Burning Skies is my second favourite mod in Skyrim, after the amazing mod that is Open Cities. It’s both a big, clunky mod and a small mod – not many people seem to use it despite its huge number of endorsements and downloads, and very few people seem to use it full time the way I do. At some point, I’ll do the dragon-based playthrough I promised I’d do after the Medic in Skyrim and Dawnguard Sniping series. But Burning Skies is a complicated mod, full of problems and bugs. It also has been a very slow process just to get to the 3.1.5a build that is *mostly* stable. Mostly. It’s still a heavy, buggy mod and you need a half-decent computer to be able to run it smoothly, but it’s worth it, just to be able to turn into a dragon and fly around.
Now, Burning Skies has always been basic. There was never a hover animation. Nor was there a take off or landing animation – apparently the game would teleport you across the map whenever they tried to add those animations to the player. Your dragon would just float in mid air whenever you stopped moving forward, and the game would switch you to and from first person to land and take off.
And if your computer wasn’t great (which mine wasn’t), a phenomenon called Script Lag could cause your game to bug out, doing things as not changing you back into a human, making you crash into the ground and flying into the sky forever. Skyrim’s engine can’t handle too much going on at once, and flying around in the sky has you rendering a lot more than normal, so scripts end up being delayed.
Anyway, imagine how great I felt when I found out one of the mod authors had released an alpha of a new build for Burning Skies, complete with HOVERING ANIMATIONS. The new version, called Playable Dragons Alpha, was no longer being worked on, but it had been released just because they could. They claimed it was buggy and broken and it needed Better Jumping, a different mod, to work.
In fact, out of the box, it didn’t work at all. It needed some tweaks and extra files. When I first tried it, I was a stationary, broken Odahviing. Which wasn’t great.
After a ton of tweaking (and thanks to a comment chain on the mod page), I finally managed to get the mod to work. Of course, there were a few little glitches as I worked out the controls. It turns out you take off with Space and you also use Space to go higher. You can’t go lower, you just have to glide down slowly. Basically, you ‘jump’ though the air, and the animations are attached to that. To be able to attack, you need to make sure you don’t have your ‘weapons’ sheathed – the best way to do that is, while you’re on the ground, use left click and see if you do the standard Dragon Bite attack. You also need to make sure you’re unarmed, so unequip all your weapons. You also need to have your weapons unsheathed if you want to take off and land smoothly – failing to do so will get you stuck in the sky.
But once you’ve worked it out, it’s good.
It’s really good.
Like, really good.
You actually feel more like a dragon. The flying animation is better. The ability to properly land is great. The ability to actually HOVER is amazing. You can actually hover and breathe fire on enemies! The Roar and Perch abilities are no longer around, but that’s a fair price to pay for the ability to hover and attack better. You also can’t change your dragon type, you’re always Odahviing, but you can use mods replacers like Bellyaches Dragon Texture Replacer to fix that.
There’s just one downside – because of the altered version of the Better Jumping mod used by Playable Dragons Alpha, you can still jump 20 feet into the air as a human. And you will most likely fall to your death, as your mortal form doesn’t have the immunity to fall damage perk that dragons have.
But I don’t care. This works fine for my 100% dragon all the time mod set up.