Skyrim is a game widely known for just how “moddable” it is. These specific mods will make the game more realistic.
The graphics, the combat, the story, the freedom of choice — those are just the cherry on top of the designer cake we all call Skyrim. All of them are sacred, and all of them are surely vital. But with every passing year since its 2011 debut, Skyrim's default assets increasingly play second fiddle to mods.
Player-made with fellow players in mind, mods are the richest, most vibrant, and certainly the most eclectic element of Bethesda's award-winning RPGs. They keep games like Oblivion and Fallout 4 chugging along with fresh content for years, and there is no finer example of their staying power than the hundreds of hallmark mods for Skyrim.
The modding community has left no stone unturned, enhancing Skyrim's beauty, quest design, companion dialogue, sound effects, and yes, turning dragons into British talking tank engines as well. It's all in the name of fun. But on the opposite end of the Thomas the Tank Engine spectrum, there are realism mods. These aim to enhance the realm's believability, operating as a specific sort of immersion add-ons to help you feel like everything you're experiencing is sharp with truth. Let's take a look at some, shall we?
Updated on February 15th, 2022 by Quinton O'Connor: With the arrival of Anniversary Edition, there's more realistic goodness to savor than ever before. Skyrim remains the greatest bastion of creative fantasy expression in gaming, the most wonderful testing ground for what it means to blend epic fantasy with a hearty helping of authenticity. We can't stop watching the delightful community break new ground, so why not update the list while we're at it?
The armor skill in Skyrim is a bit lackluster, which is why something like True Armor is a necessity to make things much more interesting. It actually introduces strengths and weaknesses to many of the armor sets available in the game, which makes the choice for players much more strategic.
Moreover, True Armor also tweaks the way armor works when it's worn out over a long period of time, just like real armor. Armor will finally affect the way you move and regenerate health properly, which is why this mod is a must-have along with a decent combat mod.
Just traveling around Skyrim and clearing out dungeons is exciting, but it's definitely not all that realistic. Especially if you use an economy or scarcity mod, you'll notice that loot won't carry you over to the next day. That's why every realistic Skyrim playthrough needs a mod like Skyrim Jobs, which introduces proper professions.
The mod has tons of realistic features like gaining experience in a specific job and eventually getting promoted and earning a higher hourly wage by performing certain tasks. Many of the classic jobs of Skyrim are represented, including miner, alchemist, blacksmith, farmer, fisherman, and many more.
From a storytelling perspective, religion is a major theme in Skyrim. In terms of gameplay, on the other hand, not so much. A few passive boosts when you pray at a shrine is better than nothing, but naturally, fans have sought to improve this all-important aspect across the board.
Thanks to Wintersun, you can pick a deity and worship them, while also making choices and taking actions according to their rules. Breaking those rules will also have specific consequences, so this mod adds a layer of gameplay and challenge. The best part? You don't just have to choose from the Nine Divines, the Daedric Princes are fair game as well for worship, so you can go as dark as you want.
The skills in Skyrim are plentiful and useful in their own regard, but there's still space for something that's better directed at the atmosphere of Skyrim's world. Skills of the Wild is a great choice for players who already have mods like Frostfall and Campfire and would like to add additional survival-related skills to their game.
Four new perk trees become available in this mod: knower of the land, art of the hunt, culinary arts, and beast handler. As such, you can specialize in hunting, taming animals, and cooking meals that can hold you over for a while when out in the wilderness.
Fast travel is one of the major features that tend to break immersion for players. It's just so easy to travel from one place to another instantly and avoid actually dealing with the wilderness of Skyrim. With survival mods that make the forests and plains and mountains even deadlier, fast travel isn't just overpowered; it actively pushes back against so much great content.
The Carriage and Ferry Travel Overhaul mod fixes this. Fast travel will no longer be possible, but traveling the realm will still exist in a more balanced state. Pricing for these modes of transport will also be tweaked to be more realistic and balanced, so you'll actually need to plan your travels now. (Seriously, these poor cart drivers. Braving a supposedly deadly realm for 20 gold a ride.)
Since Skyrim and its SSE variant are both built using Bethesda's Creation Engine, they are going to be outdated no matter what lens you view them through. This is especially apparent when allegedly round objects are jagged or even flat.
Thankfully, you can remedy such a ghastly sight with the help of the Static Mesh Improvement Mod (SMIM) by Brumbek. Trust us when we say that you should never play Skyrimwithout this mod. It revolutionizes the static object models simply by increasing their polygon count, and it's wild just how big a difference that can make.
Here's our last visual overhaul mod for Skyrim. It addresses one of the most obvious shortcomings of the game engine and art design: the vegetation. One look at Skyrim's grass and trees, even the Special Edition variant's, and you'll be reminded that you're playing a game from a time when some people still predicted the end of the world was an upcoming 2012 event on Facebook.
The Skyrim Flora Overhaul by vurt not only improves the leaves, trees, and plants, but also adds more variations between them. This is perfect for players who are sick and tired of just seeing nothing but pine and birch trees. It also makes the grass and flowers fields look more wild and untamed.
The Campfire mod lets you channel your inner survivalist and outdoorsman. It's pretty self-explanatory; the mod lets you set up your own camp anywhere pretty much like the non-player characters (NPCs) of Skyrim. It's a seemingly minor detail that actually has a huge effect on gameplay.
For one, it adds more stuff to do in the game which is always welcome. You'll need to work for your own camp too, like harvesting wood and building your own campfire, which of course, is a lot easier in-game than it sounds. Still, the sentiment's appreciated.
Skyrim's a cold place and the majority of the province is covered in snow or has occasional snowstorms. While the game achieves the intended atmosphere visually, it's ultimately just for show. Hence, Frostfall by Chesko adds a bite to all that bark. A frostbite, if you will.
The idea is pretty simple: it gets cold; then you find heat sources; then you survive… or don't; then you die of hypothermia. Luckily, there are many heat sources available in the game such as campfires, torches, kinetic movement, food and drinks, more clothing or armor layers, and even your own spells.
Wet and Cold by isoku is pretty similar to Frostfall but less hardcore. It also involves added environmental challenges and effects, but it's less taxing on the gameplay. Getting wet, whether in the rain or by dipping in water, will add some nice visual touches to the screen such as water drops.
Additionally, falling snow will also visibly accumulate on characters' hair, armor, or clothing. If characters are also in a cold region, visible steamy breaths will be present. NPCs will also be more mindful of the rain or snow and will go home when caught in them. It's not just visual either. Being caught in a blizzard or snowstorm will impede your movement and blind you, so you'll have to keep your character's head down.
For all the narrative fuss, turning into a werewolf in Skyrim isn't quite what it's cracked up to be. Oh, it's fun, to be sure. But there's just not a lot of customization involved, and even less attack depth.
Moonlight Tales, an Anniversary Edition Creation Club add-on, seeks to change all that by adding plentiful perks, brand-new abilities, and even the chance to redecorate your luxurious lycan coat to your liking. You can even become a werebear. Which is terrifying. For them, not you. You'll do great.
To add to the list of hardcore survival stuff in Skyrim, we recommend looking into iNeed, also by isoku. This mod addresses the obvious in Skyrim: the fact that you have a living character who has basic needs. They should be easy enough to acquire; you'll regularly run across some wheels of cheese or sweet rolls waiting to be stolen; sometimes even some game meat.
What this mod does is trigger your character's dependence on them. Not just food, but also hydration and sleep. You're just going to have to live with the fact that the Dragonborn is the same as everyone else save for the ability to shout expletives in dragon tongue. iNeed basically completes your quest for survivalism in Skyrim, don't go on an adventure without it.
Pets of Skyrim is just one of the hundreds of free pieces of Creation Club DLC available with the purchase of Skyrim Anniversary Edition. (Okay, so whether it's "free" is arguable at best, but you know what we mean.) You've got your goat, who serves as a pack mule.
There's your rabbit, who sniffs out alchemy ingredients. There's your spider, trapping your foes with eight-eyed guile. And yes, that's your fox. Adorable, innit? He searches for loot, too.
Since this one's available via Anniversary Edition, we've provided no link. You can also purchase it separately on Bethesda's Creation Club website if you'd rather stick to Special Edition.
Even when it was first released, the artificial intelligence of Skyrim wasn't exactly seen as stellar. There are even hilarious ways you can toy with them due to this. However, there's no doubt that they break the immersion. So make them more lifelike with the help of Immersive Citizens.
The mod does wonders for the AI and NPCs of Skyrim. It changes their schedule to a more logical one; the combat is more akin to real-life fight or flight responses, and they also respond better to the world around them. Remember those pesky civilians that just stand by while a bear or dragon mauls them to death? Now you don't have to.
Waking up on a carriage on the way to a public execution, then finding out that you're a Dragonborn, was getting kind of old by 2013. We're well past 2013. Why not just completely remove the whole song and dance? Alternate Start by Arthmoor gives you that freedom.
Now, you can start as anyone you want to be in the land of Skyrim. Bandit, Stormcloak, commoner, Winterhold College student, you name it. The best part? You don't even need to be the Dragonborn anymore.
NEXT: Skyrim: Beginner's Guide To Modding On PC And Console
Sid was born, did some stuff, then decided to become a writer. He finds respite in the sweet embrace of mass media escapism after having risked his life too many times as a journalist covering warzones and depressed areas. Nowadays he mostly risks his bladder as he tries to hold his urine waiting for those precious post-credits scenes at the movies or trying to kill Souls-like bosses. So far it’s going well. Probably.
Skyrim is a game widely known for just how “moddable” it is. These specific mods will make the game more realistic.