TES V: Skyrim Special Edition (SSE) installs as a new game in Steam for those with all DLCs (Dawnguard, Hearthfire, Dragonborn). This updated game is 64-bit and includes improved weather, atmospheric effects, water shaders, dynamic depth of field (DoF), and bunches more flora. And finally, rain doesn’t pass through the roof (graphics settings option)! The improvements are nice, and leave me less inclined to add ENB. Lighting still needs attention, though. Besides management of mods through bethesda.net, the interface includes character management meaning each character gets its own series of saves. It’s also organized into modded and un-modded game saves. It’s nice for switching characters without restarting the game or manually managing folders, but the save files are coded making it more difficult to know which belongs to what character outside of the game.
I’m also excited that waterfalls now appear animated from farther distances! Fewer ugly frozen falls! Even though SE isn’t about fixing bugs (wolf howl still missing), Shrine of Azura is visible from Sarthal, which in original game required LoD fix.
Transfering saved-games from old game only works with pure Skyrim, no mods. Level 50+ characters are boring to play anyway leaving most of the challenge behind in the lower levels. Start a new character. You know you want to! Using mod plugins disable SSE achievements, but why do we need such silliness anyway?
The snow shader in SSE is extremely bright making snow appear more like smooth ice glazed over especially in torchlight. This may be turned off using checkmark in options, advanced. Also, if lens flare seems weird considering your character doesn’t have a camera strapped to the eye, it can also be disabled here.
It’s a good time to modify Skyrim and extend its life assuming the next The Elder Scrolls chapter is several years away yet. Bethesda Softworks has stated a desire to take a break, and according to Todd Howard (IGN article) there are at least two projects coming before the next TES title. Ten or more years between chapters seems like a long time, but is starting to appear likely.
Moving to 64-bit means SKSE and anythind depending on DLLs, such as ENBs, need to be rebuilt. Pure SKSE mods, such as “Immersive First Person View,” and others highly dependent on SKSE will have to wait while other creators may rework their mods without SKSE.
Mod creator, Arthmoor, outlined changes for SSE on AFKmods:
- Animation files have changed; .hkx files need updating.
- BSA files need repacking using the new SSE Creation Kit (CK).
- Some meshes (.nif files) may need updating.
- Textures using .dds should work.
- Plugin ESP files should be checked and updated by loading and saving in SSE CK.
Most pure texture replacers for original Skyrim should work for SSE. However, I’ve found “Mature Skin 2” crashes the game (has been updated for SSE by Maevan2). CBBE mesh and textures work fine in SSE. So does “Better Males” except for some face dirt textures which will crash the game if not removed. I also noticed “Real Bows” meshes do not show up in game due to skinning method no longer supported, which is an easy fix using “Nifscope” as outlined by Arthmoor in the post. Any mod using a BSA will need to be updated, and many ESP files may need updating as well. FNIS animation files need converting.
As of SSE release day, the new Creation Kit (CK) is still in beta and will be available soon (released Nov 1st) for updating and transfering old mods to SSE. See next article for details.
Skyrim SE mods ready to go
Those with beta access have added mods to bethesda.net and at nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition, and there’s over 300 on first day! Be aware, though, some authors are simply reposting their older mods on Nexus, several admitting to not having tested functionality. This may lead some players to believe the plugins have been updated for SSE since players can just load old plugins themselves. On the other hand, this gives adventurous players the chance to help test. Read mod description and posts carefully. See mods on bethesda.net to get an idea of which creators have access to the new CK and have updated or specifically crafted mods for CK.
Updated tools include WyreBash, Nifskope, xEdit (SSEEdit), BSAManager, and Nexus Mod Manager (NMM). For WyreBash, follow the “Extracting Strings Files” section of the description page. You’ll need BSAManager by ousnius. Chesko updated his mods to work without SKSE and SkyUI, so “Campfire” and “Frostfall” are ready to go with some limited functionality on day one. Accessing “Frostfall” features is much the same as versions pre-SkyUI.
New to modding?
See my first post in this series covering original Skyrim, and skip over the SKSE, SkyUI, and ENB sections. It’s recommended to “clean” the master files (Update.esm, Dawnguad.esm, Hearthfires.esm, Dragonborn.esm) using SSEEdit, but when starting out with a few plugins it’s fine to tackle that later. Grab the NMM and set it up for Skyrim Special Edition. You may download from Nexus using the manual download button and then add to NMM using the plus-sign, or use NMM to download.
Mods I’m starting with for SSE
Due to concerns over changes in unofficial patches primarily with soul gems and Ebony Blade, I don’t use USSEP. You may if you wish. This means I need to make my own patches for just the bugs as I did for original Skyrim. The biggest feature I’ll miss is first-person view via SKSE plugin, “Immersive First-Person View.” I’ll put up with the annoying impossibly-positioned arms blocking the view when casting spells, or play in third-person. Naturally, I updated male and female bodies to look more natural and remove those terrible undergarments! The majority of my mods are texture replacers I moved from original Skyrim. For more than a year, the only mod I used was “Frostfall.” Skyrim without “Frostfall” isn’t Skyrim at all.
I’m happy with the weather and sky improvements in Skyrim Special Edition, so I might skip weather mods. “Darker Nights” by unfordible with seven darkness-level options could be what I need to keep the night actually darker than blue-ish daylight. I’ll be looking at updating the lighting, too.
- Campfire - Complete Camping System by Chesko
- Frostfall - Hypothermia Camping Survival by Chesko
- Belt-Fastened Quivers by Chesko
- Pride of Valhalla - Super HD Skin Set for UNP-UNPB-7B-CBBE by Dracofish/MelissaGT (replaced with Mature skin by Maevan2)
- Skyrim Flora Overhaul (SFO) SE by vurt
- Darker Nights by unfordible
- Caliente’s Beautiful Bodies Edition (CBBE)
- Better Males, Sundracon and YoungerFacesMerged (delete or update dirt textures)
- Coverkhajiits by MrLenski
- Circlet Replacers for Women by Elleh
- Superior Lore-Friendly Hair - HD texture by skyrimaguas
- Lind’s Necromancer Robes Revamp
- Lind’s Black Robes Revamp
- Monk Robes Revamp by Lind
- Lind’s Court Wizard Robes Revamp
- Lind’s Red Wizard Robes
- Rustic Clothing by Gamwich
- Rustic Death Hound by Gamwich
- Rustic Monuments and Tombstones by Gamwich
- Rustic Forsworn by Gamwich
- aMidianBorn Imperial light and studded by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Blades Armor by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Ebony by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Nordic Carved by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Orcish Armor by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Whiterun by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Fur Armor by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Steel Armor by CaBaL
- aMidianBorn Wolf armor and Skyforge weapons by CaBaL
- Skeleton and Human Bones by Kajuan
- Hale - Horse Retexture by Halendia
- Real Bows Lite by DecimusMaximus (fixed meshes using Nifscope) (SSE update)
- Blades Hakama by atomec (fixed meshes using Nifscope)
- Realistic Room Rental - Basic by perseid9 (repack BSA with new Archive tool)
My patches updated:
I’ve converted my old patches using new CK. Several are included in USSEP.
- Wolf howl fix
- Soul Trap animation fix
- Vampire skin-tone fix (Bretons, Imperials, Redguard)
- Farkas wears wolf armor
- Brighter torches
- Remove random dragons option
- Increased Vampire Sight / Night Eye duration
Article #1 in a 6-part series.
- 1 - this article
- 2 - Convert Old Skyrim Mods for SE
- 3 - How to Disable Random Dragons in Skyrim
- 4 - Convert Black Sacrament Armor to SE Step-by-Step
- 5 - How to Update Meshes for Skyrim SE
- 6 - Werewolf Meter Papyrus Script Overview
Skyrim, Skyrim Special Edition, and The Elder Scrolls are trademarks of Bethesda Softworks LLC. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.