Absurd Skyrim mod turns its Civil War into a modern one with working guns, tanks, planes, and more — and it's honestly pretty fun

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
(Image credit: MixedMartialArtist on Nexus Mods)

What you need to know

  • Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is known for its massive and passionate modding community, which has been creating thousands of impressive mods for the RPG for over a decade.
  • A new mod for the PC version named "Skyrim Modern War Simulator" overhauls Skyrim's Civil War between the Imperials and Stormcloaks by adding working guns, tanks, planes, and more, along with a World War II-themed makeover for both factions.
  • The mod is, as you'd expect, completely absurd, although it's also surprisingly fun to play — especially since you can command troops once you pick a faction to join.
  • What you need to know about installing the mod, including all of its various different requirements and links to everything you'll need, is included in the text below.

The latest mind-blowing Skyrim mod is here, and no, it's not some crazy 8K texture overhaul or a Dark Souls-style combat rework. Allow me to introduce you to Skyrim Modern War Simulator, a project by mod author MixedMartialArtist for the PC edition of the game that transforms the war between the Imperial Legion and Stormcloak Rebellion factions into a modern one with working firearms, grenades, tanks, planes, and artillery, along with a World War II-themed makeover for the flags and uniforms of both factions' armies (there's a version for Skyrim VR, too).

The experience is exactly as absurd and comical as you'd expect it to be; within the first 10 seconds of starting Skyrim's famous intro sequence, you'll be greeted by the sight and sound of Imperial fighter planes patrolling over Helgen, along with Ralof telling you "you're finally awake" in full Soviet Union officer dress (complete with a ushanka emblazoned with the red star). I couldn't help but immediately crack up at how deeply unserious this was already shaping up to be, and my chuckles only continued as I realized that all the Stormcloaks had been made to look like Soviet troops — the Soviet national anthem even plays in their headquarters at the Palace of the Kings in Windhelm — while the entire Imperial military was given Nazi equipment.

What's even funnier than the Civil War's factions playing dress-up, though, is how janky all the modern weapons of war added by the mod are. Rifles and RPGs look and function pretty straightforward — they're aimed in the same way you'd hold the attack input to draw and hold an arrow as an archer, then fired by letting go of it — but grenades are thrown with spell-casting animations, tanks goofily slide along the ground and fire shells without moving their turrets or elevating their cannons, and fighters and bombers move through the air without ever actually rolling. You can check out the clip I took below to see some of this ridiculousness yourself:

The absurdity of it all makes this seem like the type of mod you'd install for a bit and then get rid of once you had your laughs, but honestly, I've had a surprising amount of fun with it in the hours that I've played. The mountainous terrain of Skyrim is an interesting battlefield for long-range gunplay, and there's a surprising amount of depth added by the overhaul that's not immediately apparent (plus, you know, it's fun to snipe dragons out of the sky).

At base, the mod adds roaming platoons of soldiers that engage each other all over Skyrim's map, but once you take a side in the war, you'll gain the ability to command your troops with some unique magic Power spells (each order is a separate Power, so I recommend favoriting them all for quick access via the Favorites menu). These commands range from telling troops to follow you or hold their position to ordering them to charge into the fray or retreat to cover, and you can even call in air support and artillery barrages.

This system, along with the fact that you and every NPC involved in the Empire-Stormcloak conflict is now using a high-damage rifle or machine gun, completely changes the feel of the war and adds some decent strategic fun to its battles. If you're bored and up for a unique way to play through one of the best PC games of all time that's both silly and wildly different than vanilla, give it a try.

The tanks added by the mod are nearly impervious to all attacks other than anti-tank explosives. (Image credit: MixedMartialArtist on Nexus Mods)

Note that Skyrim Modern War Simulator requires installing the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch, which by extension means that you'll need to be using the latest version of Skyrim Special Edition or Skyrim Anniversary Edition. You'll also need Spell Perk Item Distributor, which itself requires the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE), Address Library for SKSE Plugins, and powerofthree's Tweaks. I also recommend picking up Actor Limit Fix, a mod that raises Skyrim's actor limit in a worldspace; without it, some soldiers and tanks might glitch out and start floating skyward during larger battles.

To install everything other than SKSE, you'll want to use a mod manager like Nexus Mods' Vortex (you can use Mod Organizer 2, as well, though it's geared towards experienced modders putting together larger load orders). SKSE has to be added to your game manually; instructions on how to do so are included on its description page.

Of course, there are plenty of other amazing Skyrim Special Edition PC mods to install as well, especially if you're looking to improve the vanilla experience rather than radically change it. And hey, don't worry about being left out if you're on console, because there are tons of great Skyrim Special Edition Xbox mods, too. Don't forget that Skyrim is on Xbox Game Pass, too, so if you've never checked out Bethesda's legendary award-winning RPG, it's never been easier to do so.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition | $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition | $39.99 at GMG (Steam)

If you've never played Bethesda's beloved masterpiece Skyrim, I highly recommend doing so — especially since there are thousands of awesome mods available you can download for it (though I recommend playing it vanilla at least one). There's also the Anniversary Edition, which includes a suite of developer-curated mods created by fans.

Also see: Skyrim SE (Xbox) | Skyrim Anniversary Edition (PC) | Skyrim Anniversary Edition (Xbox) | Skyrim VR (PC)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.