Combat is arguably the most important aspect of the game. In order to overhaul how Skyrim plays, we are going to need some high quality combat, enemy & difficulty enhancement mods. Bookmark this guide or watch the video and subscribe to my Youtube channel if you want more updates quicker.
This is going to be a fairly long guide, and before we begin, first you need to know how to mod Skyrim and also install at least a couple of must-have mods.
How to Mod Skyrim LE & SE
If you don’t know how to mod Skyrim, check out my beginner’s guide to modding Skyrim SE (Special Edition). It opens in new tab so go ahead and click it.
It’s the same for LE (Legendary Edition). You just need to download appropriate mods between them.
Also go through my performance optimization guide, it’s super important if you want to keep your game running smoothly, especially when you have a lot of mods installed.
When you’re done with all of that, other must-have mods are:
- SkyUI (much better UI obviously with many options, but also MCM menu capabilities for other mods to use or you won’t be able to configure them).
- Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (tons of bug fixes, must have).
- SSE Engine Fixes (also tons of bug fixes, but with the engine of the game).
Those would be the minimal requirements before you start doing anything else when it comes to modding Skyrim. There are many other fixes & improvements mods but that’s out of the scope of this guide.
Wildcat – Combat of Skyrim
In my opinion, the single most important combat mod for Skyrim. Wildcat will overhaul enemy AI even if you disable all the options it comes with. Speaking of those other options, they are:
- Attacks of opportunity.
- Stamina costs.
- Injury & stagger system.
- Timed blocking.
- Lethality (speed of combat).
- Various other options & settings.
There’s also another optional plugin that will increase damage dealt and taken, and normally I wouldn’t use this, but since the 2nd mod on this list kind of slows down combat, this plugin will help restore combat speed to vanilla level (but with a lot more depth to it).
Wildcat is also very performance friendly.
True Armor SE
True Armor is a beast. It completely overhauls how all armor in Skyrim functions. It provides a ton of MCM menu settings, but don’t be discouraged because the author has been kind enough to create a couple of different presets which you can simply import and the mod will do everything else without you having to configure it much.
There are other configuration options which are worth going through though. This mod is a bit more script heavy so if you notice (probably not) any performance issues, you might want to pass on it.
Mortal Enemies SE
Mortal Enemies is a bit smaller and more compact, but at its core it alters some combat speed values, removes aim-bot capabilities of NPCs, reduces their cone area of attack and basically makes combat a lot more realistic.
In vanilla Skyrim, NPCs will never miss and often hit you even if the animation clearly indicates they’ve missed you. This mod fixes that.
It’s 100% compatible with everything else on this list, you can load it last to make sure all of its changes are overwriting all other mods.
TK Dodge SE
This mod will enable you to dodgeroll attacks and basically avoid hits by utilizing your stamina for something other than sprinting. It can be very useful if you’re playing a squishy mage build for example.
It comes with an MCM menu where you can tweak all the settings as well as hotkeys and how to activate the roll.
SkyTEST – Realistic Animals and Predators SE
SkyTEST also functions as an AI enhancer for all animals in Skyrim, but it also tweaks their stats and makes them more deadly. At its core, it changes their behavior and makes them a lot more realistic. But it does a lot more than that!
Ordinator – Perks of Skyrim
Ordinator is the best perk overhaul mod in my opinion, so it’s not necessarily a combat only related mod, but since it changes how the game plays, it inevitably affects combat as well.
It brings you new perks, tons of new possible builds to play, new powers & spells etc. It’s definitely a must have mod.
Here’s my dedicated guide for Ordinator SE.
Wards Functionalities Extended
This mod will overhaul how the wards of Skyrim function. It has an MCM menu where you can tweak many settings, such as ward cost reduction, how they interact with melee or ranged weapons etc. It’s really useful for all mages, but not only mages, even semi-mage builds like for example a Spellsword.
In addition to that it also makes shouts pass through wards, and it incorporates two new ward spells into the game, one expert and one master level ward.
High Level Enemies
This is one of my favorite mods, it’s not big and it affects the game significantly. This is also not necessarily a combat only related mod, but since it affects the difficulty of the game, it definitely helps to make things deadlier.
There are two options for high level enemies. The first one will add over 800 new enemies to the world of Skyrim and they will start appearing once you reach level 10.
There’s also an optional plugin for the Dawnguard area.
The second option does everything that the first one does, but it also upscales all those enemies to your level (dynamically) so they will keep leveling up with you. This affects both new enemies, as well as vanilla enemies.
This doesn’t mean that (for example) a level 50 enemy you encounter will be down-leveled, they will still outlevel you if you find them in the world, but once you pass their threshold, they will be upscaled as well. And this is a nice way to enhance the difficulty of the game.
Load this mod last to make sure that it affects as many other mods as possible.
Smaller Combat Fixes & Improvements Mods
And finally, don’t forget to check out these smaller fixes & improvements mods that will further improve how your game plays:
- Realistic Ragdolls & Force.
- Realistic AI Detection SE.
- Realistic Melee Range.
- Fixed Body Collision.
- No Spinning Death Animation.
- D13 Faster Get up Stand up Animation.
- No BS AI Projectile Dodge.
- Disable Cinematic Kills.
- Proper Aiming.
- Shout Cooldowns That Make Sense.
- Encounter Zones Unlocked SE.
- No Cell Respawn.
All mods that I’ve mentioned in this guide are for Skyrim SE (Special Edition) but most of them should be available for Skyrim LE (Legendary Edition) as well.
If something is not, and you really want it, you can always buy Skyrim SE (STEAM key) on a huge discount.
Where to Find More Skyrim Mods & Content
You can browse Skyrim SE Mods @ Nexus (pro tip: sort by popularity to avoid a lot of new junk).
If you’re playing Skyrim LE, use this link instead. Certain mods (and especially textures) will work between the editions.