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The best Skyrim mods to improve and fix the game

Skyrim
(Image credit: Bethesda; opusGlass)

The best Skyrim mods can cover a range of improvements that should suit pretty much any player. We've compiled this gigantic list of mods covering a variety of topics in Skyrim - whether it's graphics and performance enhancements, AI and NPC upgrades, or adding new quests, items, weapons and armour, we've got a whole range range of mods and community-made changes to freshen up your fantasy fun in Skyrim. You'll even find a mix of PC, Xbox, and PlayStation mods in here, so hopefully you'll find a mod to enjoy regardless of what platform you're on. We've laid out the best mods for Skyrim on PC and console below. 

That being said, keep in mind that these are mods we know work for the versions of Elder Scrolls 5 prior to the Anniversary Edition from 2021 - not the Anniversary Edition itself. The most recent incarnation of Skyrim changes fundamental aspects of the code that have left it incompatible with many community mods. Modders and community members are altering or recreating many of them to match, but ensure that you've checked that the mod is Anniversary Edition-compatible before downloading it for that version of the game!

Skyrim mods and installation guide

  1. How to install Skyrim mods on PS4 and Xbox One
  2. How to install Skyrim mods on PC with Wrye Bash or Vortex
  3. Essential Skyrim enhancement mods, upgrades and fixes
  4. Skyrim gameplay mods
  5. Skyrim quest mods
  6. Skyrim companion mods
  7. Skyrim combat mods
  8. Skyrim world mods

How to install Skyrim mods on PS4 and Xbox One

How to install Skyrim mods on PS4 & Xbox One

Installing Skyrim mods on console is actually quite easy, but first you need to make a Bethesda.net account at the Bethesda website (opens in new tab). The rest is simple, as next time you boot up Skyrim, load a game and go to the main menu. Here, you’ll see an option called “Mods,” which will prompt you to connect to your Bethesda account.

Next thing you need to do is head back over to the Bethesda site. In the top-left corner, you’ll see a dashboard icon which will trigger a drop-down menu. At the bottom-left, you’ll see a “Mods” title, which has “Skyrim: Special Edition” as a subheader. Click this and, if you’re signed in, you’ll be able to start choosing mods you want to download and enable in your game. For convenience, you can access the Skyrim mods page here (opens in new tab).

After enabling/disabling mods, you’ll need to reload a save or create a new one to install them. Next time you play, you’ll notice the game is slightly, or perhaps even very different. To disable mods, you’ll need to access the mods section at the main menu. You can’t disable active mods from the “Mods” section on the pause screen – that’s just there to remind you which mods you have active at the moment.

How to install Skyrim mods on PC with Wrye Bash or Vortex

How to install Skyrim mods on PC

To install Skyrim mods on PC, you'll first need to install either Wrye Bash or the Vortex mod manager (opens in new tab). There are pros and cons to both here. Wrye Bash is better overall at managing mods and ordering them correctly, detecting clashes and so on. But you will have to download and import mods manually. Vortex on the other hand is built into Nexus mods and can automate the process, but it much more likley to cause conflicts if you try and layer too many mods into a game. 

Whatever you choose you'll have access to all kinds of Skyrim mods on Nexus (opens in new tab).  From here, you’ll be able to start downloading mods from Nexus and, with Vortexupi can click “Files” in the top-left corner and you’ll see an installation option beside each mod in your library. With Wrye Bash you'll need to check the manual instructions for each mod. It's a longer process but usually a more stable one.

Something to bear in mind is that once you start to run several mods at a time, you’ll see an option to change the Load Order for both methods. This is important because some mods interfere with the performance of others, so one might need to be loaded earlier than the rest. Most of this information is included in the mod descriptions, and Vortex/Wrye Bash should help you to manage these as well, but remember to keep an eye on those whenever you’re experimenting with new types.

Essential Skyrim enhancement mods, upgrades and fixes

best Skyrim mods gameplay

While we have a lot coming up, these are the essentials Skyrim mods that will fix bugs, upgrade graphics, and generally drag the 2011 game, kicking and screaming, into the future. You can even upgrade the menus and UI, make the basic geometry sharper, and improve things no one even knew about when the game first game out. 

Skyrim Special Edition Unofficial Patch

Available on: PS4 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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

Skyrim 2K Textures

Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

Don't be fooled by the name: you can actually get textures of up to 8K in this visual-redefining mod that enhances everything in Skyrim's world. The ground, the sky and everything in between get some kind of visual upgrade, making it all feel a lot more real.

SkyUI

Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

We all know how difficult it can be to keep track of everything once you're deep into an adventure, so this overhaul of the user interface on PC shows you greater information for items, displays active effects on screen, and much more.

Skyrim Static Mesh Improvement

Available on: Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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.

Skyrim gameplay mods

Skyrim

(Image credit: Bethesda)

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!

The Choice is Yours
Available on:
Xbox One, PC

Have you ever been seriously annoyed about the fact that unfinished quests just sit in your journal forever? Well, thanks to The Choice is Yours, you can just straight up reject quests. Sorry, I’m the Dragonborn. I haven’t got time to fetch you a mammoth’s tusk. 

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?

Cloaks & Capes
Available on:
Xbox One, PC

If you want to look good while exploring Tamriel then these craftable Fur Cloaks and Linen Capes are particularly stylish - you can also get them emblazoned with hold insignia by obtaining them from the appropriate locations.

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:
Xbox One, 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.

Newmiller’s Spell Books Retextures 2
Available on:
PC

To build on that last mod, you can actually download a texture pack that turns Skyrim’s ordinary spell books into leather-bound tomes that look as if they’d smell musty. These are arcane texts, after all — they’ve probably been around for hundreds of years!

Useful Alteration
Available on
: Xbox One, PC

This mod will change your life. Although Alteration is often seen as the ugly duckling of the arcane arts, installing Useful Alteration will provide the College of Winterhold’s Tolfdir with a whole new range of Alteration tomes. Described by the modder as “annoyance removal” spells, these are generally used to make playing Skyrim less mundane. “Solve” solves a nearby pillar puzzle immediately, while “Unlock” automatically unlocks a locked chest or door. Who knew that Alteration was the best magic school?

Skyrim quest mods

best Skyrim mods quests

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Falskaar
Available on:
Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

Those of you who have finished Skyrim should head immediately to Falskaar. Considering it's the size of a DLC and that it landed its creator a job at Bungie, the fact that it's on this list shouldn't be that surprising. As the harbinger of an ancient prophecy (minus any special powers), you have to bring peace back to Falskaar - but nothing is ever as simple as it seems...

Forgotten City
Available on:
Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

The Forgotten City is so good that it got enhanced into its own standalone game on multiple platforms, but you can still get it for Skyrim. It's fantastic, a surreal mystery about an underground town maintained by an automated system of Dwemer technology - one that's uncomfortably focused on the inhabitants' ethics.

Clockwork
Available on:
Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

The Dwemer don't really get enough time dedicated to them in Skyrim, despite being the most enigmatic race to ever grace Nirn. Yet this strange mansion you stumble upon is run by two of their contraptions...and their master is missing. Guess you'd better find out what's gone on!

Moonpath to Elsweyr
Available on:
Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

Moonpath to Elsweyr connects Skyrim to the vast deserts of the feline Khajiit. Here, you can bask under azure skies and hunt ferocious raptors in wild tangles of bush and jungle. This was actually one of the first quest mods ever made for Skyrim, but has recently started receiving regular updates again, making it one of the best mods around at the moment.

Beyond Bruma
Available on: Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

Do you remember the days you spent wandering around Bruma back when Mehrunes Dagon threatened to destroy Tamriel in Oblivion? Well, now you can go back to Bruma from Skyrim. With over 70 residents, Bruma looks better and feels more alive than ever before.

Skyrim companion mods

best Skyrim mods companions

Dovahbit of Caerbannog
Available on: Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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.

Dwemer Dogs companions
Available on:
Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

Although the Dwemer ruins of Skyrim are mostly abandoned, this mod adds three Dwemer doggos to Salvius Farm. They won’t actually fight for you, but they’ll follow you around and bark, which is incredibly wholesome and makes Skyrim about fifty times more enjoyable. You can also conjure these dwarven doggos if you buy the spell tome from Farengar in Whiterun. It’s amazing.

Vilja
Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

Vilja is a Nord alchemist that’s been helping players fulfil their destinies since way back in the days of Oblivion. Now she’s made her way to Skyrim to help the Dragonborn on their quest to prevent the apocalypse at the hands of Alduin, the World-Eater. However, perhaps the most interesting thing about Vilja is that Sir Terry Pratchett himself helped to develop her character (opens in new tab). Now all we need is a full-blown Discworld mod!

Bear Musician
Available on:
PC (opens in new tab)

This mod can only be downloaded directly from Steam. It’s pretty self-explanatory - it allows you to travel with a lute-bearing bear minstrel. Bring it to the Bard’s College so that it can fulfil its wildest dreams.

Skyrim NPC mods

best Skyrim mods npcs

Realistic Conversation Overhaul
Available on:
PS4 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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:
PC (opens in new tab)

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. 

Seriously Overstocked And Rich Merchants
Available on:
PS4 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

If you're a serious hoarder of trinkets and treasure from your quests, then one issue you may run into is merchants and/or fences running out of gold to buy your many wares. This mod helps solve that by giving them five times the regular amount of gold to trade with, as well as three times as much merchandise to sell to you. Cashback!
Note:
The PC link leads to the Bethesda.net website.

Run For Your Lives
Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

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.

Relationship Dialogue Overhaul
Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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.

Skyrim combat mods

best Skyrim mods combat

More Kill Moves and Decapitations
Available on:
PS4 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

This combines several of the BIG (Better Improvements for Gameplay) mods relating to combat in one package, bringing additional kill moves to your adventure and increasing the chance of you pulling them off during fights.

Phenderix: Magic Evolved
Available on: PS4 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

For those who love the sight of lightning crackling from their fingertips, you’re spoilt for choice with this mod as it adds over 400 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 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab), and try Increase Blood Amount on PS4 (opens in new tab)
It’s simple and the title says it all. Gore never looked better.

VioLens: A Killmove mod
Available on: PS4 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 someone while dual-wielding, brutal finishers, executions for dragons - it really has it all.

Wounds
Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

So you’ve been absolutely wrecked by a Draugr Deathlord, barely escaping with your life. However, all you have to do is down a health potion or two before you’re back to normal. With Wounds, you can actually pick up debilitating injuries that take days, weeks, or even months to heal properly. Smashed femur? That’s going to be an issue for two whole months.

Voice of Madness: A Wabbajack Shout
Available on
: PS4 (opens in new tab)

Unfortunately, this mod is only on PS4 at the moment. However, if you’re lucky enough to own a copy of Skyrim on PS4, and unlucky enough to have yet to experience the wonder of this mod, you should download it immediately. Everybody knows Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness, but what happens when you harness his chaotic energy and channel it into your Thu’um? Prepare to Wabbajack enemies into Oblivion and rain explosive cheese from darkened skies!

Cross and Jab
Available on:
PC (opens in new tab)

In some games, hand-to-hand combat is a joy. Just think of all the Fists of Fury quests in The Witcher 3! However, it’s pretty mundane in Skyrim. Cross and Jab changes that by adding in faster, more diverse punching animations, to the extent that you’ll likely start taking on dungeons as a bare-knuckle boxer just because of how satisfying it feels. It’s time to become Skyrim’s world heavyweight champion.

Skyrim world mods

best Skyrim mods travel

A Quality World map and Solstheim map
Available on: Xbox One (opens in new tab)PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab), and try Splendor: Dragon Variants on PS4 (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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.
Note: The PC link leads to the Bethesda.net website, as the NexusMods file is no longer supported.

Open Cities Skyrim
Available on: Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), Xbox One (opens in new tab), PC (opens in new tab)

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 the Bethesda.net website.

Really Useful Dragons
Available on: PC (opens in new tab)

Have you ever gotten bored of dragons? Although the diverse dragons mod makes the colossal beasts far more interesting, they’re still the same serpentine monsters you’ve been slaying since 2011. Cue really useful dragons, which changes all the dragons in Skyrim into Thomas the Tank Engine trains. You’re welcome.

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Will Sawyer
Will Sawyer

Will Sawyer is a freelance guides writer at GamesRadar+ who works with the rest of the guides team to give readers great information and advice on the best items, how to complete a particular challenge, or where to go in some of the biggest video games. Will joined the GameRadar+ team in August 2021 and has written about service titles, including Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Warzone, as well as some of the biggest releases like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Dying Light 2.

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