The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is considered by many as one of the best RPGs ever developed for the seventh generation of consoles. Its vast open world and wide range of quests allow for near-infinite replayability.
What Skyrim is not, though, is a hard game. Combat in Skyrim is dull for how easy it is, even on Legendary difficulty. Thankfully, the modding community has developed some fantastic mods to make Skyrim’s combat much more exciting. Here are ten combat mods that make Skyrim more challenging. This list will only include mods that directly alter combat, so mods such as Frostfall are excluded from this list.
Updated August 26th, 2021 by Anastasia Maillot: With Skyrim’s 10th anniversary on the horizon, fans might be inclined to return to the game. However, the vanilla version is definitely starting to show its age after ten years on the market. There are many balance issues, and the combat can get extremely boring and repetitive.
The modding community has made it its main mission to fix Skyrim’s combat, by making it genuinely challenging and interesting. These mods will not only expand on existing gameplay features but also introduce new details that will make even seasoned players plan their fights in advance.
Archery Gameplay Overhaul
While not a straightforward combat difficulty mod, this mod does improve the feel of archery gameplay in general, and pairs well with more general combat difficulty mods. Essentially, the mod replaces the default animations with better ones.
It also introduces brand-new enchanted arrows to make archery combat more versatile and interesting. To balance things out, it’s also possible for the Dragonborn to now experience arm fatigue from keeping their bow drawn for too long.
Download Link: Archery Gameplay Overhaul SE (by DServant)
Spellsiphon – Immersive Combat
Players who are tired of just spamming the same spell over and over again in vanilla Skyrim will appreciate the Spellsiphon mod, which makes mage gameplay a bit more varied and therefore challenging. Spells can now be used to create powerful combos, which in turn boost the Dragonborn’s Magicka regeneration.
Spells will also now have cooldowns rather than rely solely on their Magicka cost. To counterbalance this change, switching between spells has been made far easier and players won’t ever need to return to the menu screen to switch around. The aspect of mastering spells is different now, too, based more on experimenting with spells rather than reading skill books.
Download Link: Spellsiphon – Immersive Combat (by Arctal)
Since Skyrim isn’t a difficult game, most players might not be aware of the issue of enemies always tracking the player character to perfection. This feature becomes a major problem when a bunch of combat difficulty mods are installed, but also makes the game less strategic to play.
That’s why Mortal Enemies is an essential mod. On the surface, it might appear like a nerf to all of Skyrim’s enemies, but it’s actually about balancing things out and making combat even more strategic. Now, even the Dragonborn needs to be precise in order to find combat, and duels will become far more cerebral in nature, rather than a mindless hack-and-slash.
Download Link: Mortal Enemies (by center05)
Know Your Enemy – Trait Based Resistances And Weaknesses
While it’s a lot of fun to be able to take down every monster and creature in Skyrim with the same powerful sword, that type of gameplay gets boring and repetitive very fast. Thanks to this mod, players will need more planning when versing any enemy in Skyrim.
Enemies will now have special resistances and weaknesses, meaning every fight will be different. Players will have to come up with specific ways to counter certain enemies. While this is already somewhat present in Skyrim when it comes to specific enemies, this mod expands it drastically.
Download Link: Know Your Enemy – Trait Based Resistance and Weaknesses (by tjhm4)
Realistic AI Detection SE
Stealth is a classic choice among many Skyrim character builds, but with high Sneak the game starts to feel like a cakewalk. This mod tweaks the AI detection in Skyrim and introduces new mechanics. While their area of detection is smaller, other factors such as light sources and sounds will, and even the weight of the armor the player wears will affect successful stealth checks.
On top of these new features, the Sneak skill has been nerfed so that high Sneak will not produce dumb AI behavior. Instead, enemies will spend a long time searching for the player and move more intelligently in general as they search the entire vicinity. It’s definitely a must-have for stealth characters, as it makes combat far more challenging and strategic, and balances Skyrim’s overpowered stealth builds.
Download Link: Realistic AI Detection SE (by OlivierDoorenbos)
No Killmoves – No Killcams – No Killbites SE
Killmoves were a new feature introduced in Skyrim that allows players to brutally execute someone when they are at low Health. It allows players to kill targets much sooner than normal, which is why the No Killmoves – No Killcams – No Killbites mod is a solid choice for players that wish to make the game harder.
Instead of seeing an animation when a target’s Health is critical, players will need to strike them a few more times before they die. Enemies can’t use killmoves, either, so it puts everyone on an even playing field.
Download Link: No Killmoves – No Killcams – No Killbites SE (by DavidSid)
Does the Dragonborn seem too fast mid-combat for enemies to hit? That is where the Immersive Movement mod comes into play. While this mod is installed, humans move at a slower pace than before and move especially slower when using heavy weapons. Animals such as horses and bears move faster to make combat much more frantic than before.
No longer is back peddling while swinging a sword a viable option. It also gives horses true value as a means of travel, but do note that Immersive Movement is incompatible with Skyrim 2011 and certain mods such as EnaiSiaion’s Wintersun mod. Check for mod compatibility issues before giving this one a try.
Download Link: Immersive Movement (by Zana Daniel)
True Armor SE
True Armors aims to bridge the gap between different armor types by giving each armor set various strengths and weaknesses. The most notable change is how attacks can either pierce or deflect a piece of armor, either doing massive damage or dealing little respectively.
Changes to blocking and how certain Alteration spells work alongside the armor changes make combat much more drawn out than before. Heavily armored opponents are now a threat, but wearing light armor now has a place within the sandbox.
Download Link: True Armor SE (by Anubis22)
Simply Balanced is a brilliant mod that allows players to tweak virtually all of Skryim’s settings to their preference. Those that have used SkyTweaks for the original version of Skyrim will know what this mod entails. Unlike that mod, Simply Balanced also supports Skryim: Special Edition.
Experience points, enemy damage, Health, potion usage, skills, virtually everything related to Skyrim’s combat can be tweaked with this mod. While other mods might offer similar tweaks, Simply Balanced lets players change every detail of Skyrim’s combat to match their mod setup. And yes, Simply Balanced is compatible with virtually every mod out there, even mods that tweak combat.
Download Link: Simply Balanced (by Anubis22)
Genesis Unleashed Unlevelled – Dungeon Spawns And Encounters
If players would rather fight dozens of foes instead of tweaking their damage, Genesis Unchained is the mod they should look into. Instead of increasing enemy lethality, this mod will dynamically change the spawn rate of certain enemies on the fly based on a multitude of factors.
Chests might be guarded by tough NPCs, entrances might have more foes, and large arenas will have many more enemies to kill. For those who want to make every dungeon crawl a unique fight for survival, it’s hard to beat Genesis Unchained.
Download Link: Genesis Unleashed Unlevelled – Dungeon Spawns and Encounters (by SOT Team)
Smilodon – Combat Of Skyrim
Taking the best parts of Wildcat and implementing them in a lighter package, Smilodon – Combat Of Skyrim is a great example of a simple combat mod that ramps up the difficulty in all the right ways.
This mod adds timed blocks, attacks of opportunity to exploit enemy openings, and global Stamina costs with attacks that make Skyrim’s combat more lethal than ever before. Players will need to carefully choose when to attack or risk wasting Stamina or, worse, leaving an opening for an enemy to exploit. Enemies are more intelligent, group fights are more thrilling than ever before, and the entire experience is configurable. There’s little reason not to use Smilodon.
Download Link: Smilodon – Combat of Skyrim (by EnaiSiaion)
Ultimate Combat SE
Ultimate Combat is not aimed at making Skyrim harder, yet a lot of the systems it introduces make the game much more intense than the vanilla experience.
This mod introduces a stagger system that is similar to Dark Souls’ Poise mechanic, implements timed blocks, incorporates momentum into attack damage, and adds new attacks to virtually all enemy types. Skyrim has never been more unpredictable yet exciting. Crank the game up to Expert or Legendary for a truly difficult experience.
Download Link: Ultimate Combat SE (by tktk)
Vigor – Combat And Injuries
Vigor – Combat and Injuries tries something different compared to other combat mods. Instead of adding new attacks or making enemies take hundreds of attacks, Vigor instead allows for wounds to be inflicted on targets that impose significant debuffs unless treated.
Out of every combat mod, this is the only one that gives mistakes during combat a lasting negative that persists outside of fights. Masochists or fans of immersive playthroughs should check out Vigor.
Download Link: Vigor – Combat and Injuries (by Alex9ndre)
Skyrim Revamped – Complete Enemy Overhaul
Skyrim Revamped – Complete Enemy Overhaul introduces several radical changes to Skyrim’s enemy roster to make them much more challenging. The main additions are the inclusion of more spells for casters and increased lethality across the board.
Enemies now take full advantage of perks in the vanilla game and even modded perks from Ordinator. New enemy spells have also been included to make fights against Dragon Priests and high-level mages a sight to behold.
Download Link: Skyrim Revamped – Complete Enemy Overhaul (by Nightman0)
Requiem – The Roleplaying Overhaul
Requiem – The Roleplaying Overhaul is one of Skyrim’s most ambitious mods that harkens back to the RPGs of old. Calling this mod an overhaul is understating just how much Requiem changes. At its core, this mod makes the game much more immersive and challenging by changing enemy AI, damage, armor behavior, skills, and so much more.
While Requiem currently does not have proper support for Skyrim: Special Edition, it is a mod that is so challenging yet rewarding that it is worth installing the original version of Skyrim solely for this mod. It is possible to port this mod over to Special Edition with some technical know-how, although the developers have stated that the Special Edition will receive a Requiem port at some point down the road.
Download Link: Requiem – The Roleplaying Overhaul (by The Requiem Dungeon Masters)
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