How one player turned Skyrim into Dark Souls with 500 mods

Skyrim Dark Souls mods
(Image credit: Bethesda / Bandai Namco via HeavyBurns)

Skyrim enthusiast HeavyBurns has turned Bethesda's iconic fantasy RPG into a veritable Dark Souls emulator with the combined power of roughly 500 mods. 

HeavyBurns first tried Souls-ifying Skyrim back in 2020 by combining a medley of mods that altered its visuals, combat, and interface, among other things. The result was impressive, but not up to HeavyBurns' current standards. With The Elder Scrolls 6 a long way off, Skyrim getting another re-release, and FromSoftware's Elden Ring not out until January, he's decided to try it again, and to go much more in-depth. 

"There has been a huge influx of revolutionary animation and combat mods that came out in the past year, and specifically in the past few months, which originally inspired the remake of the video," he tells GamesRadar. He highlights the impressive work of The Elder Souls collection in particular, which sports over 120 weapon animations based on those in the Souls games. New tools like the animation engine Nemesis have enabled better, more intuitive mods, so while HeavyBurns isn't a mod maker himself, he says it's easier than ever to layer mods to great effect. 

"After that initial inspiration, I started to look back and see that I missed quite a large opportunity in that original video to cover more ground in terms of content," he adds. "There are a large number of creature, weapon, armor, UI and sound mods which I simply wasn't aware of at the time of making the video, and some even that have come out since."

HeavyBurns is now working with 30 to 40 core mods that introduce large chunks of content ranging from enemies, items, environments, and more. But when you factor in all the assets, textures, lighting touch-ups, compatibility fixes, and other effects, he reckons this project is sitting at around 500 mods total. 

It's amazing how deep the Skyrim Souls rabbit hole goes; one large-scale mod with its own questline and area will form the frame of HeavyBurns' next modded playthrough, but that's far from the only unique quest or region. 

"I've always just been a huge Dark Souls and Elder Scrolls fan," HeavyBurns explains. "Which is why merging the two together in a way which is not only interesting to experience, but also satisfying and rewarding to play is a really fun idea to me, and incorporating that into the love I've found for video production over the past year or so will hopefully make something awesome to watch and useful to follow along afterwards." 

(Update: HeavyBurns has posted his video outlining the process and results of his grand Dark Souls-ificiation. Give it a watch.)

HeavyBurns will showcase his Skyrim overhaul in an upcoming video on his YouTube channel, so keep an eye out for that in the near future. For now, have a gander at these screenshots of the mod collection in action:

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Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.