Skyrim, even without mods, has always looked kinda pretty up close, but if you look more than a few grids away (the loading distances Skyrim sorta uses) then everything goes to crap. Things pop in and out of existence, grass ceases to exist, textures look awful… it’s just all round a shitty look. There have been numerous attempts to fix this stuff so that the distance looks at least tolerable compared to the pretty area loaded around you, but the only real solution is DynDOLOD.
DynDOLOD is basically a program that combs through your installed mods and automatically creates dynamic LOD for the entirety of Skyrim. Frankly it’s a weird sort of black magic that is probably illegal in some parts of the US, but frankly the dynamic LOD just works better than the basic LOD meshes and textures and stuff vanilla Skyrim uses.
But using DynDOLOD isn’t like other mods. You can’t just drop it into the data folder (if you’re a bad modder) or get Mod Organizer or Vortex or whatever to install it for you. There’s a hint of prep work. You need to prepare your game, install some basic resource mods, extract the DynDOLOD program into its own folder outside your own Skyrim and mod installations, make sure you have all the extra mods and files ready to go, THEN run the DynDOLOD executable file, select where you want LODs to be generated, wait for that to finish then go to the output folder and install the freshly created DynDOLOD.esp file and its other files either in your mod folder or via your mod organizer of choice.
With a basic Skyrim mod order with nothing too fancy, it’s pretty simple. You just pick a low, medium or high preset and let DynDOLOD run. If you have textures, anything else with its own LODs, anything like that, you have to do things in different ways. For example, with Open Cities Skyrim, a mod I don’t like to play without, I have to run DynDOLOD without Open Cities installed and stop it from generating LODs, exit without creating a .esp file, go back to my Skyrim mods and enable Open Cities again, edit a file to tell DynDOLOD to not automatically stop upon detecting Open Cities then run DynDOLOD with just the LOD generation. Only then will I have a working .esp and files that I can drop in with my other mods.
It’s not a complicated process, but it IS one where you need to be careful. The first time I used DynDOLOD (which was a long time ago to be fair), I didn’t do that specific Open Cities setup and ended up crashing my game. That was user error though, not the fault of DynDOLOD. I did have to do a lot of messing around though just to get DynDOLOD to actually even start, including fiddling around with my .ini files for Skyrim to properly include archive resources (which BethINI was supposed to fix but oh well) and having to re-launch the normal Skyrim launcher multiple times.
That is where the problem lies though. While DynDOLOD does fix one of Skyrim’s biggest cosmetic issues, someone who just wants a pretty game might not want to do the footwork, especially since every single person’s game of Skyrim is different. That means that DynDOLOD will install in weird ways every single time. Sure, there are well-written error messages and guides and things like that but not everyone will understand what they actually mean or how to solve them.
Really though, it all depends on how much you like distant mountains and trees. For me, it was somewhat worth it as I spend a lot of time turning Skyrim into a dragon simulator but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you like to be able to see your house from far away and don’t have a complicated collection of installed mods, then sure, give DynDOLOD a go. Just make sure you read those instructions very carefully.