If you played Oblivion and Morrowind on PC, you probably know most of what I’m going to talk about, but if you played them on consoles, or didn’t play them at all, you may not be aware of the size and scope of the Elder Scrolls modding community, probably one of the most active and creative of the whole gaming scene.
Having been part of the Oblivion modding community for years, I can say that I’ve rarely been more impressed by the creativity and talent of the people around me. Many of the modders that work and worked on Oblivion could easily work as texture artists or 3d designers professionally, if they wanted to, and Bethesda admitted that some of their mods actually influenced the development of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Skyrim is going to support modding exactly like it’s predecessors, and even if we still don’t know if the Creation Kit will be available from day one, Todd Howard himself promised that it won’t take long. You can bet your monthly wages from here to release that as soon as the kit will be launched, thousands of talented modders will scramble to explore everything that can be changed, improved and added to the game. I can easily guarantee that there’s no stone in all Skyrim that will be left unturned.
(Note: Some of the images past the break may be slightly NSFW. Nothing is extreme, but there are some risqué shots.)
UPATE: As promised at the end of this post “The Skyrim Mod Forge“, our weekly column that will hopefully help you find your way around some of the best Skyrim mods, is ongoing. You can already find Episode Zero – Baby Steps, Episode 1 – Large Address, Steady Growth and Lips, Episode 2 – Mod Managing, Beauty and Dragons, Episode 3 – More Beauty, Divorce and Small Details, Episode 4 – Even More Beauty, Fashion and a Better HUD, Episode 5 – Hair, Flora and Weapons from Morrowind, Episode 6 – Handsome Men, More Hair and Armor From The Witcher 2, Episode 7 – Swords, Ice, Spells, Fashion and Realistic Light, Episode 8 – Cats, Shouts, Hideouts and Swords from LOTR, Episode 9 – Armor, Soul Gems and More Swords from LOTR, Episode 10 – Rainbow Colors, Weapons, Armor and Witcher Gear, Episode 11 – Companions, Pretty Faces and More from The Witcher 2, Episode 12 – Houses, Lovely Hairstyles and Riding Like a Boss, Episode 13 – Lovely Hair, Armor from The Witcher 2 and Hundreds of Books. Check it out and see for yourself the first baby steps of the modding community.
If you’re on the fence about what version of the game purchase, I can tell you that PC is the only logical solution for games like Skyrim. There’s no DLC exclusive for a mere thirty days that can even get near to compare to the wealth of content, improvements and tweaks that the modding community is going to produce and deliver to your door for free.
If you aren’t familiar with the Oblivion modding community, you may be curious on what can be expected to come to Skyrim, mod-wise. Of course we can’t know for sure, as some details on the game and the full potential of the creation kit are still unknown, but looking at what we know about Skyrim and at what has been done with Oblivion, we can make a few predictions that will most probably prove accurate.
Disclaimer: All the pictures included in this article are from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, obviously we still don’t have any screenshots of Skyrim mods.
When Oblivion was released Bethesda got in trouble with the ESRB because they actually left the naughty bits designed on the textures of the characters of the game, and then just covered them with clothes. Of course it took the modding community about five minutes to discover that and remove the clothes. Of course that was only the beginning.
Developers have a concept called “TTP” or “Time To Penis”. It indicates the (normally extremely short) time it takes the community, given a game that features any kind of user created content, to include some graphic representation of genitalia.
Everyone knows it’s inevitable, developers included. A large and very creative part of the Skyrim modding community will be dedicated to exponentially raise the level of sexyness of the game, starting with the classical nude patch, moving to more elaborate body models, going on to introduce skanky clothing, animated sexual intercourse and finally full environments, quests and storylines revolving around sex. Every fetish (even the most obscure ones that you probably wouldn’t admit to your girlfriend) will be catered to. It’s just the nature of the beast and if you don’t like it you can just ignore this kind of mods. No harm done.
Better and More Varied Faces, Hair, Eyes
The default faces of most characters in Oblivion, especially those of the ladies, looked like they had a close encounter with a speeding truck. That’s why many modders (me included, actually) put a lot of effort in making the characters more attractive.
We already saw some examples of the faces of Skyrim, and things are definitely better than in Oblivion, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement, again, especially on the female side of things. We can definitely expect to see some modification to the head models and textures, probably most in the attempt to include softer and more graceful features. Hair is probably the area in which there’s the most work to do, as the default hairstyles we saw so far still look Oblivion-like-hideous, so we’ll see a lot of new hairdos, many probably imported directly from other games (which is much faster than modeling them from scratch).
Eyes aren’t mostly a matter of quality, as much as a matter of variety. They are also very easy to create (since they’re just one rather simple texture), so there’ll be a whole lot of new eye colors and types, want dream demon eyes from Yumekui Merry? Don’t worry, probably someone will make them.
Better and More Varied Bodies
This one is closely related with the sexual mods I mentioned above, but it’s not an exclusive relationship, as many people simply want their characters to look good, even if they don’t want to see them in their birthday suit.
In any case, the more skin will be exposed (and a lot will be), the more demand there will be for a full remodeling of the character bodies, naughty bits included (most body modelers create a version with those areas covered by default by some kind of underwear, for those that prefer it that way), with a wide variety of proportions and sizes to fit everyone’s tastes.
The most advanced body models in Oblivion went all the way to include breast physics, so, unless Bethesda already thought about that (doubtful, but I can’t be sure at the moment), you can definitely expect the same to appear in Skyrim, sooner or later.
While most work will be done on the female body (again, that’s the nature of the beast) , don’t think in-game men will be ignored. A lot of effort went into improving the virile body in Oblivion (as you can notice below), and the same will happen in Skyrim.
Combat Rebalancing and Overhauling
Combat systems are often a matter of taste. Just as it happened with Oblivion some will think that the battle mechanics of Skyrim will be too easy, some will feel the opposite, so there will be several mods that will alter the balance of the game, making it more or less challenging, changing how enemies will react, and how will be leveled in comparison to the character.
Down the line you can expect more advanced combat mods that will introduce new attacks, new abilities, new spells, and probably even dismembering, decapitation and assorted gore.
The classic races of the Elder Scrolls saga aren’t nearly enough for the modding community. One of the most popular area of modding in Oblivion is the creation of new playable races. The relatively quick appearance of tens of new races in Skyrim is definitely predictable.
Expect to see every kind of exotic creature: Vampires, Zombies, Catgirls, Demons and Elves of any kind and color. Races from different games won’t be absent for long. I will eat a shoe if we won’t see at the very least one mod that will introduce Night Elves from Warcraft, handlebar ears and all.
In Oblivion there was, unfortunately, very little variety in the default equipment: just a few sets of armor, and they weren’t even that good looking. I’m sure Skyrim will feature a much better degree of variety, but no matter how much effort Bethesda puts in creating tens or even hundreds of armor sets. They will never be enough for the modding community.
Fashion-related items are a huge deal in the Elder Scrolls modding community and every possible style will be covered in Skyrim as much as it is now in Oblivion. Of course you can expect a lot of those clothes to lean a lot towards the sexy side (the nature of the beast and all, again), but every possible style will be covered, from armor to everyday clothes, elegant tunics, Asian attire, schoolgirl outfits, lingerie, fetish gear, costumes, bikinis and so forth.
Don’t be surprised when you’ll see a lot of costumes from other games, anime series, movies or cartoons. There’s “Time To Penis” but the “Time To Sephiroth Costume” concept is just as solid.
Bethesda confirmed that you won’t be able to ride dragons in Skyrim. Do you think that the modding community will let that stand? No way! The mod that introduced the flying drake mount (named Akatosh) in Oblivion was one of the most popular. With all those beautifully modeled dragons ready to be exploited in Skyrim, I doubt it’ll take long before some clever modder finds a way to get a character on their back.
After all if seeing the beautiful sandbox world of The Elder Scrolls from the ground level is impressive, doing so from above is even better.
That said, Dragons won’t be the only creatures that modders will turn into mounts. If it has a back you can sit on, you will probably be able to ride it sooner or later.
New Dungeons and Quests
In a RPG Dungeons and Quests represent the main gameplay activity, so it’s not surprising that, given a sandbox like Skyrim and a creation kit that allows to create new environments and new interactions, a lot of modders will dedicate their time to create new perilous places and new missions for us to enjoy.
If the creation kit will be similar to the one included in Oblivion basic dungeons will be very easy to create. As easy as playing with Lego, grabbing items from the game’s assets and placing them around in a semi-orderly fashion. Of course advanced modders will go much beyond that, modeling and texturing new props, arranging light sources, creating new monsters and writing epic storylines that will keep us nicely busy for thousands of hours.
Cities are the center piece of every RPG, a place where players spend a lot of time, especially because they act as quest hubs. That’s why it’s not surprising that they are also one of the first things to get modded. Skyrim’s cities will probably be embellished considerably. Their textures will be replaced with higher resolution ones, the density of objects and props will be increased, new NPCs will be added, new shops will be opened for business and so forth.
From what we’ve seen so far Skyrim’s settlement already look charming, but there’s nothing that cannot be improved, so we can easily predict that they’ll become really breath taking as soon as the modding community gets it’s hands on them.
If you played Oblivion on consoles, you probably won’t recognize the city portrayed above. Obvious, there are no deserts in Cyrodiil. That’s, of course, if you didn’t use mods, as entire locations and regions have been introduced by those modders that really have a lot of spare time on their hands.
I’m sure everyone can easily understand the potential of those additions to a game that’s already big as Skyrim will be. Let me just mention the fact that someone actually went as far as implementing the whole Morrowind in Oblivion. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll be able to explore Cyrodiil or Morrowind itself in Skyrim, without even mentioning all the original regions that will be created over time.
Oblivion didn’t have companions natively, so the modding community had to create the whole system from scratch, then proceeding to implement literally hundreds of companions to accompany us in our adventures.
Skyrim has it’s own companion system by default, but that won’t definitely be enough for our friendly neighborhood modders, that will most probably create a whole army of new companions to add to the default ones, that will also probably be modified in their looks to fit different tastes.
I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the default companion system will be also improved with added features and new abilities. And yes, if you’re really wondering, even that kind of “companionship” will probably be implemented.
While Skyrim will include a nice variety of homes and abodes that the player will be able to purchase or otherwise acquire, exactly as Oblivion does, we can definitely predict a large number of new ones introduced by the modding community.
And since modders like grandiose things, we’ll probably be able to own, furnish and populate whole castles. After all who doesn’t want to be the lord of the keep?
New and Better Animations
Oblivion and Skyrim are games developed to be played primarily in first person, that’s why animations aren’t exactly the best on the market. Variety can also be improved (variety can always be improved), that’s why animation is a fertile field for modders.
New animations will probably include fighting, walking (the sexy strut mod in Oblivion is one of the most downloaded ones) and an enormous amount of poses. As you may have noticed in this article, people like to take pictures of their characters and companions, that’s where static poses, that would be otherwise useless, come in handy. Expect a metric ton of those.
God Mode Items
Many gamers, whether they admit it or not, love to do some God Moding, and that’s why many modders will produce weapons and armor with disproportionate stats that allow just that. After all it’s a very easy way to cheat in some of the hardest encounters without actually tampering with the mechanics of the game. You can equip the god mode item when you find a monster that’s giving you too much trouble, kill it and then remove the weapon. Easy.
Want a replica of WoW’s Frostmourne that will let you kill even the most powerful dragon with a single hit? Don’t worry, you’ll find at least a couple.
No, I’m not messing with you. Modders like to make all kind of things, no matter if they fit in the lore of The Elder Scrolls or not. There were guns in Oblivion and there will be guns in Skyrim. Guess what, they’re actually pretty fun, even if completely inappropriate.
Other examples of utterly lore-breaking mods that you can expect are motorbikes and spells with a variety of weird effect, like one that will make it rain cheese, and I’m not joking.
Unfortunately Bethesda isn’t exactly famous for the level of polish of their games. It’s partly understandable, considering how big and complex their worlds are. Some bugs and glitches are inevitable, and some will probably never be fixed, at least not by Bethesda. After the end of it’s patching cycle Oblivion was left with tens of little problems and glitches that would have never been fixed if not for the modding community, that took upon itself the task to polish and tweak what Bethesda could not.
As much as I’m sure that Bethesda will do whatever is humanly possible to polish Skyrim for release, something is bound to slip through their nets. Fear not, modders will take care of it.
As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to. The Elder Scrolls modding community is so varied and colorful that, no matter what your tastes are, someone will create something that will improve your experience with Skyrim, not to mention increase considerably the time you’ll spend on the game.
It’s not that far fetched to assume that most 3D models, textures and assets created for the Oblivion mods will be importable into Skyrim in some form, so the mod library of Bethesda’s newest RPG will probably grow very fast immediately. After all many Oblivion mods already look better than the default assets of Skyrim…
If you think that the Skyrim modding community will prove a little disorienting for a newbie, well, you’re probably right. But don’t worry too much and bookmark DualShockers (if you still didn’t), because we’re going to help.