Enhanced Distant Terrain
- Lush Trees
- Lush Grass
These three mods combine to make Skyrim a prettier place at no real cost. Trees and grass are more dense, and distant environments look less baron.
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Sounds of Skyrim
and The Wilds & Sounds of Skyrim - The Dungeons
Two sound packs that combine to make the wilderness and the dungeons sound much scarier and atmospheric. Draught-ridden dungeons have horrible noises rumbling from the depths and whispers echoing around dead rooms, while the wilds sound more populated with things that want to kill you. It’s a subtle change to your game, but one that you massively notice when it’s not there.
Horses For Followers
and Better Follower Improvements
‘No Lydia, you can damn well walk!’ - that isn’t me. I’m a nice guy (well, when I’m not stripping the corpses of innocent farmers I’ve murdered and throwing them in rivers), so making Lydia run behind me always felt weird. This is fixed now though as these two mods combine to let you buy your companion of choice their very own horse that they can ride.
, Bloodier Combat
and Crimson Tide - Blood
Nights and dungeons become darker, light reflections look better, and daylight a bit brighter. It’s just generally better. Also, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some No Russian loving meathead or a guy that grows a swelling in his pants because someone’s face has been cut off in the last episode of Spartacus. I don’t seek out gore or think that it’s a requirement for games to be super violent to be enjoyable. However, if I am in a fight to the death with great swords and axes, I want to look over the battleground and for it to be a bloody mess.
Bloodier Combat does what you’d expect and makes combat generally bloodier - it can make crimson squirt and trickle down bodies, making fights all round nastier. Crimson Tide then comes in making blood to pool under fresh corpses, and they combine together to make battlegrounds look a bit closer to a scene from 300 than a tidy collection of sleeping bandits.
Realistic Ragdolls and Force
When you send someone flying with your force shout or get a critical hit, Realistic Ragdolls and Force kicks in, making bodies looser and more willing to tumble through the air like you’d expect.
The Dramatic Changes
Before you install any of these, you need to carefully consider them first. I wholeheartedly recommend each, but they will have the most dramatic effect on your game and divert it the most from what Bethesda released.
The Paarthurnax Fix
This fixes a bit of the main quest that doesn’t make much sense, and can only be explained with a spoiler. So, spoiler: it lets you skip the quest line where the Blades force you to choose between them and the Paarthurnax.
RNG (Dynamic) Guards
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Something else lacking in Skyrim is the individuality of the towns like you see in Morrowind. It’s better than Oblivion, sure - places do feel different - but RNG enhances by making guards not only individual, but themed for their location. Winterhold, for example, is now filled with magelike, robe wearing defenders, while Whiteruns look rural and rough with horned helmets.
While Dragons and Ogres and the odd Wisp Mother often spice up your travels through the Skyrim wilderness, it can sometimes get a little predictable when just going from place to place. Legendary Creatures adds around 10 super high level giant creatures to spots in the wild for you to stumble upon and be killed by.
Enhanced High-Level Gameplay
When you hit a certain level (it tends to be around 35), Skyrim struggles to keep up with you - and while I want to be unstoppable at some point, 35 is a little early. Enhanced High Level Gameplay adds some extra creature ranks to go against you when you hit the high levels, meaning you’re never without a challenge.
Midas Magic - Spells For Skyrim
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60 new spells alone is pretty dramatic, but when they’re not even similar to the stuff that’s in vanilla Skyrim, it’s amazing. ‘Meteor Storm’, ‘Spider Horde’, ‘Bug Swarm’, ‘Gravity Well’ - how can you resist? Some of the spells are a little overpowered, but on the whole it’s well balanced enough to be comfortable with.