Thanks to the ever-diligent modding community, The Elder Scrolls series will never grow old to geeks like us who love fantasy role playing games. Like Morrowind and Oblivion before it, Skyrim’s mod-ability will keep players addicted for a very long time. But unlike Morrowind and Oblivion, Skyrim has Steam Workshop support, making modding as simple as pushing a button. The Workshop makes mods accessible to PC gamers, who up until now, were afraid to tinker with their game files.
There are plenty of mods already in place for Skyrim. In this list you won’t find any nude mods or mods to give your characters crazy anime hair or JRPG weaponry. For right now, these are Elder-Geek.com’s favorite Skryim mods as of April 16, 2012.
Forger and Arrowsmith – Simple Fletching
Crafting is one of our favorite new skills within Skyrim, (though we are sad to see repair disappear), but even though you can craft just about every piece of armor within the game, there are still some items that you cannot craft, namely arrows, and special armor that unique NPCs wear.
Two mods help remedy these little holes in the system: Arrowsmith – Simple Fletching and Forger. The reason why we love these both so much is because they keep the game balanced. For example, you cannot fletch Dwarven or Elven arrows without the Dwarven or Elven smithing abilities. And even then, you need the correct ingredients.
Forger allows you to recreate non-enchanted replicas of special items found within Skyrim including daedric artifacts, robes of the Greybeards and the Psijic order. In order to create replicas, you need to unlock the original by playing through the game and finding them normally. It’s a wonderful system that keeps the game nice and balanced. It also keeps our greedy fingers out of the item console commands, which makes us VERY happy. Once you start tinkering too much with the item give codes, you’ll ruin your stay in Skyrim in no-time.
While the user interface for Skyrim is less than stellar, we still haven’t found any mods that have been a suitable remedy in our opinion. There is one mod we like that helps clean up the experience a bit. It’s called Item Sorting. It does exactly what its name implies. This little mod renames all the items into your inventory so they are grouped together and easier to find. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it has saved us from more than a few headaches. We completely recommend it until a better, full reorganization mod of the UI has been created.
Better Shrouded Armor and Black and Gold Elven Equipment with Masked Helmet
Two sets of armor within Skyrim Vanilla always irked us a bit. The Dark Brotherhood’s Shroud Armor and the Chocobo… I mean… Elven equipment. The Dark Brotherhood equipment in Oblivion and Morrowind fit their environments and times better. In Skyrim, they feel like failed Batman sidekick outfits. And the Elven gear doesn’t match their Thalmor comrade’s mysteriously intriguing magical robes.
Better Shrouded Armor reskins the standard shroud armor with a more rustic appeal. The outfit is still leather and sports the Dark Brotherhood’s signature hand in the center of the chest. There is a minor clipping issue with one of the gloves and the hood has a sort of hobgoblin tail on it, but overall, we feel that this is a much more appropriate set of armor for the Dark Brotherhood to wear in Skyrim. This way, you can worry less about looking like a neoprene-wearing goofball and you can get back to the good stuff, mainly, slitting throats.
Why should the heavy armor wearing warriors have all the fun of dark armor? Black and Gold Elven Equipment with Masked Helmet reskins all the Elven gear within Skyrim to a darker color with gold trim. Best of all, it ties in a nice wrap across the face, adding a wonderful bit of stealthy flair. There are two versions of this mod. One that replaces all the elven gear in the game with black Equipment, and one that only crafts black Elven equipment.
Dragon Falls Manor
Dragon Falls Manor is a must-have home for anyone who plays Skyrim. It’s well-designed, secluded, comes complete with alchemy, enchanting, forging and smelting stations. It has 3 mannequins and numerous weapon racks for you to put your favorite gear on display. Best part of all, it has its own map tag, so you can fast travel to it any time you want (that is, if you happen to USE fast travel).
Alternate Start – Live Another Life
One of our biggest complaints we brought up in our Skyrim review, was the fact its intro felt too long and unskippable. The mod Alternate Start – Live Another Life not only met our expectations for remedying this issue, but exceeded them.
Alternate Start skips the entire intro segment and tosses you right into the character creator. From there, you speak to a Shrine of Mara and choose how and where you’d like to begin your life in Skyrim. You can select from a wide variety of scenarios and roles to play, or you can click “surprise me” and see where the mod takes you. This is a must have mod for anyone who wants to re-roll a character, but doesn’t want to go through the hassle of either playing through the intro sequence or by tinkering with the race menu within the console commands.
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These are our favorite mods as of this moment. Surely, there will be more great mods to come, and surely there have been other fantastic mods that haven’t been listed here. But we feel these are nice little tweaks that don’t break the Skyrim experience. Tinkering with Elder Scrolls mods is a joy only known to PC gamers, but tinkering with the console commands is like playing with the Dark Side of the Force. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. We look forward to even more fantastic mods for Skyrim in the future months and even years, and once we compile another great batch, we’ll be sure to share them with you.
Better Shrouded Armor
Dragon Falls Manor
Arrowsmith – Simple Fletching
Black Masked Elven Gear
Alternate Start – Live Another Life