The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is one of
the best open-world RPG's ever made. This guide aims at making it the most
immersive and beautiful game too. The huge amount of fan-made mods &
enhancements, has made it possible to reach a very high level of sophistication
in graphics and visual effects, despite the game-engines limitations. However,
due to this huge amount of mods, it's a very time consuming process to figure out which mods
will work together, which mods you like, and what the limits for your
system are. It takes countless hours of research and testing, which this guide
can save you. It will show you step by step, how to install and set
everything up. The style Skyrim will have after following this guide, is a look
and feel of realism, but with enhanced atmospheric effects, as it is a fantasy
game. It will make Skyrim as beautiful and immersive as possible, while keeping
the atmosphere of the game.
Besides making Skyrim look even more beautiful and immersive than most newer games on the market today, this guide will also make Skyrim run smooth and stable, even with 200+ mods & ENB enhancements loaded. Most people will experience lag, endless loading screens and CTDs (Crash To Desktop) when they first start modding Skyrim. This can be very frustrating, as it is time consuming and difficult to determine the reasons. Most mods work just fine by them selves, but it's not easy to find conflicts between mods. Most mod-makers make descriptions as best as possible, but it's impossible to cover all combinations and scenarios, so if more than 10 mods are loaded, you will most likely start noticing problems. (If no clean-up or testing has been done). The most common problems being infinite loading screens, random CTDs and save-game corruption. As Skyrim is a huge world, I would be lying if I claimed to have tested every single quest, and every single location with the mods and settings in this guide, but I have done a complete play-through of the main quest-line, and made sure that the game runs smooth in any location, without lag, without CTDs, and without infinite loading-screens.
If all steps in this guide are followed, your game will look exactly like the screenshots in the gallery, and it will run smooth and stable, even on old computers. The guide is made on a 6 years old computer, with slightly newer graphics-card and SSD. (Intel Core i7 3GHz, 8BG ram, nVidia GTX580 1.5BG, Vertex-4 SSD) Tested only on Windows 7 64bit, but as the game is 32bit, it shouldn't make a difference if you run a 64bit or a 32bit OS.
Let's get started...
Before starting, please make sure that Skyrim is updated to the latest version. (188.8.131.52.8) Testing is done with all 3 DLC's (Dragonborn, Hearthfire & Dawnguard) installed as well, but they are not required to follow this guide.
The first thing you need to do, is signing up at NexusMods. (http://skyrim.nexusmods.com) It's free, and it takes 2 minutes.
Once you have signed up, I would strongly recommend installing the NexusModManager (http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/modmanager//?) It will save you a lot of work, and it's free too. Install descriptions, if needed, are found on the same page.
Screenshots taken with the Skyrim Beautification Project ENB Settings
Brief info about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and the
world of Tamriel:
*Not needed for the guide.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is a 1st person RPG (Role Playing Game) from Bethesda Game Studios, released in 2011. The main storyline is basically about the hunt for Alduin, a black dragon who according to myth, will destroy Tamriel and the rest of the world, unless stopped by a "Dragonborn" warrior. On the journey, the player will have a huge variety of side-quests and choices. As Skyrim is at the brink of civil war between The Empire and the Nords, the player will also have to choose a side sooner or later, which will have great impact on the game-world. Besides these two dominating factions, the player also have the opportunity to join "less popular" factions on the side, like the "Brotherhood" or the "Thieves Guild", which can uniquely impact the main world.
As in any other RPG, development of the character has an essential role in Skyrim. However, the character is not pre-destined to any "class", as in many other RPG's. The character is developed via skills, which result in very differentiated styles and game-play. The system workes very well, providing individuality and specialization possibilities to every type of player.
The story takes place 200 years after the ending of the previous Elder Scrolls game "Oblivion", but in the province of Skyrim, instead of Cyrodiil. As all the earlier Elder Scrolls games, the player is free to roam as he/she pleases. The world is a huge sandbox, with an incredible amount of possibilities.
Tamriel, also known as "Dawn's Beauty" or "Starry Heart", is one of several continents on the planet Nirn (Also known as Mundus). Tamriel is where all The Elder Scrolls games have taken place so far. Nirn is a mortal realm, which is connected to the immortal realms of Oblivion. During The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, "Mankar Camoran" speaks of Tamriel as an extension of the Oblivion realm, but as he is the only Daedric prince who claims this, it could just be "stories" from the Mythic Dawn.
Tamriel is about 12 million square kilometers, and is
divided into 9 provinces.
Skyrim, High Rock, Hammerfell, Summerset Isle, Valenwood, Elsweyr, Black Marsh, Morrowind, and Cyrodiil.
Cyrodiil (Also known as the Heartlands) is the heart of Humans, who made the empire. It is the largest of the provinces, and is mostly jungle. The Imperial City is in the heartland, by the Nibenay Valley. The central valley is surrounded by rain forests, which face the swamps of Argonia and the Topal Bay. The land rises to the west and the north, where it borders Skyrim. Between the western coast and the central valley, lay huge forests and swamps. This is where The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, takes place.
Morrowind is the homeland of the Dunmer. (Dark Elves) The province is located to the far north of Tamriel. Most of it's population is living around the high uplands, and the river valleys of central Morrowind. In the Inner Sea, the island Vvardenfell is dominated by the Red Mountain volcano and ash wastelands. This is where The Elder Scrolls III takes place.
Black Marsh is located by the great inland waterways and swamps to the south. Most travel is by boat, as there a only very few roads. The coasts and northwestern forests are mostly uninhabited. For ages, the Dark Elves have raided the Black Marsh for slaves. Even though the Empire has made it illegal, they continue to do so, which is the main reason for hatred between the Argonians and the Dunmer.
Elsweyr is mainly jungles and river basins, inhabited by the Khajiit. They are city dwellers with tradition for trade. To the north of Elsweyr, nomadic tribal Khajiit live in the wastes and grasslands. They are more aggressive and territorial, and united under tribal warlords. The settled Khajiit to the south, quickly adopted to the ways of the Empire, but the northern tribes still keep to their barbaric ways.
Valenwood is a large forest wilderness, mostly uninhabited. The coasts of Valenwood have swamps and tropical rain forests. This is where the Bosmer (Wood Elves) live in small timber houses. They have small settlements scattered along the coast, only connected trails. There are a few Imperial roads, but they only have tiny settlements, and trade and traffic activity is very low.
The Summerset Isle is a green place with fertile farmlands, woods, and old towers and manors. Most settlements are small and isolated, mostly seats by wizard or warlord. The Isle has a few natural ports, but foreigners are usually not welcome. The Aldmer who lives here, are little affected by the Empire.
High Rock is the land of the Bretons. The land has 3 main locations: The Dellese Isles, the Bjoulsae River, and the Western Reach. The highland strongholds and the valley settlements have encouraged independence of the many Breton clans. Their language, traditions, and legends are holding the people together in tradition and spirit.
Hammerfell is an urban and maritime province. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, takes place here. Most of the population is gathering in the cities of Sentinel and Stros M'Kai. The rest of the country has a thin population, living in small poor farm houses. Hammerfell is home to the Redguards, who love of travel, and go on adventures. Many Redquards are sailors, mercenaries, and adventurers all around Tamriel.
Skyrim, also known as the "Old Kingdom" or "Fatherland", was the first region of Tamriel, that was settled by humans from Altmora. The Nords. Who are hardy, brave, and fearless people, with strong traditions and beliefs. They are excellent warriors, but also traders. They are far more civilized than their barbarian ancestors, but war and exploration still remains essential to the Nords. This is where The Elder Scrolls V takes place.
Legend say that the first humans came to Tamriel from the continent of Altmora in the late Second Era. It was not a single invasion, but a series over hundreds of years, developing the Nords, Imperials and the Bretons.
As in the previous Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim begins with the player as an unknown prisoner. This time the player was caught in an Imperial ambush on the Stormcloak rebels, while attempting to cross the border into Skyrim. The Stormcloak leader, Ulfric Stormcloak, was among the captured. Everyone, except for the player, is scheduled for executed, but an Imperial commander decides that the player is to be executed as well. As the player is about to be beheaded, a black dragon shows up and attacks everyone. The player can choose to escapes the chaos along with either a Stormcloak rebel or an Imperial soldier, who will guide the player to a nearby town. Everything from here is completely up to the player. The world of Skyrim is open for exploration and adventure.
Skyrim was planned shortly after the release of Oblivion in 2006, but serious
development didn't start before 2008. The development team of about 100 people,
consisted of both new people and "veterans" from the previous Elder Scrolls
games. The production was
supervised by Todd Howard, who has directed many of Bethesda's titles.
Skyrim is made on Bethesda's Creation Engine, which was created shortly before Skyrim. The Creation Engine has several graphical improvements compared to Bethesda's previous engines. For example, improved draw distance. Dynamic lighting, enhanced flora (No more SpeedTree), enhanced weather effects like dynamic snow, and better animation (Provided by Havok). The engine still uses the Radiant AI system (created for Oblivion), but slightly upgraded.
The world of Skyrim is similar in size to Oblivion's world (Cyrodiil), but the mountains make it more difficult to get around. The design of the Skyrim world has a more "surrealistic" style, contrary to Oblivion's classic medieval-European fantasy style. This makes the world more interesting to explore, just like Morrowind was. Skyrim is divided into nine locations (Aka. holds), which have each their own environmental setting, and people. Especially the diversity of the people makes the players choice of race interesting. As racism is found in any society or faction in the game, this has a great chance to affect the players choices. Not by the game itself, but by choice of the player. To make the people of Skyrim even more unique, over 70 voice actors, including Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Joan Allen, Lynda Carter, Michael Hogan, and Vladimir Kulich, have been working with the team.