A good part of Skrim’s popularity over a decade after it was first released can easily be credited to its huge modding community. Even as the second edition of the game, Skyrim Special Edition has several thousand mods online, giving players an endless amount of content to explore.
This list of the best Skyrim mods for Special Edition is a collection of some of the most popular mods used by the community across various categories. While you don’t want to overload your PC with every mod here, you can pick ones that interest you the most so you can tailor your next adventure for the ultimate Skyrim experience.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda games was first released in 2011, and was followed by Special Edition in 2016. It is one of the most popular PC games of its time and is still going strong with a huge community still playing the game.
Skyrim SE Essential Patches
Before you dive into specific Skyrim mods that make the game more fun, you might want to consider these essential patches and software that are prerequisites for a lot of the mods on this list.
Mod managers to install Skyrim mods
Most mods for Skyrim SE cannot simply be copied to the destination folders. They need to be installed into the game with the help of mod managers. These installation-software process mods and implement them into the game as well as possible.
Mod Organizer 2, nexus mod manager, and Vortex are some of the more popular mod managers used to install Skyrim mods today. You can find our guide to modding Skyrim here.
Skyrim Script extender
SKSE surpasses the regular modding capabilities that the script of vanilla Skyrim allows, letting mods access new levels of functionality. This can be seen in mods that don’t need require SKSE for some of their features but unlock new ones when given access to it.
Having Skyrim Script Extender installed is a prerequisite condition for many of the mods available on the nexus mods website today. Installing SKSE is a little bit different from installing regular mods. Here you can find an in-depth guide to installing SKSE here.
Unofficial Skyrim Special edition patch
No game is without its bugs and glitches, and definitely not this one. The unofficial Skyrim patch takes up the noble cause of fixing these bugs. Using this patch fixes hundreds of issues across various areas of the game like NPCs, quests, etc.
This is one of the most basic yet important mods for Skrim. It performs one of the most integral functions it could to see to it that your game runs as smoothly as possible.
This Skyrim mod brings a major overhaul to the menu system of Skyrim SE. It adds an inventory management system to most menus of the game that easily let you find the items you want with the options of searching, sorting, and more.
One of the most important features of SkyUI is its mod configuration menu, This menu is used by hundreds of mods to let you customize their options. Not having this patch installed could severely limit the functionality of these mods. Learn how to install SkyUI for Skyrim SE and how to fix SkyUI error code 5 (a very common issue new players have when installing SkyUI).
Skyrim SE Mods for Gameplay
These Skyrim SE mods alter various aspects of your gameplay from the magic system to the way you start your adventure.
Apocalypse- Magic of Skyrim
Apocalypse- Magic of Skyrim is a huge add-on to the magic system of Skyrim SE.
This spell pack mod introduces 155 new spells to the game’s already-extensive list. This includes 31 unique lore-friendly spells for each school of magic. Each of these spells has high-quality custom animations that seamlessly fit in with the game’s vanilla list.
Ars Metallica- Smithing Enhancements
Ars Metallica is a Smithing mod for Skyrim SE that adds a ton of functionality to forging, smelting, and more.
Skyrim SE comes with an extensive variety of smithing options. However, most of these are catered towards heavy weapon users with very little for stealthy players to look forward to. The mod fixes this problem by adding new options to the list of craftable items. Lockpicks and arrows made that can now be made from raw materials.
Ars Metallica also improves smithing by allowing related skills like mining, melting, and tanning to add to your skill advancement.
Rich Skyrim Merchants
Returning from dangerous dungeons to sell the loot you worked so hard collect, only to have the merchant run out of money can be one of the most annoying feelings in the game. Rich Skyrim Merchants is a simple mod that lets you rectify this annoyance by increasing the Gold these merchants possess to the degree you wish.
You can increase the Gold in possession of these traders by 2,5 and 10 times depending on the amount of loot you expect to bring along in your next playthrough.
Andromeda – Unique Standing Stones of Skyrim
The Andromeda mod for Skyrim SE brings a much-needed overhaul to the standing stones of Skyrim.
While the standing stones are incredibly helpful during your adventure, their lack of versatility becomes increasingly evident with each consecutive playthrough. Andromeda changes things up by giving each standing stone new and unique powers that not only feel more tailored to specific builds but encourage new ones.
This patch gives each standing stone two unique powers that you can access by activating it. In addition to this, finding all the standing stones in the game unlocks a new unique ability in each stone; making all of them more powerful and giving you more of a reason to explore the map.
Archery Gameplay Overhaul SE
The archer is one of the most popular playstyles seen in Skyrim SE. However, this facet of the game has barely seen any support that would make it as immersive as should be. The archery gameplay overhaul mod attempts to change this with its improvements to the bow and arrow.
This mod adds enchanted arrows and new bleeding mechanics to change the way you look at bows in the game. The bleed damage scales with your enemy’s level so you will consistently be dealing fair amounts of bleed damage to the enemy. It also adds new animations bow crosshairs. that enhance your archery gameplay.
If you often find yourself drawn to the bows of Skyrim, this Archery overhaul might be one of the best Skyrim SE mods for you.
Alternate Start – Live Another Life – SSE
If you have experienced multiple playthroughs of Skyrim, you probably understand how repetitive the starting cut scene can will. ‘Live another life’ can easily fix that for you.
This alternate start patch kicks off your adventure in a prison cell and requires you to speak to a statue of Mara. This will open up a dialogue box that lets you choose the type of life you want your character to spawn in. You can choose to be a member of a guide or go through several other custom choices.
Racemenu brings a whole new variety of options to the character creation process of Skyrim Special Edition.
The menus seen during character creation receive an overhaul to look like those provided by SkyUI with categorizations, filters, and more. This patch also brings new sets of body paints, hand paints, foot paints, that you can add to your character.
Visual Skyrim Mods
While Skyrim came with great visuals for its time, it can hardly compete with the PC games released today. These mods aid the game so it can keep up with the new-age graphics and stay alive in the current times.
A Quality World Map
As the title suggests, this mod adds an improved set of world maps.
Skyrim Special Edition does a lot of things right; however, their choice of a world map does not fit everybody’s taste. While still being reasonable appealing, it is can often feel unreliable as a navigation tool.
‘A quality world map’ adds a new set of high-resolution maps to the game. You can choose between a higher-quality version of the classic map with a few additional features like detailed roads or a paper version of the map with new textures.
Static Mesh Improvement Mod – SMIM
Skyrim’s excellence as an RPG has carried it through a decade. However, a lot of its polygon 3D meshes barely hold up against the graphics of the games released in this generation of gaming. SMIM attempts to improve these designs with a bit of a retexture.
Static Mesh Improvements is one of the more ambitious mods on this list. It improves 3D models of over 900 meshes in the game by altering over 30,000 throughout Skyrim. This change significantly improves the visual appeal of the world around you.
Vivid Weathers Definitive Edition – a complete Weather and Visual overhaul for Skyrim SE
Not many weather mods compare to the functionality that Vivid weathers brings to the table, especially without requiring you to use an ENB.
Vivid weathers introduces over 500 variations to Skyrim’s weather including but not limited to clear skies, light snowfall, blizzards, light drizzles, and thunderstorms. It adds new cloud textures, thunder sounds, and better fog visuals in order to change the entire visual experience that Skyrim offers, making it one of the best Skyrim mods for weather alteration.
While this mod does not require ENB, it has the support required for it. You can find out more about using ENB on our Skyrim SE ENB guide.
Enhanced lights and FX
Enhanced Lights and Effects is one of the most popular visual mods for Skyrim SE and for good reasons. It drastically changes the relatively dull and unvarying lighting of Skyrim’s base game to a more dynamic one. This gives the in-game world a whole new level of realism.
The changes made by this mod are easily noticeable indoors. It lets you have darker interiors, and dungeons that are accurately lit with their light sources, alter various light sources, change the way water reflections look, and much more.
Realistic Lighting Overhaul SSE
The Realistic lighting overhaul for Skyrim SE may seem like another visual mod that changes up the light sources of the same. And sure, it does do that. However, what earns it a spot on this list is its ability to do the things that other mods of its kind do without compromising on frame rates.
This patch tries to keep tries to stay lightweight while implementing immersive lighting changes to Skyrim. It does so by giving building interiors and dungeons adaptive lighting that is in Sync with the time of the day without using post-processing effects. It makes spells emit light, making them look considerably cooler.
Majestic Mountains overhauls the lighting and textures of the mountains of Skyrim to let them fit your taste. This mod alters the lighting in Skyrim SE by syncing it up with the night and day cycle as well as the changing weather in the game.
It also gives you a bunch of options of alternate mountain textures like having its surface covered with moss.
The mod comes in three versions that each offers a different tone to the game. They are called default, Darkside, and light side and differ in terms of textures and lightings.
Total Character Makeover
While Skyrim has a positive reputation in the general gaming community, its character designs do not (Especially in 2022). They can often feel fall short in terms of their degree of realism in comparison to a lot of other visual aspects of the game.
Total Character Makeover is a visual mod that alters the appearance of NPCs to make them more appealing and detailed. It adds new textures for the various races that live in Skyrim as well as textures for Vampires. It also tweaks a lot of the hand and foot meshes to provide a better visual experience to users.
Weapons and Armor Mods
While the game comes with an extensive amount of weapons and armor sets, you can never get enough of them. These weapon and armour mods add a wide variety of items to the game so you can continue hunting for better sets and keep your collection growing.
This mod adds brand-new armor sets to the game that seamlessly blend into the world around them.
Immersive armors builds on the already-amazing collection of armor sets that the game provides by adding another 55 sets on of its own. These include new shields, helmets, capes, eye patches, regular combat gear, and much more that can be crafted and upgraded if you choose.
The extensive amount of items that this patch adds makes it one of the best Skyrim mods of its kind. It gives you the option to choose whether or not you want these armor sets to be specific to certain cultures, worn by NPCs, worn by specific types of enemies, and much more.
Immersive weapons adds a ton of lore-friendly weapons to Skyrim that feel right in place with the environment of the world.
Just like Immersive armor, this mod brings a bunch of new item options to the game. It comes with 230 new weapons, some of which bring in new weapon Archetypes to Skyrim. These weapons can even be used by enemies (even by dual wielders).
Each weapon through this mod feels unique in its own way. Some weapons can be obtained through quests or accomplishing feats in the game while others can easily be looted from bandits.
LeanWolf’s Better-Shaped Weapons SE
This mod intends to refine the weapon designs of Skyrim by replacing the thick and Bulky weapons with Sleeker versions of them.
Instead of increasing the collection of weapons in Skyrim SE, LeanWolf’s Better Shaped weapons replaces the meshes of ones that would realistically feel uncomfortable to wield. It replaces arrows, swords, daggers, battleaxes, and many more weapons of most materials.
Zerofrost Mythical Armors
If you want to pass on having realistic-looking armor sets and wield fantastical ones instead, this might be the best mods for you. Zerofrost Mythical Armors adds a bunch of cool new armor to the game, in addition to a huge bonus item.
This mod may be severely limited in terms of the quantity of armor that it adds to the game. However, it more than makes up for it in terms of quality. It adds a well-detailed Dragonlord Armor for male characters and A cool silver Valkyrie for female characters in addition to a nightingale prime one for all players. The patch also adds an actual dragon to the game with meshes that resemble the darker armor sets.
Unique Uniques SE
As the title suggests, this mod adds unique versions of unique items to the game.
Unique Uniques SE by Insanity Sorrow is one of the more popular weapon mods in the game right now. It replaces the weapon models of unique weapons in Skyrim with new ones that truly fit their titles. The changes made to these weapons are in tune with the lore about them and the people they belong to.
Skyrim SE expanded Skyrim Weaponry
If you’re looking for a bunch of new weapons across all material types, this might be the mod for you.
Skyrim’s Expanded weaponry mod adds 105 new weapons to the game. It includes 10 weapons of the 10 weapon materials and 5 weapons made of Stalhrim including Warhammers, battleaxes, and more.
The mod comes in two versions; One where the new weapons can only be crafted so NPCs will not have access to them. The other one lets anybody use the weapons. This lets you easily loot them from enemies if you wish to.
Scoped Bows SE
Scoped bows is a fantastic mod for players that love playing an archer in Skyrim, especially ones that use the build with stealth.
As the title states, Scoped bows adds another layer of precision to bows in the form of scopes. These newly added variations of bows come with two scopes. One of them can be used for quick shots in dynamic battles where hiding isn’t an option while the other focuses on immense precision with stealth.
You can find a more detailed list of the 30+ best weapon mods here.
NPC and Follower Mods
Skyrim’s rich variety of NPCs is one of its best features. The mods below offer players a bunch of new additions related to NPCs like bandit organizations and an altered AI. It also provides you with new followers to enrich the journey of the Dragonborn.
Immersive Citizens – AI Overhaul SE
Even with numerous consequences to actions, the NPC AI in Skyrim rarely ever feels realistic. This mod alters how NPCs interact with their environment to produce more human-like reactions.
Immersive Citizens changes the AI of Skyrim NPCs so they behave like they would be expected to, from their description. It sets their behavior in tune with a real day-to-day cycle of somebody with their lives would look like. NPCs will be found working on their craft more often and ones with close relationships with other NPCs can be found spending time with them.
This mod makes NPC behavior in Skyrim SE feel more realistic as they converse with each other with a better sense of their environment.
The Realistic Conversations patch improves the social interactions between the people of Skyrim by making them a bit more pragmatic with their approach. These NPCs will now greet you less often; especially if you are not close to them. They will also be less likely to converse with other NPCs that they have spoken to before.
This mod intends to imitate real-life conversations in comparison to ones that feel programmed.
OBIS SE – Organized Bandits In Skyrim Special Edition
The Organized Bandits mod introduces new and organized bandit groups to Skyrim with members ranging across various levels and hierarchal positions.
OBIS includes 2500 bandit NPCs that are a part of various organizations. Each group comes with its own traits and lore, making encounters with bandits feel fresh as you fight them. A few of these Bandits are designed to drop expensive items that can be sold for a good amount of gold.
Amazing Follower Tweaks
Instead of adding new followers, this mod improves the follower system of the game to let you customize the role your followers play in your adventures.
Amazing Follower Tweaks lets you have multiple followers, manage their outfits, and teach them new spells. It improves their AI and gives you more control of their playstyle in the game. You can even turn your followers into werewolves, Vampires, and Vampire Lords.
Populated Cities Towns Villages SE Edition
This mod does exactly what it says by populating the habitable locations of Skyrim to make them feel more realistic
The mod introduces over 150 generic NPCs to these locations to make them look well inhabited . Whiterun, Riften, and Solitude receive some of the biggest changes in population with over 25 new NPCs added to each of them. These NPCs can be hunters, merchants, beggars, just regular citizens, and much more.
Inigo is a fan-favorite follower and for good reasons. He is a skilled fighter, comes with a great AI, and makes for an amazing travel companion.
This Khaajit warrior is a nearly perfect follower as he is. However, you can still use his dialogue commands to change the way he interacts with you and everybody else around him. You can alter his fighting style, NPC interactions, and more.
Lucien- Immersive fully voiced follower.
Lucien is a fun follower with one of the best character development arcs in Skyrim.
If you’re looking for a companion with more than just good companion traits, Lucien is might be the follower for you. He will start off with a cowardly personality but you can watch it slowly develop as he learns from the Dragonborn and grows into a worthy partner. He comes with over 5000 lines of custom dialogue has is designed to have some fun banter with various other mod NPCs.
You can find a longer and more detailed list of Skyrim followers here.
Location and Quest mods
Skyrim has an incredibly extensive amount of content you can interact with. If you have somehow managed to get everything you need out of it already, here are some of the best Skyrim special edition mods that add new quests and locations to the game.
Instead of adding new locations to the game, JK’s Skyrim makes changes to existing locations to make them visually and functionally more appealing.
This mod overhauls the cities, towns, and villages of Skyrim by taking parts of it that seem unnecessary and replacing them with immersive additions. You can find new buildings and vendors in these locations that fit right in.
Cutting room floor
This mod restores a lot of the content that was cut from Skyrim and its DLC packs.
Cutting room floor completes and releases the unreleased content of Skyrim including quests, NPCs, and a bunch of miscellaneous content like items and scenes. It also changes up a few locations by restoring them to their originally intended states, making it one of the best Skyrim mods for players that prefer content that fits right into the world.
Beyond Skyrim- Bruma SSE
This mod lets you visit the city of Bruma beyond the border of Skyrim.
Bruma is the northmost city of Cyrodiil, south of Skyrim. ‘Bruma SSE’ brings this city to life with over 70 NPCs, with new fully voiced dialogues. Its ambitiousness competes with that of the Dragonborn DLC as it brings new questlines with the city. You can even find unique sets of Cyrodilic weapons and Armor.
Wyrmsooth is a relatively new mod for Skyrim SE that adds a new island to the game packed with a ton of new content to explore.
This patch sends you up North to slay a dragon on the island of Wyrmwood. This player-designed location brings new items, spells, and even a shout to the game. You also have the option to acquire an abandoned fort for yourself if you choose to.
Legacy of the Dragonborn
While primarily being a quest mod, Legacy of the Dragonborn feels like a pseudo-expansion to the game.
In addition to all the events taking place in Skyrim through this patch that give rise to new quests, this mod comes with content centered around the new ‘Explorer’s Society’guild. This gives you access to new questlines and a museum that lets you display your collected items. While being a standalone patch, it is supported by several other mods that add to the experience it provides.
This mod lets you partake in the rebuilding of Helgen, which was destroyed by a dragon attack at the start of the game.
Helgen Reborn lets you explore its content through a new questline that will uncover new secrets hidden in this patch. It adds new dungeons and quests with fully voiced NPCs that can add multiple hours of playtime to your Skyrim adventure.
Falskaar adds a new location to the game with several hours’ worth of content including new quests to complete and items to collect.
With a few main questlines and several other smaller side quests, brings a lot of new items to add to your collections. In addition to weapons and armor sets, you will be able to find unique books and recipes newly added to the game via this mod.
Immersive World Encounters
While this is not exactly a mod that adds new quests to the game, it fills Skyrim with smaller encounters that are just as satisfying.
One of the best parts about Skyrim is the ability to encounter random events that take place during your adventure. Immersive world encounters adds about 100 new encounters like these that randomly take place in the world. These events may be interactive or just an interesting passing sight.
If you have played the game for long enough and need a bit of a challenge or are just looking for a bit more realism in the game, these are some of the best Skyrim mods that make it feel like a real survival game.
One of the most basic aspects of survival is sustainability. This patch alters the game so that you feel a real need to nourish yourself and get your needed amounts of rest often enough.
You will need to keep yourself alive by eating, drinking, and sleeping at regular sustainable intervals or you will find yourself suffering the consequences. The mod uses a buff and debuff system to reward/ punish you depending on how you play the game. Your state of health will also be affected by alcohol and transformations.
This mod adds camping elements to Skyrim so you can use your environment to build a camp for yourself to find safety in. It lets you acquire camping equipment that you can use to harvest materials to craft a campfire and the resources needed to live around it. You will be able to progress in this skill proficiency and eventually build better camps.
While this may this is not a patch that imposes survival conditions upon you, it is used as a prerequisite to the next mod ‘Frostfall’ so you can stay safe from the environmental damage you take.
Frostfall takes advantage of the cold environment of Skyrim to convert it into a hardcore survival game.
This mod uses cold weather to seamlessly integrate Hypothermia into the game making survival through long shivery paths a tough feat. This challenge can be combated using the advantages provided through the campfire mod listed above.
Instead of focusing on basic needs, Scarcity SE increases the difficulty of survival by cutting down the amount of loot you gain in Skyrim.
The lack of resources gained reduces the amount of gold you can earn through selling loot. This can impact almost every other survival aspect of the game as it forces you to spend time hunting for loot and rationing out what you have. You are given the option to adjust the degree of scarcity of these resources to fit the kind of adventure you want to run.
While this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the best mods for Skyrim SE on the Nexus mods website right now. Mix and match the ones you think will work the best for you and you can have an entirely different experience the next time you play Skyrim.
Do you agree with this list? Which of these Skyrim mods do you intend to use during your next playthrough? Let us know in the comment section below.