Anniversary Edition - My Thoughts and Findings Thus Far
(TL;DR Not as bad as many people are making it out to be.)
There has been a lot of talk about Anniversary Edition and the “Modpocalypse” as some have been calling it (although that phrase is tossed around a lot; then again, what do you expect from a community based around a fantasy game with a dragon called “The World Eater”?). Following so soon after the Nexus Mods updates (which by the way, some of the big names that left the Nexus over this seem to have returned), it seemed for a bit that this could mean bad things for the future of modding skyrim. But I think many of us forgot just how resilient the modding community is. There were estimates that it could take years for mod authors to update their mods, but here we are, about 3 months later and nearly every mod I regularly use has been updated (if it needed to be). So I did a little experiment on how feasible a fully updated and upgraded Skyrim Anniversary Edition modded game could be. Below are my results, but first a little bit of nonsense, since that is how I roll (if you are a regular visitor to this site, you will by now realize that I am never brief and often ramble on and on and on…):
I know that there are many that love debating the pros and cons of Anniversary Edition and making the switch or not; we, as a community, seem to love drama, so that is not surprising. I don’t really want this place to be focused on drama, and I really try and be a positive and optimistic person, so I’m mostly gonna talk about the good stuff (not exclusively, but I don’t see a point in focusing on the negative). As always, I will try and point out important things that are still not working and things to be careful about, but if you want to argue about why you should or should not upgrade, there are plenty of forums to do that in. I hope the information below helps you make a more informed decision about if upgrading is right for you.
First off, I did back up my Skyrim game and I turned off automatic updating in Steam long before the Anniversary Edition came out. I actually am lucky enough to have both a desktop and very decent laptop, so I decided to begin this experiment on my laptop to preserve my old setup on my desktop. And, I am aware that I could use the really helpful Downgrade Patcher, to either completely downgrade or get the “best of both worlds” option to still use the Anniversary Edition content, but I wanted to see how it would work without doing this.
I started by uninstalling my Skyrim completely to make sure I had a clean install. I reinstalled and updated to Anniversary Edition and I even bought the additional Creation Club Content for the extra $20 (you know, for science). I added the Creation Club Content to my Mod Organizer by following the steps used in the Configuration section of the Septimus 2 instructions (great Wabbajack list by the way; which does include Anniversary Edition content!).
I downloaded and set up the new SKSE for Anniversay Edition.
Since I had a modlist already set up on my laptop that was still in development status, the following steps were heavily influenced by those particular mods.
The next step was to see what kind of damage had been caused by the Anniversary Edition switch from Visual Studio 2015 to Visual Studio 2019 (details here). The easiest way I thought of to do this, as opposed to going through ever mod one by one (and I have a LOT of mods), was to use the awesome filter function in Mod Organizer:
So, selecting “Contains Script Extender Plugin” and “Contains Script Extender Files” and choosing the “Or” logic, my list was narrowed down to mods that contained dll files, i.e. would actually need to be updated for Anniversary Edition. Just to clarify, for those that might be confused, the only mods that need to be updated are those that either require SKSE directly or require mods that require SKSE, like Address Library. (The only other exception to this is mods that need patches to work with Creation Club content, but I’ll discuss that a bit later.)
After filtering my modlist, I used the “Visit on Nexus” option to easily open the mod to see if it had been updated:
Most mods had one or more of the following ways to tell if it had been updated:
A recent update (did not necessarily mean an AE update)
A notice on the description page
A description on the file page (and often multiple options for those that downgraded or just never upgraded)
A sticky post on the Posts tab
A note on the mod author’s About Me if they are planning or not planning on updating their mods
After checking to see if a mod was updated, I downloaded the update if there was one and added a note in Mod Organizer either way:
(you can tell that I also make notes for mods with no plugin and mods that are ESPFE - that’s not related, but I find it helpful!)
For the mods that were NOT updated, I checked to see if there were other options that could replace their functionality. I also have been checking pretty much daily since to see if they have been updated, as some of the mod authors stated they were working on updates.
I also needed to check if any of my other mods had been updated; and since the last time I worked on this list was about 5-6 months ago, there were quite a lot that I needed to download the updates for (not AE-specific updates, just general ones).
I then added and removed other mods that I wanted or didn’t want, as well as added Creation Club patches/tweaks/etc. Since I had never used Creation Club content before, I had a decent amount of patching to do. Luckily, since a few of the CC mods are included in the base update, even people that are downgraded need patches, so there are a wide variety available already. Many city and town overhauls have been patched for the Fishing mod; there are tweaks to the levels that quests begin and much more. I’ll add a section to the bottom of this post with some of the mods I am currently using.
So, what does my modlist look like? How viable is a decent playthrough without downgrading? What are the pain points? Are there many mods that I am still hoping will get updates?
I am still fine-tuning my modlist, and I think I might actually post it if I get it to a place where I can comfortably recommend my setup. However, and somewhat surpisingly, the things I am fine-tuning are not really related to any of the changes made with Anniversary Edition, but more of a general conflict resolution nature.
At the time of writing this, I am sitting at 1355 mods, with 1689 plugins:
What’s included with that? Legacy of the Dragonborn*, multiple quest and land mods, city and town expansions and additions, lots of new followers, lots of player home mods, plenty of gameplay overhauls, armor and weapon expansions, new and replacing animations, graphic improvements, ENB and Dyndolod, and a lot more.
I have been doing a few test playthroughs and haven’t really had any crashes (except for when I was trying to get the new Faster HDT-SMP to work, but honestly, I blame myself entirely for not getting it to work, and I gave up because it was asking a bit too much of my laptop performance-wise anyway).
Pain points? I am sorely missing Stay at the System Page, which seems like such a little thing, but once you notice it, oof it’s annoying. And unfortunately, without .NET Script Framework, there are some other mods I am missing as well, like Actor Limit Fix, Better Stealing, No Grass In Objects, and Custom Skills Framework. But there have been some other options popping up to replace some things like Enhanced Invisibility to replace Uninterrupted Invisibility and for crash logs, I’ve been using Crash Logger.
*Note: Legacy of the Dragonborn is NOT yet patched to be used alongside Creation Club content. This means that there WILL be issues in my game as many of the same artifacts are found in both. I am one of those people that doesn’t ever play without this mod (but I know that there are a lot of people out there that don’t play with it). I intend to play through as much of LOTD and the Creation Club content as I can in a very very extended test playthrough (the length of which probably makes it an actual playthrough) to see how bad the situation is. I believe that the LOTD team is working on an official patch, so depending on how long the rest of my test playthroughs take, it might be released before I even get to this point! (EDIT: as I’m writing this, it does look like they are working on testing some potential patches: https://discord.com/channels/295799648403324928/817172086879289355/940366171167928320)
UPDATE: The Legacy of the Dragonborn - Creation Club Patch Hub has been updated! I continue to be blown away by this community. Now, if you excuse me, I’ll be off playing my completely functional, not downgraded, heavily modded Anniversary Edition of Skyrim.
Here are some of the mods that have or have not been updated for AE (at the time of this post):
Have Been Updated for AE
(not all of these contain script extender files, but may have been updated for other reasons, such as to be used with CC content or because of mods they require being updated for AE)
- Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (patched for CC content, not dependent on SKSE)
- Address Library for SKSE Plugins
- powerofthree’s Papyrus Extender
- powerofthree’s Tweaks
- Spell Perk Item Distributor (SPID)
- Keyword Item Distributor (KID)
- FileAccess Interface for Skyrim SE Scripts
- SSE Engine Fixes
- SSE Display Tweaks
- Equip Enchantment Fix
- Fix Note Icon for SkyUI
- Simple Offence Suppression
- Skyrim Priority
- Mfg Fix
- Vampires Cast No Shadow 2
- Face Discoloration Fix
- Enhanced Invisibility
- Base Object Swapper
- Remember Lockpick Angle - Updated
- Glow Be Gone SKSE Updated
- Fuz Ro D-oh - Silent Voice
- moreHUD Inventory Edition
- Scaleform Translation Plus Plus
- Essential Favorites
- Favorite Misc Items
- Quick Loot Re
- More Informative Console
- Yes I’m Sure
- MCM Helper
- CoMAP - Common Marker Addon Project
- Alternate Conversation Camera
- Oxygen Meter
- ENB Helper
- Storm Lightning
- Dynamic Animation Replacer
- Better Jumping
- Simple Dual Sheath
- True Directional Movement
- Animation Motion Revolution
- Honed Metal
- Security Overhaul SKSE - Lock Variations
- Unequip Quiver
- Immersive Spell Learning - DESTified
- To Your Face
- Vibrant Weapons - Fire Frost Shock
- ENB Lights for Effect Shaders
- Passive Weapon Enchantment Recharging
- Immersive Equipment Displays
- Project Proteus
- Go To Bed
- Incremental Injuries
- Hand to Hand - An Adamant Addon
- Classic Sprinting Redone
- Pause After Load Unscripted
- ENB Input Disabler
- Smart Harvest
- Unique Map Weather Framework
Note: Some of these are marked on the mod page as “beta” or still technically in “testing”, so just keep that in mind if you do use them.
Have NOT Been Updated for AE
(I have not personally tested if the below do or do NOT work for AE as is, but am merely including here if they do NOT have an AE-specific update…sorry for all the negatives in that statement)
.NET Script Framework (many of the below require this, so won’t be usable until/unless it gets updated)
Uninterrupted Invisibility (I use Enhanced Invisibility instead)
Scrambled Bugs (note on posts page from author says an update is being worked on)
Note: SkyUI has NOT been updated, but does seem to be working, which I am trying to figure out how that is possible, but my understanding of SKSE is fairly rudimentary. If you have a better understanding of SKSE and SkyUI and how they work together, PLEASE let me know as I always want to provide the most accurate information.
To reiterate, there are thousands of mods that do NOT need to be updated and will work just fine with the AE update. There are also more that could be included on both lists, but these are just a good chunk of the ones of which I am aware. Many of these mods are required by many other mods, so if mod B requires mod A which requires SKSE, and mod A hasn’t been updated, mod B won’t work.
To summarize: Anniversary Edition is pretty much working for me and my modlist and I am happy that instead of giving up, the community as a whole has decided to once again embrace change and keep making new and amazing and beautiful things. If you cannot live without a mod that hasn’t been updated, or are unwilling to risk a still fairly “beta” version of some mods, or if you don’t want to have to do any additional work on a modlist you are already using, then the Downgrade Patcher is definitely for you. But, if you are willing do some work or are willing to be a little adventurous or if you are willing to be a little flexible, then you can have a fully functioning Skyrim modlist without downgrading at all.
I am hoping to someday post my modlist with descriptions and reviews and why I chose certain mods, but that will take quite awhile, so don’t hold your breath!
(repeat in case you missed it) UPDATE: The Legacy of the Dragonborn - Creation Club Patch Hub has been updated! I continue to be blown away by this community. Now, if you excuse me, I’ll be off playing my completely functional, not downgraded, heavily modded Anniversary Edition of Skyrim.
Here is a short list of some Creation Club Content Patches or Tweaks that are available (this does not include the patches included in larger patch collections like Janquel’s many many patch collections for city/town overhauls among other things - seriously don’t know what we would do without their contributions!):
Unofficial Skyrim Creation Club Content Patches – the really nice thing about these patches is you can download a merged one or the individual ones and they are ALL ESL; and it’s sort of amazing that it is just one person creating these, so thank you garthand!
(Thank you in particular to TateTaylorUSA for so many integration mods – and of course my two favorite dog follower mods, Gladys and Merlin - unrelated but always worth mentioning!)
Tweaks and QoL:
Simple Camping Storage (there is an optional file that also includes a tweak that returns the campsite to your inventory when you pack it up!)
Options for Survival Mode Tweaks:
A few notes:
These patches and tweaks, while dependent on actually having the Creation Club content, are not dependent on Anniversary Edition, but can be used with the downgrader if you also own the Creation Club content.
Some of these patches are not compatible with each other, and some would just be redundant if used together, so make sure to read the descriptions!
“…but the true joy of exploration is in the discovery, and so I leave the rest to you…”
~An Explorer’s Guide to Skyrim