5 best Skyrim mods
Bethesda did a fantastic job of building a great player experience with their latest action RPG extravaganza, and as our fawning Skyrim review should go to show, we’re huge fans of their efforts. Still, there are niggling flaws that could do with a little hand to smooth out, so it’s a good job that the developers have gone out of their way to encourage support from the modding community, even scheduling a release of their own design tools for the new year.
Even without the all-singing, all-dancing Creation Kit, amateur coders have managed to come up with some great additions and extensions to the base game, enhancing the graphical and mechanical prowess on show, tweaking features and just plain playing with the assets.
As ever, these mods are only available to players on the king of platforms, PC. Citizens of the console persuasion are unfortunately locked out of the game files by design, and won’t be able to use any homebrew extensions. This is the primary reason that I regard the venerable home computer as the platform-of-choice for any title with an active modding community.
We’ve compiled a list of our favourite five mods that we use when playing, which combine interesting changes with stability, ease of use and work well together. All listed mods can be found on the Skyrim Nexus, the most handy modding resource around.
The main problem critics have been quick to point out in the game is the style-over-content design of the inventory system. For an RPG, where you can expect to spend many happy hours stuck in the menu interface, the structure is just too complex and convoluted to be really useful. Comparing equipped items with newly picked-up gear is only one of many tasks turned into a chore by the poor layout.
Luckily, modder Roltak has solved a lot of these issues with their QD Inventory mod . Not only does it make navigating the inventory with the mouse much simpler, but it also adds numerical columns with the key item stats (weight, damage, armour rating and sell value) to interface.
It also changes the enchantment and alchemy interfaces to match the style of the main inventory, cutting down the confusing differences between the systems. Perhaps best of all, it shrinks the item picture, allowing the inventory column to take up more of the screen.
Realistic Water Textures
While wandering the soaring mountains and icy tundra, you may just want to take a moment to relax and enjoy the sunset streaming across the glorious landscape. But what’s that in the distance, spoiling the view? Is it supposed to be a waterfall?
While the artists and programmers have done a great job with most of the texture work, water animation is one place where the game really falls down. The Realistic Water mod fixes that, giving you a lovingly crafted high-res puddle to splash about in, in addition to fixed oceans, rivers and waterfalls. Even the slops in the blacksmith’s trough have had their turn.
While this tweak may not sport an immediate impact on gameplay, I find the boost in landscape beauty of real value when surveying my domain.
Hate spiders? Especially hate the poisonous giant Frostbite spiders you’ll inevitably run into when exploring Skyrim’s underworld?
Well look no further, because arachnophobe modders have you covered with the No Spiders mod. This strange piece of coding replaces the spider-shaped meshes with bear-shaped ones, so instead of eight-legged fiends you’ll be facing off against weirdly animated awkward-looking cave bears.
If webs creep you out as well, try the No Spider Webs mod to get rid of all creepy-crawly evidence.
You may find after installing all of these heavy graphical upgrades that your game runs a little slowly at times, or becomes somewhat unstable in use.
Never fear though, the Large Address Aware patch is here! This handy little optimisation lets the game executable take advantage of more memory than the standard installation, which is locked to 2 gigabytes at most.
We found applying this patch solved most of our mod issues — well, apart from the mental torture of low-resolution nudie patches, but really that’s our own fault.
Better Females by Bella
While on the whole the character models look great, some people have complained about the females looking rather shabby at times.
If you want your NPCs looking model-fresh at all times, I recommend installing the Better Females mod, which includes new high-resolution textures for all the female faces.
Just don’t blame me when you take a dive right into weirdness of the uncanny valley.