Skyrim Hardcore Survival & Realism Mod Overhaul

By Published May 26, 2012 at 10:32 am


Skyrim Realism & Immersion Overhaul Mods

This section of our Skyrim Hardcore Survival Overhaul will specifically cover realism and immersion mods, so while there won't be quite as many core mechanical changes, there will be graphics updates (darker nights), UI changes (crosshair and compass updates, true first person awareness), and a few mechanical tweaks. We'll start with graphics.


Skyrim Realism Mods - Gameplay

For items that didn't quite fit the "hardcore survival" theme, but still fit the realism and immersion angle (and likely many of the hardcore players' preferences), we've included this Realism & Gameplay listing.

Real First Person View

Feet! We have feet! And legs! Clearly there's nothing more advanced than a fully-aware first-person view in gaming technology -- or, at least, that's what the game companies would have us think. This modder made it so that you can now see your legs, arms, and whatever else is in view when looking around; now I can live out my dreams as Johnny Bravokhiin. Hoo, hah, huh!

skymod-surv-firstpIn the words of Jack Skellington: WHAT... IS... THIS?!

Skyrim Nexus Download (Recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop Download: Not available.

Scenic Carriages

As the name may have given away, this mod performs a slight overhaul on the carriage system in Skyrim: Instead of acting as a disguised fast travel, carriages will now manually carry the player character to his or her destination (you actually watch the scenery go by, sort of like that intro cut-scene).


The mod is still a bit bumpy around the edges, but overall is a great way to add scenery to the game. The time required for travel does make it a bit extreme for some playstyles, though, so unless you're OK with leaving Skyrim open as an interactive screensaver during travels, it may not be for you.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download: Not available.

Immersive HUD - iHUD

It's incredible how much a crosshair can detract from immersion and realism. The Immersive HUD mod makes UI transparency easy to set for the compass, crosshair, and markers, enabling a seamless UI for the least intrusion from overlays when exploring.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download: Not available.

The Dance of Death - Killmove Updates

The killmoves have grown on us, admittedly, but primarily due to fan updates like Dance of Death. This mod allows customization of the chances for decapitation, killmoves, and immunities, but more importantly, it allows a forced perspective -- so if you never want to leave first person to view a kill move, you don't have to.


Leveling up weapon skills will unlock new kill moves, so if murdering people in one shot wasn't enough incentive, you'll now get cool moves while doing it.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download:

Deadly Combat

The Elder Scrolls games have never been famous for their challenging combat: Hit the thing, back up while it's caught in an animation, then hit the thing again. Deadly Combat adds a new disorientation effect when characters are hit by spells, projectiles, or weaponry and further threatens survivability with attack staggering and interrupts. If you're looking for more of a challenge, this is it.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download: Not available.

Realistic Animals and Predators

Skyrim seems to be lacking a pretty fundamental part of any ecosystem: A proper foodchain. There's the dragonborn at the top, and then... there's everything else.


Realistic Animals and Predators revamps the foodchain in Skyrim, modifies predator and pack animals to behave (and spawn) according to their real-world disposition, and even modifies their routines to make them search for water once per day. Predators will now go hunting a few times a day, so finding multiple embattled species of animals won't be as uncommon (read: never occurring) as native Skyrim.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download: Not available.

Skyrim Realism Mods - Environment

For a full graphics overhaul, see our previous guide. That said, this section will specifically go over "realism-enabling" graphics mods; darker nights and dungeons, better light sources, weather (with realistic and frightening thunder sounds!), and the like.

Immersive Skyrim Thunder V5

Waking up in a cold sweat to the roaring thunder and bright flashes of lightning is a feeling challenged only by the realization that, somewhere in the house, gaming computers have been left powered on. With Immersive Skyrim Thunder and EDWS (below), we can bring intense (and genuinely frightening) storms to Skyrim.

Immersive Thunder adds a number of sounds exhibiting the thunderous wrath of the Nine Divines. I promise: The first time you hear thunder strike, you'll spin 180 degrees. This is especially intense in dragon encounters... highly recommended mod.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download: Not available.

Enhanced Dynamic Weather System

Coupled with the Immersive Skyrim Thunder mod, EDWS adds wind FX, better rain management (no rain in cold environments, more rain in appropriate environments), rainstorms and light rainfall, blizzards, and more dynamic weather states.

This mod couples nicely with the More Rain and More Snow mods, for those who want even more varied weather in Skyrim. Make sure you load any lighting mods before EDWS in the load order (I normally set EDWS last).

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download:

Realistic Colors and Real Nights V3.0

This really falls more into the graphics side of things that we've covered previously, but because of the level of immersion gained by having truly dark nights and dungeons (and beautiful environs), we couldn't skip an opportunity to mention RCRN a second time. Version 3.0 is now out, adding a number of new lighting interactions: Clouds will now intercept sun rays, causing properly-cast shadows, torch lighting is required to make it through the darkest of nights, fog reflects light naturally, and spells give off light when cast.

The video tells it all:

There are multiple presets for this mod available, so be sure to look into the differences beforehand (darker, lighter, and 'normal').

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download:

Wearable Lanterns

Now that proper light is required in many locations, it makes sense to try and take advantage of various light sources wherever possible. The relatively new Wearable Lanterns mod makes lanterns, well, equip-able (to slot 55, to be precise). There's not much more to it.


Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download:

Sounds of Skyrim - Dungeons

In combination with the Realistic Lighting mod (above), Sounds of Skyrim makes dungeon delving a surprisingly creepy endeavor. Hearing howls and skittering from all corners in Skyrim's darkened caverns will turn your Dovahkiin into a Dovahweenie.

Couple this mod with Sounds of Skyrim - The Wilds for ultimate realism.

Skyrim Nexus download (recommended for best compatibility):

Steam Workshop download:


Hopefully all these mods gave you a great starting point to configure Skyrim the way you want to play it! If you need help troubleshooting your game or finding more mods, let us know in the comments below. That's what we're here for!

« Prev Next

Last modified on May 26, 2012 at 10:32 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.


  VigLink badge