The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is widely considered to be one of the best RPG video games of its generation. Its vast, open world and wide range of quests allow for near-infinite replayability. However, despite its widespread success, Skyrim lacks a key element of any RPG, difficulty. Skyrim, by all accounts, is remarkably easy, even for those entirely new to the game.

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Combat in Skyrim is painfully simple and notably dull, even on Legendary difficulty. In an attempt to resolve this issue, Skyrim's creative modding community has produced numerous fight-enhancing mods. These combat mods make Skyrim a much more challenging and engaging game. With these unofficial additions, players will be unable to ever play vanilla Skyrim ever again.

Updated November 11, 2021, by Christopher Anaya: Although Skyrim Anniversary Edition is scheduled to release soon, many will continue pouring hours into Skyrim Special Edition. As such, these individuals may continue improving their experience through the use of mods. Many elements of Skyrim need improvement; however, combat is by far its greatest grievance. Its combat mechanics are clunky at best and it seldomly relies on strategy.

So, many talented mod authors have sought to improve Skyrim with a variety of combat-related mods. These unofficial additions will enhance fighting mechanics, allowing players to take a more strategic approach to battles. The best of these mods will make a fine addition in any Skyrim Special Edition playthrough.

15 Archery Gameplay Overhaul

Archery Gameplay Overhaul by DServant lends itself to those who favor archery above all else. In truth, Skyrim does very little to make archers feel more threatening. In comparison to other enemies, archers have very little - if any - influence on the outcome of combat encounters. This blatant lacklusterness is what DServant seeks to eliminate by granting archers far more versatility and power.

Archery Gameplay Overhaul offers various revisions to anything and everything archery-related. These improvements include - but are not limited to - new animations, enchanted arrows, and a bleeding mechanic. Everything within this mod aims to make archers more adaptable, unique, and overall powerful threats. Thus, making Archery Gameplay Overhaul a necessary addition to those wanting more daunting long-ranged dangers.


14 Spellsiphon - Immersive Combat

A Mage Using Shock Magic

Spellsiphon - Immersive Combat by Arctal grants mages and battlemages alike much versatility in combat. In Skyrim, magic users are limited to several spells which they cast repeatedly. While this allows for simple yet effective builds, it makes for dreadfully dull combat encounters. Arctal knows of this commonality and has sought to put an end to it.

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Spellsiphon inspires players to use a wide variety of spells during battles. Through the inclusion of new mechanics, magic, and more, mages have become far more flexible. These improvements allow Skyrim's magic users to feel all the more magical and powerful. So, any looking to become a more dynamic mage should download Spellsiphon - Immersive Combat.

13 Mortal Enemies

Skyrim Orcs In Combat

Mortal Enemies by center05 aims to improve enemies by making their tracking and movements more natural. Skyrim enemies are flawless in their advances and strikes, resulting in less immersive gameplay. Moreover, it causes fights to become a battle of durability rather than one of wits and skill. Fortunately, center05 worked adamantly to make foes more human, thus improving combat overall.

Mortal Enemies emphasizes realism above all else, making combat much more engaging. It does so by making enemies less precise in their assaults and granting weapons realistic qualities. Therefore, making previously unimportant elements such as placement, timing, and weaponry vastly more prominent. To have the most realistic combat experience in Skyrim, players must have Mortal Enemies.

12 Know Your Enemy - Trait-Based Resistances And Weaknesses

Skyrim Vokun Dragon Priest

Know Your Enemy - Trait-Based Resistances and Weaknesses by tjhm4 works to grant enemies distinct characteristics. In Skyrim, every foe - no matter how powerful - is susceptible to the same damage regardless. There is nothing to inspire variety in one's arsenal, thus why many players utilize a single weapon or spell. To prevent this prevalent trend, tjhm4 grants every enemy distinct, combat-related qualities.

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Know Your Enemy provides special resistances and weaknesses to every adversary, depending on its nature. These characteristics consider weapon types, spell elements, and armor defenses when determining damage. Thus, forcing players to adapt to a foe's resistances and weaknesses accordingly, lest they struggle. Know Your Enemy - Trait Resistances and Weaknesses makes combat far more strategic and rewarding.

11 Immersive Movement
Mod Created By Zana Daniel (Nexus Mods)

Immersive Movement by Zana Daniel seeks to make the movements of all creatures - including the player - realistic. Many of the dramatic motions in Skyrim are irrational, unreasonably extravagant even. While this seems like a trivial issue, it has a detrimental effect on immersion and combat. That is why Zana Daniel implements countless fixes to movements that accurately reflect reality.

Immersive Movement either improves or worsens a creature's movements according to real-life or lore. These changes affect a creature's speed, mobility, responsiveness, and weapon handling. Thus, further diversifying enemies and inspiring new challenges in battle. To eliminate comical motions and make fights more challenging, players should download Immersive Movement.

10 True Armor
Mod Created By Anubis22 (Nexus Mods)

True Armor by Anubis22 works fervently to distinguish Skyrim's different armor types. Regardless of the protection one has - whether it is light, medium, or heavy - every attack and spell hits more or less the same. Therefore, there is little incentive to choose one armor set or type over the other. Anubis22 took notice of this noteworthy flaw and sought to make one's protection matter.

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True Armor grants unique benefits and detriments to armor, depending on its type and set. These additional characteristics garner one's protection far more attention than before. Moreover, players must consider the defenses of others to counter them effectively in battle. True Armor provides players with many new considerations concerning armor in combat.

9 Genesis Unleashed Levelled
Mod Created By SOT Team (Nexus Mods)

Genesis Unleashed Levelled - Dungeon Spawns And Encounters And Treasure by the SOT Team populates dungeons with many more challenges. Many of Skyrim's dungeons lack a constant threat and, as a result, lack any real difficulty. Instead, dungeon crawls feel more akin to hack and slash games, although less entertaining. The SOT Team sought to fix this, not by introducing difficult foes but by including more enemies.

Genesis Unleashed Levelled cautiously and dynamically spawns foes throughout dungeons. Doing so ensures that players face a constant yet manageable threat. Thus, dungeons become deadly locations that only the most hardened combatants can survive. With Genesis Unleashed Levelled, dungeons become as dangerous as Skyrim's inhabitants describe them to be.

8 Smilodon - Combat Of Skyrim
Via: Enai Siaion (Nexus Mods)

Smilodon - Combat of Skyrim by Enai Siaion overhauls Skyrim's combat system, making it far more complex and grueling. The outcome of most battles within Skyrim depends solely on one's durability. So, the game overall favors the hearty and durable over the smart and calculating. Fortunately, Enai Siaion aims to fix this issue through numerous, delicate changes to Skyrim's combat system.

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Smilodon alters existing mechanics while introducing new ones, inspiring more difficult yet dynamic confrontations. Alterations to combat AI, stamina use, and the like change Skyrim's combat significantly, making it more akin to Dark Souls. While fights may be painstakingly strenuous at times, they are far more rewarding than vanilla combat. Smilodon is perfect for those seeking a more challenging and vigorous combat system.

7 Ultimate Combat
Mod Created By tktk (Nexus Mods)

Ultimate Combat by tktk aims to make fights much more realistic and consequently much more difficult. Skyrim's AI is by far one of its most unimpressive aspects, so much so that dozens of memes revolve around it. This poor AI is a prominent reason why fights are lackluster and, at times, comical rather than intense. That is why tktk worked tirelessly to revise and build upon Skyrim's existing simplistic AI.

Ultimate Combat introduces a variety of changes and new mechanics to enemy AI. These alterations include - but are not limited to - special attacks, poise, timed blocks, and even locational damage. With these changes, players must remain vigilant in battles, as any mistake or missed opportunity can result in death. Overall, Ultimate Combat is a necessary addition to any combat-heavy Skyrim playthrough.

6 Vigor - Combat And Injuries
Mod Created By Alex9ndre (Nexus Mods)

Vigor - Combat and Injuries by Alex9ndre works to make the almighty warriors of Skyrim feel mortal. In Skyrim, regardless of the amount or severity of damage one takes, they remain largely unscathed. No wound, natural or otherwise, has lasting detrimental effects on a player. So, rather than allowing players to be damage sponges, Alex9ndre changes up combat with the introduction of injuries.

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Vigor presents a variety of new mechanics and hindrances meant to inspire caution in players. Enduring too much damage or expending one's stamina can debilitate players. Therefore, garnering more awareness during battles, no matter how small, and thus making them far more exciting. For more realistic and daunting battles, Vigor is a must-have combat mod.

5 Skyrim Revamped - Complete Enemy Overhaul
Mod Created By Nightman0 (Nexus Mods)

Skyrim Revamped - Complete Enemy Overhaul by Nightman0 introduces countless changes to Skyrim's enemies, making them far more challenging. Despite the diversity of Skyrim's available foes, they lack any real challenge or distinction in battle. Most fights feel relatively the same and require very little beyond a hack-and-slash approach. This consistent issue is what Nightman0 hopes to achieve through many enemy alterations.

Skyrim Revamped grants enemies a variety of unique abilities and features meant to inspire diversity. Through the inclusions of combat styles, new spells, and perks, foes become distinct. Therefore, making encounters very different from one another, especially boss battles. To achieve greater variety and maintain enjoyment in combat, players must look no further than Skyrim Revamped.

4 Magic Duel – Reborn

Skyrim Magic Duel Mod

Magic Duel - Reborn by Seb263 makes battles between magic users vastly more entertaining yet immensely challenging. Typically, magic-based fights in Skyrim are entirely dependent on which mage possesses the better defenses and vitality - rather than one's arcane prowess. As such, these confrontations are ultimately lackluster and remarkably easy. Seb263 aims to solve this issue with a new mechanic inspired by pop culture.

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Magic Duel allows players and NPCs to engage in arcane battles known simply as magic duels. When one engages another with destruction magic - or shouts - they initiate a magic duel. This unique form of combat relies heavily on one's power, endurance, spells, and strategy; thus, garnering a variety of factors to consider when facing magic users. For those looking to recreate Harry Potter-esque battles, Magic Duel is a must.

3 KS Dragon Overhaul 2

Skyrim Dragon In Thunderstorm

KS Dragon Overhaul 2 by KuzakuSara transforms Skyrim's dragons into the god-like, world-altering creatures that nordic legends describe. In truth, Skyrim's dragons are a far cry from the stories and myths sprawled throughout The Elder Scroll's lore. Instead, they are glorified lizards that require far less effort than expected - even Alduin is disappointing. This significant - and ironic - issue is one that KuzakuSara aims to solve.

KS Dragon Overhaul 2 grants dragons a multitude of enhancements to make encounters with them far more demanding. These improvements include - but are not limited to - improved combat AI, stagger resistance, and amplified shouts. Overall, making dragons more daunting foes, especially those of status, i.e., Alduin and Paarthurnax. KS Dragon Overhaul is perfect for those wishing to face the dragons foretold in Skyrim's legends.

2 Disable Combat Boundary

Holgeir and Fjori in Draugr form with Lu'ah in the background in Skyrim

Disable Combat Boundry by Abbalovesyou changes a basic yet game-altering mechanic of Skyrim, combat boundaries. In Skyrim, particular barriers prevent hostile NPCs from crossing over and pursuing players. Players often abuse these obstacles by using them to escape oncoming foes, thus avoiding unfavorable encounters. Abbalovesyou sought to put an end to this exploitation by removing the barrier entirely.

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Disable Combat Boundary eliminates every combat boundary within Skyrim, allowing enemies to follow players relentlessly. Thus, ensuring that they cannot escape certain death, as whatever threat they face will surely follow. So, rather than retreating and recouping, players must be more strategic and careful in their assaults. For more pressing combat encounters, players must look no further than Disable Combat Boundary.

1 SkyrimSouls – Unpaused Game Menus

Skyrim's Bashnag looking down

SkyrimSouls - Unpaused Game Menus by Kassent attempts to make Skyrim a more Dark Souls-esque game. One of Skyrim's more infamous trends is a player's ability to enter a menu wherever and whenever. Upon doing so, they can drink potions, equip/unequip items, or even eat fifty-plus eidar cheese wheels. This occasionally ridiculous feature is what Kassent aims to remove.

SkyrimSouls makes one simple yet effective change; opening any menu does not pause the game under any circumstance. Thus, allowing the game to continue in real-time, preventing any abuse of the system. Therefore, players cannot safely perform particular actions and must instead plan ahead of time. While it offers a relatively simple change, SkyrimSouls is perfect for those seeking challenging combat encounters.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim was released on November 11, 2011, and is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Stadia. The next-gen version is out in November 2021.

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