While the best Skyrim mods can add everything from whole new sets of nature-themed spells and magic to the ability to take Lydia ice skating in Bethesda’s biggest Elder Scrolls game, sometimes it’s the subtlest-sounding mods that can have the most dramatic input. In fact, subtle sounds are exactly the topic of the day, as this update to the fantasy game reworks all the ambient sounds you’ll hear along your journey across Skyrim.
The Regional Sounds Expansion mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, by creator DylanJamesWasTaken, is an extensive sound overhaul for the towns, dungeons, and outdoor areas of the open-world game. It’s based on an old mod called Audio Overhaul for Skyrim, but extracts its ambience-specific parts and builds on them extensively to help truly sell the fantasy of being in the world of Skyrim for real.
Personally, I’ve always found the experience of existing in the world of Skyrim is its truest virtue. The quests are decent, the combat is passable, and the RPG systems offer plenty of depth to keep you coming back; but the true magic of Skyrim is how well everything coalesces together into a world that feels alive and entices you to explore every last nook and cranny. As such, it’s hard to emphasise what good ambient sound design can bring to the table when it comes to manifesting that experience.
Regional Sounds Expansion offers “subtle and non-intrusive” sounds, but ones that offer something “significantly more vivid and varied compared to what is available in the base game.” Wander the Whiterun Tundra, and you’ll hear the breeze blowing across the open grass fields as insects buzz and scutter through the wilderness. Ramble up to The Reach, and you’ll encounter heavy winds, the cries of eagles echoing through the mountains and rocks tumbling down the cliff sides. Saunter into the Hjaalmarch Swamps, and you’ll be stopped in your tracks by the eerily dead atmosphere, cut with the croaks of the local amphibian population.
On the other hand, strut into a nearby town or city and you’ll hear how the mod implements a mix of custom foley and the game’s original, rebalanced sound portfolio to replicate the hustle and bustle of the various settlements of Skyrim. You’ll hear inhabitants going about their business, shouts off in the distance, and “more to simulate the movement of higher traffic environments while not feeling forced or unrealistic.” In addition, regional ambience has been added to built-up areas where appropriate, such as whistling winds through the rocky valleys of Markarth.
If this all sounds to your liking and you’re ready to feel like you’re truly there, you can check out the Skyrim Regional Sounds Expansion mod on Nexus Mods.
Those of you looking to further enhance your Skyrim experience may want to check out the Skyrim Northern Roads mod that overhauls the game’s many streets and pathways. If you fancy something a bit more content-oriented, mods have also introduced new Skyrim Daedric DLC in the Shivering Isles. Meanwhile, a former Skyrim dev has revealed his new horror hunting sim, The Axis Unseen, which promises a world five times bigger than that of Skyrim. We’ve also got more of the best RPG games on PC for you to peruse, if you’re looking for something completely different.