What You Need to Know About Mods in 'Skyrim Special Edition'

Becoming Dragonborn in the modern age. 

Bethesda Softworks

Skyrim Special Edition is here and it’s looking lovely, but it comes with some serious concerns for players who are accustomed to playing Skyrim on their PCs. Here’s the bottom line: Most mods for Vanilla Skyrim won’t work with the new souped up edition. So what’s a fan to do when they’re itching to bog down their game with gigabytes worth of anime hair and flying trains?

Skyrim Special Edition makes the jump from 32-bit to 64-bit, rendering the original mods useless, but on the other hand, it makes room for even bigger and better mods that hog a lot of memory. It’s likely we’ll be seeing some truly amazing things coming from mods in the future, but it’s going to take some doing. A quick look at the Nexus Mods page for Skyrim Special Edition lists 25 pages worth of mods, while the original is rocking a hefty 1574. The difference is stark at the moment, but folks are already hard at work on new fan-made add-ons. Let’s take a further look at what’s been done in the modding space and some of the best new mods at the moment.

One mod to rule them all

Skyrim Script Extender

How come I can’t use Vanilla Skyrim mods in the Special Edition?

Apart from the shift from 32-bit to 64-bit, a lot of modders depended on a few other mods to craft their creations, namely the Skyrim Script Extender or SKSE. The mod essentially opens up the potential for more ambitious mods by adding new scripts to the game. That makes brand new content like alternate dialogue options or improved UIs possible. SKSE became a modding essential, and you won’t get very far without it. While the SKSE team is hard at work on a Special Edition version, it isn’t ready yet, and probably won’t be for some time.

It’s a different story on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. You’ll already find some mods, although mods like SKSE will never be a reality on the console versions, and PS4 mods are hampered by copyright restrictions. But minus those hang-ups you can get to modding right away.

What are my options as far as PC mods go?

Modders were hard at work even before Special Edition launched to ensure that PC players would have options for customizing their games. Many of them were first developed for the original Skyrim, so you’ll find some familiar faces in there, too. Most of these mods are available on the Xbox One version if you prefer playing on console instead. Here are a few of the best currently housed on Nexus Mods:

This mod lets you chose how you want to start your adventure.


Alternate Start — Live Another Life

You’ve likely played through the game multiple times by now, so you’re probably grimacing at the prospect of sitting through that same slow wagon ride one more time. Never again, dear readers! Alternate Start skips all of that nonsense in Helgen if you so choose, presenting you with a few different ways to start your Skyrim adventures, all of which have different effects on how your story plays out.

Patching Skyrim so the devs don't have to 


Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch

Skyrim Special Edition is not without its problems, but this mod aims to fix that, offering a number of fixes to various problems that have yet to addressed by Bethesda. The modders are actively tracking bugs and listening to feedback to stay up to date, and they work hard to ensure that the patches are compatible with other existing mods.

In case you felt Skyrim's chain-game was lacking 


Static Mesh Improvement Mod

Already people are working on making Skyrim Special Edition look better. This mod upgrades the appearance of background objects. Buildings, baskets, assorted food stuffs and books have all been given improved textures to allow for a more realistic experience.

A vast improvement on the default, humanoid lumpen face-shapes 


Total Character Makeover

There’s no getting around it, and in fact everyone accepts it — Bethesda either doesn’t care or is just plain bad at making character models that don’t look much better than talking potatoes attached to awkwardly animated human bodies. You could hide behind the first-person perspective, or you could download the Total Character Makeover mod. All races get improved textures, and the modder has even ensured that all characters will have one cohesive look to keep things nice and match-y.



Wet and Cold

Some modders focus on the minutiae others would disregard, bringing surprising changes to the game. Wet and Cold is one of those mods, adding weather-appropriate effects to the game. Traveling through colder realms, you’ll be able to see your character’s breath condensing in the chilly air, while a rainstorm might cause you to slop through murky terrain and be temporarily blinded by raindrops blowing in your face. You’ll even find NPCs sheltering inside during storms complaining about the foul weather. They’re small touches, but they make a big difference.

The road ahead:

So yes, there is a lot of work to be done, but modders are resilient and we’ll be seeing improved mods in the upcoming months. In the meantime, you might be better off sticking to Vanilla Skyrim on PC or settling for the Special Edition experience with the limited number of mods currently at your disposal on console. Regardless, Skyrim is an incredible game in its own right, so we expect you’ll have fun either way.

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