30 best Skyrim mods in 2023 on PC & console
With over a decade of mods to select from, it can be hard to pick out the best Skyrim mods in 2023, but we've got you covered with a curated list of our 30 favourite mods for the game on PC and console.
Skyrim's popularity and extended lifespan is notably due to modding, with some players of the opinion that it's only a great game because of mods. Despite what your opinion on the matter may be, mods have the potential to add a lot to the game, expanding it more than its already huge size.
Below, we'll break down the best Skyrim mods you should be downloading in 2023, ranging from texture replacements to gameplay overhauls, and much more.
How to install mods in Skyrim for PC
For PC users, there are a few ways of installing and using mods for Skyrim: such as the Steam Workshop, a mod manager or loader - or just manually replacing specific files in the Skyrim folder yourself.
It's worth noting that not all mods support Vortex, and the best thing to do is always follow the steps highlighted by the mod author themselves, but this should make things a bit easier to follow if you're new to modding.
- Start by downloading the Vortex mod manager here
- Once it has downloaded, open the app and authorise it by logging into your Nexus account
- You'll now see the Vortex dashboard, where you can click "Select a game to manage"
- Vortex will automatically scan for installed games that it supports, so it will find Skyrim for you
- Once it locates the Skyrim install, select the image of it to enable mod management
- Now you can begin managing mods, head back to the Nexus site and pick a mod
- Under the 'Files' tab, you will be able to select 'Mod Manager Download' when downloading a mod
- Once the download is finished, you'll get a Vortex notification where you can click 'Install'
- After installing the mod, click 'Enable' to deploy the files to your Skyrim folder
If you're looking to install more, simply repeat the process above for all the other mods downloadable via Vortex. To check which mods you've got installed, you can select the 'Mods' button on the left-hand column within the Vortex app.
And that's it! You'll now be good to launch Skyrim and utilise your mods.
Best Skyrim mods to download in 2023 (PC)
Before we get into the list of the best Skyrim mods, it's worth noting that all of the mods here are considered lore friendly, with a big focus on providing a more immersive experience and improving upon many of the systems already in place.
Additionally, many of these mods are designed for the original version of Skyrim - though some may work with the Legendary and Anniversary editions if they've been updated to work with those.
Skyrim Script Extender
Skyrim Script Extender, or SKSE for short, is one of the best Skyrim mods for one simple reason: it's necessary for, and facilitates, many of the game's other big modifications (and some of those below).
Effectively, it extends the capabilities of scripting in the game, making it so modders can do far more with their creations, and should be your first download anytime you're looking to start a modded save in Tamriel.
SkyUI sits as one of the most endorsed mods over at Skyrim Nexus, providing a more PC-friendly user interface experience with much larger menus, allowing you to see more items and more information at the same time.
Skyrim HD - 2K Textures
Considering the game's age, the Skyrim HD - 2K Textures mod will likely be seen as a vital download for most people. It replaces many of Skyrim's vanilla textures with higher-quality versions, breathing new life into its visuals and helping it to look far more modern.
aMidianBorn Book of Silence
aMidianBorn Book of Silence is very similar to Skyrim HD, serving as a texture replacement mod. However, Book of Silence replaces many of the textures that the previous mod misses, giving you even more to appreciate.
Static Mesh Improvement Mod - SMIM
Third in the trilogy of the best texture replacement mods for Skyrim in our list is the Static Mesh Improvement Mod, which greatly improves the looks of countless static 3D models around the game, such as architecture, clutter, furniture, and much more.
What's more, it's compatible with the two previous mods - though you'll need to install them in reverse order of how they're listed here for maximum effect.
Another of the best Skyrim mods is Immersive Armors from hothtrooper44, an enhancement mod that improves upon many of the vanilla armours to make them look far better.
That's not all, though, as Immersive Armors also takes this a step further: it also brings new armour sets to the world for you to find throughout your adventure - over 60, in fact - meaning there's even more customisation at hand for your Dragonborn.
Another mod from hothtrooper44, Immersive Weapons does much the same as Immersive Armors, but with, you guessed it, weapons. Adding over 200 new weapons at the time of writing, you'll come across these naturally as you play, located through the likes of dungeons and shops.
What's more, many of them can be crafted, upgraded, and enchanted, making this one of PC's best mods if you're on the lookout for even more weapons to thwart the foes of Skyrim with.
A Quality World Map and Solstheim Map - With Roads
If you've played Skyrim multiple times since its release back in 2011, you may find yourself growing a little tired of the default Skyrim map.
That's where A Quality World Map and Solstheim Map - With Roads comes in, as it removes clouds, improves the mesh for more natural-looking topography, and adds key roads to the world map to make it far easier in navigating yourself around north Tamriel.
The mod also has additional visual styles to download if you so choose, with one being that of a paper map to really add to the authenticity of utilizing it during your travels to get from point A to point B.
Climates of Tamriel
To make Skyrim feel like more of a living world, Climates of Tamriel is an essential mod you should absolutely be downloading in 2023. With games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Witcher 3 having beautiful weather effects, and are what many gamers are now used to seeing in blockbuster RPGs, Climates of Tamriel brings Skyrim closer to the modern age.
With lots of variations to weather itself, there are visual changes for everything from clear, sunny skies to blizzards. That's not all though, as it also includes thunder sounds alongside interior rain audio.
Skyrim Flora Overhaul
Skyrim Flora Overhaul is another fantastic addition to any mod lineup in your game, as it overhauls the landscape with more varied and better-looking flora, representing the more beautiful side of Skyrim's nature.
Enhanced Blood Textures
What do you reckon Enhanced Blood Textures does? You're correct, it does exactly what you're thinking. Embrace the higher-resolution blood splatters and download this Skyrim mod.
Cloaks of Skyrim
Obsessed with Game of Thrones and their stylish cloaks? Then Cloaks of Skyrim will undoubtedly be one of the best mods for you.
Adding nearly 100 new styles of cloak to the game, it allows players to craft or find them as static loot, letting you embrace the cosy fashion of the cold Skyrim north even more.
Wet and Cold
Wet and Cold is a mod focused on adding more immersion to Skyrim in the form of weather-dependent visual effects and NPC AI enhancements. With this mod added to your game, you'll have another layer or realism to help in making Skyrim feel that much more alive.
With water drips during rain, soggy feet after taking a splash, and visible breath in the freezing cold, Wet and Cold makes the weather effects feel more real, and the NPCs feel more human as they dash to cover to keep their heads dry.
Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim
Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim is a Skyrim mod best suited to those who favour the magical arts as a form of attack, bringing new scrolls, staves and over 150 new spells to the game.
These new spells blend seamlessly into the current magic system, with unique and lore-friendly magic that won't break your game and make you too overpowered.
Realistic Water Two
Water in Skyrim is quite frankly, rather ugly nowadays, so the Realistic Water Two mod replaces Tamriel's water surface textures to imitate the fluid motion more effectively, making lakes, ponds, rivers, and ocean visually - and aurally - distinct.
The Dance of Death
If you find yourself getting sick of the standard kill moves in Skyrim, then The Dance of Death is likely one mod that's best suited to you - as it restores unused kill moves and animations while also adding new ones to utilise, with many tied directly to your skills themselves.
Skyrim is supposed to be embroiled in a deadly civil war, but when exploring the world, you wouldn't really know it. Luckily, Immersive Patrols is here to add Stormcloak, Thalmor, and Imperial patrols across their respective domains of influence, with patrols that encounter each other engaging in battles.
It adds a bit more dynamism to the experience of exploring the world, and further immerses you into Skyrim's central human conflict.
Realistic Lighting Overhaul
Realistic Lighting Overhaul is a pretty simple (yet effective) mod, providing a massive rework of Skyrim's lighting system.
It manages to make the game look prettier, and more realistic, while not affecting performance at all - so there's no excuse not to give it a try!
Immersive HUD - iHUD
Another very simple but effective mod, Immersive HUD, or iHUD, allows greater customisation of the heads-up display, allowing you to remove it when it's not necessary, and bring it back when it is.
It's highly modular too, letting you choose what parts you want and don't want at any given time, making this one of the best mods for Skyrim if you're looking to clear parts of your screen away while exploring the world.
Feel like dragons in Skyrim are a bit of a letdown? Deadly Dragons is here to remedy that by making them the world-shaking threat they're presented as in the lore.
It overhauls their health and damage variables, while also adding new dragon types to make every encounter with the flying creatures feel like a huge event.
How to install mods in Skyrim for console
For console users, installing Skyrim mods is a more streamlined process that can be done from within the game itself. Here's the full process:
- Head to the official Bethesda website and create an account
- Now load up Skyrim and from the main menu, select 'Mods', and log in
- Browse the mods list and select a mod you want
- Click 'Download' and install the mod
- Head back to the main menu, which causes the mods and data to load
- Play the game with your new mods
Best Skyrim mods to download in 2023 (Console)
The base edition of Skyrim for consoles is now the Skyrim Special Edition, so all of the mods on this list are compatible with that version.
Skyrim Special Edition Unofficial Patch
The Unofficial patch is a must-have mod due to all the annoying bugs and glitches it fixes to make the game smoother. It's also compatible with basically every mod out there and will make sure your playthrough goes off without a hitch.
Static Mesh Improvement
Much like the PC version of this mod, Static Mesh Improvement aims to upgrade the low-poly static objects in the game to make them of higher quality.
Enhanced Lights and FX
Enhanced Lights and FX does what it says on the tin, improving the game's lighting system massively so that it's cast through windows, and so shadow falls naturally.
Relationship Dialogue Overhaul
Skyrim is often criticised for being as wide as an ocean but as deep as a puddle, and this mod aims to remedy aspects of that by reflecting the relationships that NPCs have with you by mixing and matching dialogue from the game.
Hate loading screens? Love seamless worlds? Open Cities is for you then, as it allows players to head into cities without loading, making the game feel a bit more connected and open.
The Parrthurnax Dilemma
The Parthurnax Dilemma adds a bit more choice to the game, adding an alternative way for you to finish The Blades questline so that you don't need to kill the friendly dragon sitting atop the Throat of the World.
Skyrim is at war and Immersive Patrols reflects that with more presence from the game's factions. You'll see Stormcloaks and Imperials patrolling their respective areas, and occasionally getting into fights as it's on sight between both armies.
Skyrim is about 12 years old as of writing this and it frankly looks it. The Graphics Pack mod will make it look more modernised with higher resolution textures to create a more immersive experience.
Alternative Start - Live Another Life
If you've played Skyrim a few times now, you may be a little sick of the start of the game and want a new way to begin your experience. Alternate Start lets you do this by allowing you to choose a background and city to start in, rather than being a prisoner once again.
Dogs are cool, but wolfs are even cooler. Wolf Followers gives you a chance to rescue a wolf called Buck and enlist him as a follower to come along with you through the game.
That's all for our list of the best Skyrim mods in 2023, and now you know what some of the greatest user-generated content of the previous decade is on PC and console.