15 Best Skyrim Difficulty Mods

Since Skyrim has been out for what seems like forever and has been re-released dozens of times, I think it’s time for some of us to make the game a little harder.

Because, let’s face it, the combat in Skyrim feels old, the NPCs aren’t smart at all, and even the animals seem a little dim.

If you’re like me and want to make your next run as hard as possible, you will love this list.

I’ve found some great mods that make Skyrim much harder to play if you set them upright.

Not only that, but these mods also make the game feel even more real. This might be the best list of mods for making Skyrim harder.

Great if you can’t wait for Elder Scrolls VI to come out and need something to do.

15. Stamina Matters

Some of the best mods alter basic parts of the game. Stamina doesn’t matter much in vanilla Skyrim. It’s not that it’s completely useless, but if the player can still attack, block, and jump when they have zero stamina left, it isn’t very restricting. 

The Stamina Matters mod fixes that, preventing the player from performing those activities when the player is out of stamina.

With this mod, the player can’t just spam Power Attacks. It also prevents the player from drawing their bow or holding block indefinitely when the player has zero stamina.

Combined, the restrictions of this mod make the player approach combat from a much more tactical perspective.

Burning through stamina too quickly will leave the player few ways of defending themselves, so every choice in battle now matters more, even if it’s just about making a simple attack or raising one’s shield for a few seconds.

14. Dead Is Dead

Skyrim Difficulty Mods

Ultimately, Skyrim is a pretty forgiving game in the sense that you can always save and load and try beating and enemy as many times as you want.

You don’t really lose anything in the process, other than the time, of course. Unless, you have this nifty little mod.

Dead is Dead is a mod that does exactly what you’d imagine: make death permanent.

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Once you die, your character is permanently dead. You won’t be able to continue playing with them as long as the mod is installed.

It’s definitely not a nice permanent mod to have, but for challenge runs to ramp up the difficulty it really puts the stakes up high.

13. Requiem

Now that the whole survival aspect of Skyrim has been covered, let’s talk about enemies, because that’s the part of the game that will really bump of the difficulty.

Starting off with very small and basic tweaks is the Requiem mod, which is focused on making combat more realistic for each type of enemy.

While Requiem doesn’t bump up the difficulty of enemies directly, it changes the way you need to tackle combat and fight off certain threats.

Rather than just running at things with a sword in hand, players will have to make use of other skills and gameplay features to survive the encounter.

12. Deadly Dragons

Another cornerstone of Skyrim are dragons and fighting them. The first encounter with these giant beasts feels frightening and impressive, but after that, they’re pretty predictable, just like every other enemy.

The Deadly Dragons mod remedies this issue specifically.

It introduces more unique dragon varieties with unique attacks and patterns, which will actually make the Dragonborn fight for their survival the next time they face off against a beast of the skies.

11. Wounds

In vanilla Skyrim, injury works the same way that it does in the vast majority of RPGs: the player’s Health ticks down, and when it hits 0, it’s game over.

The simplicity of this system makes it easy to grasp, but it doesn’t leave room for much nuance in combat. The Wounds mod fixes this by allowing physical attacks such as sword slashes and arrow hits to leave a wound.

Wounds range from cuts and scrapes to concussions and shattered bones, and the worse the injury, the longer it will take to heal. Many wounds are debilitating, preventing the player from engaging in combat or even killing the character altogether if they aren’t treated.

Whether the player is using magic or martial weapons, the variety of possible wounds and their various effects and treatments make combat a much more challenging and strategic event, since the player must take care to avoid suffering an injury that will linger long after the fighting is done.

10. Combat of Skyrim

It’s not really possible to turn Skyrim into Dark Souls.

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But when it comes to making the combat more challenging and skill-based, this is the mod you’ll want.

Timed blocks, better AI, much more powerful attacks, and a higher price to pay for missing a hit.

Combat of Skyrim (also known as Smilodon) will make combat the newest of the most challenging features in the game.

It truly makes the game feel much more like a different title from the same franchise, albeit with the same storyline.

A Skyrim remake without actually being a remake, if you will.

9. Custom Difficulty UI

If you truly want to make the game feel more difficult, and no other mod offers what you’re after, this is the one you’ll want to try.

It allows you to tweak all damage inputs in the game and set them to whichever number you feel.

Impossibly hard, or dumb easy. Your choice.

This thing allows you to turn the game into an actual nightmare. I honestly thought I had already mastered Skyrim until I installed this mod.

Never have I felt so wrong and humiliated in my life. I strongly advise not to put the sliders to the max; holy hell.

8. High-Level Enemies

Looking to kill more people while you’re in the higher levels of the game?

Of course, but maybe you simply feel there isn’t much of a challenge in doing so…

Well this mod adds a staggering number of NPCs to the game (over 800 in total).

Each NPC is leveled and makes the game feel more varied, while also making it far more challenging – especially if your character is over level 50 and you’re looking for a new challenge in some areas of the game.

7. Skytest – Realistic Animals and Predators

Tired of all animals in the game feeling the same?

Are you done with wolves behaving like deer?

Then download this mod. It changes the AI of all animals, so they actually act and move like their real-life counterparts (to those that actually have them, of course).

Even fantasy animals will behave in a much more realistic way with this mod installed.

I fully suggest giving it a go if you’ve been fighting animals since the game released – you’ll truly feel the difference.

6. Ordinator – Perks of Skyrim

Even though this one isn’t a difficulty mod per se, it does add dozens of new perks.

And it changes the way the skill trees work, which makes it much more challenging to choose where to spend your skill points.

Read Also:  12 Best Dark Souls-Themed Skyrim Mods

It also makes the game feel newer, which is something I’m always going to recommend after so many years of playing it.

5. Morrowloot Ultimate

Well this one is quite a different mod to the ones I’ve been reviewing…

But given that it completely changes the way the game works, I’m adding it to my list.

It basically removes the “leveled” system of all enemies, and makes it way more challenging to fight certain enemies from the start of the game.

An amazing mod that makes your game an even more challenging experience – even if you’re starting over and you already know what to do.

4. Rebalanced Encounter Zones and Leveled Actors

This mod is basically a better version of Morrowloot.

It turns areas of the game into a weird hybrid that combines Morrowind with Skyrim.

So there will be a ton of areas that you won’t be able to overcome in the first levels of the game.

It makes Skyrim much more difficult. And makes every single one of your choices count.

Start the wrong quest at the wrong time and you’ll be dead meat in a couple seconds.

Save often, please. You’ll find out why.

3. Mortal Enemies

Mortal Enemies makes the game feel more realistic by removing the weird aimbot that ranged enemies seem to have.

But it also makes all NPC movement feel much more natural, a big plus.

You’ll have to get used to the new mechanics when you install this mod, but it’s a fantastic one to try.

2. Immersive Patrols

Skyrim is at war.

So it only makes sense for patrols to be more frequent than they are in the base game.

With this mod, you’ll see many more patrols that will make the game far more challenging. Not too challenging, maybe just the right amount.

It works with all of the DLCs, too!

1. Alternate Start – Live Another Life

Even though this mod could make the game feel easier, it’s also one that could turn your new game into hell on Earth.

Alternate Start allows you to start as something other than a prisoner, be it a wealthy merchant, or a loser who just arrived to the land of Skyrim in search of a better life.

What will it be?

Well, that’s the challenge!