33 mods you should download for Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox One, PS4 and PC

*Updated 14/07/17* I've added Diverse Dragons and Realistic conversation overhaul, because who doesn't want to see terrifying skeleton dragons and have  NPCs stop greeting you from 5 miles away? Note: The PC links for each mod takes you to NexusMods' Skyrim Special Edition section, not the Bethesda website. Enjoy!

Skyrim Special Edition is...big. Very big. The amount of things to do is an intimidating prospect for players old and new alike, but think of this mod list like a jar of honey to make Skyrim smoother. Some elements of the game need a bit of a buff with a well-oiled cloth to make them really shine, so here are all the mods that'll give Skyrim Special Edition that little boost into 'flawless' territory. 

I’ll be updating this list periodically with which consoles these mods are available on, so be sure to check back to see what new delights await you in Skyrim Special Edition! Or take a look at the story mods for Skyrim Special Edition if you want to add hours of gameplay to your Elder Scrolls experience and neglect going outside for a couple of days.

Want to see Skyrim running on Switch? Check out the video below, or continue straight to the mods!

Spoiler alert: there’s a couple of story spoilers in this post, so read ahead at your own risk.

Markers: No more wandering aimlessly 

Stones of Barenziah markers
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The bloody Stones of Barenziah. This quest sat in my tray for the time it took me to complete all the major quests and a chunk of the sidequests, and I had only found about six. This mod is essential if you want to get all of the stones and find out what mysterious item they make in the end.
 

Impatience of a Saint markers
Available on: PS4,  Xbox One

I was running around the hellish Soul Cairn in circles for a good hour trying to find all of the pages to Jiub’s opus, and this mod cut that time down to about ten minutes. Completely worth it.
 

Travelling around Skyrim

A Quality world map and Solstheim map
Available on: Xbox One,  PC

My god, I cannot emphasise enough how much better this mod made Skyrim. If you’re like me and you don’t like to fast-travel the vanilla map, whilst pretty, is almost useless when you’re trying to find a road which will take you from Riften to Solitude. This mod overhauls the map so it’s easy to find routes between cities and picks out most of the paths you could easily miss otherwise.

Diverse dragons collection
Available on:
Xbox One, PC

As soon as you unlock your dragonborn blood, appearances of these winged reptiles will start becoming as regular as rain. So why not spice up the sight of them appearing on the horizon with this mod, which introduces 28 news dragons, each with a different model and texture. As well as the typical frost and fire breath, some even have a drain vitality attack, and thanks to their unmistakable appearances you'll be able to tell which one is swooping towards you on the horizon. Gnarly. 


Rain and Snow FX

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

A small addition but one that makes a bucketload of difference: makes you look wet in rain, and frost tints you body when you’re walking through a blizzard.
Note: The PC link leads to the 'Wet and Cold' mod, which has a very similar effect.
 

Better horses
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Among other things, this equine mod has a new horse AI so your mount will flee combat, more stamina (so more galloping), invulnerability (especially useful for me as I tend to Leeroy Jenkins in every fight), plus they’re faster.
 

Project Hippie
Available on: PS4, Xbox One

Find it. Download it. Marvel at how this mod lets cities reach their potential, finally turning into the luscious, immersive locations they were meant to be.
 

Open Cities Skyrim
Available on: Xbox One, PC

This means that you don’t have to endure loading screens when you enter cities, which makes for a beautifully seamless transition between shooting deer in the wilds and selling your haul from raiding dungeons to merchants.
 

Castle Volkihar redux
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

For those bloodsuckers amongst you this mod is sure to be a favourite, as it turns Castle Volkihar into a small town, finally making it feel like you’re really part of the night-walking, bat-loving elite.
Note: The PC link leads to 'Castle Volkihar rebuilt', which allows you to clean up the castle and restore it to its former glory - but it doesn't have the ability to turn Volkihar into a small town. 

Improving gameplay

Skyrim Special Edition Unofficial Patch
Available on: Xbox One, PC

I’ll keep this brief: download it. It fixes a ton of bugs and is compatible with the vast majority of mods. Win-win.
 

Static Mesh Improvement
Available on: Xbox One, PC

This mod adds vast, very visible improvements to the 3D models for most objects in Skyrim. It replaces the low-polygon meshes for most banal objects in the game, and trust me - you'll notice the difference. If you're still unconvinced, head over to their page on Bethesda or Nexus and see the screenshots for yourself.
 

Skyrim graphic overhaul
Available on: Xbox One, PC

It’s simple: this mod makes Skyrim look a ton better. It adds textures to objects in-game such as more plants and grasses, fur looks like fur and not sheets of grey, as well as smoke. Expect in-game immersion to shoot up after installing this mod.
Note: The PC link leads to Osmodius' SSE Texture pack, which livens up the textures to the same degree as the mod on Bethesda's site.  
 

Alternate start - live another life
Available on: Xbox One, PC

Fed up with being the Dragonborn? I don’t blame you, and this mod lets you start as almost anything from a necromancer’s assistant to a shipwrecked sailor. For those of you who love to replay Skyrim, it lets you roleplay to your heart’s content.
 

Become a Bard
Available on: Xbox One, PC

As if the title wasn’t self-explanatory enough, I’ll spell it out for you: this mod lets you become a proper bard, not just a travelling Dragonborn who occasionally helps out the Bard College in Solitude. You can pick your preferred instrument, decide which songbooks you want to specialise in, choose bard followers, and play songs anywhere including in taverns where you’ll earn tips for your musical endeavours. Become a Bard gives the Bard’s College a purpose, letting it stand tall alongside the Thieves’ Guild, the Companions and the College of Winterhold.
 

Dragon souls to perks
Available on:
Xbox One, PC

By the time you’ve sunken about 50 hours into Skyrim, you’ve probably got a heap of dragon souls sitting beside your Thu’ums, useless. If you don’t use shouts particularly often, this mod makes sure the souls don’t go to waste. They let you ‘buy’ perks, with the ones higher up the skill trees costing more souls to purchase. Get out there and slay some dragons!

Ordinator - Perks Of Skyrim
Available on:
Xbox One, PC

An almighty overhaul of Skyrim's perk tree, this adds 400 new perks, bulking out each basic skill to give a ton more options to spend your precious perk points on. From 'Fog of War' in the stealth tree to 'Flee Fool' in the two-handed tree, there's plenty of new abilities to master!
 

Left hand rings
Available on:
Xbox One, PC

Pretty simple, but somehow overlooked by Bethesda - after all, rings aren’t restricted to your right hand in real life, so why should they be in Skyrim?
 

Sounds of Skyrim: Civilisation; Dungeons; The Wilds
Available on: PC

The immersion will jump once you install this mod, as it means that dungeons, towns, and the countryside will sound different each time you venture out. That means no more hearing the same birdsong no matter where you are, no more repetitive dripping from Ancient Norse obelisks, or certainly a rediction in that dratted clanging sound of the blacksmith’s hammer in every city you go to.  
 

Unread books glow
Available on: PC

The completionist in me loves this mod. Make sure to make this one of the first mods you download though, as if you download it mid-game all the books you’ve read to that point will be marked as unread. The feeling of reading the last glowing book before you add it to your collection is so satisfying.
 

Fixing NPCs

Realistic conversation overhaul
Available on:
PS4, Xbox One, PC

Ever been walking through one of Skyrim's cities when five citizens are suddenly simultaneously clamouring for your attention? Of course you have. The people roaming through Windhelm, Riften, and Falkreath just love to chat and this mod lets them do it to their heart's content. Just, to other NPCs - not you. This means strolling through a village is suddenly much more immersive with its inhabitants having a chat outside the Inn or as a break from harvesting wheat. Small change, but a big difference.

Immersive citizens AI overhaul
Available on:
PS4, Xbox One, PC

NPCs in Skyrim are interesting beings to say the least, as they’ll try to pick a fight with any dragons swooping around their village. This mod means that they won’t try to fight you (or any other overpowered creature) if you’re a higher level than them; instead they’ll run and hide in a hideout, which will be assigned randomly and could be a home, temple, Jarl’s stronghold, or anything similar.

Immersive Patrols
Available on:
PS4, Xbox One, PC

If the sight of golden skin of the Thalmor looming over the horizon, or the sound of the self-righteous Stormcloaks as they tramp by deafens you, this mod is what you're looking for. No longer do just the two civil war factions patrol round Skyrim: Immersive Patrols adds scheduled Dawnguard, caravan, and guard patrols to Skyrim and Reaver, Skaal, Redoran, and Riekling patrols to Solstheim, as well as making existing patrols regular. It also adds moderately-sized civil war fort battles so you can sink your axe, arrow, or destruction magic of choice into even more heads. 

Run for your lives
Available on: PC

NPCs in Skyrim are surprisingly ballsy. They’ll take on bandits and even dragons. That’s fun to watch, but it will sometimes result in quest-givers getting roasted a bit too badly, and expiring before your very eyes. This mod changes that, and makes NPCs run for cover when enemies approach, which saves you the trouble of running around trying to save the brave, valiant idiots.
 

When vampires attack
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Like Run for your Lives, this makes NPCs flee when vampires attack. Simple. An alternate version of this mod which stops vampires attacking in towns is available for PS4 and Xbox One, and is worth a download if you want your NPCs to stay as alive as possible.
 

Relationship dialogue overhaul
Available on: PC

No more hearing about arrows in knees. NPCs get more dialogue options with this mod, and they even address you with over 50 different voice times. There’s nothing like the thousandth hearing of not-Schwarzenegger’s ‘Let me guess. Somebody stole your sweetroll?’ for breaking immersion.
 

The Paarthurnax dilemma
Available on: Xbox One, PC

I got quite irritated at the quest Delphine gives you to kill Paarthurnax, as there’s no option to quite simply say no. If you decline, the quest has to litter your journal for eternity. That’s all changed in this mod, so you can spare your scaly friend and let him fly free.
 

Combat: make things more deader

Phenderix: magic evolved
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

For those who love the sight of lightning crackling from their fingertips, you’re spoilt for choice with this mod as it adds over 370 new spells. There are new spell archetypes, including bombs, growth, and plus you can summon any creature in Skyrim!
 

Better combat AI
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

With this mod NPCs fighting styles drastically change. Now they’ll try to block, bash, and stagger, as well as disengage from melee combat when they get too far away from ranged characters. Genius!
Note: the PC link leads to 'Combat Evolved' mod, which does a very similar thing.
 

Enhanced blood textures
Available on: Xbox One, PC
It’s simple and the title says it all. Gore never looked better.
 

VioLens: A Killmove mod
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

I love seeing my character execute a badass kill-move to take down enemies, and this mod makes fighting a joy. Flourishes when you’re about to kill somewhen while dual-wielding, brutal finishers, executions for dragons - it really has it all.

Bonus companion

Dovahbit of Caerbannog
Available on: Xbox One, PC

Dovahbit is a rabbit who carries your stuff, comes with its own little saddlebags, and can wear helmets. You haven’t enjoyed Skyrim at its fullest until you’ve looked behind you and seen a small brown bunny wearing a horned helmet hopping after you.
Note: The PC link takes you to Bethesda's mod page where you can find the fluffy, loyal companion. Aww.
 

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