First released back in 2011, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has become one of gaming’s cult RPGs. This is largely due to its incredible modding scene that has greatly enhanced the game’s replayability. Thanks to these mods, every playthrough can offer something brand new.
However, with so many available it can be easy to install second-rate or even game-breaking mods. Many are poorly balanced, unoptimized, or even don’t function as a basic level. I’m here to tell which 5 mods I think are the best for a regular, lore accurate playthrough. That means no gun mods, nothing ridiculously overpowered, and no Thomas the Tank Engine.
Anyone familiar with Morrowind and Oblivion should know just how fun the Acrobatics skill used to be. Essentially, your movement was greatly limited in older Elder Scrolls games until you levelled up Acrobatics. Unfortunately, in Skyrim, this system was replaced by stamina and a sprint function.
The Agility mod switches out the Sneak skill with Agility, a skill tree focused on providing mobility options. By investing skill points into this tree, you can gain various benefits. Increased movement speed, reduced fall damage, faster stamina regeneration, and increased jumping height to name a few.
I like this mod as it allows you to explore Skyrim quickly without having to overly rely on transport. Instead of taking a carriage across half the map, you can do it the old-fashioned way without wasting too much time. It lets you see more of the world early on. The only caveat is that some dungeons are not designed with this skill in mind. The increased jump height especially can be a little unbalanced in this regard.
A Quality World Map and Solstheim Map – With Roads
Skyrim’s default map is not good. It’s an ugly mess of undetailed textures and, frankly, doesn’t do a great job of telling you where you can and can’t go. The biggest problem by far is its lack of visible roads by default. How are you supposed to plan navigation when the map does not even tell you where the roads are?
Fortunately, there’s a fantastic quality of life mod that fixes this. The not so creatively named A Quality World Map does exactly what it says. It swaps out Skyrim’s bland default map for a higher quality one, with roads! This isn’t a flashy mod but will quickly become one you can’t live without once you’ve used it once. Even if you were planning to play vanilla Skyrim, I highly recommend this as it purely improves your experience with no significant drawbacks.
Whilst we’re on the topic of quality of life mods, few do a better job than SkyUI. SkyUI is a Skyrim mod that completely overhauls all user interface elements in The Elder Scrolls V. You might not have noticed if playing casually, but Skyrim’s menus are not overly well designed.
The inventory in particular just screams “I was designed for a controller, not a keyboard and mouse,” and even then I’d hardly call it easy to navigate with a gamepad. On top of improving general usability, SkyUI stretches out the user interface to use all your screen.
Perhaps the most slept on improvement this mod makes is how it simplifies every item menu. Whilst the default Skyrim UI can only show a handful of items at once, SkyUI can show off most of your inventory on one screen. This is because all of the unnecessary flashy visuals have been replaced by easy to follow design choices. Just like A Quality Map, this is a must-have for even a regular Skyrim playthrough.
The Forgotten City
But what if you’re looking for more than just mere improvements? Of course, it’s nice to have existing content improved, but the biggest mods do more than that. They go the extra mile and add brand new missions and areas to complete and explore.
Of these mods, I think The Forgotten City is the most polished and interesting mod available. The Forgotten City is a story of betrayal and tyranny as a small community is forced to obey the commandments. Failure to do so will result in a rumored apocalypse for everyone.
This in-depth story is far too complicated for me to do it justice here. Let’s put it this way. Not only did it win a national Writers’ Guild award, but the mod creator claims it can last between 6-8 hours. From my personal experienced, without a guide, this claim holds up.
What’s especially impressive with The Forgotten City is how it manages to execute such foreign ideas for the Elder Scrolls whilst remaining lore relevant. If anything, it actually explains more about the Dwemer than Bethesda ever did. If there’s a content mod you need to try out, it’s this gem.
There are few mods that boast the bold claim of changing your whole experience that end up telling the truth. However, the Requiem mod has the full right to claim as such. Contrary to popular opinion, Requiem is not a difficult related mod. Although it will coincidentally make your playthrough harder.
Instead, Requiem aims to overhaul Skyrim to make it more logical and immersive. Perhaps the biggest change is that Skyrim’s level scaling system has been completely removed. Instead, all creatures, and therefore quests, have a pre-set difficult based on the enemies’ strength. In other words, you’re not going to be bullying dragons at level three like the vanilla game.
If that’s not enough, the Requiem mod reworks the majority of non-combat skills to bring balance, immersion, and a genuine feel of growth. Even your mastery of the voice now feels like a task that needs time put into it rather than something you just happen to receive.
The biggest praise I can give this mod is that it changes Skyrim into feeling like a strategic RPG, rather than just another power flex. It doesn’t give the player anything for free. You need to work for it, think hard, and only then will you prosper.
If you enjoyed this article consider dropping a comment down below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these mods as well as any Skyrim mods you personally recommend.