Fighting a dragon
Fighting a dragon

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Vampire lord.
Vampire lord.

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Archery.
Archery.

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Fighting a dragon
Fighting a dragon

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Gameplay

updated August 21st, 2021

Let's face it, Skyrim's gameplay sucks. Time to hopefully fix this issue.
Note: If a mod from the Legendary Edition page isn't featured here, doesn't exactly mean the mod doesn't work, it just means the mod hasn't been officially ported to Special Edition at this moment. If you want to, download the mod and try to port it yourself by following this guide.
NOTE: ANY MODS CONVERTED BY YOU ARE NOT TO BE POSTED ON THE NEXUS OR ANY OTHER WEBSITE WITHOUT THE ORIGINAL MODDERS PERMISSION. CONVERT MODS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY.
NOTE 2: IF YOU RUN WRYE BASH AND IT COMPLAINS ABOUT "OLD/OUTDATED" FILES, AND SHOWS YOU A MOD ".ESP/.ESM", THAT MEANS THAT MOD HASN'T BEEN PORTED PROPERLY, OR IS A LEGENDARY EDITION MOD, IF SO, YOU NEED TO UPDATE THAT SHIT YOURSELF, AND GIVE THE MOD AUTHOR A STERN TALKING-TO.
Just follow the tutorial mentioned on the "Essential" page to update the mod yourself, skip everything, and just re-save the ".esp" on the Creation Kit.
In this section, we will discuss:
-General Fixes
-Combat
-Skills and Perks
-Magic and Spells
-Stealth
-Dragons and Shouts
-Werewolves and Vampires
-Items and Loot
-Crafting and Enchanting
-Miscellaneous Gameplay mods
 

 

 

 

Combat

It has been arguably said that the Elder Scrolls combat has gotten more streamlined as each sequel is released. However, this doesn't mean the combat is any good, it's far from that.  Here are a few mods that can remedy this problem.

Wildcat - Combat of Skyrim

Wildcat makes combat AI more responsive and makes combat more dangerous and visceral by increasing lethality and adding injuries. It accomplishes this with minimal scripting and no save bloat. Has some undesired features, which the mod creator acknowledges, check Smilodon, by the same mod author if you want a version with less changes to combat.

Ultimate Combat 3.0

Officially out for Special Edition!
One of the very few combat overhauls that actually does something.  Ultimate Combat is written by Google Translate, but to sum it up: This mod not only balances stats and cooldowns, but adds new features to NPCs such as making them quicker to react with active dodging and finding cover. NPC special attacks cause locational damage, and bosses like dragon priests and centurions have special abilities like teleportation, crazy new spells, and whatnot.
Now here lies the problem with these two mods. They're both dynamic in the way they change combat, but they also drastically change how you should play the game. It's up to you to choose which you prefer better.  You can use both combined for a very deep combat experience. Check below for some complementary mods.
Engarde

Engarde

Fixing Skyrim's melee combat one tweak at a time

Attack Behavior Revamp

Attack Behavior Revamp

An Alternate to SGC - Skysa; Attack Behavior Revamp tries to give more attack options and combos with special 3 slash for all weapons, Atlernate attacks for 1 Handed, 2 handed and dual wield weapons, Roleplay as a left handed character, have Skysa's "step & Swing" movement but have sideways attacks Unlocked. Also inludes new animations

Combat Evolved

Combat Evolved

A complementary mod to Wildcat and Deadly Combat. Stagger, knockdown, enemy skills, and enemy damage (and much more) are all enhanced to be more immersive and realistic. If you don't move around, dodge, and actively use your brain you will die a painful death. Combat sneaking has also been improved to be more difficult. No longer can you snipe enemies at range and wipe them all out.

VioLens - A Killmove Mod

VioLens - A Killmove Mod

Like the Dance of Death mod, Violens allows you to adjust or remove killmoves in the game. This mod also adds a few new kill moves for both melee and ranged combat as well as more options for kill moves in general like toggling decapitations for maces or camera view.

Revenge of the Enemies

Revenge of the Enemies

An AI overhaul that works well with any of the combat mods listed above. Enemy AI Overhaul - Revenge Of the Enemies makes enemies more smarter with blocking and power attackes, gives them new abilities and spells, and adds more high level enemies that act like boss characters. Remember, this is a mod to make enemies tougher. So if you're a total jobber, don't use it.

ABT - Arrows and Bolts Tweaks

ABT - Arrows and Bolts Tweaks

ABT is a modular mod that adds new tweaks and features to the ranged system. Things like arrow and bolt speed, arrow merchants, and progressive damage can all be tweaked and customized with this mod.

Vigor

Vigor

A light weight combat mod that focus on stamina, injuries and more reactive combat. Highly compatible and customizable.

Archery Gameplay Overhaul

Archery Gameplay Overhaul

Archery Gameplay Overhaul is a mod that changes almost every aspect of being an archer. It adds new features such as arrows, that do bleed damage, enchanted arrows, the camera when you use a bow, and even bow animations! All of which can be tweaked in the mod's MCM.

Skills and Perks

Some pretty basic mods that fix or change a lot of issues that vanilla Skyrim had. You don't have to use them all but it is recommended. Disparity is not listed, as it has not been officially ported yet, but a DIY port of it is possible. Follow the guide linked at the top of the page.
Adamant - A Perk Overhaul

Adamant - A Perk Overhaul

Adamant is a complete overhaul of Skyrim’s perk trees designed to balance existing skills and add powerful new perks to the game.

Vokrii - Minimalistic Perks of Skyrim

Vokrii - Minimalistic Perks of Skyrim

Vokrii is a lightweight "vanilla-plus" perk overhaul that improves build diversity, but respects the vanilla vision and balance. It is lightweight and uses clean scripting.

SPERG

SPERG

SPERG is one of the better, less intrusive perkmods. Simply put, it adds automatic perks and greatly expands the perk tree with nicer....perks, and most importantly is modular.

Ordinator - Perks of Skyrim

Ordinator - Perks of Skyrim

A new perk mod that adds a ton of new variety without breaking your game with save bloats. With 422 new perks to choose from, building character builds and actually playing with them is a lot more fun now.

Magic and Spells

Magic has been fun in every game. Casting spells on either friend or foe is exhilarating, especially during combat. For some reason, however, magic is always broken in each of the Elder Scrolls games in a way that either you or your enemies will get the upper hand. Here are a few mods to fix that balance issue and add more spells to play around with! Be sure to check out the mod Undeath under the Quests guide for necromancy.
Frozen Electrocuted Combustion

Frozen Electrocuted Combustion

Applies visual effects to NPCs and the player, when killed by air, ash, dragons, drain, fire, frost, fear, lightning, poison, soultrap, steam and sun damage status effects.

Odin - Skyrim Magic Overhaul

Odin - Skyrim Magic Overhaul

Odin is what magic in Skyrim should have been. It improves and fixes vanilla Skyrim spells, makes scrolls and staves viable, and adds new spells, scrolls and staves inspired by previous Elder Scrolls magic. The new content is balanced and seamlessly integrated into the game.

Spellsiphon - Immersive Combat

Spellsiphon - Immersive Combat

Perform combos with spells, weapons and a special new Shout. Remove the need for menus or hotkeys and instead discover a system where swapping spells and using multiple weapons is streamlined and rewarding. Experience a plethora of customized sounds and visual effects. Grow in power by playing skillfully, not just from levels and gear.

Mysticism - A Magic Overhaul

Mysticism - A Magic Overhaul

Mysticism is an overhaul that fixes bugs in Vanilla spells, fills in gaps in the game's magic progression, and adds new spells from previous Elder Scrolls titles.

Spell Research

Spell Research

Adds a completely new system to research and discover spells from any supported spell mod. As well as adding an in-built spell tome and scroll crafting system, a Victorian-Era style alchemy system, where you can dissolve items, and mix or analyze the resultant solutions, and expands the lore of magic with dozens of texts and artifacts to find.

The Wizard Warrior - Spellsword Magic Combat Evolved

The Wizard Warrior - Spellsword Magic Combat Evolved

The way SpellSword is meant to be played

Tomebound

Tomebound

A huge spell-pack that the author calls a "unofficial add-on" for Skyrim, much like the Spell Tomes DLC for Oblivion

Bound Tools

Bound Tools

For mages who don't want to haul around an axe or a pickaxe.

Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim

Apocalypse - Magic of Skyrim

Apocalypse features 155 unique, balanced and lore friendly spells that increase the depth and skill cap of playing a magic user while blending in with the existing magic system.

Swarm of Bees

Swarm of Bees

[Insert reference to Harry Partridge here]

Imperious - Races of Skyrim

Imperious - Races of Skyrim

This mod overhauls racial traits and spells for all of the playable races. Imperious - Races of Skyrim is the successor of Resplendent Racials. T features five new racials and tweaked stats for each race, giving each race a unique and thematic play style, without shoehorning the race into specific builds or classes. The racials are designed to enable tactical play and counterplay, but beware, NPCs also get them! This is a great alternative if you didn't like ERSO's racials or the vanilla game's.

Balanced Magic SE

Balanced Magic SE

Magic sucks in the vanilla game, as it has in all TES games. This fixes that with some much needed boosts, without making things TOO overpowered.

Colorful Magic by 184Gesu SE

Colorful Magic by 184Gesu SE

As the title says, this mod adds a ton of colorful new spells to use. Most of them are over the top and brutal at times, but they all look excellent. The spiritual successor to the Midas Magic spells pack.

Undead FX

Undead FX

This is more of a visual mod but magic nonetheless. Undead FX changes how reanimated corpses look like. Instead of being just a guy surrounded by blue light, undead look more like zombies now with bones and rotting flesh all over them. The best part about this mod is that it works on beast races too!

Deadly Spell Impacts

Deadly Spell Impacts

Fire, lightning, and frost spell impacts with their own unique textures. I didn't want to stray too far from the vanilla textures but at the same time wanted to add my own touch.

Stealth

Let's be honest here, stealth is broken.  Most of the balancing issues and AI have already been fixed in the several overhaul mods we featured in the Skills and Perks section. So if you're worried about stealth you'll be fine for now. There are not a lot of stealth mods currently, let alone good stealth mods. We'll try to dig up some interesting ones for you to use until then!
Sneak Tools SE Edition

Sneak Tools SE Edition

Instead of tweaking sneak, this mod adds new tools an options to stealth gameplay like enemy take down options, multiple arrow types, and much more. You feel more in control of what kind of stealth you're looking for, whether it be an thief or an assassin.

Realistic AI Detection SE

Realistic AI Detection SE

This is a total recalibration of Skyrim's detection formula (no scripts), providing much more realistic and challenging sneaking. Enemies will have enhanced sight and hearing abilities, and will search for you longer when alerted. This mod improves upon the community's earlier efforts to mod Skyrim's sneak detection mechanics. Instead of tweaking the vanilla detection parameters (like all other detection mods do), the Author has completely re-calibrated them from the ground up.

Dragons and SHOUTS

Shouts are fun and are the core of Skyrim gameplay. For some reason though, some shouts  are rarely even used by some players. Here are some mods that will fix shouting and add some new features to them too! As for dragons, they don't get much love. Even though there are a lot of dragon overhaul mods, most of them are really bad. We don't recommend a lot, but for the few that are brave or desperate, here are some dragon mods you might want to check out.
Ultimate Dragons

Ultimate Dragons

The mod overhauls dragons combat. This is not unreasonably strong. Adds new 20+ animations and behaviors. And more new melee combat, new shout, falls down, enrages and locational damage. Aim to improve the actions, as well as balance is not so strong. No need to create a new game and wait respawn dragon when this mod installs.

Thunderchild - Epic Shouts

Thunderchild - Epic Shouts

Adds in shouting as an actual skill, letting you become a full-on greybeard dudeski man; with new unique shouts and similar ones that are buffed. This also implements the balancing tweaks that are SIMILAR TO IMPROVED DRAGON SHOUTS BUT TOTALLY NOT SINCE THEY HAVE A FEW MINOR TWEAKS AND CHANGES. So now your shouts will be far more useful and powerful, and in some ways, not suck.

Werewolves and Vampires

Lycanthropy and vampirism were always a side thing in elder scrolls games. It was really inconvenient to be any of these really. Being a vampire sucked because no one would talk  to you and you could only go out at night. Being a werewolf felt underpowering for some reason in Skyrim. The mods listed here will make being a werewolf or vampire awesome and playable through the long term.
Growl - Werebeasts of Skyrim

Growl - Werebeasts of Skyrim

Growl is a lightweight werewolf and werebear overhaul. Better werebeast combat, scaling, experience gain, reworked perks, synergies between beast and mortal form, lunar transformations, werebears and many quality of life improvements. Growl makes werebeasts a viable choice without "taking over" or imbalancing the game.

Sacrilege - Minimalistic Vampires of Skyrim

Sacrilege - Minimalistic Vampires of Skyrim

Sacrilege is a high depth, low complexity vampire mod. It is a cleaned up and slimmed down version of Sacrosanct, offering an in-depth vampire experience without feature bloat.

Sacrosanct - Vampires of Skyrim

Sacrosanct - Vampires of Skyrim

Sacrosanct overhauls vampires and vampire lords. New abilities, powers, perks, hemomancy, and many gameplay tweaks for the discerning undead monster. Made by Ordinator guy

Better Vampires

Better Vampires

Changes basically everything about Vampires, highly customizable. Has a patch to work with Sacrosanct skill trees.

Royal Bloodline

Royal Bloodline

The new monster form perks suck. With this mod, it's actually worth putting points into the vampire tree. It improves your normal form and your lord form which REALLY needed the fix. This also comes with a bunch of miscellaneous fixes like removing vampire capes, no vampire royal armor, and sprint flight.

Cosmetic Vampire Overhaul

Cosmetic Vampire Overhaul

From the Nexus page: "Replaces Goblins in Skyrim with Vampires". Replaces the ugly shriveled vampire face with a normal one.

Bloodmoon Rising

Bloodmoon Rising

This mod overhauls the perks for the Werewolf perk tree and like Royal Bloodline, makes it worth leveling up. The great part about this mod is that it's compatible with Moonlight Tales and a bunch of other mods that edit or add werewolves.

Moonlight Tales Special Edition

Moonlight Tales Special Edition

Adds lunar transformations, werewolf and werebears skin colors, and a new werewolf skill tree.

Crafting and Enchanting

Skyrim had a very rushed and kind of crappy crafting system. Enchanting is fine but could use a little fine tuning. These mods will make these rushed features even better and maybe even change the way they work all together! Remember that some of these mods WILL change perk trees so don't forget to add or remove modules that conflict with eachother.
Harvest Overhaul Redone

Harvest Overhaul Redone

Harvest Overhaul is probably the only mod of its kind. This mod allows you to harvest a realistic amount of ingredients, while keeping the balance of Skyrim, and not conflicting with other mods. Every plant and flower (but not ingredients) has been tweaked to yield a realistic amount of ingredients, but with the element of luck. This mod also allows you to gain a surplus of ingredients if you harvest everything in sight.

Summermyst - Enchantments of Skyrim

Summermyst - Enchantments of Skyrim

Summermyst adds 96 brand new enchantments to the game. The new enchantments are balanced and integrated seamlessly into the item system. It also makes many improvements to vanilla enchantments.

Ars Metallica - Smithing Enhancement

Ars Metallica - Smithing Enhancement

Allows you to craft arrows, break down items and armors on the smelter;

Miscellaneous

This section can be totally skipped since all of these mods are really optional. They don't fix anything, but they add new features to the game that you might like.  Try one out and see for yourself!
Skytweak SE

Skytweak SE

You know what it is. Edit Game Settings and add/remove game balancing perks dynamically in game through a convenient MCM menu, and much much more!

Enemy (R)Evolution of Skyrim - EEOS - Spell Perk Item Distributor Addon

Enemy (R)Evolution of Skyrim - EEOS - Spell Perk Item Distributor Addon

Enemies will use Spells/Perks/Items/Shouts which were previously limited to the player only. Adds support for dozens of Mods. Lore-friendly implementation, highly customizable. No Scripts and no Plugin ;)

Additional Attack

Additional Attack

Perform additional attack when pressing a hotkey.

zxlice BackStab and Parry SSE - Script Free

zxlice BackStab and Parry SSE - Script Free

A SKSE plugin which allows player back stab and parry on human and draugr, skeleton, falmer etc., to make player have more choices in melee combat

zxlice's ultimate potion animation - ZUPA

zxlice's ultimate potion animation - ZUPA

An Animated Potion mechanism-changing SKSE plugin, which makes player and NPCs to have realistic potion animation without delay, and designed to maximize the compatibility with all potions.

True Armor SE

True Armor SE

Are you sick of swords cutting through Steel Plate like through butter? Every hit being predictable? Every type of armor feeling the same, regardless of material? No more! Greatly increased combat depth and immersion; a sparkle of realism and balance for your fantasy game!

Better Power Attack Direction Control - SSE

Better Power Attack Direction Control - SSE

SKSE plugin that make player's power attack direction decided by the real keyboard /gamepad control. Also unlock the directional power attack of ABR.

True Directional Movement - Modernized Third Person Gameplay

True Directional Movement - Modernized Third Person Gameplay

Overhauls the third person gameplay similarly to modern action RPGs, entirely through SKSE. Move and attack in any direction. Includes a custom target lock component and animated healthbar widget, target headtracking, projectile aim support during target lock, boss bars, mount support and more! Modular and customizable through MCM.

zxlice hitStop SSE

zxlice hitStop SSE

A simple script-free SKSE plugin makes you feel really hit something when target get hit.

Spell Perk Item Distributor

Spell Perk Item Distributor

An SKSE plugin that can be used to add spells/leveled spells/perks/items/leveled items/shouts/packages/outfits to every NPC in the game, using config files.

Simple Dual Sheath

Simple Dual Sheath

Makes equipped left hand weapons and both staves visible on the player or NPCs. Works with any weapon. Lightweight SKSE64 plugin. No scripts, ESPs or additional meshes required. Includes shield on back option.

Smart Harvest SE

Smart Harvest SE

Not enough time to play? Explore wilds, dungeons and forts uninterrupted - let Smart Harvest take care of the loot. Rich auto-looter for Compulsive Collectors and Adventure Seekers alike. View your Saga via MCM. No item lists to edit. Minimal scripting, very fast.

Headhunter - Bounties Redone

Headhunter - Bounties Redone

Bounty quests expanded for Bandits, Forsworn, Giants and Dragons. Like in the Witcher 3, bring "trophies" from your enemy to the Jarl as proof of the bounty or deliver the captured bandits to a guard for justice. Support for Missives, The Notice Board, AllGUD and more.

Smooth DAR Combat Dodge

Smooth DAR Combat Dodge

The most effective dodge animation in close combat. Works with TK Dodge too!

Elder Souls - Sweep Attacks Standalone S

Elder Souls - Sweep Attacks Standalone S

Simply makes all attacks capable of hitting more than one enemy, because why wasnt this in the base game?

Reduce Attack Skating Movement

Reduce Attack Skating Movement

Reduce Attack Skating Movement Speed.

TheSkulled's Food Overhaul

TheSkulled's Food Overhaul

This mod overhauls food to make it more useful, have a purpose and have longer lasting effects. To balance this buff, food is now more expensive.

Better Combat Escape

Better Combat Escape

A SKSE plugin that improve the vanilla game combat escape \ stopping mechanism, to prevent you stucking at combat state with super far away enemy.

All Geared Up Derivative - AllGUD

All Geared Up Derivative - AllGUD

The only mod that displays Unequipped Bows AND Shield on your Back! Displays your favorite Weapons and Shields! NPCs as well! Gold Pouches, Potions, War Horn, Lute, Azura's Star, White Phial, and more can be positioned around the waist and back! Completely replaces Equipping Overhaul, Dual Sheath Redux, Visible Favorited Gear, AGU Disclaimer: needs a script fixed

Mortal Enemies - De-aimbot Your Foes

Mortal Enemies - De-aimbot Your Foes

A mod much like Attack Commitment, but works on enemies and NPCs. Now enemies also have to commit to attacks, meaning they can't turn or move until their attack animation is done and spell casters wont always lock on to you and can sometimes miss.

Attack Commitment No turning during attacks

Attack Commitment No turning during attacks

This mod basically changes combat so that you can't turn or tilt around when you're attacking. You decide what direction and then attack, and you can't do anything else until the animation is finished.

Dark Souls Combat Mod by TDF

Dark Souls Combat Mod by TDF

This mod adds mechanics seen in the Souls games, such as poise, dodge rolls and critical hits, and comes with an MCM for maximum customizability.

Andromeda - Unique Standing Stones o

Andromeda - Unique Standing Stones o

Replaces the vanilla Standing Stones, with two abilities to each stone.

Key Bindable Dual Wield Blocking and

Key Bindable Dual Wield Blocking and

Adds a rebindable block key for dual wield.

TK Dodge 3.0

TK Dodge 3.0

This mod adds a new dodging mechanic that actually makes you dodge. Not just move from side to side, but actually bob and weave between enemy attacks.

Heart Breaker - A Killmove Mod

Heart Breaker - A Killmove Mod

Have you ever wanted to rip out people's hearts like Kano from Mortal Kombat? Well now you can, enjoy yourself.

FAQ

Q: Why isn't this or that mod in the guide?
 
A: Some mods haven't been officially ported to Special Edition yet, if a mod you like isn't listed, try converting it yourself.
 
Q: Will you be adding more to these guides?
 
A: Of course!  We'll try to keep all the guides up to date and will notify everyone if something has changed or has been added on. We also accept submissions if the mod is good enough!