Skyrim Graphics Overhaul 2015 - The Best Performance Optimized Visual Mods

By Published July 27, 2015 at 3:20 pm

The Essentials

This section contains what's needed to drastically improve the game's visuals. Items of note include color correction, weather and lighting changes, and some changes to the flora of the game.

Climates of Tamriel

CoT brings an extensive overhaul to the weather and lighting of Skyrim, with optional sound additions for ambiance. This is highly customizable via the installation menu and can later be altered as well. It's recommended to pick one of the two dungeon lighting mods in the list (hazardous or hardcore), mostly because they're simple .esp files that can easily be deactivated and reactivated to your liking.

I recommend avoiding the cold and warm options as color correction is already covered by IMAGINATOR. Again, these are simple .esp files and can easily be deactivated without reinstalling the mods, so feel free to experiment.

skyrim-climates-of-tamriel

Skyrim Flora Overhaul

SFO drastically increases the quality of the flora around Skyrim without impacting performance or being invasive. It comes in several versions which yield different results depending on whether you want a vanilla-compliant experience or something more unique.

skyrim-flora-overhaul

Grass on Steroids

Complementary to SFO, Grass on Steroids – alongside .ini tweaks (indicated on the mod's main page) – will increase the density of the grass in the world while also visibly increasing performance. If you plan on playing with denser grass (which you definitely should if using SFO), this is essential to avoid FPS drops. Using Mod Organizer, just make sure to modify the .ini files via MO as well.

Enhanced Lights and FX

skyrim-elfx

Compatible with CoT's lighting changes, ELFX pumps-up the values of all light sources while moving and removing some of them. ELFX adds some nifty effects (like candle smoke) to bolster the general ambiance.

This mods comes with an additional plugin to make the indoors darker by default. Unlike CoT's plugin (which only covers dungeons and caves), this covers all indoors (including houses, inns, etc). The darkness level of ELFX's plugin is somewhere between CoT's two plugins, so opt-in for this one if you want an overall darker experience, even in places that would normally be well-lit. Great to give the game a gloomier, more personal experience.

Imaginator

Small, but powerful. This tool adds a panel to the Mod Configuration Menu which allows you to alter the game's color correction to your exact liking. Along with some good presets, this comes with a ton of options that help massively with obtaining the exact result desired. On top of the usual saturation, contrast, and brightness options, one can find a tint-er and options to increase bloom and the light coming from the sun. It doesn't conflict with anything and works on top of all other mods that alter colors.

Pure Waters

Part of the Purity line of mods, Pure Waters greatly increases the quality of all water sources in the game and works in conjunction with any weather mod. While the author has come up with other mods related to weather and part of the Purity line, I only use Pure Waters as the other aspects are already covered by the mods mentioned above. It is, however, entirely possible to replace Climates of Tamriel with Pure Weathers, or to use Purity for the added textures – just make sure to download the compatibility patches to avoid conflicts (notably with True Storms, mentioned below).

True Storms

This is for those who've ever felt the rain in Skyrim to be a bit underwhelming. Snowstorms are impressive in their own right, the rain in Skyrim is rarely more than a small drizzle with unimpressive sound effects and no real impact to the experience. True Storms revamps this by turning these few drops of rain into a proper torrential downpour. The base rain drop texture is a little bit too opaque, but this issue was taken care of by Gamwich, who's listen in the Texture and Models section later on.

Supreme and Volumetric Fog

skyrim-volumetric-fog

This does exactly what the title sounds like – it makes the fog volumetric and imposing. This helps increase the atmosphere of Skyrim tremendously, especially in conjunction with Imaginator. Make sure to pick up the Climates of Tamriel compatible version in the files list.

The mod author's other addition, Morning Fogs, is also good to throw-in.

Splash of Rain

In conjunction with True Storms, this will make Rain feel lively and impactful to the world by simply adding little splashes to objects around the world in reaction to the rain. This is customizable via MCM and comes with interior sounds (which should be deactivated if you use True Storms, as it comes with its own sounds that are more fitting for the downpour added).

Continue to the third page for the texture overhaul.


Last modified on August 01, 2015 at 3:20 pm

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