Here’s a question for everyone. How many of you have modded Skyrim? Going along with that, how many of you have actually beaten Skyrim (i.e. the main questline)? I have a feeling that the number of people who’ve done the latter is smaller than the former.
Why would this be? Well simply, Skyrim belongs the mods!
Going into more specifics, there are tons of mods out there to customise Skyrim to be how you want it. Whether that’s playing as a new species, changing the environment to a tropical paradise, or downloading those 18+ mods (and you people know who you are).
Now, for those of you who don’t have experience with modding (besides the Steam workshop), let me just tell you that it is a GIANT pain. Sure there’s Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) to make things easier, but even that still runs into issues.
The first of which, is the fact that if you’re on Windows (Windows 10 specifically for me), you can have your permission to touch files/folders locked. Now, this might not be so bad usually. I quick restart, possibly into safe mode, and you can access those files and folders again. However, unless you manually check for this, you have no way of knowing when the “Desktop” assumed total control.
What does this have to do with modding Skyrim? Well, if you use NMM, you don’t actually know if things worked out until you load up the game. It does not tell you “Error: Access to folder denied” or anything of the sort. What this results in is long hours spent trying to get mods working, only to discover that those folders which should contain textures are empty, and the meshes folder refuses to be opened. If NMM could tell you it ran into issues this wouldn’t be so bad, but unless that’s fixed, you’re stuck figuring out if you have out of control permission errors, or whether you just had a bad download.
Another large issue I’ve found is some mod creators are AWFUL with giving instructions on how to get their mods working. It’s not spelling/grammar that’s the issue, but how they present their instructions. In the case of one of my mods, I didn’t even realise I needed to do something as the mod creator did an awful job of listing requirements.
Assuming the mod author made things clear, possibly with a video tutorial, what do you do when thing still go wrong? If my life depended on getting Fantasy Forests working, I would have died long ago. You need mod 1, 2, 3, and x, y, z, etc. I get these, I follow the instructions, and part way through running DynDOLOD, it refuses to work as I’m missing some tree LOD’s or something, even after downloading and switching through every single one on Nexus.
Speaking of Nexus, that’s the best place to download mods from if you’re using NMM. Sadly, this doesn’t contain all the mods, so you might be stuck hunting them down from other sources. Of course, this then runs into issues of mod creators giving instructions assuming you’re using another mod manager. As if figuring out NMM itself wasn’t difficult enough.
So, is modding Skyrim worth all the effort? I would say yes and no. No to the degree that some mods (such as lighting ENB mods) aren’t worth the effort for people inexperienced with things, especially those without others to help them. Yes to the degree that mods can really enhance your experience of Skyrim, and you can spend hundreds of hours using these mods while ignoring the main quest.
If you’ve never played Skyrim before, I’d highly recommend picking it up while on sale and trying out some of the mods out there. While it is an old game, there’s something about Skyrim that keeps in near the top of my favourite games.
Editor’s note: Don’t install Skyrim in Program Files and don’t use Nexus Mod Manager. Use Mod Organizer as it is all-round better than NMM.