Spending Even More Time in Skyrim

Game publishers sometimes take flack about releasing so many different editions of games.  Pre-orders seem to be the worst offenders, with certain in-game items only being available if you order them through specific retailers.  But one subset of editions is, I think, both a good investment for gamers as well as benefiting publishers.  These are the collector editions.  If done right, these editions of games can be fantastic.  I think Bethesda has the best practice of their “Game of the Year” editions, which both Oblivion & Morrowind had.  These editions include the base game as well as all of the major expansions.  These editions are a great way to get get all portions of the game for a single price, as well as benefiting those who don’t have access to the internet.

If you’re a fan of Bethesda’s most current Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, you may be interested in knowing that they have continued this tradition by releasing the Legendary Edition back in June.  Not only does this include Dawnguard, Hearthfire & Dragonborn, but it also features the new Legendary skills system.  In the previous version, your skills max out at 100.  But with the Legendary edition, you can make skills “legendary” by resetting them back to level 15 while getting any perk points you’d spent on that skill back.  Now why would you do this?  The main reason is that this allows you to continue leveling up that skill all over again as many times as you want (you aren’t limited to how many times you can make a skill legendary), allowing you to continue to increase your character level.  Prior to this, I think the level cap was between 70 & 80 if you managed to max out all of your skills to 100.  Essentially, legendary skills means you can level up indefinitely.

As a general rule, it’s best to not make your core combat skills legendary because enemies level with you.  Obviously you don’t want to be fighting level 90 bandits with a level 20 one-handed skill.  Instead, the best skills are ones that are fairly easy to level up or don’t have a huge impact on gameplay.  The best skills to focus on making legendary are your crafting skills & some magic skills (Restoration, Alteration & Illusion).

If you remember from my previous posts on the game, I originally bought Skyrim for the 360.  If given the option, my first choice is a console version solely because of the comfort factor.  I can’t play PC games for long periods of time.  But, with the Legendary Edition out, I got a copy for my PC.  Why buy two different versions of the same game?  The answer is simple: for the mods!  One of the best things about Bethesda games is their modding communities.  In fact, the reason I first looked into getting a PC game rig was to be able to mod Oblivion.

But if you’re getting into modding for the first time, it can seem a bit daunting.  There are thousands of mods for Skyrim & it can be hard at first to figure out what’s worth downloading.  So after having played around for a few months & doing lots of research on modding itself, I decided to give a starter list of recommendations for the best mods I’ve found for those readers who may want to further extend their game time.

Firstly, if you’re new to modding, I highly recommend checking out GophersVids channel on Youtube.  Not only does he produce the fantastic Mod Sanctuary series, but he has several very helpful videos for beginners on how to install mods manually, via Steam Community or through Nexus Mod Manager.  For the record I use Nexus Mod Manager & all of the mods I list will be found at the Skyrim Nexus page.  So lets get started!

Character Models

There are a wide variety of textures, models & meshes to improve character appeareances over that of vanilla Skyrim.  A lot of it is up to player preference.  There are a long list of female body types, so you should find something to fit whatever is to your taste.  I personally use Caliente’s Female Body Mod (CBBE) combined with Better Females to improve face textures & Sporty Sexy Map to give the females in Skyrim some muscle tone.  Unfortunately, there are fewer options for male characters, but Better Males is the standard, which improves both body & face meshes.  Both the CBBE & Better Males includes a nude & underwear option & applies to all characters in the game.  Just be aware that if you’re using a modded race, you’ll probably have to go in & manually change some of the meshes.

Races

Speaking of races, that’s another category that  offers different options to fit your tastes.  I’ve only played around with the Ashen, Lunari & Ningheim race mods.  The Ashen are an Akaviri race that has high regeneration ability.  The Lunari is a female-only race that has well-rounded stats.  The Ningheim is the race I’m using with my current character.  The backstory is a big vague but I think it has the best race powers.  As you increase in level you unlock new powers, such as a teleportation spell that is majorly useful for exploring & getting around traps.

Overhauls

Numerous tweak mods exist to improve on the mechanics of Skyrim & fix some of the obnoxious issues you may come across.  Some of the most useful ones are Convenient Horses, which not only allows you to tweak your horse’s stats but gives you the ability to call it so no more horse hunting, SkyUI, the most popular mod on the Nexus that is a must-have for fixing the user interface to fit better with PC’s, Ultimate Follower Overhaul, which adds too many features to followers for me to list here but is a must-have if you like using followers, Alternate Start – Live Another Life, which improves on role-playing by giving you a variety of options for how you want to start the game other than in Helgen, & Realistic Needs & Diseases, which adds survival elements to your game that you can tweak to your own tastes.  Another excellent mod that I don’t use but is still impressive is Frostfall, which is a sort of camping/hypthermia survival-realism mod.

Player Homes

Even after Hearthfire, the quality & variety of some of the abodes designed by modders make them worth checking out.  Obviously you’ll want to find a home that suits your current character.  Some of the ones that I’ve enjoyed using are Antennaria, a beautiful cave-based home that’s great for a druid-styled character as well as beginners due to being free plus having a lake of gems inside, Forgotten Windmill, a cramped home that fits perfectly into its surroundings & is great for an isolated hideout, Gypsy Eyes Caravan, a portable home that you can strap to your horse that is unfortunately very slow to move & can’t fast travel, & my personal favorite Legend of the Eagle’s Nest, an expensive & smaller but highly detailed home on the top of a mountain.

Armors & Weapons

Probably the two biggest categories on the Nexus site.  Regardless of taste, three mods that I highly recommend are Immersive Armors, Immersive Weapons & JaySuS Swords.  These are compliation mods that not only add new content for you to craft but adds these weapons & armors into the game world, so you’ll find them on enemies & in loot.  I also recommend checking out DreamBurrows‘ armors, especially their Regal Assassin & Regal Huntsman armors.  I recommend downloading a mod that reshapes the standard clothes & armor to fit your chosen body mod.  I use Caliente’s Vanilla Outfits for CBBE because it fits them to the CBBE shape without skimpifying them (there are plenty of mods that will skimpify the outfits if that’s what you’re into).  Other good female armors are Arise – The Black Sacrament, TERA Armors (find the one that fits your body mod), Triss Armor Retextured.  For weapon mods, my favorite is the Dwarven GunBlade, which lets you craft gunblades that actually work, & the Dwemer Autoblade, a chainsaw-type sword that is fun but overpowered.

World Tweaks

Whether they improve immersion or just make the world look better, there are lots of different mods to adjust the effects of Skyrim.  A simple but highly useful one is Glowing Ore Veins which makes ore veins more visible.  Two world effects mods I like are Climates of Tamriel, which alters the weather effects, & W.A.T.E.R., a graphics mods that improves the appearance of water in the game.  You’ll also probably hear a lot about ENB’s, which are mods that change the overall appearance of the game.  I don’t like to use these because they affect framerate.  Instead, I use Realistic Lighting Overhaul, which improves the way lighting looks in the game but doesn’t affect performance.

These lists just barely scratch the surface of what the modding community has done & is only the best of the mods I have installed.  I haven’t even touched quest mods, custom followers & mods that use the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE).  These are just my personal recommendations out of all the mods I’ve seen for new players.  If you have a PC & play Skyrim I highly recommend using mods.  They add hours of enjoyment to your game.

If you’re looking for more advice on good mods, I can also recommend a few Youtube channels to check out for their mod reviews: GophersVids, insane0hflex & MMOxReview are just a few channels that cover mods.  But don’t be afraid to try something new out in your own game.  Modding may sound daunting, but once you learn how it’s so simple to do.

– GamerDame

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