Best Skyrim Special Edition Mods: From New Dungeons to a Full Survival Mode - IGN (2024)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a game that just keeps on giving. Closing in on its 10th anniversary, tens of thousands of players continue to quest around it every day. Its sprawling open world is filled to the brim with dungeons to explore, characters to kill, and guilds to impress. And the existence of countless mods only continues to create more reasons to stay. If an elderly lady can make a YouTube career out of playing a completely unmodified version for years, the possibilities for adventure truly are boundless once you start experimenting with player-created content.

With the release of Skyrim Special Edition (also known as Skyrim SE), the PC platform’s legendary modding scene finally reached consoles, enabling players with no prior modding experience to enjoy the endless creations fans of Bethesda’s crowning achievement continue to put together. Though the biggest mods are still bound to the more open PC platform, both the Mods and Creation Club pages on the game’s main menu make downloading and running mods easier than grabbing the latest official DLC pack. You just browse and go!

Whether you’re about to make your first Skyrim character (check out our handy Skyrim walkthrough) or your fourteenth, here are just some of the best Skyrim mods you can use to add several new layers of adventure to one of gaming’s most influential releases. And of course, to hold you over until The Elder Scrolls VI.

Essential Skyrim Mods

Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch

We’re obliged to highlight this absolutely essential download first and foremost. If you’ve played through Skyrim without diving into the mods menu, you’ve likely experienced a bug: a vital NPC being killed, a particular item lost to the void, or even just quest flags refusing to trigger. It’s impossible to catch every little mistake when creating a game of this size, so Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch is here to fix what Bethesda never managed to do. Nothing’s perfect, but this can get things pretty close.

Best Skyrim Gameplay Mods

Alternate Start - Live Another Life (Free - Mods Menu)

With how many new characters the average Skyrim player makes over the years, taking the bumpy ride to the chopping block and frantically fleeing from a ferocious dragon can get old. If you don’t want to live the life of the Dragonborn anymore, the Alternate Life mod switches things up. You’ll load into a small jail where you’ve been left to rot. Were you a vampire, a soldier, or maybe just a simple crewmate aboard a capsized boat? State your business or ask the mysterious sculpture to surprise you and you’ll soon wake up to a wholly different adventure.

Best Skyrim Special Edition Mods: From New Dungeons to a Full Survival Mode - IGN (1)

Weaponized Junk (Free - Mods Menu)

Forget your shiny swords and big battleaxes. Chairs and mead are the weapons of the new Skyrim. The Weaponize Everything mod adds a little bit of common sense to Tamriel, turning everyday combat into a glorified wrestling match. Get caught stealing? Save your sword from incriminating bloodshed and use the chair they got up out of to smack them back down. The heavier the object, the more you’ll knock your target back. You can even repair and reinforce breakable objects so you can turn your favorite everyday household item into your new main killing machine.

Survival Mode (Paid - Creation Club)

Between Rust, Ark, and Valhiem, it feels as if the next big survival game is always just around the corner. If you’d prefer to prove your knowledge of Skyrim itself, though, you can’t go wrong with the Survival Mode Bundle mod on the Creation Club. Thirst, fatigue, and harsh climates become just as treacherous as the wolves and trolls patrolling the region. Struggle to look after yourself and you’ll perish before your quest is complete. You can purchase the Survival mode independently, but the bundle tosses in the ability to camp out in the wilderness and a deeply customizable backpack no adventurer should be without.

Plague of the Dead (Paid - Creation Club)

Whether you decide to play on Survival mode or not, the Plague of the Dead mod adds a new element of terror to those chilly nights under the stars. As the sun sets, the vengeful horrors typically found defending caves and crypts against bandits litter the sprawling hills and fields of Skyrim. The towns are spared from the shambling undead, creating a reason to actually spend a night in that house you saved up for. Getting caught out and forced to fend for your life against the horde is certainly an experience that’ll add a new challenge to your usual Skyrim adventure.

Best Skyrim Special Edition Mods: From New Dungeons to a Full Survival Mode - IGN (2)

Stock Market of Skyrim (Free - Mods Menu)

The Gamestonks movement lives on in Skyrim! It’s relatively new and a little bit crude, but the Stock Market of Skyrim mod brings the thrill of investing to Bethesda’s fantasy universe, creating a new way to earn in-game cash to splurge on houses, spells, and cheese wheels. 20 Tamriel businesses make up three stock indexes, with prices and dividend payouts realistically fluctuating over the course of your playthrough. Stock prices are affected by your in-game actions, too. Get creative and you might just become the new Wolf of Skyrim, all without risking being chewed up by an actual wolf on your way to Riverwood.

Best Skyrim Special Edition Mods: From New Dungeons to a Full Survival Mode - IGN (3)

Best Immersion Boosting Mods for Skyrim

Better Loot (Free - Mods Menu)

This one goes without saying. If loot-laden games like Borderlands and Diablo are up your alley, Better Loot will help Skyrim scratch that treasure hunting itch. This simple enough mod alters the loot tables of over 7,000 containers. Food containers will actually contain food, treasures buried in a crypt will actually be worth fending off a dozen skeletons to collect, and the chests around bandit camps will have more chances of containing some decently expensive stolen property. It’s adventuring at its finest.

Immersive Citizens - AI Overhaul (Free - Mods Menu)

The Elder Scrolls always impresses on a first playthrough, but it doesn’t take long for the limitations of NPC dialogue to become apparent. After your third trip back to Helgen, the same greetings from nearby NPCs gets repetitive, ejecting us from the immersive magic of an otherwise thoroughly engaging RPG. The Immersive Citizens - AI Overhaul mod aims to effectively double the amount of unique conversations happening across Skyrim. NPCs respond to your skills, visibly weigh up risks, forge day-to-day schedules, and even occasionally leave town to run errands. These NPCs have lives, and it’s about time they live them.

Immersive Movement (Free - Mods Menu)

Having heavy weapons slow you down might not sound like a boon, but for those craving a physically realistic role-playing experience, this mod does the trick. The Immersive Movement mod adds heft -- and lots of it. Walking, strafing, and swinging weapons will happen more slowly depending on the perceived weight of your equipment. While mages won’t feel much of a difference outside of dodging enemy attacks, rangers won’t be able to so easily run and gun, creating a need to strategically position themselves to snipe their targets before they’re given a chance to retaliate.

Inigo (Free - Mods Menu)

Inigo represents one of the greatest aspects of modding -- scalability. Rather than be some massive world-altering addition, Inigo is a single traveling companion that’s received just as much (if not more) care and attention as some of the biggest mods around. With over 7000 unique voice lines, Inigo seamlessly integrates into Skyrim, chatting with NPCs, aiding you in battle, and even coming complete with his own mysterious quest chain. You won’t be able to imagine Skyrim without him.

Best Visual Mods for Skyrim

Forests of Skyrim (Free - Mods Menu)

Getting lost in a real-life forest is a nightmarish experience, but losing yourself in a virtual one can instill a life-long love of truly immersive imaginary worlds. The Forests of Skyrim mod is an incredibly lightweight mode that simply spawns a bunch more trees across the realm’s normally lacking woodland, creating deep groves that, with Special Edition’s god rays, you’ll be happy to trot around in. With more trees comes a more realistic and satisfying hunting and foraging experience, as well.

Climates of Tamriel

Skyrim’s vanilla weather system leaves a lot to be desired. Even with the many lighting improvements that came with Skyrim: Special Edition, mesmerizing sunrises, blanketing blizzards, and gusty rainstorms weren’t given the attention they deserved. Nature may be scary, but its many faces and moods play a big part in its perceived beauty, and the Climates of Tamriel mod delivers fully realized weather effects that will showcase the game’s lush environments in wholly new ways.


Until Bethesda decides to re-release Skyrim with another generation of consoles in mind, its default textures will look far from HD by today’s standards. Skyland offers stacks of fresh new textures to spruce up the aging game. From new cobblestone pathways to borderline tasty-looking dirt, practically every inch of the Skyrim gets a faux-HD lick of paint with this one. PC players get the best results, but even the console versions will get a noteworthy upgrade here.

Best Dungeon Mods for Skyrim

Forgotten Seasons (Paid - Creation Club)

If you’re certain you’ve seen all the sights and sounds of Skyrim too many times now, Forgotten Seasons can give the vanilla experience a proper send-off. Once installed, this sprawling community-made dungeon will show up somewhere around Skyrim, promising new items, perks, armor, and even a mount to those who can solve its puzzles -- most of which feature completely custom designs otherwise unknown to the game. Keep its location a secret from yourself and stumbling upon it on your travels might remind you of that scaling sense of adventure Skyrim offered on that first (or even third) playthrough.

Dead Man’s Dread (Paid - Creation Club)

Why bother with the duties of a dragon-slaying prophet when you can turn to a life of piracy, chugging rum, swinging your cutlass, and singing along the seas? This mod won’t have you going on a great seafaring adventure, but by emerging victorious from the legendary vessel Dead Man’s Dread, you’ll certainly look like the king of the seas. Steal the treasures of Cyrus, learn what dreadful fate befell him and his crew, and live to carry on his legacy. Brave this new dungeon and you’re sure to have stories to tell.

Best Skyrim Special Edition Mods: From New Dungeons to a Full Survival Mode - IGN (2024)


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