The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, by Bethesda Softworks, is arguably one of the most accomplished role-playing games of all time. If you aren’t already aware, the PC version of Skyrim VR is built on top of a slightly older Skyrim: Special Edition client, meaning that many Skyrim: SE mods are compatible with Skyrim VR out of the box. If you’re new to all this “mod” talk, here’s the laydown:
Mods are defined as any user-created add-on module that replaces or extends existing content in the game. This is how modders autonomously keep Skyrim fresh and interesting over time, despite the game having originally released in late 2011. In fact, the sheer amount of things you can do in Skyrim VR with mods is astounding. You can even burn 1,000+ calories in a single session of play.
For a how-to guide on installing mods onto your own copy of Skyrim VR, check out VR Fitness Insider’s beginner’s guide to Skyrim VR modding by Jayson Paglow. And once you’re comfortable with the mod installation process, you’re invited to dive into our list of top 25 Skyrim VR mods (set in no particular order) that we recommend for a far more fleshed out playthrough.
Adding mods to Skyrim VR can be a headache if you haven’t modded a Bethesda Softworks game before. Here are a few frameworks that you should always install to your game, whether or not you plan to download any mods that rely on them.
- Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) – Download the current VR build and follow the readme.
- xSHADOWMANx’s DLL Loader – Install instructions are on the main Nexus page.
- SSE Engine Fixes (requires SKSE) – Follow the instructions on the download page. This framework comes in two parts.
Skyrim VR Mods: Top Essentials
Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch
When there’s something strange in the neighborhood—who’re you gonna call? Modders! The Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (USSEP), headed by Arthmoor, is a compendium of fixes for bugs that were forgotten or ignored by Bethesda.
Here’s a breakdown of USSEP by YouTuber GameGear. While you may notice that he’s playing Skyrim: Special Edition with a traditional controller, the mod still functions the same in Skyrim VR. By the way, don’t install any other mods for Skyrim VR until you’ve installed USSEP. This is because of how much of Skyrim VR’s core logic is altered for the better by USSEP. In fact, it’s the most foundationally important mod on our list. That’s why it’s up top.
- You must install an extra patch to get USSEP to work with Skyrim VR:
Skyrim VR USSEP Fixes
VR Inverse Kinematics
Skyrim VR is missing a handful of features that add VR immersion, such as inverse kinematics that allow you to look down and see your body. It’s also quite jarring that your weapons float around mid-air by default. The solution to that pesky design oversight is the VRIK (VR Inverse Kinematics) mod by prog0111.
Not only can you look down and see your own arms and hands, but the fidelity of each animation is pretty accurate too. The hand rotation and shoulder adjustment bodies seem like they track your movements aptly. Additionally, this mod allows you to grab arrows and pull them out of enemies and surfaces—an interaction that feels natural in a high fantasy setting. Blade & Sorcery, anyone?
Skyrim VR Mods: Gameplay Rebalancing
In regular Skyrim VR, many of the skill trees and perks that you can unlock in the game are imbalanced in that you’ll find it becomes quite difficult to get creative with your character builds outside of, say, the classic Stealth Archer that also occasionally wields swords, axes, and/or spells.
Ordinator, by EnaiSiaion, is a complete rehaul of the skill and perk system that seeks to quell that problem in its tracks. In practice, the mod makes it viable for you to play a character who specializes in a few specific skills instead of falling into the pattern of always developing that one character who does everything. But more importantly, the mod makes each skill tree infinitely more interesting and more useful. No more filler skill trees; each skill and perk has a true purpose.
It even adds combat abilities to the Smithing and Speech skill trees, giving you the option to play solely as a master smith who uses cannons to fight—a concept that is totally absent from the base Skyrim VR, but killer nonetheless—or a bard who uses music to soothe or incapacitate enemies. And that’s only pecking at the surface.
- In order to get Ordinator running in VR, you need to install two additional mods: Ordinator Fix and VR Perk Extender
Skyrim VR’s character creator lets you design any kind of avatar you’d like, from a list of ten civilized races that inhabit the game’s fantastical world of Tamriel. Or so it first appears. The problem with Skyrim’s vanilla races is that certain ones offer useless perks, and in most cases, they fail to set themselves apart entirely.
Imperious Races of Skyrim, by EnaiSiaion, makes your character race decision far more meaningful. It replaces the bog-standard vanilla racial abilities with ones that are geared towards particular styles of play. Thus, it faces you with an opportunity cost for choosing one race over another. For example, Wood Elves can now see enemies through walls when crouching in place. They can also eat corpses to regain health—an interaction which can fuel a hilarious gaming moment if you physically duck down to “eat” a corpse while playing an Imperious Wood Elf character in Skyrim VR. Regardless, you’ll find that choosing any of the ten races now carries interesting and specific perks that vastly modify the type of character you roll. All without penalizing you or compelling you to reroll later. And that’s gonna be a “yes please” from us.
There is one massive issue that I have with combat in Skyrim VR: it’s too easy. You can kill everything in the game with one or two good weapons. Furthermore, in melee combat, you can thoughtlessly wobble your controllers around until your enemies slump over and you collect the gold coins off of their ragdoll bodies. Hey, that’s not inspiring at all!
So what does Wildcat do to save us all from the monotony of Skyrim’s basic battles? It adds a “dynamic combat” system that includes injury simulation, resource exhaustion, and other pain-points that force you to carefully consider your approach to each encounter.
In regular Skyrim VR, the standing stones—points of interest which give you a permanent power-up to specific attributes—are as dry as cardboard. They don’t do anything worth talking about, besides offer up some measly attribute bonuses. As such, the vast majority of stones are ignored except for whichever complements the homogenous Stealth Archer build that Bethesda has a strange affection for. Yeugh. Fortunately, we now have the ability to download and install Andromeda, by EnaiSiaion. Completely reshaping the way Skyrim handles its standing stones, it grants a wide variety of game-shifting feats that are simultaneously unique and powerful, but not too much. Some stones trigger quests now, which makes them feel all the more part of the world rather than abstracted out as an afterthought.
Skyrim VR is all about fighting dragons and absorbing their souls to unlock special dragon “shouts”, superpowered spell-like powers that you can only unleash after a cooldown timer refills your shout meter. Thunderchild, by EnaiSiaion, adds 29 more of these beastly powers to the game. These Thunderchild shouts tend to be far more sophisticated than vanilla ones and you’ll only get to unlock them by meditating with the Greybeards. Also, hunting for Thunderchild shouts is a great end-game activity that freshens Skyrim VR’s core content.
Magical items in the base version of Skyrim VR are limited to a few variations, causing the discovery of a treasure chest to induce yawning rather than excitement after you’ve filled your coffers with max-level loot. Summermyst, by EnaiSiaion, fixes this issue by adding a plethora of new enchantments to the game’s leveled lists. It’s fair to say that Summermyst introduces a wild variety of new ways to play the game. For instance, I found a random sword that hurls enemies into the air after they’ve taken enough damage. That was a pretty ravishing experience on its own, so you should certainly download this mod if you’d like to add a little spice to your second life in Tamriel.
As with item enchantments, the standard edition of Skyrim VR is lacking in spell variation. Apocalypse – Magic of Skyrim, by EnaiSiaion, adds 155 new spells to the game. Each spell adds something new, but that’s not the best part. Here’s the best part: the most powerful spells added by Apocalypse require you to become the Archmage of the College of Winterhold. That’s an achievement which previously only rewarded you with a crinkly robe and a soggy pair of boots. But with Apocalypse in your spellbook, you’ll gain access to excessive (but decently balanced) Master-level spells that are assuredly worthy of the Archmage title.
Sacrosanct, by EnaiSiaion, completely rehauls and fleshes out the vampire perk system in Skyrim VR, which is understandably important if you plan on becoming a vampire. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually push any characters through this mod because we don’t particularly agree with blotting out the sun at VR Fitness Insider. However, I’m sure there are some of you out there who get a real kick out of Good Vampire Things. According to EnaiRim fans, Sacrosanct is one of ’em. Our sources also tell us that the mod is VR-ready, so dig right in.
- In order to get Sacrosanct running in VR, you need to install an additional mod: VR Perk Extender
Vanilla Skyrim VR has only a few weapon selections to choose from. With Immersive Weapons, by hothtrooper44, you can now use tons of new weapon types, including but not limited to: clubs, spears, javelins, tantos, wazikashis, scimitars, katanas, et al. Even better, certain weapon classes are more valuable/rare/powerful than others, making rare drops more exciting than before. When paired with Summermyst, you truly never know what you’ll find around the next corner.
As with weapons, vanilla Skyrim VR doesn’t give you too many unique-looking armors to deck your character out in. Immersive Armors, by hothtrooper44, solves this problem by adding hundreds of new clothing and armor variations. That’s far more than you can fit into an Imperial armoire.
Skyrim VR is already full of dangerous wildlife. But after awhile, Skyrim’s regular flock of monsters become predictable and quite easy to write off in favor of skipping combat altogether. This is where the Immersive Creatures mod, by lifestorock, adds a ton of replayability. Immersive Creatures fills Skyrim’s bestiary with all kinds of new baddies, many of which were included in past Elder Scrolls games but were pulled from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim due to development time concerns.
Skyrim VR Mods: Audio/Visual Improvements
Skyrim Flora Overhaul
Skyrim Flora Overhaul, by vurt, fixes Skyrim VR’s visuals by giving you much more detailed flowers, plants, and trees. It’s a noticeable improvement over the flora meshes and decals that load with the base game. I personally don’t care too much about flora, but a lot of people do. And, as far as flora mods go, this one packs a punch for being on the lighter side in terms of processing requirements.
Static Mesh Improvement Mod
The Static Mesh Improvement Mod (SMIM), by Brumbek, is one of those mods that you might look at from the Nexus page and go, “Huh? Why do I need to download a whole gigabyte of mesh replacers?”. But the subtle additions made present by SMIM can figure into a far more enjoyable, consistent experience.
Don’t believe us? Check out these two braziers:
Or these two skeletons:
Or these two blood-soaked grog steins:
- When installing the full version of SMIM, you may run into performance issues. We recommend opting for the Lite edition which is less performance-intensive in VR.
Windsong Immersive Character Overhaul
In VR, you can see details on characters’ faces and bodies that are usually obscured on flat displays. And, let’s face it, Skyrim’s graphical offerings haven’t aged as well as its creators might want us to believe. This is why you’ll certainly appreciate having a character overhaul mod such as Windsong Immersive Character Overhaul (WICO), by WindsongHS. It doesn’t fix Skyrim’s wonkiest animations or visual glitches, but it does clean up the title’s various denizens, buffering pockmarks and jaggedy edges without going overboard or breaking lore.
Continuing on the note of NPC vanity, something about the children in regular Skyrim VR always unnerved me. After it came to my conscious awareness that most of the children in Skyrim are carbon copies of one another, I knew I had to do something about it. Luckily RS Children, by Ranaline, was well-made enough to redeem my sanity. This simple mod makes the children of Skyrim VR look more distinct, diverse, and detailed. Seeing as how RS Children updates NPC design sensibilities, it pairs well with WICO and we recommend downloading them together.
Climates of Tamriel
The dynamic weather system in Skyrim VR was already pretty impactful and believable for its time. Climates of Tamriel, by jjc71, makes Skyrim’s dynamic weather system more varied by adding hundreds of new weather pattern variations, outdoor color correction, and even darker nights if you enable them during the installation process.
Realistic Lighting Overhaul
Despite offering a slick dynamic weather system, Skyrim’s lighting has always felt a little uneven by comparison. Fortunately, Realistic Lighting Overhaul, by sydney666, completely rewires the lights all across Skyrim VR to fit better with their surroundings. With the mod installed, you’ll be treated to a much more consistent visual experience inside of interior spaces and when wandering through or gazing at towns.
Note: You can mix Exterior and Interior Realistic Lighting Overhaul modules with Climates of Tamriel exteriors. However, do not install Climates of Tamriel interiors with RLO interiors, as the two modules conflict.
While the works of Jeremy Soule are masterful, Skyrim VR’s soundtrack gets a little old and repetitive when you’ve heard it over 500 times on repeat. Immersive Music, by hothtrooper44, nearly triples Skyrim VR’s rotating track library by adding hours of new music.
Here’s a taste:
Skyrim VR Mods: New Adventures
Ravengate, by EnaiSiaion, is a brand new gladiator-themed quest series that promises to take you underneath the Riften sewers for several hours. It is fully voice-acted and contains plenty of new characters. It also adds an element to Skyrim VR that was sorely missing: arena battles with a progression system. Those were my favorite part of Oblivion, and it’s good to see Ravengate pick up the torch on that type of content.
The Forgotten City
Now slated to become its own title after receiving the very first Australian Writer’s Guild award granted to a game mod, The Forgotten City by Nick Pearce is a breathtaking, heartbreaking adventure module that explores the subtle darkness of human nature. I love The Forgotten City like a lost friend, so we’re officially recommending it for as long as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim exists in VR with mod support. Literally, skip the main quest of Skyrim VR and just run this one instead. It offers up some of the best story writing in all of any Elder Scrolls game written in the past 15 years. Your time will not be wasted. Here’s the premise:
You will spend around six to ten hours poking through the titular Forgotten City (hidden behind a waterfall near Markarth) as you solve a murder mystery that spans the passage of time. The only caveat? When you screw up, everybody dies. And when everybody dies, you will start over from the moment you first enter the city. Kill or steal from a certain character? After you’ve gone back in time to “reset” the city, that character will be appropriately freaked out by knowledge you have about them, certain bits of memento you’ve picked up from them, or certain interactions you claim to have had with them. Also, The Forgotten City’s characters are developed and interesting in their own right. Each one has biases, fears, and motivations that spill over into their dispositions towards the other characters living in the city. If you feel like vanilla Skyrim VR’s populace and quests are too dry, abstract or emotionally uninvolved for your taste, then you positively owe it to yourself to download and install The Forgotten City.
Legacy of the Dragonborn
Legacy of the Dragonborn, by icecreamassassin, is an unapologetically generous metamod. While I’m unsure if “metamod” is a real word, Legacy of the Dragonborn does its darndest to wrap the base game, its expansions, and a sizeable number of supported mods into one cohesive experience. Essentially, it adds a new Dragonborn museum that acts as a central hub. But then it also introduces a new faction; the Explorer’s Guild, which is denser and more feature-rich on its own than any of the individual base-game factions created by Bethesda.
When you’ve got Legacy of the Dragonborn installed, quests don’t feel like they exist in a vacuum. The perk of progressing the Dragonborn museum is that you get your own clubhouse where you can turn adventure spoils into trophies. As long as you engage with the Dragonborn museum, you’ll have something to show for completing most of Skyrim’s excess content, including quests added by key mods. Yes, this means that when you finish quest mods that are designed in sync with Legacy of the Dragonborn (such as, but not limited to, The Forgotten City), you can throw select reward items up onto their own themed displays. It’s a feature that adds meaning to much of Skyrim’s monotony, so we strongly recommend it.
Skyrim VR Mods: New Companions
Inigo, by Smartbluecat, is one of our favorite companion mods, second to Vilja. But I’ll talk about her in a moment. What does Inigo do that the regular Skyrim companions don’t? Unlike the bevy of one-line wonders you’ll find peddling their companion services around the base game, Inigo develops a friendship with your character as you explore the world. As said relationship progresses, he’ll offer contextual input that makes him feel like a true RPG party member rather than a few repeated lines attached to a stat sheet.
When executed with strong attention to detail, companion mods make Skyrim feel more vibrant and alive. Most importantly, they add characters that feel like they actually exist in the game’s world. Inigo is lovely on his own, but if you’re going to play Skyrim VR with companion mods, then we recommend also adding Vilja, by Emma.
Like Inigo, Vilja has tons of personality. But where she really shines is in her custom AI framework; something that entirely exposes how shoddily thrown together Bethesda’s vanilla companion AI framework was, while illuminating what’s possible with Radiant AI. Vilja has her own habits and preferences, and while she’ll act on them, she’s designed to stop short of interfering with your experience as a player. If you’re in a town, she might ask to go shopping or take a trip to the tavern for a drink. You can tell her to stay by your side, or you can let her off the hook. And if you let her off the hook, she’ll actually go off into the town and have her own interactions. She’ll run her own errands and, if you ask her to, she’ll run errands for you as well. If she likes you enough, she’ll even offer before you ask.
But that’s not all. As you build rapport with Vilja, she’ll continue to surprise you. For example, she’ll often come up with interesting comments on recent events, but then she’ll say something that’s extraordinarily self-aware—yet never managing to break the fourth wall. And other characters standing nearby will often respond to her, which is so very satisfying to experience. If you decide to send her to live in your home, she’ll develop a connection with your child and/or spouse (if you have any), and your housecarl. And if Inigo is in your party, she’ll build rapport and bond with him as well. These interactions add more context and color to a world that is famously populated with otherwise mute or one-sided characters.
To cut my fawning short, there’s a lot going on with this companion mod. And, to be frank, we’re still only scratching the surface of what she can do. Did I mention that she comes with her own quest chain?
Skyrim VR is a vast, exciting fantasy RPG; the first of its caliber on the VR platform. But when you first get started in Skyrim VR, especially if you’re using the game to burn calories regularly, you might find that perhaps more than a few things aren’t exactly to your liking. We hope that at least one of our top 25 mods for Skyrim VR makes your experience more enjoyable and replayable.
What are your favorite mods for Skyrim VR? Let us know in the comments.