Before Dragonborn: Top 10 Graphical Mods For Skyrim in 2013

Still waiting for the Dragonborn DLC on the PC? Why not improve your existing Skyrim experience while you wait?

skyrim sunset

With the last of the DLC for The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim almost here, thus, the wave of official Bethesda released content is nearly complete. But that doesn't mean your adventures have to be! With Dragonborn on the way, now's the perfect time to breath new life into your Skyrim game, and there's no better way than with this batch of beautiful mods, spanning weather, lighting, flora, and more.

The following are ten user made add-ons to enrich your visual Skyrim experience.

Enhanced Night Skyrim

This mod is very special not just because it makes the Skyrim nights even more breathtaking, but because it adds a dash of realism too. Enhanced Night Skyrim brings a new sparkle to the evening sky by replacing the existing textures with high resolution ones based on actual astrophotography. It offers four varities of nebula (icy blue, aquamarine, blue, and multicolor) and four levels of star density. Download it for manual installation over at the Nexus Forums.


Matso Immersive Sun

For some, the sunlight of Skyrim leaves much to be desired in terms of intensity and glare. The Matso Immersive Sun mod amends this by adding a brilliant white yellow glow to mimic the sun's actual appearance. Like the rest of the mods on this list, it can be downloaded through Valve over at the Steam Workshop.

Shooting Stars

This mod is host to a celestial addition to Skyrim, shooting stars. Best seen during clear conditions at night, these fiery balls of gas are also joined by occasional meteor showers, designated on certain days of the Tamriel calendar. Rare and unpredictable meteor storms can occur as well.

The mod is also compatible with the Enhanced Night mod (as seen in the video above) making your star gazing session just that much sweeter.


Another simple but effective addition, this mod is carefully crafted to make rainbows as rare in Skyrim as they are in real life. Certain conditions, such as weather and time of day, affect whether the rainbow will appear, and positioning will dictate whether the player sees it at all.

Real Glacier Mod

Why settle for ugly glaciers? You may not have thought these giant blocks of ice needed a make-over, but the Real Glacier Mod, now in its second version, will change your mind. Add this one to the load list and watch their surface go from a dull gray to a piercing arrangement of whites, blacks, and blues.

This mod also has a version that adds more realistic textures to mountains:

Water And Terrain Effects Redux

Does the surface of the water in Skyrim strike you as dull and lifeless? The Water And Terrain Effects Redux mod, known as WATER, can fix that right up. It polishes the various rivers, lakes, ocean shores, and waterfalls with improved flow, high resolution foam, rain, and water textures, and reduced splashing.

Chewiemuse's Dense Grass

For a more rich and rewarding sneak experience, consider Chewiemuse's Dense Grass mod. It enriches the Skyrim hillsides with several more layers of grass, thickening the heather and wild flowers covering the fields and forest floors.

HD Plants + Herbs

Crafting is a major component of Skyrim, yet for all the bright, pretty flowers gathered across its landscape, few are much more than a blob of mushy looking pixels. With the HD Plants + Herbs mod, these blocks are are given visible petals, transforming them from cotton balls smeared in tempera paint to gorgeous therapeutic posies and flowers.

Towns And Villages Enhanced

The little settlements scattered over Skyrim seem pretty bleak and empty once you see this mod. Towns And Villages Enhanced (which has several stand alone versions for each of the major cities) adds detail to five of the six small towns across the land: Ivarstead, Rorikstead, Karthwasten, Dragon Bridge, and Shor's Stone. Instead of dusty open yards and empty paths, enjoy lush trees and patches of flowers stuffed in the village's every cranny and nook.


Project Reality: Climates of Tamriel

Of all the mods on the list, this is definitely the one to make room for in your load order. Project Reality: Climates of Tamriel adds to Skyrim over 500 new weather systems, over 2000 weather patterns for day, night, dawn, and dusk, a "massive library" of cloud types, fork lightening visuals and new thunder audio, new natural and fantasy lighting techniques, and a new sun with glare, all without any performance loss to your system. Among other things, it makes night time much darker, providing a bit of a challenge for seasoned players. See it in action above over the course of several days in three locations in the video above.