Over the weekend I set about seeing what mods I so coveted in regular-edition Skyrim had finally been ported into Skyrim SE. I’m always most interested in environmental, sound and lighting mods that improve the feel of the game. Typically new content mods don’t have the quality writing or voice acting one might hope for — not to mention the absurdly oblique straight lines of mountain ranges that make no sense, either geologically or visually — and I don’t want any more from the game, anyway. If I wanted story, I’d be playing something else.
By now, though, in contrast to the last time I looked, many mods have been reworked for Skyrim SE that upgrade the ambiance. More stars in the sky, more layers in sheets to the rain, more reverberation for the thunder. More and better clouds onto which to cast sunsets. And more localized glow on light sources in the dark, so the towns look more like the huddling outposts of life against the dark that they are. Walk with me, then, in Tamriel:
Not wanting to go through yet another Helgen run, I booted up from a post-Helgen and post-first-dragon save I keep on standby. I had forgotten, though, to return the golden claw in Riverwood — and it was on that return trip that I got to admire the new lighting effects along the bridge. Warmer, more localized golden glow. Nice.
To my immense delight, a galaxy upgrade was included in the Vivid Weathers mod — something I had had to seek out individually in vanilla Skyrim. The particle snow, much lauded in the read me file, is okay, but the stars and especially the rain are wondrous. They include, too, a sound mod in this package, which again was convenient, and another thing I had had to seek out separately in the past. No longer!
Also included in Vivid Weathers: the aurora borealis.
More light-in-the-darkness effects. So good. Shor’s Stone has never looked so cozy.
Space, don’t get me wrong, is not a place I enjoy going, in fiction or in theory. It’s cold, dark, inhospitable; and if there are aliens out there they’ll probably murder us all before we can so much as offer them tea and cookies. But Fake Space is wondrous, a grandiose backdrop to already dramatic in-game landscapes, without all of the heavy emptiness that comes with Real Space. Hooray, Fake Space!
These are basic SE trees, yes, because I’ve rejected all tree mods after the last one messed with the Riften trees. Don’t ever, ever mess with the Riften trees. They should always be resplendent in gold, that perfect autumn afternoon held still in perpetuity. The last tree mod I installed made these trees purple. Purple. If I wanted a wall of crape myrtle, I’d go back to the South. I do not, so please keep my pseudo-aspens yellow, as they ought to be.
Just sunset stuff.
That bar of light! Was it there before? I believe so. But it looks better now. Softer edges, a more natural glow to its center — Realistic Lighting Overhaul is the place to go for all this. Do it naow.
The loneliest bandit camp, its loneliness heightened by the tinyness of the light it throws up against the great dark sea.
Stealing a horse and booking it for the nearest city before sunrise — all in a day’s work.