10 Graphical Mods That Overhaul Skyrim’s Visuals

It’s been close to two years since Skyrim came out. The PC version has proven itself to be by far the best version of the game, and that’s due in no small part to its extensive modding community, with mods that expand Skyrim far beyond its initial scope and capabilities.

As we’ve featured in the past here on Game Front, Skyrim’s mods range from fantastic weapons that broaden the player’s arsenal of arms to weird mods that defy reason.

This time around, we’d like to showcase more than a dozen mods that improve and enhance the visual quality of Skyrim, which remains a gorgeous game on PC. These mods serve to immerse players in a world that looks more realistic than anything Bethesda came up with when they first released the game.

Better Weapon & Armor Textures: amidianBorn Book of Silence
Download Link: Here

amidianBorn Book of Silence is a project that aims to retexture all the armors and weapons in Skyrim and its DLC with lore-friendly replacements.

Everything in the game has been redone from scratch, and textures share the same resolution as those in the official high-resolution DLC pack, replacing all manner of weapons, chestplates, helmets, gloves and boots.

Incredibly, PCs that are capable of handling the official DLC should have no problem running the mod without any noticeable performance loss, and the mod is — happily enough — compatible with every other mod on this list, including mods that use part of the retextured armor, mesh mods and body modifications of either gender.

Better Dynamic Snow
Download Link: Here

As the name suggests, Better Dynamic Snow fixes the ugly, pure-white dynamic snow effect to actually use the default snow texture. This very minor modification vastly improves the visual appearance of snow in the game.

Book Covers Skyrim
Download Link: Here

Like the aMidianBorn Book of Silence higher up on this list, Book Covers Skyrim is a project to retexture all of the readable books, journals and notes in vanilla Skyrim, Hearthfire and Dawnguard. The mod gives each book and journal its own unique cover, and adds many additional paper styles to the notes, giving each readable piece of literature in the game its own unique look and feel.

The mod’s greatest contribution is its unique textures for each and every skill book you find in the game. To help distinguish skill books from others, a star can be seen on the spine of the book. Likewise, quest-related journals come with an embossed Skyrim logo.

Enhanced Distant Terrain
Download Link: Here

Enhanced Distant Terrain is a simple but powerful mod that enhances distant, low-detail terrain by recreating it from scratch, offering a more detailed and more defined texture map.

In effect, the mod makes distant terrain look better, because it reduces, and in some cases removes, the blotchy patches of land, and allows the distant terrain to blend better with the foreground and improve the overall look of the game out in the open.

Enhanced Lights and FX
Download Link: Here

Despite Skyrim’s new engine, which is more advanced than anything Oblivion and Morrowind had to offer, the lighting remains static. Enhanced Lights and FX is an attempt to fix that by adding real light sources to the game, making the game more atmospheric and more alive.

The mod adds replaces all ambient lights with real light sources, and removes any light that doesn’t have a source. It also adds more effects like smoke, volumetric lighting, and more.

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9 Comments on 10 Graphical Mods That Overhaul Skyrim’s Visuals

Evernessince

On August 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm

It should be noted that these mods incur a heavy fps penalty and some leave scripts that bloat save game files. Always test new mods on a clean save to make sure that you like what the mod adds. Once you have saved your game with the new mod, those scripts aren’t going away. This is how crashes and freezing is caused.

rickshaw

On August 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Very sweet collection these should be used :)

Jay

On August 24, 2013 at 1:31 am

“It should be noted that these mods incur a heavy fps penalty and some leave scripts that bloat save game files. Always test new mods on a clean save”

What are you talking about? These are texture re-placers and visual effects. Besides Get Snowy, the mods shown in this article do not contain scripts. The only mods that will really hit your frame-rate is Skyrim Flora Overhaul, which comes with a hefy performance hit, but can easily be mitigated by adjusting grass density through the .ini files.

Dudelot

On August 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

Oh.. uh… I had already installed all of this! I can’t get enough of these! 350+ mods Skyrim… It’s so unstable yet so compelling!!! aaaaaa!!!!!

Kevin

On August 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I tried playing a game without enhanced terrain loaded…. wow is it night and day. I think that one is the mod with the biggest impact on the look of things.

Evernessince

On August 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm

@jay

Ah yes, always people who like to play with semantics. These mods do incur a performance hit, as you stated, but you underplay each mods effect. Texture packs will put more strain on the gpu and most likely cause some ram fetching to the cpu unless you have a beast gpu. All in all, the impact is greater on older machines. Not to mention skyrims system is bottlenecked and the internal resource management gets a bit wonky when too many texture mods are installed. Not to mention, memory management isn’t all that great either. Sure it can handle everything, just don’t expect to be lag free.

Oh and about the grass: why would I be adding graphics mods only to reduce the eye candy by removing grass render distance or cluster size? If you have to tweak grass settings so that you can run these, you shouldn’t be using these at all.

Source: Nexus mod author, me

Jezzerat

On November 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Oh, give me a break. If your graphics card can’t handle a few high-res textures, you shouldn’t be using your computer for gaming in the first place. I have 220 mods in place for Skyrim, including every single mod listed here, and it’s still only as much of a performance hit as most current releases.

Almost every single texture mod comes in multiple flavors, including resolutions that match vanilla Skyrim, so you can pick a mod that fits your computer. The modding community exists to help people with modding their game, and programs like BOSS, Nexus Mod Manager, and Skyrim Performance Monitor are there to help newbies get their feet wet. For advanced users, programs like TES5Edit, Wrye Bash, and Skyproc SUM are there to give you even further control over your mods.

Skyrim was already one of the best, most immersive video games I’ve ever played. Thanks to the modding community, it’s become truly epic.

NimbleTBolt

On March 6, 2014 at 8:10 am

How much does the mod impact FPS?

RPG0897

On May 17, 2014 at 11:08 am

I can’t download it without having to pay for it…