Immersive Skyrim Thunder
Being caught in a rainstorm in Skyrim is almost as crappy as it is in real life. I will sometimes just sleep away the day in Breezehome to let the storm pass. But once I installed Immersive Skyrim Thunder, I've kind of liked jumping around in the rain - just to hear the thunderclap. Insert AC/DC song here.
Not only does this mod make the thunder and rain sounds better by adding various clashes instead of the single effect the game shipped with, but it also alters the sound effects for the dragon shout Unrelenting Force. There are now four different thunder sounds that will trigger when you say, "Fus Ro Dah!"
Have you been running around the open meadows of Skyrim wondering why there isn't more grass? (That's not a drug reference, nooch.) Mod author OpticShooter has got you covered. Lush Grass isn't a major alteration to the game, but it definitely increases the ambience of the landscape of Skyrim. One could say that the reason the grass is sparse is because the climate doesn't support that much plant life, but to those people, I say, pshaw! This mod doesn't all of sudden make Skyrim a rain forest or anything, just makes the random sprouts of grass appear more deliberate. More grass is always better. (And that was a drug reference.)
Makers Mark Ingots
Author Mikeomni gets major props from me for not only improving the look of Skyrim, but doing so in a way that fits within the lore of Tamriel. If you've spent any time looting dungeons or mines, you've probably seen an ingot of iron or silver laying around. Those blocks of metal never looked very convincing, especially when the image was blown up in the art in your inventory. Mikeomni wanted to fix that, so he decided to put an embossed mark on every ingot. The question was what should that mark look like?
Mikeomni researched the different towns, and the mines or dungeons that held the most veins of a particular metal or resource. The imprint on those ingots represented the towns or organization in Tamriel that was either the major source for that resource, or where it was likely to be imported to Skyrim from - at least to the author. Moonstone, for example, is mostly used in Elvish gear so Mikeomni put an Elvish knot and some runes on the mark. The result is subtle, but awesome addition to the immersive feel of Skyrim.
The world map in Skyrim isn't that useful. Sure you can scroll over most of the landscape with ease, but those dang clouds get in the way more often than not and the textures just feel muddy. Map Improved by Athfkarl gives you the options tweak the map display exactly to your liking. Frustrated with the top-down view and want to zoom around Skyrim in a first person perspective? You can do that. Want to get rid of clouds and the blurred textures? Gone! Replaced with a clear view.
Map Improved isn't technically a mod, but a published series of tweaks you can make to the Skyrim.ini file which will alter how the game runs. Many of us PC gamers have already heavily edited our Skyrim.ini to improve our experience (more on those tweaks next week), so just overwriting the whole file would erase all of those changes. Knowing his audience, Athfkarl has provided a bunch of values you can manually add to the file in your Skyrim directory without screwing up the finely crafted document you've been working on since November 11th. Which is nice.