From Riverwood’s Chicken to Winterized Graphics: The Best Skyrim Mods You Need to Try

Chicken standing on the snow

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While the world waits for Elder Scrolls 6, there’s plenty of gameplay left to experience in Skyrim. Mods will give you an entirely new experience in the beloved fifth edition of the Elder Scrolls series if you’re ready to dive into the world of PC modifications. Check out the best Skyrim mods for players of all skill levels to see what would make your next play-through even more fun.

1. Skyrim HD – 2X Textures

The design team behind Skyrim already did an incredible job producing a gorgeous game with 2011 technology. The open-world graphics are still gorgeous today, but the Skyrim HD mod makes them even better. You’ll double the visual quality so everything stands out just a bit more on screen. It’s an especially useful mod for anyone live streaming their gameplay since the visuals will amaze any audience.

Requirements: No dependencies besides the base game

Downloads: 24,346,077

The custom main character in Skyrim is fighting the Bandit Chief on an unfinished wooden bridge at either early morning or just past sunset. Their health bars are nearly full and the Bandit Chief is in mid swing with a long wooden rod.

2. Precision

If you’ve ever accidentally killed the chicken in Riverwood, you have plenty of experience battling melee NPCs. The repetitive moves aren’t all that exciting, but the Precision mod changes everything. It’ll give you more accurate hitboxes to minimize accidental damage. The physics-based actions even apply to creatures. Those fights with Mirmulnir are about to get way more interesting. 

Requirements: MCM Helper and SkyUI

Downloads: 1,272,454

3. Gesture Animation Remix

Skyrim’s developers had to remake scenes like the intro cart ride hundreds of times while they were in development. The result was a game played worldwide, but you can make the NPCs even more lifelike while delivering their iconic lines.

The Gesture Animation Remix mod gives NPCs over 50 new movements while conversing. They even work on custom followers. Mix things up with this simple mod before starting your most recent save file.

Requirements: Dynamic Animation Replacer

Downloads: 1,326,234

4. Alternate Start – Live Another Life

Starting a new play-through is great, except for the lengthy intro at Helgen. The Alternate Start mod skips that entire process by dropping you onto a random point on Skyrim’s map. You’ll get different starting lore that leads into the same main storyline so you don’t miss any of your favorite parts just because you didn’t want to sit through the original starting dialogue.

This is one of the mods that even works if you play on a Steam deck. The powerful handheld console provides high-quality graphics for some of the biggest video game titles, including one of Bethesda’s most popular games.

Requirements: Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch

Downloads: 7,641,180

5. Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch

Official patches can be great, but they don’t solve every Skyrim bug. The Unofficial Legendary patch is what you’ll want to download for a near-perfect game. Clip-through bugs become nonexistent after downloading this mod. You’ll also never have to worry about quests breaking if you do something the game didn’t originally intend. 

Requirements: Dawnguard, Dragonborn, Hearthfire and the High-Resolution Textures Patch

Downloads: 7,033,862

The potion menu of Skyrim when trading. All potions have different type details given the user's activated Apothecary mod. The character. Morgan Greyling is in the background.

6. Apothecary – An Alchemy Overload

Trying to constantly level up your alchemy skill tree by chasing Salmon Roe or double-checking UESP gets exhausting. Download the Apothecary mod to radically change how you experience alchemy in Skyrim. It balances poisons and potions while eliminating the annoying requirements to improve your skills. You’ll also gain new effects for existing potions, which won’t require any new ingredients.

Requirements: No dependencies besides the base game

Downloads: 3,135,787

7. Unique Uniques

After you’ve spent hours trying to get the rarest weapons in Skyrim, it can feel disappointing to see them in your inventory. They look similar to basic swords and weapons you could find anywhere else. The inventor of Unique Uniques wanted to change that.

This mod makes rare and unique weapons visually different. Each change relied on established lore to keep the design accurate while making it better. Whether you prefer fighting with Angi’s Bow or the Pale Blade, you’ll find many of your inventoried weapons using improved color schemes and textures after implementing this mod.

Requirements: No dependencies besides the base game

Downloads: 2,423,768

8. SkyUI

Skyrim originally debuted in 2011 for Xbox, PC, Playstation and PC computers. Even though the development team had multiple consoles in mind, the menus are easiest to navigate with Xbox controllers.

Global fans list SkyUI as one of the best Skyrim mods for fixing this problem. It simplifies the menus by removing cluttered UI and making them simple to navigate with a mouse. You could even use your keyboard to sort through your pelts and potions.

Requirements: Skyrim Script Extender

Downloads: 25,139,111

9. The Apocolypse Mod

The magic skill tree in Skyrim was more developed than in previous Elder Scrolls games. Over a decade later, fans feel the tree has extreme limitations. If you download the Apocalypse mod, you’ll have plenty of new ways to improve your magic abilities. With 155 new spells, you can play through the main storyline with completely different strategies as your skill tree expands.

Requirements: No dependencies besides the base game

Downloads: 6,353,895

10. Falskaar

Ready to expand your finished Skyrim map? The Falskaar mod adds a new world space accessible by a secret dungeon door and boat. New people, quests, places and dungeons will maximize your gameplay. Set aside some time to immerse yourself in this mod, as it takes at least 20 hours to complete.

Requirements: No dependencies besides the base game

Downloads: 3,102,927

Dolan Merchad and Kharjo are shown in winter clothing, only accessible through the Wet and Cold Ashes Skyrim mod. The winter weather is another exclusive mod from Wet and Cold.

11. Wet and Cold

The graphic and free-range exploration map made Skyrim a more lifelike game than others in 2011. However, it left some details out. The Wet and Cold mod adds them back in. Water will drip from your clothes for a few minutes when you run through a river or go swimming. The same effect happens when you’re out in the rain.

In winter, you’ll see your own breath and accumulate snowflakes on your hair. Watch out — this mod also makes blizzards possible, which decreases your speed. Add complementary mods to make the NPCs wear rain and snow-proof clothing to make one of the best Skyrim mods even better.

Requirements: No dependencies besides the base game

Downloads: 2,742,838

12. Remember Lockpick Angle

The laughter from the Unfathomable Mistress of Shadows haunts many Skyrim fans. Download the Remember Lockpick Angle to best any lock in the game. It will remember exactly where you put your previous lockpick. You won’t fail to open doors or chests multiple times and give up in frustration. It’s the little details that matter most to great gameplay.

Requirements: SKSE

Downloads: 16,407

Experience the Best Skyrim Mods

You won’t want to miss out on the best Skyrim mods players still use today. They tailor your experience to exactly what you want each time you open Steam. Download a few to improve your next gaming session and even impress a few friends with your upgrades.

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