Skyrim Difficulty Mods: The Best Ones to Make Skyrim Way Harder

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Now that Skyrim has been out for what feels like ages (and re-released dozens upon dozens of times), I think it’s time for some of us to up the difficulty of the game a bit.

Cause let’s face it: Skyrim’s combat feels dated, NPCs aren’t smart at all, and even animals seem a tad dumb.

If you’re like me and looking to push the limits of difficulty in your next run, then you’re going to love this list. I’ve collected some amazing mods that make Skyrim feel way harder, if you set them up right.

Not only that, but these mods also make the game feel even more realistic too. This is arguably the best list of mods to ramp up difficulty in Skyrim. Great to keep you busy if you can’t wait for Elder Scrolls VI to release!


10. Combat of Skyrim

Combat of Skyrim Mod preview

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

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

Custom Difficulty UI for Skyrim

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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

High Level Enemies in Skyrim

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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

Realistic Animals and Predators Mod for Skyrim

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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

Ordinator – Perks of Skyrim Mod

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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.

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

Morrowloot Ultimate Mod for Skyrim

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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

Rebalanced Encounter Zones and Leveled Actors - Skyrim Mod

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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 Mod for Skyrim

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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

Immersive Patrols Mod for Skyrim

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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

Live Another Life Mod for Skyrim

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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 gives you the ability 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 for a better life.

What will it be?

Well, that’s the challenge!

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Marco Ibarra

Born in the first half of the 90s, video games have been a part of my life ever since I was introduced to Age of Empires I by my dad. I'm a Mass Communications graduate with a specialization in Marketing, as well as a hardcore gamer. My aim is to bring you quality content so you can get the best out of your games and take your experience to the next level!