures and Visual Enhancing Mods
For faces: Download and install XCE - No More Blocky Faces http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/30 , then download+install Mackom's Real Skin for Men http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/28879 , then download+install Nuska's Real Skin for Women http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/28645 . If asked to overwrite files from XCE - No More Blocky Faces - say Yes.

Optional: [Ethereal Elven Overhaul] http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24273 - This mod revamps the Elven head shape to give it a more human, natural look.

[Apachii Sky Hair] http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/10168 - The most commonly used hair mod. Adds dozens of new, high-quality hairstyles to males and females.

Video of Apachii Sky Hair
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wSAjt-d4C0

Crimson Tide http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12798 - A mod that that overhauls blood within the game, better textures, on-hit blood spray effects, blood pools on the ground, and more, makes melee combat more visceral.

Video of Crimson Tide
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOP8KuL-8TY

An ENB mod - The ENB mod adds depth of field, godrays, detailed shadows and shadow fixes, SSAO, bloom, and more. Medium-High FPS impact. Here are my 3 top picks.

Enhanced Motion Picture ENB
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMvXweP3Tpo

The Wilds ENB 3.0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmFS2bXGVXc

or Project MATSO ENB
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhGnvfbmqbo

Alternatives to ENB, for those that don't have good PCs
- Dynavision http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12525 - simulates Depth of Field
- Imaginator http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/13049 - tweak the colors/constrast+more in game

Climates of Tamriel http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17802 - Weather system overhaul mod for Skyrim, with hundreds of new weather patterns/systems. Also makes dungeons darker. If you use this mod, I'd recommend using a CoT themed ENB or just imaginator+dynavision.

Enhanced Lights and FX http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27043 - Overhauls the lights in Skyrim to create a dramatic and realistic mood.

Video of EL&FX
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUyPGxFP7Pk

Radiant and Unique Potions and Poisons HD http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/18799 - adds custom labels to all potions and poisons in Skyrim and then get Booze Bottles HD http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19922 - Replaces the textures of alcoholic beverages with a unique and great looking label.

Skyrim Mod Collection: Enhanced Distant Terrain and other Distant Detail Mods - This video is like the UI collection one, but enhances the distant LOD/view objects and details of Skyrim to look a ton better than the vanilla game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxZAp3-UYZM

Skyrim 2K HD http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/607 or Skyrim Realistic Overhaul http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/5400 - My favorite 2 "HD Texture Overhauls" of Skyrim. Both are good on their own, but you can combine them both with Texture Pack Combiner http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/20801/ for the best experience possible.

Vurt's Floral Overhaul http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/141 , makes the plants trees, flowers, grass of Skyrim photo-realistic and more varied.

W.A.T.E.R. http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/13268 - overhauls the waters in Skyrim - fixing flow, better textures, etc.

Static Mesh Improvement Mod - SMIM http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/8655 - This mod fixes a lot of UV mapping mesh errors, and even adds some new 3d models in!
Immersion and Realism Mods
A Quality World Map - With Roads http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/4929 - Adds the roads, trails, and paths of Skyrim to the World Map.

Birds and Flocks http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/11555 and SkyBirds http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23771 - Adds many birds across Skyrim that make you feel Skyrim is inhabited with more wildlife, other than just saber cats, bandits, and bears.

Clanking Armor http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24352 - Adds a metallic "clanking" noise when you walk/run/sprint, when you are wearing heavy armor or heavy armor boots like iron, daedric, dwarven, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frKtqXj1Tlw

*Footprints http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/22745 - Now when you walk in snow, you leave a footprint behind!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MnUlMAY790

Get Snowy http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19660 - When its snowing, snow now shows on your armor/skin and other NPCs around you too!

No Spinning Death Animation http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17214 - removes the unnatural spinning death animation that happens when you or NPCs die, and replaces it with a realistic ragdoll.

Player Headtracking http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23600/ - Your character turns his/her head to look at other NPCs when they are talking, passing by, and more. Great immersion mod when in 3rd person.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSpcoqjQGcc

Wet and Cold http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27563 - NPCs will equip rain hoods when its raining and head for cover, when NPCs are out in cold climates their breath has a "steam" effect, they wear gloves and hoods, and more. Check out isoku's SkyrimNexus profile for more cool immersion mods, such as his Rainbows and Shooting Stars mods.
Gameplay Mods
Frostfall http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/11163 - Ultimate survival roleplaying mod. Recommended for hardcore realism players. Basic premise is that you'll need to prepare yourself for the cold, extreme climates of Skyrim - making fires, keeping warm, and not freezing to death. Frostfall 2.0 video coming soon.

Alternate Start - Live Another Life http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/9557 - This mod gives you a variety of choices for a new playthrough. Instead of starting in Helgen - You'll start in a cell where you'll customize your character (race,gender,face,etc), then you'll choose an unique start other than the Helgen/vanilla intro sequence.

Apocalypse Spell Package http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/16225 - My favorite magic mod. Adds over 170+ fair and balanced spells across each school of magic. A must have for mages and spellswords. Well, any class really.

Dance of Death http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/10906 - Dance of Death adds many new killmove animations across almost all weapon types. You can also configure the killmove chance to 100%, only beheading killmoves, and enable killmoves even if its not the last NPC alive, and more.

Convenient Horses http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/14950 - Tons of new awesome features for horses, including armor, mounted looting+talking, mounted combat for NPC followers, and more. Video coming soon.
Best Armor and Weapon Mods
Immersive Armors by hothtrooper44 http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19733 - Tons of great lore friendly armor items are added by this excellent mod, by hothtrooper44 who is very well known for his great armor mods.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4tSLRhwYLE

Xenius Armor Compilation - XAC http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23231 - XAC adds several armors that are non-skimpy and look amazing on females, this mod is perfect for those that play as a female character, but want protective, feminine looking armor.


Bandolier http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/16438 - Increase your carry weight capacity by crafting various bags and pouches that you can wear. Great for hoarders, or people that want to personalize their character model.

Frank Dema Travel Backpack http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/23913 is another cool "backpack" type mod, too.

Cloaks of Skyrim http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/12092 - Adds dozens of cloaks to NPCs and the crafting menu. Fantastic mod.

More northern, "realistic" alternative cloak mod - Winter is Coming http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/13486

Immersive Weapons http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27644 - Adds over 200 new lorefriendly weapons (most of them are from other smaller weapon mods, so consider this a "community weapon mod compilation").
Follower Mods
Follower Overhaul Mod:

UFO - Ultimate Follower Overhaul http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/14037 - Have more than 1 follower, set followers to essential, see their skills, etc - see video for more info.

Video of UFO by Gopher
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC1Z2A0Lws8

Best followers (only use one or two though, not all):

Hoth - A Follower by Hothtrooper44 http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24666 - Hoth is a grizzly, old bounty hunter bad ♥♥♥, and my favorite follower mod. He has custom voice acting, and can give you quests too (Bounty Quests), so there's always something to do with him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgJvSok_upg

Companion Vilja http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/26393 - Vilja is a highly detailed custom follower mod - she has her own quest, backstory, and voiced dialogue.

Odvar the Afflicted - A more humor-themed follower. Spits bile at his foes, and has amaaaazing custom voice acting too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE7xSY_tfaY

Atvir Dres http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/19348 - Night Elf male follower with custom voiced dialogue (well done too).

Companion Valfar http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/25360 - Valfar is a passionate Stomcloak warrior - uses Galmar Stonefist's voice

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo_iSopCkL0
Player Home Mods
Limbwood Manor http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27250 - A player home treehouse, wrapped around/inside a big tree

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7M6ZLgFXXM

Grey Ledge Manor http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/18112 - Great medium-sized player home located in the worldspace so no loading doors or interior cells to load. Simply walk right into your house! Also includes a blacksmith merchant and all the player home essentials.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7y8skifirc

Forgotten Windmill http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/24933 - A great player home with one of the best views in Skyrim - packed with details and functionality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgIvhpbKhTw

Windmill Shelter http://www.skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17742 - Another small compact home with everything you need. No clutter and placed in a great location in the Rift.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR3Ul5ugBZ4

Briar's End http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/27578 - A lovely cramped but cozy player home, built into big tree stump.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy_VCZ98TVI
Other Resources to Utilize
G.E.M.S. - Gameplay Enhancement Mods for Skyrim
http://skyrimgems.com

A website with links to 500+ mods, updated daily, with gameplay related mods - ranging from immersion mods to user interface mods to magic mods, etc.

STEP Project
http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/11

Alternative to this post, mainly for graphics/visuals. I haven't used it, but heard many positive things about it.

Thanks for reading!

This list will also be updated from time to time, but this post should keep you busy for a while =)

Note: I don't personally use the Steam Workshop - hence the lack of Steam Workshop mods/links, but most of the mods listed here can be found on SteamWorkshop. I think the Nexus Mod Manager is easier and it let's you have greater control over your mods.
17 Comments
< >
luckman Feb 15 @ 10:53pm 
Thanx, great info even for me....lol....I'm from the jurassic era
richard.j09 Dec 1, 2013 @ 2:18pm 
great info.whats best,: in launcher data menu are 3 dlc esm's but no skyrim.esm, game runs ok, but shouldnt skyrim.esm be there. can i just reinstall from cd or is it ok as it is, i'm not sure, & or will doing anything cause any problems with game in play(savegame) any ideas ?.
Spaz McBomb Aug 21, 2013 @ 10:15pm 
Great guide except that it forgot to list the Unofficial Patch for Dragonborn. I spent 2 days with a dragon glitch where I could not absorb dragon souls that was driving me mad. Found out it was the only patch missing from this guide.
DiGiTaL CLeaNeR May 4, 2013 @ 1:14am 
The first mod you want to install if you have Dawnguard is "Castle Volkihar Redux" here on the steam workshop.
livingbetter55 Apr 13, 2013 @ 8:46pm 
Thanks so much and i am in the process of endorsing everything you and others do need to check it all out first in game lol
tonycoolmen Mar 5, 2013 @ 2:37am 
SPY UPDATIN" MY GUIDE
jolena72 Feb 23, 2013 @ 10:42am 
It`s a fine thing. And for me it is very helpful. Thank you for creating this cool guide!
bigbadsam Feb 18, 2013 @ 3:03pm 
This was so helpful!!! Thanks for posting this.
=T$E= Arkanyne Feb 13, 2013 @ 2:33am 
skimpy armor, nude mods, sex mods, ugh, the Nexus is shit even the turn off adult content mode doesent do it you still see R18+ material
i am become dong Feb 3, 2013 @ 3:11pm 
"Shouldn't this be on nexus? Steam has it's own modding service that does everything for you. This serves no pupose here unless the player doesn't want to use the steam workshop, and even then they would already be looking in the nexus website not here on how to mod."

You can use both for modifying, there is no problem with that. Also, The Nexus has many of the gameplay enhancement mods, Steam workshop doesn't. There are many Steam exclusives, though. The only downside of going on The Skyrim Nexus is that 1/2 the users Teenagers that are getting erections off the body mods, skimpy armors, and Asian themed hentai mods, which of course flood the Nexus...