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RANT: Essential Skyrim Mods

I'm on vacation, which means I have even fewer cares that I ordinarily do on a minute to minute basis. However, it also means that I'm playing a lot more Skyrim, which means I have at least a small bit of game-related experience to talk about today. Despite the fact that Skyrim's already been out for a couple of months, the buzz hasn't yet died down on this enormous, sprawling RPG. I got into it on release day but, through some poor choices, built a character unable to stand up to the rigors of picking flowers, much less slaying dragons. I've since restarted, and while I'm no more lethal in combat, I'm a dynamo when it comes to herbology. John Marston would be proud.

Anyway, regardless of what sort of Dragonborn you choose to create, there's a lot of mods out there that will make your overall experience a lot more enjoyable. Here's a few of the ones I'm using. If you're playing the game on PC, then give 'em a look.

Dick Joke

Virtually all of these are available on Skyrim Nexus, making that site a one-stop shop for your Skyrim modification needs. They offer a free product called Nexus Mod Manager that allows you to quickly and easily download and install the mods you want to use without the hassle of manual installation. You need an account to use the website, but it's well worth the time spent, considering the downloads available.

Here's a couple of my favorites:

SkyUI - This turns the Skyrim's default menu systems for inventory, magic, vendors, and loot into an actual usable system instead of a crime against man. Why the game didn't ship with a system that looks and works more like this, I have no idea, but thank goodness someone made SkyUI to compensate. Note that SkyUI requires one of the few non-nexus mods that you need to download, an enhancement to the game's scripting language, available here (and talked about on the SkyUI page.)

Categorized Favorites Menu - One of the few things SkyUI hasn't addressed yet (but plans to in the future) is the Favorites menu. Until SkyUI releases an edition that takes care of that as well, this mod does a great job giving you clear categories for all of your "favorited" items and abilities.

No More Blocky Faces - While Skyrim is a considerable jump up from Oblivion and Fallout's character faces, there's still some problems around the edges. There are a lot of beautification mods, but this is probably my favorite so far.

A Quality World Map - This enhances the detail in the 3D world map, and adds a roadway heads-up display to the map as well. I use the version that only displays the main roads, which I think helps make the world look more manageable but doesn't eliminate the possibilities for off-road exploration that Skyrim thrives on.

Now we're talking!

These final mods are all mods designed to bolster the look and feel of the world of Skyrim, all of which are valuable even in Skyrim's already-impressive expanses:
Realistic Water Textures
Immersive Skyrim Thunder - You'll be surprised how much of a presence this has once you install it!
Enhanced Blood Textures
Skyrim Flora Overhaul
Enhanced Night Skyrim - Probably my favorite mod. I love this guy's skyboxes!

There's tons of other mods in there - including some that add all-new items and spells to the game, which I haven't tried yet - so take a look and see what strikes your fancy. If you're using the Mod Manager, then turning a particular mod is as easy as unchecking a box and restarting the game. Enjoy!

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