Gaming

Complete guide to Skyrim

Skyrim

Since its initial release back in 2011, Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has graced the market for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One (Including Kinect capability), PS4, PSVR, and Nintendo Switch. Moreover, there are also three versions of the game regarding content as well: The base Elder Scrolls V game (2011), the Legendary Edition (with all three DLC included), and Skyrim Special Edition (2016) which also has all DLC included along with remastered graphics.

Normally when a game releases “updated” versions of a game the question of which to get is self-explanatory: Get the latest one! But with Skyrim the choice is a bit harder. Why? Because if you’re playing Skyrim in 2019 you’re likely playing it with mods. And lots of them. The modding community has become a huge part of both Skyrim’s fan base and its commercial success, and certain mods, especially ones made several years ago, will not work in Skyrim’s later editions.

For example, there are specific graphic mods that work well with the original Skyrim that are obviously not compatible with Skyrim: SE, since the Special Edition already enhances aspects such as water and spell-casting FX, water flow, god rays, dynamic depth of field, and screen-space reflections. Does Bethesda handle these changes better than the modders? The answer is subjective; everyone has different taste.

This graphic mod is cool but won't work on SE
This cool ENB mod from Sung9533 won’t work on Skyrim Special Edition

As such, this guide will be taking you through the different elements that make up Skyrim: Graphics, content, RPG, and smooth gameplay (yeah, there are bugs) in an attempt to help create the best Skyrim tips for you. The beauty of Elder Scrolls V is that with multiple editions of the game and a massive, growing community of modders, if you’re not enjoying Skyrim you’re simply not doing it right! Is the vanilla experience for you? Maybe the Special Edition with a couple added NPCs? Or are you going to load up 50+ mods to completely transform the game into something else entirely? Let’s get started!

Why is Skyrim good? Why is it so popular?

The base game released in 2011 was critically acclaimed, with over 230,000 players on the first day of its release on Steam. Within two days of the game’s launch, 3.4 million units were sold. Impressive to be sure, but what was the draw? Bethesda did what they arguably do best: Created an open sandbox experience in a living, breathing world; literally infinite side quests, engaging combat, a streamlined RPG system that still offers tremendous replayability, and DLC content that adds value to the core game without overshadowing content.

Shalidor's Insight provides useful scrolls to temporarily bump your magic skills
Urag will always have a fetch quest in a randomly-generated cave

Skyrim is the type of game that holds your hand during the brief intro tutorial, then drops you in the center of a breathtaking expanse of options and zero time limits. Do things at your own pace. Explore when you want.

Escape Helgen and the world is yours.
Everything the light touches is yours. Except DLC. Then you should be level 15.

Fight anybody who crosses you, build your own house, level up however you choose, and gather all the phat loot you can stuff into your pockets. See those mountains far, far away? You can go there. That dark cave under the mountain? You can go there, too. The snowy crypt surrounded by undead? Sure. There’s no level-lock and there are no invisible barriers to block you from going anyplace you like.

It’s the replayability and the question of ‘what’s around the next corner?’ that keeps players booting up Skyrim and cataloging hundreds and hundreds of hours. The Main Quest is a solid 30 hours long, the Dawnguard DLC adding another 7 hours, and the Dragonborn DLC adding another 6 on top of that. That means the Legendary and Special Editions of Skyrim, both of which include the two DLC as well as the home-building Hearthfire, takes around 25-40 hours, doing added quests and grinding pushing that well past 100 hours.

New spells, new enemies, new areas, new items.
The Dawnguard and Dragonborn DLC add over 13 hours of content.

Why is Skyrim bad? With so much to do, how could it be boring?

With all the positive things to say about Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, we’d be remiss not to address the issues – and yes, there are issues. The bugs cannot be ignored, and while there is a lot of content and there are a ton of skills, it looks like the sky is the limit … until you hit the ceiling. While the Main Quests give you your money’s worth, they lack any branching options like you’d find in games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, or Witcher 3. Dialogue options will have minimal to no effect on your quest line, and once you’ve, for example, restored the College of Winterhold, that story will be the exact same next time around. And the next time. And the next.

Quests don't change in Skyrim.
Poor Cicero will never get to be the Listener.

Furthermore, while any player can accomplish any build and acquire any skill in the RPG system, role-playing a specific character class will eventually stop yielding reward. Each of the 18 skill trees maxes out at 100, and once you’ve allocated the perks you want into the tree there’s not much more to do with the class and (unless you make your skills legendary) it also becomes harder to level up unless you start investing in the other trees. Let’s say you want to role-play a powerful wizard, for example.

There are six trees in the magic school. Once you’ve reached 100 with each of them (which takes a while!) you’ve got limited choices if you want to continue leveling up and growing as a character: Invest in the martial or thievery skill trees (at which point you’re not role-playing as a wizard anymore), buy some new spells (and unfortunately there is a set number; Skyrim does not have any kind of spell crafting mechanic), or make your skills Legendary. What this will do is reset your skills back to 15, removing all your allocated perk points. You’ll lose a lot of powers, but you’ll once again be able to level up your character by casting spells in the respective trees. Rinse, repeat.

Time to stop role-playing as a blacksmith, I guess.
Once you hit 100 with a skill, performing it will no longer raise your character level.

With no way to alter quest lines, skill trees that repeat, and also the fact that there’s definitely a ‘best equipment’ when it comes to finding, purchasing, or upgrading your armor and weapons, you’ll end up playing a Skyrim experience with less wiggle room than you might have thought.

The best Skyrim graphics

‘The best’ graphics in any video game easily just comes down to subjective taste. So here we’re going to be showcasing both work from Bethesda (specifically from the 2016 Special Edition) as well as a number of community mods that take different approaches to the game world, assets, animations, and character models. Note that higher resolution will mean a more taxing game for your hardware, and if you’re playing on a computer that’s having a hard time keeping up with 4k resolution, you might have to settle for lighter mods (of which there are still a handful to pick from).

Skyrim: Special Edition

To start off, Bethesda Softworks’ Skyrim Special Edition improves visuals by leaps and bounds. Remastered art and effects take center stage with dazzling new spell effects, bright plumes of flame streaming from the mouths of angry dragons, higher-definition trees, foliage, and cobblestone, and weapons that glint in the sunlight. The day/night cycle is enhanced with volumetric god rays peeking through the trees, pale dawn illuminating the snowy lands, and stunning sunsets adding crimson and violet to the craggy mountain backdrop.

volumetric god rays play through the snowy trees or mountain landscapes
The god rays might be our favorite new feature

Aside from the lighting and other visual game improvements, the Special Edition of Skyrim also adds increased stability when facing a swarm of opponents, more realistically flowing water, rain occlusion (precipitation won’t pass through solid objects anymore), and reduced z-fighting (glitchy-looking objects at far distances).

While the Special Edition is a great start, many modding players will not stop there when it comes to enhancing graphics. We’re going to show you a number of additional mods that tweak the game’s appearance. Obviously, it’s best to let the pictures and videos speak for themselves for this, so rather than explain what they do, we’ll leave you with links and pictures of some of the most popular.

Skyrim 2017 Textures – Pfuscher

(Skyrim: SE)

Skyrim Flora Overhaul SE – vurt

(Skyrim: SE)

gorgeous vistas and landscapes that look like a painting

ApachiiSkyHair SE – apachii

(Skyrim: SE)

Tired of the default hair in Skyrim? We are too.

Realistic Water Two – isoku

(Skyrim: SE)

Enhanced Blood Textures – dDefinder1

(Skyrim: SE)

Vivid Weathers Definitive Edition – Mangaclub

(Skyrim: SE)

Skyrim HD – NebuLa1

(Skyrim 2011)

Climates of Tamriel – jjc71

(Skyrim 2011)

Swirling clouds over high mountain peaks.

The Eyes of Beauty – LogRaam

(Skyrim 2011)

Vivid eyes with tons of custom options

RealVision ENB – SkyrimTuner

(Skyrim 2011)

Enhanced Lights and FX – anamorfus

(Skyrim: SE)

The ol' Cistern never looked this good.
New angles for columns of light and shades of darkness

Realistic Lighting Overhaul – sydney666

(Skyrim: SE)

Dust particles meander peacefully down onto dim carpets and wood floors.

What is an ENB and which is best?

Funny enough, ENB stands for “easy now, Boris,” referring to a modder named Boris who used to go above and beyond the call of duty when creating graphical overhauls for games. The acronym stuck and now refers to any complete visual reworkings of the game. These ENB mods are not simple fixes or changes, but are instead a radical re-texturing of practically every in-game asset. They are much larger files and do everything from adjusting lighting and textures to recreating Skyrim into absolutely new territory:

The True Vision ENB by Bronze316 is a good example of a complete character art overhaul

When you download an ENB, you’re committing to all the changes it makes to the game – completely different visual experience. The best thing about an ENB is that they are one-stop shortcuts; a one-install solution to a variety of graphical modifications you want to make. So rather than installing dozens of graphical enhancers to the core game and praying that they all work well together, an ENB should handle all the visuals by itself.

Best ENB for Skyrim

Enhanced Lighting for ENB – JawZ

(Skyrim: SE)

Enhanced lighting for ENB

Nyclix’s ENB-Reshade – huey9055

(Skyrim: SE)

This ENB makes exploring so much more worth it just to see what's out there.

Superb ENB – sung9533

(Skyrim 2011)

Mythical ENB – omega2008

(Skyrim: SE)

Bleak ENB – trustinall

(Skyrim 2011)

Now Bleak Falls Barrow will actually look bleak.

OrganicENB – skysan4298

(Skyrim: SE)

Just when you thought the sunrise couldn't look any prettier.

Sharpshooters Extreme Graphics ENB – sharpshooter8

(Skyrim 2011)

Never be without a god ray
Add god rays to the original 2011 Skyrim!

The best Skyrim added content

Making Skyrim look, feel, and sound more visceral is hugely important in adding immersion to the game. A better-looking quest line doesn’t necessarily constitute for an improved one. Once you’ve played a mission to death it will feel boring no matter how many god rays are shining down on it.

The answer? New content.

This is one of the broadest categories of our compilation since there are more NPCs, spells, weapons, and locations being added by modders every day. As such, we’re going to be focusing on DLC and modded content that provides the most organic, lore-friendly content to the story and world of Elder Scrolls. This list will not include any changes to the core gameplay; that’s in the next section.

What are all the Skyrim DLCs?

Skyrim: Legendary Edition and Skyrim: Special Edition both come with all three DLC packs that Bethesda added to the core game. These are Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn.

Dawnguard

The Dawnguard DLC kicks off once the player reaches level 10, and begins with an orc named Durak relaying news of a growing vampire menace in the peninsula. The quest line takes players through vast new destinations like the eerie Soul Cairn – a purgatory for captured souls led by the illusive Ideal Masters – and the icy tundras, crystalline palaces, and dark caverns of the Forgotten Vale.

Watch the dragons. Yeah, they're here too.
Explore huge new environments as you follow the path of the Knight-Paladin Gelebor

Players can choose to follow the vampire-hunting Dawnguard guild on their crusade to defeat Harkon’s court of night stalkers, or rather choose to join his troupe, inheriting the powerful abilities of the Vampire Lord – sapping health from attackers, morphing into a cloud of bats, summoning gargoyles to your command, and feeding on helpless victims to stave off the wicked effects of sunlight.

Hearthfire

Hearthfire is a smaller DLC, but adds a cozy expansion allowing players to build and design their own houses and adopt children. If you’ve grown bored of the same five houses offered in the base game, this will definitely peak your interest. With Hearthfire you can purchase new land in Hjaalmarch, Falkreath, and the Pale. This includes a new housecarl for each home, tons of storage space, mannequins and plaques to showcase your favorite items, and a place to call your own, far from the bustling crowds of a city.

Dragonborn

Lastly, Bethesda added the Dragonborn DLC, introducing an entirely new area: Solstheim, a large island off the coast of Morrowind, the neighboring peninsula to Skyrim. Solstheim is largely populated by Dark Elves. Starting once you’ve reached level 10 and completed the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller quest, the Dragonborn DLC reveals that you are not the only surviving Dragonborn; Miraak is another, and aspires to take over the island and deem you a blasphemer to the title of Dragonborn.

The quest takes you through Hermaeus Mora’s tortured land of Apocrypha, where you’ll face powerful new enemies, solve puzzles, and earn new abilities ranging from shouts that can disintegrate foes to Dremora butlers, to even riding dragons through the sky, both on Solstheim and back on the mainland of Skyrim. If you’ve ever wanted to feel the true might of the Dragonborn, you’ll need to go through this DLC!

Best content mods

There’s a slew of modded content available for free on both the game’s Steam page and on nexusmods.com both for Skyrim and for Skyrim: Special Edition. There’s also many available on moddb.com. With mods in general we prize two things: Personalization and longevity.

Personalization allows for players to custom-fit Skyrim (or any game) to transform it into one that they want to play. This could be removing irksome features, changing aesthetics, or even providing an entirely new angle to the game experience.

Longevity refers to how much extra time the mods provide us in the game, breathing more life into something we’d otherwise have put aside many hours ago. Added content can keep a game fresh long after it’s worn down.

Stalhrim armor is a top-tier armor right up there with dragonbone or daedric
Ready for a new challenge? Learn how to mine stalhrim and forge new armor in the Dragonborn DLC.

With the three DLC, Bethesda added content to Skyrim that both enhanced what was already present, and also introduced hours more of story, puzzles, gameplay inclusions, player abilities, new challenging encounters, and even slightly branching paths for added replayability in the Dawnguard DLC. The most popular mods that add extra content do much the same thing: Add content that enhances the core experience of Skyrim, adding extra freshness and more avenues to explore.

Apocalypse – Magic of Skyrim – EnaiSiaion

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

The spell system in Skyrim is functional but streamlined. Once you’ve purchased your desired spells and acquired the necessary perks in the relevant magic trees there’s not much more to be done as a mage in Skyrim.

Apocalypse is the more popular spell pack, adding 155 completely new spells to the game: Fabricate objects, walk on air, weave tornadoes, conjure holograms, control minds, and a ton more.

Diverse Dragons Collection – opusGlass

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

opusGlass’ dragons do not replace or change dragon fights. Rather this mod simply draws the dragon you fight from a much wider selection of possibilities. Dragons in Skyrim, for the most part, will either use frost or fire, and have varying degrees of difficulty, set to match the level of the player character.

Diverse Dragons does the same thing, except it adds dozens of new skins, abilities, and stats for those dragons. You may fight a dragon that’s as difficult as a typical Revered Dragon, except now it will breathe poison instead of fire, or concentrated beams of energy. This mod restores some excitement to fight mechanics that can otherwise grow overdone or tedious.

Monster Mod – TiggyUK

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

Skyrim is a harsh land inhabited by many creatures looking to spill your coin or your blood. TiggyUK added hundreds of new lore-friendly monsters to the mix, making exploration more exciting and more dangerous. Many are complete with new or rare alchemy parts or items, making fighting and looting them well worth your while.

What’s especially cool is this also goes for dungeon bosses; instead of a leveled Draugr, for example, you might come face to face with a Dremora Spider or a Lich!

Moonpath to Elsweyr – Illiani

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

This mod adds a full adventure through a completely fan-made depiction of Elsweyr, home of the feline Khajiit race.

With new enemies, adventures, NPCs, and locales, this mod adds a refreshing break from the typical tundras of Skyrim.

Immersive Armors – hothtrooper44

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

Once you’ve explored Skyrim from top to bottom you’ll have seen practically all the armor variants out there, from steel to ebony, glass to dragonbone, dwarven to daedric. They look cool, to be sure, but does it make sense that every bandit has the same matching outfit? No, it does not.

Hothtrooper44 drastically enhances the variety of armors in Skyrim in a very lore-friendly and balanced way – armors that can be found, purchased, crafted, or looted. If you want to fight enemies wearing a lot of cool new gear, or deck yourself out in some sweet ringmail with a kilt, you’ve got to check this mod out!

Immersive weapons – hothtrooper44

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

Another mod by the same dude who gave you Immersive Armors, Immersive weapons does the same thing, only this time with an array of gorgeous, lore-friendly weapons that people in the game world (including you) can use.

Want to use a spear? A naginata? A scythe? Maybe a Forsworn battle axe? It’s all here, it’s all integrated seamlessly, it’s all leveled appropriately, and all the aesthetics are believable.

Falskaar – AlexanderJVelicky

(Available on both 2011 Skyrim and Skyrim: SE)

Falskaar sates the same wanderlust cravings as Moonpath to Elsweyr, and is equally stunning in terms of scope, integration with the core game, and visuals.

There’s a new campaign with a worthy reward, NPCs, as well as new dungeons, alchemy, and encounters. All fully voice-acted and smooth. Enjoy 20+ hours of added content of lore-friendly quests and locales.

Enderal

Much like an ENB is a complete overhaul of a game’s visuals, Enderal is a complete overhaul of Skyrim – stripping away all but some assets and the game engine. A total conversion mod for Skyrim, this does not add content to the core game, but is rather an outright transformation of Skyrim in virtually every way.

An open world with its own unique lore and landscapes, a brand new story, new characters and quests, and an entirely revamped skill system with classes and special abilities integrated. There’s 30-100 hours of content.

Skyrim is an RPG. What are the best RPG mods?

There are two facets that qualify a game as a role-playing game: Acting like a particular character and playing like that particular character. Since Skyrim’s lacking in the ‘make your own plot choices’ department, the RPG angle of Skyrim has to come out in its gameplay. It starts with the skill tree:

Skyrim’s RPG system is divided between 18 different skill trees: Six for martial skills, six more for magic skills, and then a final six for rogue skills. Performing one such skill will rank up the skill tree, unlocking more perks. When your character levels up, he/she earns a perk point to be spent on a tree of your choosing, slowly altering the way that tree works. It could be something as simple as enhanced damage for a weapon type, or something as complex as crafting wax keys based on locks you’ve previously opened. Some perks are better than others.

Bethesda added new gameplay mechanics in the Legendary and Special Edition versions of Skyrim that made slight modifications to the skill trees, namely in the form of the reward players receive upon completing the Dragonborn DLC, and in making skills Legendary. Making a skill legendary will revert it back to its starting level (typically 15), removing all perks you put into it, thereby making you a newborn babe at a skill you were godly at moments ago.

Why would anybody want to do this?

Because it means you can beat the level cap. Low-level skill trees means that you can one again level up by performing that tree’s relevant skills. This is particularly useful for mage characters who can’t seem to level up anymore because they insist on role-playing a pure mage. In short, if you don’t dabble in Skyrim, you’ll eventually flat-line. This fixes that.

Aside from these minor tweaks, there have been precious few alterations or enhancements to Skyrim’s RPG system, and gameplay can become stale. Luckily there are several RPG mods that add or change the way the game is played:

Ordinator Perks of Skyrim – EnaiSiaion

(Available on both Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition)

Ordinator is a complete skill overhaul that reforges all of Skyrim’s perk trees. Some of the necessary skills make returns, along with many new, creative ideas. These ideas include corrosive poisons under Alchemy, opening doors between dimensions with Alteration, controlling a subject’s dreams through Illusion, or knocking targets back with powerful one-handed blows.

Each tree has around 50 perks to choose between, and the potential for combinations that allow for entirely unique builds is jaw-dropping.

Path of Sorcery – steelfeathers

(Available on both Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition)

Looking to play a spellslinger this time around? Path of Sorcery overhauls the six magic perk trees and grants a better way to role-play as a mighty sorcerer or a wicked witch.

Path of Sorcery introduces a variety of clever perk options such as winning favors from your chosen divine (if you want to role-play a paladin or cleric), construct a skeletal army out of harvested bones, and even generate gold once per day!

Wildcat Combat – EnaiSiaion

(Available on both Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition)

This mod doesn’t change the perk tree, but instead addresses combat as a whole. If you don’t like the way combat ebbs and flows in Skyrim, then you definitely need to check out this mod:

Wildcat Combat is a streamlined approach to fighting in the harsh tundras with a focus on gritty realism, lethal combat, and aggressive AI – all accomplished without script bloating or heavy taxing on your system. If you enjoy games like Prey, Dark Souls, or Fallout then installing this will change your mind about fighting in Skyrim.

Perkus Maximus – T3nd0

(Available on both Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition)

T3nd0’s Perkus Maximus is similar to EnaiSiaion’s Ordinator in the sense that it’s another complete perk overhaul. That’s where the similarities end. The release is modular, meaning that if there are some perks you wish to use, while others aren’t your style, you’re able to mix and match as you choose, allowing for greater individuality between players and a Skyrim experience uniquely your own:

One of the major draws of Perkus Maximus is that there are far fewer examples of ‘sinking perk points’ into simple damage buffs or lazy stat increases. Instead, PerMa rewards the player with more active abilities, such as animating weapons to fight for you, slowing down time when swinging weapons, and finger-trapping an enemy so they drop their weapon when attacking, or stumble when advancing. There’s even a new tree entirely called Wayfarer that focuses on exploration and nature. If you want a radically different experience to leveling up in Skyrim, this is the best RPG mod to get.

Alternate Start, Live Another Life – Arthmoor

(Available on both Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition)

Tired of the same boring start to Skyrim? Alternate start allows you to choose from a variety of starting locations that aren’t the wagon ride to Helgen.

If you’re looking to better immerse yourself in a more real role-playing experience, then this mod helps start you off on the right foot. You can even start out as an Orc in a stronghold, or a newly born Vampire Lord in Harkon’s court.

Frostfall – Hypothermia Camping Survival – Chesko

(Available on both Skyrim and Skyrim: Special Edition)

This highly popular mod endeavors to turn Skyrim into a realistic survival game, adding debuffs from elements like cold and weather. Considering the frigid terrain and unforgiving environment it only makes sense that Skyrim would be difficult to travel. Scaling High Hrothgar should be a monumental undertaking, yet in the core game, it can be accomplished without sweat.

Craft heavy cloaks to cover yourself with, and seek warmth by building campfires as you explore the wilderness in one of the most immersive, game-changing mods available.

Glitches and bugs

Skyrim is infamous for being rife with bugs. While Bethesda fixed many issues as they added more DLC and released more versions, this remains the case even as recent as Skyrim Special Edition. No matter what Skyrim experience you’ve got your heart set on, we doubt that it’s one plagued by technical issues. Here are five tips that should minimize any detrimental gameplay issues on your next run through the game:

1. Save your game

Save often, and in different slots. This will help ensure that, should an issue arise, you can always reload the save and resume your progress. Lucky for you, Skyrim also autosaves any time there’s a load transition to a new cell, so if you’re going back and forth between areas in the game you’ll have your pick of recent saves to choose between.

Always ALWAYS keep autosave on
Multiple saves means multiple chances to fix a corrupted game

The great news about Skyrim is that you can save pretty much whenever you like. Skyrim: Special Edition makes it easier still by incorporating a quicksave feature. If you don’t like having 10+ saves in your load menu, we recommend having one save at your residence (since players spend much time there once unlocking it), one save during travel, and a third save once you’re inside the quest location. Coupled with autosaves, you should be able to find a spot close to where you encountered the bug. Reloading and attempting again should often fix the issue.

2. Install this mod

Typically when you install a mod you’re adding more weight to the game through content and scripts and making your Skyrim experience more prone to bugs and glitches. Arthmoor’s Unofficial Skyrim Patch fixes a number of irksome bugs and crashes, and is readily available for both Skyrim Legendary Edition and Skyrim: Special Edition:

Patch for Skyrim Legendary Edition 

Patch for Skyrim Special Edition

Arthmoor describes the mod as “a comprehensive bug-fixing mod” for the game with the eventual goal being to fix all Skyrim’s known bugs, including any issues in the DLC. New to Skyrim or a returning veteran, Legendary or Special Edition we recommend you get this mod.

3. Back up your files

If you do happen upon an unfortunate progress blocker or corrupted save file, the worst realization is when the most recent save was six hours ago. To avoid this, we recommend making semi-frequent backup saves in case calamity strikes. Your save files for Skyrim: Legendary Edition are located under your local drive:

(Local Disk C: by default) –> Users –> Name –> Documents –> My Games –> Skyrim –> Saves.

Your Special Edition saves are:

(Local Disk C: by default) –> Users –> Name –> Documents –> My Games –> Skyrim Special Edition –> Saves

Make a backup folder somewhere on your computer that’s easy to find (like your desktop) and just copy/paste them in there. That way you won’t lose hours and hours of progress just because a quest bugged or an NPC died.

4. Keep track of your installed mods

Whether you use Nexus or Steam, it’s easy to keep track of all the mods you have installed, particularly if you use the Nexus Mod Manager (which we suggest you do). If you run into any glaring issues one day that were not present the day before, the cause is usually a new mod.

The plugins tab lets you mess with the mod load order
Keep track of installed, uninstalled, or paused mods in your Skyrim game

Note when you install new mods so that you can crosscheck it with when your issues started to occur. Delete (or unsubscribe to) the mod, then go back and check if the problem is resolved.

5. Check mod compatibility, optimize their load order

Not all mods play together nicely. Luckily most publishers are polite enough to mention any known incompatibilities on the front page of their mod. Before you hit that big ‘install’ button, give the page a look to save yourself future trouble.

You can also turn off active mods or DLC here.
Wider mods up top, thinner mods towards the bottom.

Your mod load order can also be a deciding factor in whether your mods work as intended. The Nexus Mod Manager will show you your mod load order, and also allows you to change that order and move your mods around. The best general practice is to have your more over-encompassing mods towards the top, so that everything else can build off of them. Examples are DLC, graphics mods, big added content, or spell packages. Towards the bottom of your load order should be more specifically-targeted mods, such as ‘my followers can pick locks’ or ‘you can now marry this NPC’.

A final word

Skyrim remains such a popular game in large part due to its versatility and replayability. There’s an experience out there for everyone, and the prospect that your previous run through the game could be improved by different mods, updated graphics, or added DLC is what brings veteran players back time and time again. Even something as simple as an alternate start, a re-textured weapon, or a new perk tree can make all the difference. Will your next run through Skyrim be the best experience yet?

We hope this guide will help you build it!

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