Module IV – Flora and Landscape

Module IV - Flora & Landscape

To transform the sparse plants and short trees of Skyrim into lush, verdant forests in the south and thick, snow-heavy pines to the north, there is a broad variety of tree- and flora-related mods. Especially in combination with DynDOLOD, this module makes about as much of a visual difference as the first module did, so it is important for you to pick carefully which mod(s) to install. Changing your mind later on would be somewhat complicated. Compatibility and performance are also of importance here. Modded trees with high shadow settings in particular can cripple anyone's framerate.

Choosing a tree overhaul

The biggest issue with compatibility of different tree mods is the LOD - level of detail in the distance. Trees far away from the player are being loaded in as low resolution 2D models, their textures painted in such a way to make them look very similar to the actual high-res 3D trees. Usually a tree replacer comes with a new tamrieltreelod.dds so that the distant models match the new close-up trees. Once you're using a second mod to alter the Rift's aspen trees for example, your LOD will be mismatched and you will see vanilla textures for either the pines or aspen trees as distant objects. That means they will suddenly 'pop in' looking very different when you come closer to them - depending on your mods, they are much larger, more lush and / or differently coloured. Walk towards an orange-coloured aspen forest and once the distant LOD transition to close-up 3D models begin, you find yourself among taller trees with green leaves instead of orange ones.

To remedy this issue, we will regenerate your LOD textures as the final step for VISUALS in Module VI and Final Steps. This will greatly improve the quality of distant objects, add mod-added landmarks and match your trees' LOD with their 3D counterparts.


That being said, tree mods are fairly uncomplicated otherwise. Go ahead and pick one option from the list.

Option A: Vanilla

Performance


Included mods:

  • Indistinguishable Billboards
  • Realistic Aspen Trees
  • Enhanced Landscapes – Oaks Standalone
  • Bent Pines
  • Tree Bark in High Definition / Cover Woods

Option B: Skyrim Flora Overhaul

Performance


Included mods:

  • Indistinguishable Billboards
  • Skyrim Flora Overhaul
  • Realistic Aspen Trees
  • Enhanced Landscapes – Oaks Standalone
  • Bent Pines
  • Tree Bark in High Definition

Option C: Skyrim Flora Overhaul - Trees Only (lite version)

Performance


Included mods:

  • Indistinguishable Billboards
  • Skyrim Flora Overhaul – Trees
  • Realistic Aspen Trees
  • Tree Bark in High Definition

Option D: Enhanced Vanilla Trees (my personal favorite)

Performance


Included mods:

  • Enhanced Vanilla Tree
  • Enhanced Vanilla Trees – Light Snow Trees Replacer
  • Enhanced Landscapes – Oaks Standalone
  • Bent Pines

Option E: Simply Bigger Trees

Performance


Included mods:

  • Simply Bigger Trees
  • Realistic Aspen Trees
  • Enhanced Landscapes – Oaks Standalone
  • Bent Pines
  • Tree Bark in High Definition

Choosing a grass mod

Grass mods are (thankfully) less of a pain when it comes to compatibility - no LOD generation or excessive patching is required. However they can harm performance a great deal, especially with high grass INI settings and on lower-end PCs. The performance hit is related to grass density which can be easily tweaked (see below).


  • Choose one of the options below or skip this section entirely.

Please note: Skyrim Flora Overhaul (Trees - Option B) comes with its own grass overhaul so you don't necessarily need to install another one on top of it (but you can).


Check out this comparison of SFO, Verdant, Viscous Foliage and Veydosebrom.

 

Option A: Verdant - A Skyrim Grass Plugin

Option B: Veydosebrom - Grasses and Groundcover

Option C: Viscous Foliage

Option D: Enhanced Landscapes - Grasses and Plants

This grass overhaul is included in Enhanced Landscapes which we are going to install in a minute. Be aware that Enhanced Landscapes is only recommended with either Skyrim Flora Overhaul or Enhanced Vanilla Trees. It also requires DynDOLOD generation and comes with a small to medium performance impact depending on the billboards / DynDOLOD settings.

Option E: Skyrim Flora Overhaul - Grass Only

This is simply the grass module of SFO which is much closer to vanilla than the other options and also much less dense. Should be more performance-friendly as well.

To edit your INI files, open the editor integrated in Mod Organizer 2:

Grass-related INI tweaks

All edits below are relevant for Skyrim Flora Overhaul (not the Trees Only version) and any of the grass overhauls.


In your skyrim.ini, edit the following line:

[Grass]
iMaxGrassTypesPerTexure=15


Let's tweak the grass density. The default setting is 20, but after configuring your INIs with BethINI you have most likely a different value now. Any value between 20 and 100 is possible, lower value means more density and lower frame rate. A performance-friendly value would be 60. For everyone else I recommend a value between 40 and 60.

In your skyrim.ini, edit the following line:

[Grass]
iMinGrassSize=


The last tweak is optional, but recommended by preeum (author of Verdant).

In your skyrimprefs.ini, edit the following line or add it if it does not yet exist:

[Display]
bShadowsOnGrass=0


Remember to click save before closing the INI editor.

Choosing a water overhaul

This is another section where your choice comes down entirely to what you prefer visually. It is however noteworthy that Realistic Water Two is less compatible than the other options since it edits cells / worldspace records directly, conflicting with a huge amount of mods. I strongly recommend using one of the other options.

Option A: Vanilla

Included mods:

  • Improved Vanilla Water
  • Improved Water Performance by Pfuscher
  • White Water HD

Option B: Realistic Water Two

Included mods:

  • Realistic Water Two
  • Smooth Water Textures
  • White Water HD

Option C: Lightweight Water Overhaul

Included mods:

  • Lightweight Water Overhaul
  • White Water HD

Option D: Pure Waters

Included mods:

  • Pure Waters
  • Smooth Water Standalone
  • White Water HD