Steam makes Skyrim mods easy

Adding “mods” to games is a distinct advantage PC gamers have over console gamers. Sony and Microsoft wouldn’t want to allow modding of console games unless they found a way to make money from it. So, many PC games have active mod communities, and the Elder Scrolls series are no exception.

Mods can be anything from new looks for weapons and armor to new user interface elements to new quests and regions. Many mods involve skimpy outfits and female followers to satisfy horny gamer males, but others are extremely valuable and helpful. To be honest, when Oblivion was new, I tried some of the “better bodies” and skimpy clothing mods, and promptly turned them off. I didn’t do this because I am opposed to nudity and hot bodies, but it was disturbing to kill an enemy and loot her to see a smoking hot body and bare boobs and more. Particularly if it was a female orc you just killed. Perhaps it humanized the enemy too much or something, but it made me feel creeped out. So out those mods went.

In Skyrim, I am taking a very cautious approach to mods and only using a few, at least until I beat the main mission. I have one frivolous mod, which is the Asteria, an abandoned dwarven airship that can be an awesome player home. It has all the crafting equipment and looks great, and doesn’t seem to interfere with anything else. I am using a mod called Lockpick Pro that helps with lockpicking by showing a bar that lets you hit the right zone for the pick to work. This is a cheat, but frankly it saves a lot of time and I was pretty good at lockpicking before it, so this just eliminates a bit of frustration. I’m also using a mod that shows markers for my house (I only have one) and other important halls on the map, making them suitable for fast travel. This isn’t a cheat, because they only show up after you have discovered them. Finally, I am using a better map, since the original doesn’t have the roads drawn on it. What were the Bethesda folks thinking?

Steam makes dealing with mods easy, because of Steam Workshop. This lets me pick the mods I want, then they are automatically downloaded and kept up to date, like Steam games. This is very handy and is the primary reason I wanted to buy Skyrim from Steam rather than on a disk. There are some problems, though. Steam Workshop has been extremely unresponsive at times, which is frustrating. The search function is terrible. I tried to search for the map mod by typing the word “map” into the search box. Nothing resembling a map mod showed up, but a bunch of texture mods and other things were shown (presumably they used words like “mipmap” or something). So I had to click through a few more pages to find the one I chose. I think the benefits of Steam Workshop outweigh the problems, and hopefully those problems will be fixed over time. So Steam Workshop is good and worth trying for Skyrim!

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