The modding community dedicated to the Elder Scrolls series is probably the most productive and creative in the whole gaming playfield. Morrowind and Oblivion had hundreds of thousands of mods available, and some are still in production.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is no exception and, while Bethesda just announced that the Creation Kit won’t see the light of day until January, the community is already using whatever it can to improve the game over the already amazing original. There already are nearly 4500 mods available for download, and that’s counting only the ones that I could personally find.
The purpose of this column is to help those that may be a little disoriented with the size and scope of what the Skyrim modding community offers. You’ll find here on DualShockers every Wednesday.
But, as every week, it’s time to let the mods do the talking, so without further ado, head past the cut for this week’s highlights.
First of all, let’s talk paradoxically about a mod that you won’t need anymore. Yesterday Bethesda released a new patch that finally activates the 4GB Large Adress Aware fix into the default game, so you won’t need that mod anymore. They sure took their time to implement something that should have been included at launch and that modders solved in two days, but better late than never.
Coolsims Hair Pack
Someone finally answered my prayers and started replacing the horrible, horrible, horrible default hairstyles (did I say that they’re horrible already?) included in Skyrim. Our savior of the day is Nevermind43, that replaced most of the female wigs of the game with something a tad more palatable. The texture quality and the meshes are a lot better, even if they may not fit everyone’s tastes, as the styles are a tad on the glamorous side.
That said, they’re a definite step forward from the original. Unfortunately the mod doesn’t replace the hairstyles of NPCs, so it’s useful (at least for now) only if you like the styles included and have a female character yourself. You can download it here.
Talking about things that aren’t exactly optimal in the original game and answered prayers, SkyUI by the SkyUI team (original name, isn’t it?) fits both definitions perfectly.
While it’s still a work in progress, for now focusing only on the inventory window, it’s just so much of an improvement from the original console-oriented crapUI (Yes, I called it crapUI. Sorry Bethesda, I love your game or I wouldn’t write a weekly column on it, but the original UI is a travesty. I’m sure you’ll live), that it’s a must-download for everyone that doesn’t like his brain to melt out of his ears as he tries to come to terms with a badly designed anti-functional interface.
You can download it here. It requires the Skyrim Script Extender that you can find here (to install the script extender, just put the exe and dll files included in the archive in your Skyrim base folder).
Weapons of the Third Era
What can I say about this fantastic mod by 747823? Probably just that it’s fantastic, and I mean it. It adds more than fifty new and beautiful weapons to the game (that you can either craft or find as rare drops), inspired to those of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. The relevant part is that it doesn’t act like most other weapon mods, that replace the implements of destruction existing in the game, but it actually adds them to the bunch, improving variety without sacrificing anything.
The mod is incompatible with anything that modifies leveled lists, even if at the moment I don’t know of anything major that touches those lists.
If you are wary of that, you can download the version that doesn’t include a modified leveled list. You’ll still be able to craft the weapons, but you won’t find them on NPCs.
You can download it here, and believe me, it’s worth it.
If there’s one category of mods I really like, it’s those that do exactly what they say on the tin. This mod by OpticShooter belongs to that category: it increases the density of the grass in Skyrim to make the world look less barren, and definitely more beautiful in the process. The best thing is that it achieves the result with little or no measurable performance loss.
Skyrim Flora OverHaul
This mod by Vurt complements the ones by OpticShooter pefectly, adding a lot more variation and dramatically improving the look of the plants, shrubs and trees of Skyrim, basically improving the visual impact by quite a lot. The small downside is that it does have a bit of an impact on performance if you use the HD version. If you find it too much, just use the standard resolution version, that will still let you enjoy the improved variety at a negligible performance cost.
You can download it here.
The addition of followers in Skyrim is a big improvement compared to vanilla Oblivion, but there are still a few idiosyncrasies that may annoy more than a few players. First of all, followers are almost suicidal, and while Lydia and the other Housecarls are sworn to protect us, we end up spending most of our time protecting them. In addition to that sometimes it’s impossible to dress them with certain pieces of equipment because the game considers only base armor and damage in choosing what they should wear and wield, preferring their base equipment instead of more efficient pieces (especially for robes, that always have a base armor of 0), and they cap at level 50, making them rather useless at higher levels.
This mod by Expired solves said problems with various different solutions, allowing you to chose different combinations of options to customize your companions to your preference. You can remove the level cap, strip them of their basic (and often useless) equipment, replace it with fine clothes so that everything else will be preferred to that and/or make them essential so that their suicidal tendencies will be offset by immortality. You can download it here.
This apparently small mod by Eldiran is a lot more than meets the eye. One of the major problems you’ll meet when playing Skyrim is the limited inventory weight capacity, turned into an even worse problem by the fact that potions seem to be made of liquid lead, weighing 0.5 each no matter if they’re minor, plentyful or extreme.
Thanks to this mod you’ll just have to use a cooking pot to combine the smaller potions in bigger bottles. The amount of healing you’ll be able to do will be the same, but your inventory clutter will be drastically reduced, preserving both balance and your nerves. For now it only works with healing, magika and stamina potions, but hopefully it’ll be expanded in the future to attain full fledged potion and poison efficency.
You can download it here and run to the nearest cooking pot.
Bellyaches Animal Pack
This mod by Bellyache gives you several options to improve and customize the fauna of the game. You can use the improved textures with a color scheme that remains faithful to the original, or change the colors of the animals completely depending on your taste. You can download it here.
And that’s it for this episode 5. I hope you found something useful to improve your game. As usual remember that full and exclusive credit for the mods listed above goes to their talented authors. Do come back in two weeks (as the column will have a quick holiday break) for more mods at the Skyrim Mod Forge.
Read More Episodes of The Skyrim Mod Forge: 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 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.