Skyrim modder creates the best-looking version of the game possible - but at what cost?

(Image credit: Bethesda)

A Skyrim player has used a collection of some of the best Skyrim mods to push the game to its absolute limit, with incredible (albeit very low-FPS) results.

In a post on the game's subreddit, user ShoddyCover said that they'd pushed the game's graphics "so hard I could smell something burning." The accompanying video offers a look at a version of Skyrim that's almost photorealistic at first glance, but soon proves to be a little more than the player's PC can deal with, as the game is modded so hard that the frame rate is seriously suffering.

Traditionally, one might assume that the PC hardware is at fault for the stuttering, but ShoddyCover says they're running the game on an impressive setup, complete with an SSD, plenty of RAM, and an NVIDIA 30-series graphics card. Even with all that, however, this particular version of Skyrim is only running at 10-15 frames per second, only approaching 30fps with Depth of Field turned off.

To get the game looking this good, ShoddyCover provides a veritable library of mods that they've used to improve the visuals. Starting with general-purpose modding tools like Skyrim Script Extender and SkyUI, they list enhanced weather effects, improved lighting, and more detailed combat. That's just the start, as they also cite immersive movement and camera mods, two different water mods, and no fewer than six mods to improve Skyrim's vegetation.

On top of that, ShoddyCover says that 4K resolution and 2K textures are "everything," and once those are in place, "you have to look outside for the proper lighting and shadows." Finally, they say they've "fully utilized" their ENB, a series of enhancements attached to the Direct3D drawing processes used by a number of games.

ShoddyCover eventually explained that they never actually smelled burning, but it's probably best not to try and emulate their efforts unless you're an experienced modder with some serious hardware at your disposal. ShoddyCover's PC might have survived, but there's no guarantee you won't fry your setup if you try something similar.

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Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.