Question Skyrim Anniversary Edition (AE) Mod Lists and Order

I know there was some talk on here a while back about creating a mod-specific category on the PC Gamer forums, but since that doesn't yet exist, and we've had Skyrim Anniversary Edition for about a year now, I felt it was a fair time to ask this, which is: Has anyone found a good, reliable list of AE-friendly Skyrim mods?

As some are probably painfully aware, we were all involuntarily upgraded to the AE version (minus most of the paid AE content), rendering a lot of Special Edition mods unusable. The mod community has been rallying in the wake of this, and a lot of popular mods are now fully (or at least mostly) AE-compatible.

That being said, my wife and I have been having a heck of a time trying to put together a mod list that works reliably and consistently since then. We've turned off auto-updates and play it offline in order to avoid further updates (so it's stopped at around 1.63 or thereabouts), which is an issue on its own since some mods continue updating to the very latest iterations of the game without maintaining their older versions.

I found one guide (at scinitar [dot] com, I believe it was called) that turned out to be... not so much a step-by-step guide as it was some guidelines and then a kitchen sink load of mods that are not necessarily compatible with each other and are in many cases redundant, i.e., pick the one you like best. It then goes on to talk about Wrye Bash patching and converting Lite mod files to regular (apparently the ESL variety doesn't play nice with Wrye Bash), and I just would rather not mess with that if possible. I'm content to simply keep things within the <255 limit, with ESL files making up the difference since they don't count against that limit.

Nexus Mods has their Mod Collections, but I'm not sure how well curated they are, let alone whether they're in any sort of reliable/stable order. Which is the other part of my question, one that has perhaps been answered for the SE/LE versions in the past, but my Google Fu has never found any definitive result to my satisfaction, which is, Is there an ideal, reliable/stable order in which to install mods? I know the basic rule of how one mod will overwrite aspects of a similar mod that came before it, but on a larger scale I've yet to see if there's a hard and fast rule like "NPC follower mods should come before quest mods," or vice-versa. I assume size is also a factor as well.

This post is admittedly all over the place, and for that I apologize. I just miss having a stable, robust set of mods, which I had somewhat managed in SE and LE before it (and I know I could technically go back to modding LE but I'd rather not go that route if I can help it). I'm also not (yet) interested in trying to dial back my game to the last stable pre-AE version, though I understand that's also possible (albeit cumbersome and possibly a gray area where Steam rules are concerned.) I saw the GoG version, but from the sound of things it has even more issues as it's technically a unique build apart from Steam.

Any advice/suggestions (other than "stop messing around with Skyrim mods*") is welcome and appreciated. I would even welcome arguments in favor of the whole "convert the lite mods to regular and then merge/bash them" route, if applicable.

(* - Because that's just not gonna happen, at least not before Starfield comes out.)
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
I'm currently replaying Skyrim, but use only the SkyUI mod, so can't help you with this unfortunately. :( The best thing you can do is to install the mods one by one and launch the game after each of them. It's time consuming, but it's also the best way to check whether the mod is compatible.
 
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I'm currently replaying Skyrim, but use only the SkyUI mod, so can't help you with this unfortunately. :( The best thing you can do is to install the mods one by one and launch the game after each of them. It's time consuming, but it's also the best way to check whether the mod is compatible.

It's probably faster to just get one massive mod list, then apply the following steps:

1. Split mod list in half.
2. Test first half. If it doesn't work, apply all steps to this half.
3. Add second half. If it doesn't work, apply all steps to this half.

Though in the worst case scenario that all/most of the mods are incompatible with each other this will actually take longer.
 
You bring up a point that I wonder about. I wonder if it's ultimately better to not try to prevent updates to the game. I would think that most of the major mods are going to keep them updated to work with the latest version of the game. It's more likely to be the obscure ones that don't continue support. So there's the possibility of breaking compatibility with all of the best mods just to be able to continue using the obscure ones.
 
@WoodenSaucer Unless I misunderstand, just keep an eye on the mods you need, and when they're updated to latest game, then update the game.
I don't use a ton of mods, myself. Maybe 5-10 at the most. But I know of people who use hundreds. That would be a major pain in the backside to keep track of all of that. I think those people have more fun messing with mods than playing the game. It's like a game in itself.
 
You bring up a point that I wonder about. I wonder if it's ultimately better to not try to prevent updates to the game. I would think that most of the major mods are going to keep them updated to work with the latest version of the game. It's more likely to be the obscure ones that don't continue support. So there's the possibility of breaking compatibility with all of the best mods just to be able to continue using the obscure ones.

There's always a chance of mods not being updated because the person/people who made it aren't around any more too. And with smaller mods there's usually a decent alternative, but for big mods that's not the case.
 
Has anyone found a good, reliable list of AE-friendly Skyrim mods?
No, I don't, I'm still on the last "pure" version of Skyrim SE (v 1.5.97) before the Anniversary update. I wish I could help you, but just glancing through a few of my favorite mods on the Nexus, it's a mess of updated mods and non-updated mods, so regardless of what version number you're using, it's going to be time-consuming & tedious effort to get a stable mod build.


As some are probably painfully aware, we were all involuntarily upgraded to the AE version (minus most of the paid AE content), rendering a lot of Special Edition mods unusable. The mod community has been rallying in the wake of this, and a lot of popular mods are now fully (or at least mostly) AE-compatible.
As you said, many mods have been updated, but many (or more) have not (not to mention many new mods that have popped up), so it has to be difficult to get a stable build. I currently have loaded a stable build from 11/2020 that is not yet completed and waiting for me because I never updated.

That "forced" update doesn't have to happen, if you mark Skyrim "Only update this game when I launch it" (which you already know), and then I start my modded Skyrim game from the SKSE64 script extender shortcut. This results in your current game being stable (even over the years) as it never actually "starts" within Steam. I do this for a lot of games I mod, as long as you don't hit that "start" button in Steam.
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Just as general information about Skyrim Script Extenders, get what version you want from the source at: Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) (silverlock.org) and not from Steam or even the Nexus, as you may download the wrong version. This isn't for @Krud who's been around almost as long as I have and knows what he's doing, so much as just my personal opinion). But there are 5 versions of the Skyrim Script Extender now so it might be confusing. Also note that the Script Extender(s) do not support Game Pass or the Epic Game Store versions of Skyrim.
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Wrye Bash patching and converting Lite mod files to regular (apparently the ESL variety doesn't play nice with Wrye Bash), and I just would rather not mess with that if possible.
I downloaded Wrye Bash and looked at it as I found several mods in the past that stated, "well, you've got to make a "Bash-Patch" to get all those mods to work together. Some extremely smart & talented modders & people swear by that App, but it was just way above my "pay-grade", or comprehension that I never wanted to deal with it.

Nexus Mods has their Mod Collections, but I'm not sure how well curated they are, let alone whether they're in any sort of reliable/stable order
I've looked at a lot of the Mod Collections for the ES games as well as the Fallout games, and I have two major problems with the concept.

1) None or the collections I've looked at address how I like to play those games with the mods those "curators'" have included. There's overlap, yes, or mods that I want, but there's too many mods that are suspect or unwanted for my gaming tastes.
2) As @Krud stated, the curation of those collections is suspect as far as stability is concerned. There seems to be no "quality control" and that many of them are just thrown up there then abandoned without updates or addressing user's concerns. In theory, a mod collection of 200+ mods with a "one-click" installation sounds like a dream, but in reality, it just isn't working.

Maybe it will get better over time, and I realize that the collections concept is only in beta, but it just feels like a failed experiment to me. I love the Nexus and will always support them, but sometimes you just have to take a step back and say, "Hey, this didn't work" (and for god's sake, contact those modders who left because of the "collections" effort, and try to get them back. So much talent was lost).

Is there an ideal, reliable/stable order in which to install mods? I know the basic rule of how one mod will overwrite aspects of a similar mod that came before it, but on a larger scale I've yet to see if there's a hard and fast rule like "NPC follower mods should come before quest mods," or vice-versa. I assume size is also a factor as well.
Not that I know of, at least when it comes to Bethesda games. I've found that there are just too many variables involved to have a precise installation order (not to be confused with load order). Some of the more complex mods have dependencies or conflicts with other mods, and possibly any compatibility patches. I've found that using the Vortex Mod Manager helps me greatly. If you try to install a mod that has a specific dependency but isn't installed, you'll get a warning message.

As a general rule (though this is not exclusive), I usually install texture mods first as they have no plugins, then move on to weather & lighting mods, then other content related mods. But that's really general, reading & remembering all the install instructions from different mods, install & load orders, is paramount for me.

I'm also not (yet) interested in trying to dial back my game to the last stable pre-AE version, though I understand that's also possible (albeit cumbersome and possibly a gray area where Steam rules are concerned.)
I've never had to "roll back" my version installation of any game yet, as if it's a game that I know I'm going to mod extensively (like Skyrim), I will take preemptive measures. There was an article on PCG about a year ago that described this very process using a mod.
How to roll back Skyrim Anniversary Edition | PC Gamer
It talks about a mod that allows you to do that, though neither Christopher Livingston (author) (or myself) have ever used it. The mod still exists, and was updated on 9/20/2022, so it's still active.
Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Downgrade Patcher at Skyrim Special Edition Nexus - Mods and Community (nexusmods.com)

Because that's just not gonna happen, at least not before Starfield comes out.
Oh, yeah. Once Starfield releases next year (I'm hoping for Feb-Mar, but not later than May), all other games are off the table (or PC), as I know I'll be playing it for weeks or even months, even without mods.
 
It sucks that the Anniversary Edition broke so many mods. I didn't know that happened until I saw this thread.
And what makes it even worse, is that some mods are updated by their authors while others aren't updated. So many of the more complex mods have "dependencies" upon on other mods and require a certain version number. So if (for example), Mod A is updated, but Mods B & C (which are required by Mod A) aren't updated, none of those mods will work on the Anniversary Edition.

A more specific example would be USSEP (Unofficial Skrim SE Patch). A lot of mods have USSEP as a dependency, but USSEP has been updated for only for the Anniversary Ed, so all those other mods won't work unless they've also been updated, on either version of the game (and the USSEP page only maintains the current version with no older builds available). It's really just a sh*t-show right now trying to get a decent mod build for Skyrim, old SE or the new Anniversary Ed.

I'm getting a bit wordy here (sorry), but I have to mention that using the Vortex Mod Manager can be helpful in these situations. Every time you update a mod through Vortex, it keeps the older version intact without over-ridding the older version(s). So when building a mod list, you can choose whatever version of a specific mod you need; like USSEP:
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