It’s been a long time since I played Skyrim, Bethesda’s fifth entry in the Elder Scrolls series. I spent a lot of time with it when it was newly released, and don’t regret a minute of it, but after a while newer games arrived and it got lost in the shuffle. Recently, however, with Dawnguard - the forthcoming DLC - surely due for release soon on the PC, I decided to re-install it and I was reminded by a big giant button on Steam’s Skyrim page that it now has access to the Steam Workshop; a wonderful place where mods can be installed by simply hitting the ‘Subscribe’ button then letting them download in the launcher. A new game started, I went on my newest life in Skyrim, this time, with mods!
You know that really long intro where you get carted slowly to Helgen, then after the initial cut-scene you’re sent through a tutorial dungeon before you can finally wander the lands? Yeah, I got rid of that. Instead, using a mod called ‘Live Another Life’, which instead started me in a nondescript room with a statue of Mara, and a bed. On using the statue I was asked why I was there, with various options ranging from being shipwrecked off the coast, to being a wanderer who was ambushed by bandits. With full intention of being an archer character, I chose to say I was camping in the woods. After sleeping in the bed I awoke in my new tent, with a quest to examine the charred corpse down the road. This started a small quest which would tie in perfectly with the point you would exit the tutorial dungeon, but bypassing all the stuff you’ve seen before. A great start.
Next thing I noticed was the various weather effects as I wandered. I installed two mods called ‘Real Rain Basic’ and ‘Better Dynamic Snow,’ which funnily enough alters rain and snow respectively. Rain sounded better and looked better, but the snow was the most impressive upgrade; a snowstorm is now a proper blizzard, sometimes leaving you struggling to see as you push forward. Just as it should be. The water was also clearer and the streams looked less - for lack of a better word - fake, than they do originally; this was thanks to the ‘Pure Waters’ mod. So we’ve got a quicker start to the game and some more impressive natural effects. Moving on...
Dragon time! While there are countless mods to re-skin dragons, make them bigger, make more of them spawn, I ignored all of that in favour of a descriptively named mod - ‘More Dragon Loot.’ It does exactly what it says on the tin, killing dragons is worth more than a soul that you’ll forget to spend now. Each dragon you kill drops a piece of enchanted armour or an enchanted weapon/item. It’s not as cheaty as it sounds though, as it could easily be something like an enchanted mage’s staff; useless for my archer, but it is nice to sell and makes it all the more worth your while to kill them when you see them instead of groaning and running in the opposite direction to get rid of them.
Aside from that I’ve installed a few other bits and pieces which are just general quality of life type affairs, like being able to whistle for my horse to come back to me if she wanders too far, and making ore deposits glow a little so they are easier to spot in the dark caves of the world. I’ll list all the mods I’m using currently at the bottom if you want to look for them on the Workshop.
So there we have it. A few mods, and entirely new experience, at least for the start of the game, and I’m just getting started. I’ll be browsing the Workshop every few days to see if there’s anything new I can add, but I’ll be making sure it’s generally lore-friendly as I don’t want something that breaks the superb atmosphere in Skyrim. With Dawnguard hopefully releasing soon, the Workshop is as good a reason as any to get back into it and start a new character to be ready for the DLC.
Full list of mods:
Real Rain Basic, Vibrant Auroras, Increased Bounty Rewards, Alternate Start - Live Another Life, Better Dynamic Snow, Whistle, More Dragon Loot, Pure Waters, Mine Ore - Glow Mod