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Rebuilding 'Skyrim' With Mods: Environmental Beautification Week!

Ranters, welcome back to Game Rant's weekly look at The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and all its modding goodness!

This week we put function on the back-burner and address a few mods that will make Skyrim glimmer and sparkle. Or shine and shimmer. Or, well, there's really no masculine way to put this, is there?

At any rate, on to the mods!

First Up: Towns and Villages Enhanced: Solitude

Rebuilding Skyrim With Mods - Solitude Enchanced 1

Towns and Villages Enhanced: Solitude

Author: Aplestormy

Aplestormy has had enough with the drab stone look of Solitude. The third city to receive a facelift in Aplestormy's work (other cities can be found on their profile page) on Skyrim, Solitude's facelift was a massive undertaking indeed.

Over 1,000 unique additions have been made, from the lush foliage of new and brighter trees (Oaks and Red Aspens), new shrubs, and scores upon scores of alchemist plants. In general, the entire flora of Solitude has been overhauled to make the city feel more alive. Not stopping there, several new light sources have brightened up the exteriors as well, most notably in the area just outside The Winking Skeever. Clutter has been re-arranged and cleaned up, seating has been added throughout the city, and, no doubt in response to all the new flora, there are more insects and various animals throughout the city.

While these changes do not affect the gameplay (with the exception of the additional alchemist plants), the brighter look and feel to Solitude has made this city a much more beautiful and inviting location to visit.

Rebuilding Skyrim With Mods - Solitude Enchanced 2

Next: Pure Waters

Rebuilding Skyrim with Mods - Pure Water 1

Pure Waters

Author: Laast

Everyone has their own opinion on the water effects in Skyrim, and even with the various changes that Bethesda has made in subsequent patches, not everyone is pleased with the overly-glassy look and feel to some of the larger bodies of water.

Mod creator Laast has created a mod called "Pure Waters" to, in their opinion, make the waters of Skyrim reflect the nature of the environment (which is obviously cool and cold), while at the same time offering a realistic look and feel. This includes a color enchancement to improve the wild nature of the water color, realistic transparency with a significant improvement to shorelines. The streams of Skyrim now have their own unique textures and flow effects.

Underwater was originally murky in the retail release of the game, but made more clear with patches. Laast has "muddied up" the underwater scene somewhat though, making some bodies of water less clear depending on the environment, again for realism. A recent addition to this mod was implemented even after I was personally testing it as calm water and puddles were improved, with better reflection and more light refraction coming off of them.

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Finally: The Autumn of Whiterun

Rebuilding Skyrim with Mods - The Autumn of Whiterun 1

The Autumn of Whiterun

Author: Baro

What?!? ANOTHER Whiterun mod? [picks up pitchfork] Why yes! But it's fall! Look at the trees!

In all seriousness, this mod has become one of my favorite Whiterun mods in my mod travels. The extreme player might choose to only load this mod during the actual Fall months in Skyrim, but surely that is only a small percentage of players. Hopefully.

Author Baro's intention for the mod was to give Whiterun a seasoned, autumn look and feel, taking a break from simply adding a forest to Whiterun (as other mods keep repeating over and over). Many new items have been added well, most of them common objects like carts, barrels, and street lanterns. Baro's intention was to "raise the spirit of the town from a dreary old wasteland to a cheerful village," though I would argue that Whiterun was never a "wasteland," but I digress. Still, this mod was created with impeccable detail and tremendous care, and, while it does feel a bit claustrophobic in some areas (especially in the residential district) with all the new additions, it is still a fantastic mod.

Rebuilding Skyrim with Mods - The Autumn of Whiterun 1

Ranters, what do you think of these mods? Be sure to check out this feature next week as we look at a Thalmor/Cyrodiil mod you won't want to miss, as well as one of the highest-rated weapon mods in the Steam Workshop!

Skyrim mods are available only for the PC.

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Follow me on Twitter @mattrowland1.

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