April 2021 Note: Some of the information in this post from 2018 may be out of date. For our most up-to-date article on Skyrim VR mods, please visit our latest compilation list.
Skyrim VR has been out for almost a full week now, but we’re just barely digging under the surface of what’s possible with the fantastic modding scene. There are thousands of Skyrim Special Edition mods already released, many of which seem to work great, and users on the Skyrim VR subreddit keep finding new things to revel in and enjoy with the most immersive version of the game to date.
But a lot of the best practices to make Skyrim VR as immersive as possible aren’t readily obvious if you’re not looking. So what we’ve done here is compiled a breakdown of five specific ways that you can help make sure Skyrim VR is as immersive as possible when you play on PC with Rift, Vive, or Windows VR.
Prepare Your Playspace
When you really get into it, Skyrim VR has the potential to be an incredibly active game. I’ve slammed my hands and controllers on the edges of desks when trying to reach out and grab something and hit a bookshelf once with my fist during a shield bash. It’s important to be careful when playing Skyrim VR.
So, you need to make sure you’ve got plenty of room around you to swing your arms, spin around, sidestep, and generally move through your 360 playspace. While it’s entirely possible to play seated or with a gamepad, you really want to play Skyrim VR standing up with motion controllers to maximize immersion.
Another great playspace tip is to keep a small office chair or stool nearby, or maybe an ottoman or your couch in the living room, that you can quickly use for seated moments like horseback riding, carriage rides, or roleplaying in your house and tavern. In fact, I’ve even laid down physically before by a river in the game to just listen to the sounds of water and wind at night time.
Tweak Your Game Settings
If you open up your in-game settings there are a lot of options in here that can help make it more immersive. For starters, if you can handle it, then smooth turning with direct locomotion helps a lot. If you’re prone to motion sickness then teleportation is probably a safer bet, but you can do snap rotation or turn on the FOV filter as a stop-gap solution between the two.
The default aiming method for the bow limits your ability to fine-tune arrow shots, but if you turn on “Realistic Aiming” in the settings then you can tweak your precision by manipulating the placement of both the arrow and the bow. It helps a lot with making you both more accurate and more immersed.
There is another option in the menus as well called “Realistic Sneak” which, when turned on, requires that you physically duck down in order to enter sneak mode. It’s brilliant and I can’t imagine playing any other way now in VR.
Finally, you can go into the game files and tweak your .ini file to alter the game’s underlying settings. I don’t mess with this too often, but there are lots of performance enhancements and graphics tweaks that you can accomplish this way. People smarter than me already have a megathread on Reddit.
Turn Off Music and Install These Sound Mods
In the game’s setting there are volume sliders for lots of different facets of Skyrim VR’s audio. The first thing you should do to make Skyrim VR feel more immersive is, without a doubt, turn off the music. As amazing as the soundtrack is, it just gets in the way of the immersion too much.
Crank up the voice volume, footsteps, sound effects, and more and then install these three sound mods to really take things to the next level:
If you’re like me then you probably wish Skyrim had a bit more ambient noise. Chirping birds outside, creepy moans in dungeons, or the chatter of townsfolk all help make the game feel more immersive. This mod adds a ton of great, immersive audio to the game that felt missing before.
The default audio is flat and inaccurate in Skyrim VR. This fixes that.
Sounds are supposed echo and bounce off of surfaces. This mod helps everything sound and feel much more realistic.
Install These Other Mods
Mods are a huge part of Skyrim VR on PC. We’ve already broken down 40 of the most essential ones and livestreamed them for the world to see in all of their glory, but it doesn’t stop there. I want to call out specific immersion-focused mods that you can try out so even if you don’t want to pick through that entire list, you can still up the immersion factor significantly.
And if you’re lost on how to install mods, we’ve got you covered right here. It goes without saying that we recommend installing all of the graphic mods from our list to make the game look better, but once you’ve done that, here’s your next stop:
Campfire (plus the VR patch)
I haven’t tested this one with Skyrim VR personally. One thing that always bugged me about Skyrim is that I couldn’t make camp. In D&D you make camp to rest and recover and in Skyrim bandits set up camps all over Tamriel — but you can’t. This mod fixes that. Specifically, it turns the game into a survival experience when combined with the next mod in this list.
I haven’t tested this one with Skyrim VR personally either. This is the ultimate survival mod for Skyrim. You’ll have to monitor the weather, temperature, worn clothing, and more.
iNeed (plus Wet and Cold)
I haven’t tested this one with Skyrim VR personally yet either. If you want something a bit more streamlined for survival gameplay mechanics, then that’s where iNeed comes in handy. It doesn’t dramatically change the way you play the game, but does enforce the need to eat, drink, and sleep to maintain your character’s well-being.
This is another mod collection that adds a bunch of lore-appropriate detail to every city.
I always thought it was weird there weren’t many light sources around at night time, so this fixes that.
Sometimes the draw distance is a bit crummy with trees and mountains and other objects, so this actually adds some atmospheric fog in the distance around mountains. It’s a great effect and helps mask some of the draw distance issues.
A lot of the book covers look like trash and are repeated throughout the game. This one makes every book and readable object unique!
Some people hate how dramatic the ragdoll can be in the base game, so this can tone it down for you. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you crank it up a little bit higher.
This one adds a bunch of varied birds. That’s about it.
This mod does a lot, but the short version is that it makes NPCs behave more realistically. Definite must-have for immersion.
Adds lore-appropriate guards and soldiers to the overworld on patrol paths. They can help you in battle if nearby and even fight each other when they cross paths.
Exactly what it says. Adds more bandits sprinkled around the wilderness.
But if those aren’t enough, check out this massive list of immersion-focused mods Reddit user Decapper posted. And don’t forget to regularly check the new VR and old Immersion categories over on the Nexus.
Change The Way You Play
Finally, the way that you played pancake Skyrim (or the non-VR version, as it’s less affectionately known) is probably different from how you’re going to play it in VR. When in VR, I walk more. I fast travel less. I talk to more citizens. I visit inns and listen to bards. I spend more time decorating my home. And from a gameplay perspective I’m more prone to use archery and fighting alongside followers, feeling the intensity of battle, rather than just mowing down enemies without much thought.
Since using console commands requires peaking out of the headset, finding the ~ key, and then typing out commands I’m also far less likely to cheat.
If you usually play a stealthy assassin, try playing a melee fighter in VR. If you are usually a fighter, try a mage or an archer. You might find that your usual playstyles are different when you’ve got the power to control your character more directly in VR.
This concludes our summary of ways to make Skyrim VR even more immersive. Do you have any tips? Let us know down in the comments below!