The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim hosts what is easily one of the most industrious modding scenes in gaming history, laying claim to some of the biggest and most ambitious pieces of user generated content to have ever been seen. But while elaborate, game-changing, or deeply immersive modifications are fun to explore and marvel over, sometimes we just want to play the game as it is, only prettier. And today, we're looking at mods that accomplish just that.
Keep scrolling to join us as we check out ten cosmetic mods that beautify the Skyrim experience. Bear in mind that not every mod featured here is going to be compatible on every platform. However, we've done our best to ensure that there's a decent spread of mods that work on the Xbox One, PS4, and PC, so no matter what your platform of choice happens to be, there should be something on the list that'll work for you!
10 FOS - Forests Of Skyrim
It's likely not that difficult to infer from the title of this mod that it has to do with trees. A whole lot of trees, actually. Roughly two thousand of them, if you're positively aching for a little more precision here.
And the result looks pretty fantastic. Skyrim's forests never felt quite like forests, being fairly sparse and lacking in actual trees. Forests of Skyrim renders them into dense, visually impressive patches of forest. Some particular landscape vistas might be a little obscured by the additional foliage, but it's definitely worth the trade off.
9 Epic Realistic Enchantment Effects
The visual effects placed on Skyrim's enchanted weapons are pretty bare-bones, but the effects that this mod replaces them with are definitely anything but. "Epic" is certainly the right word when it comes to describing most of them.
For the most part, they're visual effects that already exist in the game, but they're nonetheless cool looking. One minor, but legitimate gripe is to be hard with the effects placed on bows, as some of them can obscure targets to a minor degree. It's easily ignored, though, and it makes wielding an enchanted weapon feel more powerful in nature.
8 Divine People AIO Player And NPC Overhaul
Mods impacting Skyrim's character models tend to be awfully lopsided, being mostly skewed towards modifying female characters (and with a disturbingly particular emphasis on objectification of said characters and their... assets).
While this mod doesn't completely sidestep the obvious, it is doubtlessly a more equal opportunity upgrade than most. It also avoids dipping into the anime-style art direction that so many character mods tend to shoot for, nicely preserving the base fantasy aesthetic that Skyrim is built around while still giving the models a lovely upgrade.
7 True Storms Special Edition
Storms and weather patterns in Skyrim always felt a little bit underwhelming. They were present, of course, but not much else could be said for them outside of that. The rain in particular was incredibly difficult to appreciate, barely being noticeable in its base implementation.
True Storms turns Skyrim's weather into a true force of nature. It adds new weather systems, varying degrees of severity for existing ones, and in general makes them look, feel, and even sound magnitudes more impressive.
6 Guards' Armor Replacer By NordwarUA
While this modification does technically add items to the game (as well as a minor quest or two), the basis of it is cosmetic, and the results are fantastic. For anyone bothered by the "cookie-cutter" appearance of hold guards' armor, this mod is an absolute must-have.
Rather than the same, boring, palette-swapped armor being worn by every guard from Windhelm to Solitude, this modification will give each of the holds distinct and highly detailed armor sets for their guards, as well as variants for each set.
5 Realistic Water Two
Rather than a singular, momentous upgrade in the graphical fidelity and presentation of Skyrim's water effects, Realistic Water is very much the sum of its parts, cramming in a multitude of small improvements that, when taken together, create a definitive summary difference.
A few examples of this mod at work include lake and pond water no longer "flowing" in a given direction, actual animations for boats that are floating in the water, rapids and waterfalls having improved animations and effects, additional coastal waves, better ripple effects, and dozens more small improvements that work together seamlessly.
4 Lush Overhaul
Originally known as the "Ultimate Lush Overhaul," this is certainly one of the older mods featured on this list, but don't let its advanced age discount its impact. Lush Overhaul improves Skyrim's vegetation, and as per the mod's title, makes it appear more "lush."
Trees, flora, and grass are made thicker, more realistic, and generally more visually appealing in practically all circumstances. Trees in particular have a more dense, full appearance. If you've ever wanted your Skyrim experience to be a little bit more green, then definitely consider giving this one a spin.
3 Skyrim Vanity Kit
In a nutshell, Skyrim Vanity Kit adds a much more expansive color palette to all of the applicable character creation options, greatly expanding customization capabilities for your Skyrim character.
Included are expanded hair color options, more skin tones, and an extended range of shades for make up, dirt, and warpaint. Argonian and Khajiit characters get access to new selections concerning their scales and fur (respectively, of course). It might not seem like much at first, but you'll see the difference when you end up losing several additional hours to it.
2 LeanWolf's Better-Shaped Weapons SE
This mod performs a painstakingly detailed remodel of practically every weapon model in the game, rendering them with a much more aesthetically pleasing form as opposed to the borderline cartoonish appearance of many of the game's base weapons.
Everything from axes to arrowheads are improved in no short measure, with particular accolades to be had for Elven, Dragonbone, and Glass weaponry. No effort was spared towards making Skyrim's weapons more believable and cool-looking in general, and you could be forgiven for mistaking a few of them for new unique weapons.
Definitely the cream of this list's crop, Skyland (or Skyland AIO) is a comprehensive overhaul that modifies many of the game's landscape and building textures. The number of things covered is far too extensive to itemize, but rest assured that it's a lot.
Most of the of textures are rendered in 1k or 2k, providing a significant visual upgrade for all affected textures without too much of a hindrance to performance. It is, in a word, gorgeous, and if you had to walk away from this list with only one mod in tow, this is the one you'd want.