HOW TO: Load-Order
(A big thanks to @thefirebirdman @honorsbastion13 and @Poisd2Strike -These guys are knowledgeable and dedicated gentlemen that have provided a lot of excellent advice to many people on this thread. Think of them as load order moderators and take their advice seriously.)
Skyrim SE has brought the unfathomable power of mods to consoles, and players couldn't be more thrilled. However, many console players have extremely little experience (or none at all) when it comes to downloading mods.
This being the case, a plethora of players who are (relatively) new to downloading mods have encountered bugs, errors, glitches, and crashes that may be caused by a poor and unorganized mod load-order... and if you're reading this "how to" then there is a high likelihood that you are one of those players. BUT HAVE NO FEAR, in this thread I will be giving a quick explanation of what a load order is, how it works, and a general/optimal way to organize your load order.
(if you're just hear for the load order organization, just scroll down just a little)
What is a load order?:
If you thought "isn't it just the order in which your mods are loaded", then you were right... because that's exactly what a load order is... it's just the order that the game loads your mods. Every time you start/continue a game Skyrim loads all of your mods into that saved/new file. Your load-order determines in what order your mods are loaded into the game file.
How does your load-order work?:
Your game loads your mods from top to bottom in regards to your load order. I'll use a quick example to illustrate what this means and why it's important. Let's say you have 3 mods: mod 1 (the mod that is on the top of your load-order) is a weather mod, mod 2 is a mod that changes the visuals for the forsworn armor, and mod 3 (the mod that is on the bottom of your load-order) is another mod that changes the visuals for the forsworn armor. Using this example your game will load mod 1 first, then mod 2, and finally mod 3. Now keep in mind that mods are considered incompatible when they affect and try to change the same thing. So with our scenario your weather mod will load and function perfectly fine, but mod 2 and mod 3 will clash and be incompatible. Your game will overwrite mod 2 with mod 3, meaning that only the forsworn armor from mod 3 will be used. This was a crude example with a best case scenario outcome. In reality, it can be much more difficult to tell whether or not two mods will affect the same thing and be incompatible, there is also a good chance that many mods will cause bugs, errors, and crashes instead of simpley overwriting the previous mod if they are incompatible. Just keep in mind that if two mods affect the same exact thing in a similar way, then the mod that is lower on the load-order will take priority over the mod that is higher on the load-order.
What is a good general organization when it comes to load orders?:
One general rule of thumb is to organize your mods into "categories" and to place larger mods that affect more assets/aspects of the game ABOVE smaller mods within the same "category" that affect less assets/aspects of the game. Keeping that in mind, here is a general guide/list to organizing your mod load-order.
- ) Patches and bug fixes
- ) Big mods and overhauls that affect the entire game
- ) Quest mods (big or small)
- ) Environments/weather Overhauls
- ) Large add-ons that add cities/towns/land masses
- ) Adds buildings to current cities/towns
- ) Plants and foliage mods for the entire game
- ) Gameplay changes/tweaks/add-ons such as combat/magic/perks/etc
- ) Changes/add-ons to NPCs
- ) Visual/textural/atmospheric changes
- ) Sound/audio/FX alterations
- ) Sorting, menu, and player & NPC inventory
- ) Cheat items
- ) Character model replacements
- ) Weapons/armor/clothing add-ons/additions
- ) Crafting related mods
- ) Misc. items, as well as small scale foliage
- ) Weapon/armor/clothing alterations
- ) Specific mods that need to be loaded at the bottom as directed by the mod author
- ) Mods that remove graphical effects, like disabling godrays, to improve performance - this goes last to ensure that all mod added effects get disabled too.
(Thanks to @honorsbastion13 for adding 19 and 20)
@thefirebirdman @honorsbastion13 @Poisd2Strike and I are proud to present a comprehensive living library where you will be able to find the appropriate category for any mod we discuss in this thread. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress and will grow as we slowly (and manually) add more mods to it: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ouzi9f0dma00yhd/Skyrim%20Recommended%20Mod%20Load%20Order%20-%20Master.docx?dl=0
- Just remember to keep in mind how your load order works when organizing your mods. Also, some mods need to go in a specefic area of your load-order regardless of the category it belongs to, but usually mod authors will mention this in their mod description if it is necessary.
Ones load order is a fickle thing that can get unorganized beyond belief very quickly if you don't regularly stay on top of it. this includes reordering mods when they update... because for some forsaken reason a mod is automatically placed at the bottom of your load-order when you download an update for it.
- (By @Poisd2Strike) - The OP should probably be updated to include a small section directed primarily at Console players (like myself). I am not sure if the issue is also relevant to PC. Basically, a recommendation should be added to do a hard reset (complete shutdown) of your Console anytime you add or remove larger mods or mods that have a large impact. This could potentially help with issues of not being able to download a mod, getting a discolored face / body or pixelation and not seeing changes in-game even though a new mod has technically been installed.
Also, if you have two mods (Mod A and Mod B) and Mod B depends on Mod A and both have available updates, Mod A should be updated first followed by Mod B. For example, last night I noticed an update was available for two mods I have (USSEP and Cutting Room Floor). Cutting Room Floor requires USSEP. So, USSEP should be updated before Cutting Room Floor.
Although it is generally not a good idea to remove mods during a playthru, since data can be left behind in your save game file (which could lead to issues), some mods are safe to remove. However, before removing (aka deleting) a mod deemed 'safe to remove' the following process should ideally be followed: Disable the mod (don't delete it), Load the game without the mod enabled, Do some testing to make sure the game is stable, if stable then create a new save file (don't save over an existing save), lastly Delete the mod.
Lastly, some information about potential bugs or known issues. I can give 4 examples that will likely impact many people, that I was not initially aware of myself:
---1.)Help!! I keep getting randomly attacked by guards and I don't have a bounty! - Deadly Civil Wars is known to cause this issue.
---2.)Help!! My female PC vampire's face doesn't look right! - Eyeliner is known to cause this issue. Move the slider all the way to the left.
---3.)Help!! I can sell items to merchants but don't get any gold! - A merchant having more that 30,000 gold is known to cause the issue.
---4.)Help!! I get these wierd 'seams' in water! - Although it might not be obvious, Project Hippie is known to be one of the causes for this.
If you have any questions regarding this list/guide or what category a specefic mod falls into, just ask and I or (hopefully) any other players/modders that know the answer will help you out.
P.S.A: BE COURTEOUS TO THOSE WHO ARE OFFERING YOU HELP. THIS THREAD IS NOT MEANT FOR PEOPLE TO DUMP THEIR ENTIRE LOAD-ORDER AND EXPECT OTHERS TO ORGANIZE IT FOR THEM WITH DOING LITTLE TO NO WORK AT ALL. THERE IS A 5-10 LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF MODS YOU CAN REQUEST HELP WITH. ANY POST THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THIS IDEAL AND THE GOAL OF THIS DISCUSSION WILL BE FLAGGED FOR MODERATORS TO DELETE.
(I've seen many players who are eager to bring their consoles to its knees. Consoles are only so powerful, they do have a limit. If you download a lot of script heavy mods and a million graphic overhauls YOUR CONSOLE WILL SUFFER FROM TERRIBLE F.P.S AND CRASHES! No guide can help players who simply over do it.)