The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC back in 2011, to overwhelmingly positive reviews.  Unfortunately the game has aged rather badly over the years, but fortunately, Bethesda has released a special edition for the newer-gen consoles and PC, labeled the Special Edition.  Again, unfortunately, it hasn’t addressed many of the age-related problems with the game.  The vanilla experience is still pretty bland, in terms of effects (weather, lighting), and the game hasn’t been enhanced much from the original (less the mild updates to the textures and possible static meshes?).  The leveling system feels dated, and slow.  Playing a mage is boring.

I’ve played Skyrim for over 5 years, but each time I try to play through it, I get sidetracked, and end up trying to find the best possible mods to enhance my experience.  So I’ve never gotten very far in the story.  A week or so ago, I ended up buying the Special Edition for my Xbox One, and this time I’ll finish the story.  I’m convinced I’ve found the best necessary mods to enhance my play style.  And so to help those of you who are looking for the best mods, I’m making this list.

Enhanced Lights And FX

https://bethesda.net/en/mods/skyrim/mod-detail/4030540

This mod overhauls the built-in lighting of Skyrim (which is rather unimpressive, to be honest), with incredible lighting and effects.  Once I installed this mod, I couldn’t possibly imagine playing without it.  It adds immersion to the game, by simply making the lighting more realistic.

 

Sounds of Skyrim

https://bethesda.net/en/mods/skyrim/mod-detail/4012041

Sounds of Skyrim improves the background audio of Skyrim Special Edition by adding an amazing amount of new sounds.  From dogs barking, to idle banter.  The world will begin to feel more full, and realistic.  This one, you kind of don’t realize how important it would be, until you feel it (read: hear it) for yourself.  You will need to install a few separate mods for this one, as they’ve created packages for towns, dungeons, and the world.

 

Ordinator – Perks of Skyrim

https://bethesda.net/en/mods/skyrim/mod-detail/2983497

This mod adds 400 unique perks into the game, and completely overhauls the perk trees, in a more logical structure.  Included in the 400 new perks are amazing enhancements to gameplay.  I’m playing a mage/alchemist, and alchemy gets really fun around level 40.

 

Apocalypse – Magic Of Skyrim

https://bethesda.net/en/mods/skyrim/mod-detail/2978320

Apocalypse (by the creators of Ordinator) completely overhauls playing a mage in Skyrim (or even a spellsword if you’re into that kind of thing).  The vanilla experience is pretty limited (and definitely immersion-breaking), but with Apocalypse you can wield magic that you’ve never dreamed of.  It probably isn’t relevant if you’re playing as a non-magic user, though, but personally, I’d say this is the mod that has improved my experience the most.  If you’re also using Ordinator, be sure to install the Ordinator Apocalypse compatibility patch.

 

Rich Merchants of Skyrim

https://bethesda.net/en/mods/skyrim/mod-detail/2958369

I decided to focus on alchemy during this play through because I never really got down with alchemy in games.  It made sense, as I was also a mage, so I could mix as many restore magicka potions as I needed.  But I also found that if you make “damage magicka regen” potions, they can sell for quite a bit.  Which is an awesome way to make a ton of cash in Skyrim, but the only drawback was that usually, merchants didn’t have very much gold and so I couldn’t ‘get rich quick’ because the economy didn’t allow for it.  So, this mod resolves that.  (I’ve been getting about 1600 gold per damage magicka regen potions).

 

One of the things that I absolutely love about Skyrim is how open the modding community is; and how broad it is.  With the amount of quality mods out there, it can sometimes be a daunting task to find the perfect fit for your play-through.  I suppose, this shouldn’t be a “Top 5” list because I haven’t played with a lot of the available mods out there, so if you know some other great mods, drop some links in the comments!