So, you're about to start an exciting new adventure in Tamriel. Maybe you've played Skyrim before. Maybe this is your first go-around. If you're playing on console, a wealth of options are now available to you, all thanks to the power of mods.
Accessing mods is easy: there should be an option right on the main menu:
Once selected, you will be prompted to sign in to your Bethesda account. If you don't have one, you can make on here. From there, you should be able to see the most popular mods, highly rated mods, and more:
It's literally just a matter of selecting your preferred mod, and downloading it. Easy. Do note that if you have mods active, your save file will disable achievements and trophies.
It's also worth noting that, depending on what platform you are playing on, your options will greatly differ. Unfortunately, on PS4, mods are more limited — Bethesda says that PS4 mods will not be able to use "external assets," which is a bummer. Some of the most famous, classic Skyrim mods, like the one that replaces Dragons with Thomas the Tank Engine, use all sorts of outside assets. Alas.
You can see this limitation on display when you compare the mod offerings. PS4, as of this writing, only has 47 mods on day one. Xbox One, by contrast, has 122. Both will gain many more mods as the days go on, but if you have a choice between the two versions, I'd suggest going with Xbox One — no shade, but that platform has more options. Bethesda says that in terms of storage available, you get 5 GB of mods on Xbox One and 1 GB of mods on PS4 as well.
With all of that said, what should you download? While you can view mods through the in-game interface, you can also sort through them on the official Bethesda website. Online, if you are logged in, you can queue up mods to download on your console, which is handy.
Here's what you should get, ranging from serious mods to totally ridiculous tweaks. It's not Skyrim unless it's both hardcore yet absurd, after all.
Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch, by Arthmoor
"A comprehensive bugfixing mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition. The goal of the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (aka USSEP) is to eventually fix every bug with Skyrim Special Edition not officially resolved by the developers to the limits of the Creation Kit and community-developed tools, in one easy-to-install package. Features: - Hundreds of gameplay, quest, NPC, object, item, text and placement bugs fixed. - Created by the authors of the Unofficial Oblivion Patch series. - No unsafe changes (such as deletions of stock objects). - Designed to be compatible with as many other mods as possible."
Call of Trainwiz, by TrainWiz
"People have often asked me "Trainwiz, if you are a wizard, and a train wizard, what train spells do you know?" So, to show those people, I created this mod. It adds a shout that, when used, will create an effect similar to Alduin's meteor shower spell. Except instead of meteors, they're trains. It will rain trains. You have read this correctly, and you have been warned. I take no responsibility for any damages sustained while it's raining [censored] trains."
Just Walk: No Fast Travel by DylanJames
"Just Walk" is a mod that disables Fast Travel and Fast Travel Messages in all of the vanilla worldspaces.
Cutting Room Floor, by Arthmoor
"A content restoration mod for Skyrim and the official DLCs. From the depths of the ether, or just the cutting room floor, comes forth several NPCs, some quests, and other miscellaneous content which was created but never implemented in the game. If ever you had the feeling that Skyrim was missing something, you were probably right! This mod should relieve a bit of that. Villages that were supposed to exist have been brought back. Quests that were partially implemented have been completed. Various items have been restored that were still in the data files. NPCs have been brought back to the game and given homes where appropriate. Plus plenty of other random bits of stuff that was mentioned in the game but didn't exist yet."
Immersive Poisoned Apples, by Bombchu
"Purification of Skyrim is my love letter to Oblivion's Dark Brotherhood questline. After finding the recipe, you'll be able to craft Poisoned Apples at any cooking station if you have the ingredients. You can then offer the them to denizens of Skyrim in conversation, depending on your relationship with the individual and your speechcraft skill. Also, depending whom you ask, you might see surprising responses ;) You'll also be able to sneak them into the pockets of unsuspecting victims to be discovered and consumed soon after. Note that this method does not work when used on members of the Thieve's Guild."
Elemental Destruction Magic, by reaperix
"Elemental Destruction Magic Adds earth, water, and wind as new types of destruction magic. Besides dealing the same amount of health damage as their vanilla counterparts, each new type of destruction magic has a unique secondary effect as well. Water spells stop enemy Magicka and Stamina regeneration for several seconds, earth spells stop Health regeneration and have a chance to stagger targets, and wind spells have a chance to blow targets away.
This mod contains 30 new spells, including 24 destruction spells, 6 conjuration spells, 3 weapon enchantments, and 3 armour enchantments, and 6 new perks. New spell casting enemies that use these new spells have also been added. This mod also includes the spell Ash Cloak, to replace the vanilla Whirlwind Cloak spell and adds a new Dragon Priest masks for each element."
Campfire: Complete Camping System, by Chesko
"Campfire is the most feature-rich camping gameplay mod for Skyrim, and the foundation of Frostfall. You are immediately granted two new Survival Skills, found in your Magic menu: Resourcefulness, and Instincts. Build a campfire from a small, fragile spark to a roaring blaze, and use it to cook with a cooking pot (or just grill right over the flames). Sit with your followers, keep warm, and let the larger campfires uplift and inspire you (granting a small XP bonus).
Create tents at any tanning rack. Stalk your prey using Instincts to see the sounds of nearby moving creatures, and be able to smell the dead (and undead!) from a long distance. Create and buy camping equipment using items in the world around you. Build 4 different kinds of tents, create tanning racks, a portable enchanting kit, and more. Use found deadwood to build hatchets, arrows, and other useful creations. You can create over a dozen useful items on-the-spot no matter where you are in Skyrim."
Frostfall: Hypothermia Camping Survival, by Chesko
"REQUIRES CAMPFIRE: COMPLETE CAMPING SYSTEM. 3.3 RELEASED. EXPECT UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT! ENJOY! You are now prepared to face a colder, harsher Skyrim. The three main components of Frostfall are hypothermia, cold water survival, and camping. Frostfall adds a deep, immersive level of gameplay to Skyrim, while keeping tedium to a minimum. An immersion mod should never get in the way of having fun. Frostfall tracks your location, weather, time of day, worn clothing, and more, to determine your current condition in a seamless way that feels easy to jump into and start playing. It is highly customisable, whether you're looking for a lightweight immersion enhancement or a deeper challenge."
Beast Skeletons, by Prometheus
"The Elder scrolls world feature several races, but , don't you find strange that in all dungeons and caves you only find human skeletons and skulls? This mod solves this little immersion problem by adding new skeletons for all races in a lore and non intrusive way . After all Skyrim is still a human dominated land so those beast skeletons will be rare, but yet, now will exist in world."
Funny Followers, by Trainwiz
By now you've probably realised that there just aren't any followers out there that really tickle your fancy! You're disappointed, and expected followers that were a bit more... well, funny.
The Forgotten City, by The Modern Storyteller
The Forgotten City is an award-winning, critically acclaimed expansion mod offering a unique 6 - 8 hour experience: a murder mystery investigation set in an ancient underground city. You'll need to solve it using your wits, and the ability to travel through time. It has a dark, non-linear story in which you'll interrogate suspects, explore the city and its many secrets, and navigate challenging moral dilemmas. It features multiple endings, an original orchestral score, and professionally voiced dialogue.
Rain and Snow FX, by Chesko
Rain and Snow FX allows your character to show frost and wetness (complete with dripping particle effects) when in the rain and in snowstorms. Your skin will also be wet during and just after swimming. When the weather clears or you walk into an interior, the effect will quickly go away. When in the snow, your skin and armour will ice over in a noticeable way. When in the rain, the effect is more subtle, but your skin will be shiny and dripping.
Ars Metallica by Arthmoor
A simple mod to expand on the crafting system in Skyrim. The crafting system is one of Skyrim's better features, but for thieves and archers, there's not much use for the system. Light armour is dead easy to come by in already finished forms, but arrows can sometimes be scarce in the types you may want. Lockpicks have been known to be somewhat scarce too, yet are relatively basic to construct.
Alternate Start - Live Another Life, by Arthmoor
Misery and despair have haunted you all your life. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, you've been arrested and thrown in the dungeons. Your trial was supposed to be weeks ago, only nobody has come for you. It's been so long since seeing daylight you no longer know what month it is anymore. The dungeon is cold, damp, and worse still, you're running out of food. At least you have that leak in the wall for water. It seems as though you've been forgotten, soon to rot away and die.
The eight have forsaken you! Or... have they? Live Another Life provides an alternative means to start the game for those who do not wish to go through the lengthy intro sequence at Helgen. You will be given the opportunity to choose your race and then choose a new life for your character to lead. A wide variety of choices will be available. What you choose will have a lasting impact, so choose carefully or the gods may forsake you again!
Relationship Dialogue Overhaul by Cloudedtruth
Adds over 5,000 lines of completely voiced dialogue for NPCs for more than 50 voice types, focusing mainly on friends, followers, spouses, and rivals. All dialogue is voiced using the original voices from the game, achieved through re-adding existing dialogue in new and suitable places, as well as editing together multiple lines to form brand new dialogue.
Rich Merchants of Skryim, by Micah Ghost
This is a simple mod that increases the extremely low vanilla merchant gold level to 10,000 gold for every merchant in game.
Immersive Indigestion, by AlpineYJ
This mod adds some indigestion to most of the NPCs in Skyrim. In other words, they now burp and expel flatulence. This is especially so when they are eating, exerting large amounts of effort (swinging a weapon), or when they discuss parts of the civil war with you. Yes, some of the sounds I created myself using my own indigestion. I won't tell you which ones. :)
VioLens - A Killmove Mod by The-Reko
VioLens - A Killmove Mod SE gives you in-game control over both Ranged and Melee Killmoves.
Ring Of Increased Carry Weight by Micah Ghost
A simple mod that adds a one ring that gives the wearer 1000 points of extra carry weight per ring, and another that adds 1000000 carry weight. It's your choice.
Katnip for Khajiits
This mod adds dried catnip to Skyrim, purchasable from the Khajiit caravans. If you are a Khajiit, the effects will be like that of a drug - similar to how catnip affects cats in the real world. First, you'll get a hit from the initial intake - the world will seem as though it's in overdrive for a few seconds (using the Slow effect). Once this has worn off, you'll see through a drugged haze (using the Sleeping Tree Sap effect), but your power in illusion will increase, as your perception of other realities is boosted. You will also find that your hunting instincts are sharpened (one-handed skill fortified by 10%).
P.S. Make sure to read the full description for these mods - in order for them to work, you will sometimes need additional files / other standalone mods.
If you've got a recommendation to share, make sure to leave a comment!