The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is now 10 years old, and quite long in the tooth. That hasn’t stopped the modding community from cranking out new content, which is good news for players who want to extend the lifespan of this quintessential fantasy RPG hit. Those thinking about firing up Skyrim in 2021 have many mods to take advantage of, which can provide an entirely new experience.
With a little attention to detail, players can reimagine Skyrim in a completely new way. Adding these mods to a load order means upgrading the in-game experience both from a visual and immersion standpoint, and they are highly recommended as must-haves for anyone who wants to explore the Skyrim province with a fresh coat of paint.
Updated on July 29th, 2021 by Derek Draven: Skyrim’s modding community continues to support the game almost ten years after it was first released, and that’s quite a feat. Their dedication to the craft has expanded the base game in so many ways, offering countless hours of replay value with brand new content, and enhancements to the existing game. Skyrim fans who want to take the game out for another spin in 2021 can do a lot worse than add these particular mods to their load order. Each one contributes to a brand new gameplay experience, keeping the spirit of Skyrim alive until such time as Bethesda unleashes the eagerly anticipated Elder Scrolls VI. Some are highly recommended for anyone who wants to inject a bit more life into the game.
15 DynDOLOD (Dynamic Distant Objects LOD)
This particular mod is one of the more complicated ones, which means newbie Skyrim modders might have a bit of hard time. However, following the instructions should be enough to make it work. Essentially, DynDOLOD generates placeholder images which allow players to see things like castles, forts, trees and other objects from vast distances.
Vanilla Skyrim “draws” in these objects as the player gets closer, and that can really destroy the sense of immersion. Nothing is worse than standing on a mountain side and looking down at a barren valley, only to arrive there and find objects suddenly popping into view. DynDOLOD fixes this, which extends the view distance considerably, without harming the stability of the game.
14 Combat Gameplay Overhaul SE
Combat is one of the gameplay mechanics of Skyrim that isn’t aging particularly well, especially in light of the games that have come out since that time. Combat Gameplay Overhaul SE completely revamps this system in the best possible way. It’s one of the best combat mods out there, and it affects not just fighting, but exploration as well.
For instance, players can now wield a torch, and a two-handed weapon simultaneously, simply by resting the weapon across their shoulder. In addition, the mod provides a four-way dodge mechanic to avoid being struck, plus mid-air combat, procedural leaning, and new animations with better blending options. It feels like a natural evolution of the game’s combat system, rather than a jarring change.
13 Quick Loot RE
There are two quick looting mods available for Skyrim, but one is now defunct, which means Quick Loot RE is the one to get. Essentially, this mod adds in a Fallout 4-style looting system by which the player can simply hover over an object or a body, and loot the contents quickly, rather than go through a tedious menu.
The original menu system is still there if players wish to see the physical items before picking them up. This goes a long way to saving time, and it feels like a far more robust and snappy looting system from top to bottom. Once players experience Skyrim with this mod, it’s very hard to go back to the original method.
12 The Great Forest Of Whiterun Hold
The area around Whiterun is essentially a barren landscape peppered with a few locations and caves, and it feels like a missed opportunity. The Great Forest of Whiterun Hold changes the entire region in a massive way by literally implanting a gigantic forest for players to explore. It might not be to everyone’s subjective tastes, but it does offer a few advantages.
First, the area simply looks more interesting, and forested areas are very fun to explore. Second, it hides the various locations in the region, encouraging players to go off the beaten path and discover them. When combined with other mods like Elysium Estate, it can envelop players with immersion. There are also lots of patches to make it compatible with other mods, so it’s wise to read the description carefully.
11 Unofficial High Definition Audio Project
It may not be noticeable to many players, but Skyrim’s vanilla audio files are quite compressed, and not nearly as clear as they should be. The Unofficial High Definition Audio Project overhauls all of the game’s files by injecting them with content taken from the PS4 version of the game, which is uncompressed.
The differences are startling. Voices and music are now crystal clear, and that goes a long way when it comes to immersion. Characters no longer sound flat and dull, and their frequency range has been expanded. The files themselves are gigantic but well worth the wait time for gamers who want to spruce up Skyrim for 2021.
10 Jkrojmal’s Mods
Few Skyrim modders have the chops and expertise that Jkrojmal brings to the scene, and his mods are considered standard for any proper load order in 2021. This creator recently created a brand new batch of mods that completely revamp and rework the game’s many interior spaces and shops in a dramatic way.
This comes hot on the heels of JK’s Skyrim, an all-in-one compendium of his previous city and town mods. Dressing out Skyrim with these amazing contributions means breathing new life into a decade-old game, which is a testament to just how strong this modding community truly is.
Yes, Wyrmstooth is a very old mod (one of the oldest, in fact), but it deserves to be remembered due to the fact that it disappeared from the scene altogether a while back, only to make a triumphant return. Those late to the Skyrim scene now have a reason to expand on the base game with this amazing mod.
Wyrmstooth allows the player to travel to an eerie new fantasy land, and seek out adventure, treasure, and quests. It works hand-in-hand with the base game to extend the content and story, and is considered a classic in every sense. It’s polished, professional, and immersive.
8 Cutting Room Floor
The original version of Cutting Room Floor came out in 2016 and has since been updated as of December 2020. It restores a ton of content that Bethesda cut from the original game, and reintegrates them into the Special Edition and the official DLC packs.
The mod adds a ton of NPCs, items, and quests back into the game, as well as new locations like the Thalmor Justiciar HQ, Jeljarchen, and the Castle Dour Tower. Players may not notice the changes in-game, but they are there nonetheless, which adds a new dynamic to the base game.
7 More Dangerous Enemies 3.2
Veteran Skyrim players know all their foes’ tricks and techniques, and that can make for some boring gameplay. What better way to replay Skyrim than with some extra challenge thrown into the mix? More Dangerous Enemies 3.2 has the solution and does exactly as its title implies.
This mod ramps up the difficulty level of Skyrim’s enemies and forces the player to rely on quick thinking and skills to survive. It eliminates lower level caps for many foes, which means a greater challenge from the onset. When combined with dodge and combat mods, this particular offering can be quite fun.
6 Thunderchild – Epic Shouts And Immersion
What Dragonborn wouldn’t like a little more power in their repertoire? Thunderchild is one such mod that adds a total of 29 new shouts to the game, with different effects and character buffs to unlock. This can be done by gaining favor with Kyne in order to access new abilities.
The mod also incorporates separate shout words from the vanilla base game to create the new ones, which is a nice integration of the two. A list of the shouts and their effects can be found on the main page, and most of them are quite fun and creative.
5 Cities Of The North
Many mods seek to revamp the game’s existing locations, cities, and towns, but few of them strive for uniqueness like Cities of the North does. This is not one mod, but a series created by author JPSteel2 that overhaul Winterhold, Morthal, and Dawnstar (with new models and textures).
The idea was to gift these locations with their own distinct look, which lets them stand apart from one another in the same way that Solitude and Riften look completely different from one another. Choose one, or all three to add a little spice to the game’s lesser towns.
4 Diverse Dragons Collection 3 (DDC3)
Diverse Dragons has been a staple of the Skyrim modding community, and it’s since entered its third iteration. This popular mod adds 28 brand-new dragons to the game, each completely unique with specific models and textures, as well as abilities and strength levels.
Fantasy fans who grew up with the coolest dragons in movies and TV shows expect something a bit more imaginative than the ones shown in vanilla Skyrim, which are all pretty similar. This particular mod is only available for the classic Skyrim, so Special Edition players will have to stick with Diverse Dragons SE 2.13, at least for now.
3 Magic Duel – Reborn
Skyrim might be primarily a hack and slash adventure RPG, but those seeking to tap their inner Harry Potter may wish to banish the blades in favor of the power of magic. This mod reinvents the concept by allowing the character to engage an enemy in a duel, simply by targeting them with destruction magic.
Once the duel ensues, the player must outwit their opponent to win. The mod also allows the player to engage in shout duels with dragons, adding another layer of cinematic immersion to the game. This is one of the few mods to cater heavily to magic users by showing them some real love.
Skyrim players who have been around the block more than once are doubtlessly tired of the game’s perk progression system. Ordinator revitalizes that particular gameplay mechanic by shuffling up the various perks, whilst introducing completely new ones at the same time.
There are 400 new perks added to the game that are spread across an entirely new series of progression trees. Each perk system plays into a specific skill set, offering more flexibility and unique abilities as the player moves forward. Compare the vanilla game’s archery perk tree to Ordinator’s to get the full idea.
Few mods are as ambitious or committed as Enderal, and it’s unique in the fact that it doesn’t build upon Skyrim as much as it does replace it. Enderal is a total conversion mod designed to utilize Skyrim’s foundation and structure to tell its own separate story, and it does it well.
Enderal was released in 2016, but it received an update in February 2019 in the form of “Forgotten Stories,” consisting of content cut from the original fantasy release. The team recently announced a brand new commercial project in the works, which is exciting news for fans who loved the Enderal experience.
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