Barely any reader is going to be on this blog without at least knowing about Skyrim and it’s great and frankly gigantic modding-community. You all have probably installed a fresh version of Skyrim, loaded up some sort of tool like Mod Organizer, and checked Nexus Mods for some of the communities’ newest creations. And we all know how it often ends up. You pick a bunch of nice mods and create a huge list that checks all your personal marks. Only you face a metric ton of issues when trying to actually start up the game.
The key is installing modlists with Wabbajack
Well, for fans of Skyrim modding there is an alternative now. One that is so much easier to use that you will not want to go back. Wabbajack is the name of the tool. A program that can reproduce an entire modding setup on a new computer. A tool, that is basically installing all the mods of a pre-defined list automatically and that will make your life infinitely easier.
The way it works is that other people who are much more experienced with mods are experimenting with compatibility on a daily basis. They will create a unique experience of carefully picked mods that will work great together. Most of the time, these modlists will have mods on them that will fit thematically. Some maybe even have pre-defined settings that enhance the experience. Most importantly, they will try to absolutely minimize issues of crashing or performance.
800 Mods sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
You would rightfully ask if downloading and installing so many mods is not an absolute pain, but the beauty of Wabbajack Skyrim Modding is, that the tool truly automates the whole thing. All you do is boot up the program and pick from a list of supported modlists. Only those appear in the tool’s interface that are actually stable. Pick one, maybe read it about it, then let the program do its magic. It will prompt for a Nexusmods login and then download all the mods and compile them in the ideal order. Depending on whether you have Nexusmods premium or not, you might need to click on “download” on each and every mod which of course is going to be extra work. Then again, if you didn’t have a tool like this you would need to do that anyway (and search for the mods first!).
If you do have Nexusmods premium – which supports higher download speed and automatic downloads with Mod Managers – it will be a one-click setup. Wabbajack is going to download and install all the mods for you. All you have to do is follow the instructions of the individual modlist that you have picked out. You might have to copy some files from the Modlist-Installation-Folder to your Skyrim folder, or have one, two extra steps. You will also have to setup EnB ( a mod that does an extremely good job at improving graphics), but that is usually a quick thing to do.
After that, you’re golden. Follow the installation guide that is usually uncomplicated and you can already start the game and play. Some mod lists will require you to change or adjust some Mod settings inside the game for reasons of compatibility or sometimes to provide the experience that is promised.
Skyrim SE or Skyrim LE
The thing is, what modlist is going to be available on Wabbajack depends on what Skyrim version you have. For reference, there is the Skyrim Legendary Edition (Skyrim LE) – basically the game as it was released in 2011 plus all the DLCs. And then there is the “remastered” version, an edition with improved graphics called Skyrim Special Edition (Skyrim SE). Most of the mods support both but the majority of mod lists are tailored towards the newer Special Edition. In fact, Wabbajack supports only one Skyrim LE mod list, which incidentally is also one of the most famous ones.
For reference, I will shortly introduce one modlist for Skyrim LE and Skyrim SE each.
Ultimate Skyrim is the name of the mod list that works on Skyrim LE. The modlist promises a new role-playing experience and presents itself as a total conversion modpack. It’s based on Requiem, a roleplaying overhaul that is famed for it’s more hardcore approach, difficulty, and emphasis on realism. Ultimate Skyrim or Ultsky as it is called just builds upon that, fleshes out the experience, and focuses on creating a game that is very hard, needs careful planning, but is also extremely rewarding. Its goal is to transform Skyrim into the “ultimate fantasy life simulator”, as it says on the page.
Personally, I had great fun playing and explore Ultimate Skyrim. It is an absolutely different experience. You don’t feel like the unbeatable Dragonborn-Hero that shakes up the whole world. You feel like a simple character. A cog in a world so much bigger than you. You will face hunger, cold, thirst, and fatigue. Suddenly, you cannot just run around from dungeon to dungeon and quickly take over all of Skyrim.
Suddenly, you will have to carefully plan each and every move. Make sure to have some kindle and firewood with you in case you’re stuck in the wilderness. Temperatures might be dropping and you need to be prepared. If you don’t have them, at least have an axe to quickly chop a tree somewhere. Create or buy a tent that you will use to sleep under the stars. Search for sources of fresh water to drink or bathe in. Find an animal to hunt to cook some fresh meat. Gold is scarce, and clothing is not just important for its protection from attacks, but also from the bitter cold. Careful, that you do not stand in the rain too long. You might get soaked and find yourself much more susceptible to the cold.
Apart from that, there is plenty of new content to be explored, along with lots of graphical improvements and a more polished and beautiful world. Of course, it can be tedious and very straining at times. The cost of being hardcore and ultra-realistic is often the quality of life. There will be no fast travel, no quick power spikes, or easy way to richdom. You are going to have to work hard, but it is going to feel like you have earned it all.
Is it worth trying?
Yes! For the normal Legendary Edition, Ultimate Skyrim is the best mod list you could wish for. If you are intrigued, you should check it out under ultimateskyrim.com. Everything is explained on their page and you can find out more about the way it works and what features (for example the exact modlist) are included.
Living Skyrim is the name of one of the biggest modlists for Skyrim SE (the newer Special Edition) and it is also the one, that promises the abovementioned 800 mods in their list. As the name suggests, Living Skyrim’s main approach is to bring extra life to the oftentimes barren world of Skyrim. It promises a huge addition in quests, NPCs, world spaces, dungeons, followers, equipment, and much more. In a bit of a contrast to modlists that focus on the hardcore roleplaying, it has a focus on striking a balance between realism, immersiveness, and unnecessary tedium and monotony.
For each aspect in the game, multiple mods focus on following these rules. Countless population mods vastly increase the number of encounters you will have on your adventure through Skyrim. Multiple magic mods promise a complete overhaul of the often-times dull vanilla system. Along with that, combat, economy, and the skill & perk system have had a lot of work put into them as well.
How it feels to play with 855 (exact number to date) mods
I have just recently tried Living Skyrim myself and it is truly like playing a completely different game. Literally nothing is left untouched. Every single interaction will come with some sort of pleasant surprise on how the mods change the experience. It is surprisingly stable for such a monumental mod list, but it will also require a strong(er) system than with other mod lists.
The graphics are absolutely stunning and you quickly realize that not only every gameplay aspect was changed, but also pretty much everything about the sound and graphics. Custom and more realistic faces, a new soundtrack, interface, flora, fauna, town-design, quests, you name it and it will take your breath away.
The gameplay is an attempt to enhance the Skyrim Experience while trying to stay lore-friendly. The game will be harder than the vanilla version, especially because of the increased amount of enemies you will face, but it will be not as hardcore as for example Ultimate Skyrim. It is also much more customizable. Only a couple of mods will require pre-determined settings. Apart from that, you can change each and every mod’s settings to your liking and individualize your experience. Living Skyrim also has a bit of a focus on more realistic roleplay elements like the need for food and drink.
Is it worth trying?
Absolutely yes! If you ever thought that you just want to play a bit of Skyrim, but the vanilla experience is just too familiar and you have played it one too many times, this modlist is the thing for you. You know how you sometimes watch a TV show or play a game and wish you could experience it for the first time again? Living Skyrim is as close as it gets to that. Every little surprise that you find while playing recreates that unique feeling of wonder and amazement. And best of all: It also encourages your curiosity. Especially if you have clocked plenty of hours into Vanilla (or maybe little-modded) Skyrim, you will want to explore all the new additions Living Skyrim has to offer. Also, it’s just fun. This is always subjective, but most gameplay-changes are smart or at the very least refreshing.
Living Skyrim can be hard on the computer (see the Readme for more information) but if you can run it, I can only strongly recommend you give it a shot yourself.
Check out the GitHub-Page of LS. You will find more comprehensive information on how it works, what the features are, and whether you can run it yourself.
Looking buy Skyrim SE to try it out yourself? Grab it on the Humble Store!