What is Living Skyrim?
Living Skyrim is, first and foremost, a modlist for Skyrim: Special Edition that can be installed using Wabbajack. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, a modlist is a list of mods that have been hand-selected and patched to work together. Wabbajack, meanwhile, is a tool that can replicate a modlist from the creator’s PC onto yours. This means you can install hundreds of mods in just a few short hours and expect them to work with very minimal effort on your part.
Living Skyrim itself is, has been, and will continue to be about one thing: breathing life into Skyrim. When playing vanilla Skyrim, there are times when you’ll find nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to interact with. Living Skyrim seeks to correct this in every possible way. Within this modlist, you’ll find a semi-lore friendly approach to adding an astounding amount of NPCs, quests, dungeons, followers, and more. It is uncommon to go more than 5 minutes without coming across something, be it an NPC to fight, a new questline, or any number of other points of interest. Content alone isn’t enough, though.
You’ll also find a varied selection of enhanced gameplay mechanics ranging from being able to select a class and specialization for your character, expanded perk trees, all the way up to dozens of new spells, melee combat mechanics, and more. Normally, when the mechanics have been overhauled this thoroughly, you’ll find a significant amount of tedium - Living Skyrim seeks to keep the fluid, ever-forward direction of Skyrim’s gameplay. You’ll find no mods that require you to stop and manage status bars, systems, or anything else. Living Skyrim isn’t meant to slow the pace of Skyrim to a crawl by forcing you to stop and camp, manage needs, or other such similar systems.
That said, Living Skyrim is home to a suite of mods that allow you to create and roleplay characters of great depth - you’ll find more traditional RPG elements such as picking a class for your character, assigning attribute points, a backstory, a deity to worship, and more. If you’ve played Dungeons & Dragons or similar games, this all may sound familiar to you. Add in the wealth of character customization options allowing you to specify exactly what you want your character to look like and you have a fast-paced, roleplay-capable, and replayable modlist. Sharing your character’s story and adventure is highly encouraged.
All of this is on top of a high-quality graphics package intended for higher-end PCs. While the performance of Living Skyrim 4 specifically has been greatly improved over previous versions, you will still need a decently powerful computer to run the list. The ENB presets, weather, flora, fauna, textures, and meshes have all been hand-chosen to provide a consistent and gorgeous game look. For distant objects you’ll find xLODGen, DynDOLOD, and TexGen have been created for you to ensure that even distant objects look as good as those up close.
The Pillars of Living Skyrim
Living Skyrim has always been about breathing life into Skyrim. When playing without mods I always felt that the world was so empty. And I don’t just mean for NPCs - grass was sparse, trees and other flora were lacking, the world just didn’t feel alive. The lack of NPCs certainly didn’t help. With Living Skyrim 4, we’ll be going back to this pillar in a big way. The world should feel bursting at the seams with life. And I mean life in every definition of the word: creatures, NPCs, grass, trees, flowers, and so on.
Living Skyrim 3 is a great example of the pillar of Content. It’s full of quests, interactable NPCs and stories, and so on. This is the one pillar that I don’t feel the list has strayed from. That said, there are some pieces of content that, while fantastic, need to be removed from the list. Whether it’s because there are more desirable replacements or there are glaring issues, this idea needs refinement and trimming.
I’ve always wanted a list where I can write out a backstory for a character and then act like that character in the game. I want to be able to be my character. Living Skyrim 3 does a decent job of this, but I feel like we can improve this in so many ways. Some new mods have come out recently that lean into this idea heavily, and there are plenty of things we can look into to really bring this idea to life. Now, some might say that the idea of mods that add things like attributes or skill bonuses from early life aren’t in the spirit of roleplay - for example, how do you roleplay a character with an Intelligence attribute of 16? - I feel that these sorts of things are important for quantifying and informing decisions you make in the game. So these systems will still be present in Living Skyrim 4.
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