What is The Best Skyrim Version for Mods?

Back when I first ventured into the snowy peaks of Skyrim, I felt like a low-level character faced with a dragon – overwhelmed and unsure where to turn. The world of modding was vast, almost as expansive as the game’s map itself, and each version of the game felt like a new quest with its own challenges. Navigating the digital forests of Oldrim and SSE mods sometimes felt like sneaking through a Falmer cave, with potential pitfalls at every turn. And when the Anniversary Edition dropped? That was like the game equipping me with a Daedric artifact, but forgetting to give me the instruction manual. It made me question, what exactly is the best version of Skyrim to mod?

I know there are fellow Dragonborns out there, battling the same dragons of confusion, eager for a guide to level up their modding game. Trust me, having a trusty companion in this journey – like a Lydia to your Dovahkiin – can make all the difference.

So here’s the load order of questions we tackle in this article:

  • Which version of Skyrim is best for modding?
  • Oldrim: What makes this age-old version enchanting to modders?
  • Skyrim Special Edition (SSE): Why is it the Dragonborn of modding for many?
  • Anniversary Edition: Does this latest treasure chest hold new gems for mod enthusiasts?

So, ready your bows and sharpen your swords, because this guide is about to be your new “Unrelenting Force”. Keep on reading, and let’s conquer this together, fellow adventurer!

Which is Version of Skyrim is Best for Modding: Opinion

It goes without saying that the ideal version of Skyrim for modding depends heavily on the individual’s goals.

  1. For Stability and a Modern Experience: The “Skyrim Special Edition” (SSE) is a strong choice. It’s a middle ground that provides the stability of a 64-bit engine, improved graphics out of the box, and a vast array of mods both inherited from Oldrim and new ones created specifically for SSE. It’s also more compatible with newer hardware and has received significant support from the modding community in recent years.
  2. For Nostalgia and Certain Exclusive Mods: The original Skyrim (Oldrim) might be the way to go, especially if you’re looking for specific mods exclusive to this version or enjoy the challenge and depth of its modding scene. It might not be as stable as the newer versions, but many veteran modders have refined their Oldrim modding techniques to achieve specific aesthetics or gameplay experiences.
  3. For the Most Updated and Rich Content: The “Skyrim Anniversary Edition” is the latest and most content-rich version. While the modding scene for this edition might still be evolving, if you’re looking to engage with the newest official content along with community mods, this is the choice. However, do note that certain existing SSE mods might not be directly compatible and might need updates or patches.

However, if i had to settle on particular version I’d pick Skyrim Special Edition. If you’re looking for a blend of stability, an extensive modding community, and a balance of old and new experiences, the Special Edition would be my recommendable choice. But it’s always essential to consider individual preferences and the specific modding goals you have in mind.

10 Advantages and 10 Disadvantages of Modding OG Skyrim (Oldrim)

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the pros and cons of modding the original “Skyrim” (often referred to as “Oldrim”).

Pros of Modding Oldrim:

  1. Mature Modding Community: Being the first version, it has a longstanding and well-established modding community.
  2. Exclusive Mods: Some mods were developed specifically for Oldrim and were never ported to newer versions.
  3. Advanced ENB Options: The ENB versions available for Oldrim offer deep customization options that can transform the game’s visuals.
  4. Learning Experience: Oldrim’s modding quirks can teach newcomers a lot about game modding and troubleshooting.
  5. Script Extender (SKSE): The Skyrim Script Extender for Oldrim has been around longer, and many mods depend on its mature and robust framework.
  6. Legacy Support: Many popular modding tools and tutorials were originally designed with Oldrim in mind.
  7. Complete Control: There’s a sense of having full control over the game’s internals, especially for those who have modded Oldrim for years.
  8. Nostalgia: For many, Oldrim provides a nostalgic experience, bringing them back to their initial interactions with Skyrim.
  9. Smaller Initial Download: The base game size of Oldrim is smaller compared to the Special or Anniversary Editions.
  10. Budget-Friendly: Being older, it’s often available at a lower price compared to its successors.

Cons of Modding Oldrim:

  1. 32-bit Limitations: Oldrim runs on a 32-bit engine, restricting how much RAM it can use, which can lead to instability.
  2. Stability Issues: Even without mods, Oldrim was known for its crashes and bugs. Adding mods can exacerbate these issues.
  3. Lack of DLC Integration: Unlike newer editions, the original doesn’t come bundled with DLCs.
  4. Graphics: Base Oldrim graphics are dated, and although mods can significantly improve them, newer versions have a better starting point.
  5. Decreasing Support: As time goes on, fewer modders are supporting or developing for Oldrim, focusing on newer versions instead.
  6. Mod Compatibility: Given its age and quirks, some modern mods aren’t compatible with Oldrim.
  7. Performance: While it might run well on older systems, it may not leverage the full power of newer hardware as efficiently as its successors.
  8. Missing Features: Features introduced in later versions, like improved water flow or dynamic depth of field, aren’t natively present in Oldrim.
  9. Patching Requirement: Many essential fixes for Oldrim come from third-party patches, whereas newer versions have some of these issues addressed officially.
  10. Futureproofing: As gaming technology advances, Oldrim might face more compatibility issues with modern systems.

While modding Oldrim can be rewarding, especially for veterans or those seeking a specific mod experience, newcomers might find the newer versions more approachable and stable.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Modding Skyrim Special Edition

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of modding “Skyrim Special Edition” (SSE).

Pros of Modding Skyrim Special Edition:

  1. 64-bit Engine: SSE runs on a 64-bit engine, allowing for better utilization of modern hardware, which leads to improved stability and performance.
  2. Integrated DLCs: SSE comes bundled with all three major DLCs: “Dawnguard”, “Hearthfire”, and “Dragonborn”.
  3. Enhanced Graphics: The base game graphics are upgraded, providing a superior visual experience out of the box.
  4. Active Modding Community: Many modders have transitioned to SSE, ensuring ongoing support and new mod development.
  5. Improved Stability: SSE has fewer crashes and bugs compared to Oldrim, especially under heavy mod loads.
  6. Wider Modding Scope: The 64-bit architecture lets modders experiment with more extensive and complex mods.
  7. Modernized Creation Kit: The updated creation kit for SSE offers a more refined toolset for mod creators.
  8. Enhanced Water and Snow Shaders: These bring a more realistic touch to the game’s environments.
  9. Support for Newer Systems: SSE is more optimized for recent operating systems and hardware configurations.
  10. Backward Mod Compatibility: Many Oldrim mods can be ported to SSE, given some knowledge and effort.

Cons of Modding Skyrim Special Edition:

  1. Delayed Script Extender (SKSE64): The Script Extender for SSE took time to release, and some mods dependent on it had to wait.
  2. Missing Oldrim Mods: Not all Oldrim mods have been ported to SSE, either due to technical reasons or mod author preferences.
  3. Different ENB Version: The ENB presets for SSE differ from Oldrim, which means some popular Oldrim ENBs don’t have direct counterparts in SSE.
  4. Initial Porting Issues: The early days of SSE modding saw glitches due to mod porting challenges.
  5. Larger File Sizes: The enhanced graphics and integrated DLCs make the base game larger, demanding more storage space.
  6. Cost: For those who owned Oldrim without all the DLCs, SSE wasn’t a free upgrade.
  7. Learning Curve: For Oldrim modding veterans, transitioning to SSE’s quirks and changes required relearning certain aspects.
  8. Mod Overhaul Requirements: Some extensive Oldrim mods required significant overhauls to work optimally on SSE.
  9. Creation Club Controversy: Bethesda’s Creation Club platform, which sells mods, wasn’t received positively by all, and its integration in SSE was a point of contention.
  10. Potential Over-Reliance on SKSE64: Some modders and users feel that too many SSE mods rely on the Script Extender, making the modding process more complex for beginners.

Overall, while “Skyrim Special Edition” offers a host of benefits, especially in terms of stability and performance, it does come with its own set of challenges. However, for many, the pros outweigh the cons, especially for those new to the world of Skyrim modding.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Modding Skyrim Anniversary Edition

“Skyrim Anniversary Edition” further refines the experience of the “Special Edition”, but it does bring its own set of advantages and challenges. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of modding the “Skyrim Anniversary Edition”:

Pros of Modding Skyrim Anniversary Edition:

  1. Additional Content: The Anniversary Edition boasts new content, including quests, environments, and items, expanding the game’s depth.
  2. Creation Club Integration: It includes a myriad of content from the Creation Club, bringing together new content crafted by both Bethesda and community creators.
  3. Ongoing Support: Being the latest edition, it’s likely to receive patches and updates for a more extended period.
  4. Enhanced Base Graphics: Drawing from the improvements of SSE, the Anniversary Edition offers an even more polished visual experience.
  5. 64-bit Engine: Retains the benefits of SSE’s 64-bit engine, meaning improved stability and better hardware utilization.
  6. Updated Modding Tools: With the new content and changes, modding tools and resources for the Anniversary Edition are expected to be modernized.
  7. Larger Modding Canvas: The addition of new content and areas provides modders with a broader canvas to work on and create new experiences.
  8. Renewed Interest: The release of the Anniversary Edition can reinvigorate the modding community, leading to fresh mod ideas and collaborations.
  9. Integration of Past Improvements: Inherits all the refinements and improvements from the Special Edition.
  10. Potential for VR Integration: Given Bethesda’s interest in VR and the development of “Skyrim VR” previously, there might be potential for better VR modding support.

Cons of Modding Skyrim Anniversary Edition:

  1. Potential Mod Conflicts: The added content and changes could result in conflicts with existing SSE mods.
  2. Waiting Period: Many mod authors might need time to update or optimize their mods specifically for the Anniversary Edition.
  3. Creation Club Controversy: Some players maintain reservations about the Creation Club, seeing it as a monetized modding platform, which might affect their modding choices.
  4. Larger File Size: With the addition of more content, the base game’s size increases, demanding more storage space.
  5. Cost Implication: Those who have the SSE might need to pay an additional amount to access the new content of the Anniversary Edition.
  6. Adaptation Time: Modders used to the intricacies of the Special Edition might need time to adapt to the changes in the Anniversary Edition.
  7. Dependency on Updated Tools: Modders reliant on specific tools or utilities will need to wait for those tools to be updated to support the Anniversary Edition.
  8. Learning Curve: For both modders and users, understanding the nuances of the new content and its interaction with mods can be a journey.
  9. Potential Overlap with Existing Mods: Some content in the Anniversary Edition might overlap with popular mods from the Special Edition, leading to redundancy.
  10. Performance Concerns: Depending on the scale of additions, players with older systems might experience performance issues unless optimized mods are used.

In essence, while the “Skyrim Anniversary Edition” provides a richer content base and renewed potential for modding, it requires adaptation and patience from both modders and the community as they navigate the new content and features.


Our journey through the varied landscapes of Skyrim modding has been as epic as any quest in Tamriel. Just as the Dragonborn refines their skills, learns new shouts, and gathers powerful artifacts, so have we delved deep into the world of modding across different editions. As we stand atop the Throat of the World, let’s recall our discoveries:

  • Oldrim: A classic, rich in nostalgia and unique mods.
  • Skyrim Special Edition (SSE): The balanced blend of stability and modding potential.
  • Anniversary Edition: The newest kid on the block, brimming with content.
  • The Challenges: Each version presents its own set of modding puzzles.
  • The Triumphs: With every edition, there’s a new horizon of possibilities.
  • The Community: An ever-evolving force, always ready to share and collaborate.

With the Elder Scroll of knowledge now in our hands, let’s step into the future. Curious about what lies beyond the horizon? Dive into the “What Next?” section!

What Next?

I always believe in equipping my fellow adventurers with actionable steps post-reading. Here’s your quest log, Dragonborn:

  1. Experiment Freely: Dive into each edition and test a few mods. See what resonates with your gaming style.
  2. Join a Guild: Engage with online Skyrim modding communities. Share, learn, and collaborate.
  3. Craft Your Own: Feeling inspired? Try creating a mod using the Creation Kit.
  4. Document Your Journey: Share your modding experiences, challenges, and triumphs on forums or blogs.
  5. Seek Companions: Team up with fellow modders for larger projects. Two Dragonborns are better than one!


Nick Sinclair

Nick Sinclair, a gaming aficionado since the Commodore 64 era, studied Creative Computer Games Design in university before founding his own gaming company. Discovering a passion for content creation, Nick now helps gamers squeeze every drop of fun out of their favorite gaming hardware

Recent Posts