Skyrim has been out for over a decade, and there’s no denying how great of a game it still is. Despite its multiple bugs, the open world and freedom of choice have left a lasting impact on the gaming industry. However, let’s be honest — Skyrim shows its age, especially in its combat. Luckily, the modding community has been working in overtime these past few years to create some of the best combat mods Skyrim has ever seen.
Gone are the days of clunky melee combat, limited animations, and dumb AI. With these ten mods, you’ll pull Skyrim from 2011 to match present-day RPG and action games. Make sure you have enough room in your plugin list, and let’s get started!
10 Best Combat Mods for Skyrim, Ranked in No Particular Order
We’ve put together this list of the top 10 Skyrim combat mods, from AI rehauls to improved movement and ranged attack physics. Let’s jump right into our list!
Nemesis / DAR
Now, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the mods that make everything possible. The Nemesis Engine and Dynamic Animation Replacer are the evolution of previous animation frameworks like FNIS.
While I’m not exactly sure or smart enough to know how these work, from what I can tell, they create a framework that allows animators to create conditional and behavior animations. In other words, animations aren’t limited to a set path, but rather can change and flow based on what is happening in game or to your character.
The end result is tons of animation mods that introduce movesets with attacks that can be combo’d together. It also adds tons of new way to make your character and NPCs more alive in and out of combat. Learn more about these mods on their Nexus pages, Nemesis by Shikyo Kira and DAR by Felisky.
Before you start installing multiple combat overhauls, you might want to look into SCAR — Skyrim Combos AI Revolution. Even if you install all the combat mods under the sun, the NPCs of Skyrim wouldn’t be able to use them properly. That’s where SCAR by Maxsu and Monitor144hz comes in.
SCAR is a very simple mod that identifies all the new behavioral combat mods you’ve downloaded like MCO (we’ll cover that mod later in the article) and “teaches” NPCs how to use it. For instance, if you have a mod that gives one-handed swords a new moveset, SCAR-enhanced NPCs can combo attacks together. Without SCAR, NPCs would use a single attack and call it day.
If you plan on using combat mods that add new moveset, consider downloading SCAR. This mod gives combat a little more depth by making NPCs more challenging. You’ve never known true fear until the Level 1 bandit styles on you. Also check out Mortal Enemies, Enhanced Enemy AI, and Wait Your Turn to further modernize enemy AI.
The first mod we have that actually changes combat is Precision by Ersh. This mod does a lot of things, but its main purpose is to change the collisions on melee attacks. With Precision, the hit box of melee attacks more closely match their respective weapons. This is for both the player and enemies, so combat becomes more accurate and immersive.
However, Precision doesn’t stop there. NPCs now react to being hit by flinching, which is something that Bethesda scrapped from the vanilla game. It also adds visual trails to weapon swings, hitstop/camera shake, and recoil if you hit a solid object.
You can find the full description and download on Precision’s main page.
Book of Shadows
Our second mod is for the people who love stealth playthroughs. Book of Shadows by Monitor144hz adds new mechanics to stealth that completely change the way you approach a fight. It’s the perfect mod to pair with AI detection overhauls like RAID.
The coolest thing Book of Shadows adds is a unique unarmed stealth takedown. Instead of the usual suplex, you now choke out enemies and knock them unconscious for a short amount of time. Additionally, if you failed to be stealthy, this mod adds smoke bombs for a quick escape.
To make stealth a bit harder, this mods also add sentry enemy types to locations like bandit camps. These enemies are always on the lookout for intruders and carry a warhorn with them. If they spot you, they’ll blow the horn to alert the entire camp.
If that doesn’t interest you, it also adds a custom mask, complete with a unique equip animation. To download Book of Shadows, you can find it here on the Nexus.
Phenderix Magic World
This next mod is perfect for someone looking to spice up their next mage playthrough. The amazing modder Phenderix has created a huge mod that adds a whole new area to explore, quests, followers, bosses, and — more importantly — 160+ spells to use.
Now, you might be wondering what makes this different from magic mods like Apocalypse. Well, this mod goes beyond the three basic elements and adds fourteen new elemental archetypes. Each archetype has its own spells, damage types, and status effects.
What’s more, each archetype has specific interactions with other archetypes. For instance, using a water spell on a target will leave them wet and susceptible to lightning spells, which cause an explosion on a successful hit. There are tons of combinations with new and interesting spells to use.
You can check out the full description of Phenderix Magic World here. Be sure to check out their other mods like Phenderix Elements, which is perfect for mages or arcane warriors/archers.
Any Dodge Mod
Before you download the next couple of mods, you’ll want one of the many Dodge mods. Mods like TK Dodge or Dodge — MCO add exactly what they say on the box — a dodge mechanic. No longer do you have to slowly move out of the way of an attack or rely on your armor to tank the damage. Now you can smoothly dodge any attack and easily counterattack.
You might be wondering how balanced a dodge in Skyrim really is. Will you be invincible? Probably not, but each mod is fully customizable so you can make it as strong or weak as you want. Additionally, each has its own unique dodge animation, plus multiple other animations found around Nexus, such as the Elden Ring dodge.
The most popular mods as of right now are TK Dodge or TK Dodge Remake and Dodge — MCO.
Bow Rapid Combo — Archer Combat Overhaul
While archery in Skyrim is strong, it’s kind of boring and has no flair to it. What if we could make it more exciting? Well, with the latest mod from Smooth and skypia, archery becomes so much more than shooting from the shadows.
With Bow Rapid Combo — Archer Combat Overhaul (ACO), the bash attack is replaced with Rapid Shot, which can be used to chain multiple attacks in quick succession. The primary attack also receives an upgrade, with two new mechanics called Power Shot and Perfect Timing that both deal more damage than a regular shot.
What’s more, this mod adds melee attacks that can be used with the bow equipped. As of right now, you can used a variety of kicks and swings or equip their special “secondary dagger” and swipe at enemies. Just like the Rapid Shot, these melee attacks can also be chained together for a combo.
All of these new attacks come with their own unique animations, including a unique dodge animation just for bows. Check out BRC — ACO here for your next archer playthrough and be sure to check out Smooth and skypia’s other animation mods.
Projectiles — MCO | DXP
Speaking of bows, let’s talk about ranged combat. Have you ever thought a mage’s unavoidable hitscan spells were unfun to face, or that enemy archers surely had aimbot? What if we could remedy that? Well, from the same developers of other MCO mods comes Projectiles, the Skyrim mod that balances ranged combat.
Projectiles looks at all types of ranged attacks and modifies them to be actually dodge-able, even without a dodge mod. Arrows are slowed down, and magic like Flames or Sparks are modified to fire projectiles rather than a cone of damage. For instance, Sparks fires fast-moving projectiles, while Frostbite has more, slower-moving projectiles.
In practice, this makes it less annoying to deal with ranged enemies as a melee-focused character, and adds a bit of a challenge when playing a ranged character. In fact, playing a mage character felt like it had more depth, since I had to use different magic for different situations.
Since it mainly affects vanilla spells and arrows, Projectiles is pretty much compatible with everything and has no requirements. You can download this mod at the SkyrimGuild; be sure to check out their other amazing mods.
True Directional Movement
This next mod is, in my opinion, one of the best Skyrim combat mods that you can download. True Directional Movement by Ersh seeks to bring Skyrim into the modern era with multiple new features, the first being 360 degree movement.
In vanilla Skyrim, your character can only move in a linear fashion, and rotating your character means moving the camera. With TDM, you can move your character whichever way you want without having to change the camera angle.
TDM also comes with a Target Lock similar to many modern games like Elden Ring. All of your attacks are directed toward your target and you can move freely. Additionally, you have the option to turn on projectile aim assist to add light tracking or full on homing characteristics to magic and arrows.
True Directional Movement also adds other smaller features, such as headtracking and camera changes for horseback and swimming. Download True Directional Movement here.
Attack — Modern Combat Overhaul
Now for one of the absolute best Skyrim combat mods, Attack — Modern Combat Overhaul. MCO is the SkyrimGuild’s attempt at bringing Skyrim into the modern era of gaming, and boy do they deliver. With just one mod, Skyrim’s combat is completely overhauled.
The biggest change is a fix to what they call Skyrim’s “ice skating” combat. In vanilla Skyrim, you could pretty much move freely during any attack. This looked fine in first person, but a third-person view made it look like you were sliding around everywhere. With Attack — MCO, there’s now weight to your attack animations and your character moves with the attack, rather than whatever direction they want.
Additionally, this mod adds chainable power attacks, charge attacks, and free flowing movesets. The end result brings smooth and flowing combat akin to games like Elden Ring, The Witcher 3, and Assassin’s Creed, where the focus is more on attacking carefully and/or attack combos.
To see more about this mod and download it, check it out at the SkyrimGuild website along with their other combat mods. Additionally, you can search MCO on Nexus to find multiple animation packs built just for MCO. Lastly, check out MCO Universal Support for full compatibility whether you play Special or Anniversary Edition.
Join the High Ground!
That wraps up our list of the best Skyrim combat mods; thanks for reading! We hope you found some new mods to enjoy — in fact, I added a few of these myself for my new playthrough. If there are some great combat mods you’ve found that weren’t listed, leave a comment down below. Subscribe to our newsletter to never miss any of your favorite content.