Today’s post might be a bit of a taboo topic in the gaming world, especially since I know that some developers of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games frown upon what I’m about to talk about. However, it’s Developer Appreciation Week for Blaugust 2021, and while I know a lot of people are going to take this week to talk about game developers, I also think it’s important to call attention to the mods that we may utilize in the course of playing our favorite MMORPGs. After all, many of these mods make playing some MMOs a bit easier, and modders do not get paid for the work they put in to make these things in the first place.
(Some do have PayPal links, though. Or Patreons. Please support your favorite modders if you can afford to do so.)
Typically when I play a game for the first time, I try to play it without mods installed. I can even get away with not modding some of my MMOs. However, Elder Scrolls Online is not one of them. In fact, I have quite a few mods that I utilize for this game. Some of them are quality of life improvements for me. Others are just handy to have.
But how do you get these mods? Fortunately, modding Elder Scrolls Online really isn’t that difficult. Let me show you how.
Minion: A Modder’s Dream
There are a variety of mundane ways to install mods into your games. However, that requires knowledge of which directory to install the mods into. If you have that knowledge, you would likely hit up a website like ESOUI to carefully search for the addons you want to install, find the appropriate directory on your computer, and unzip the files you downloaded into the appropriate locations.
For other games, such as World of Warcraft, that was how I installed the handful of mods I utilized and could not live without. However, the experience taught me that doing things this way was a bit of a pain. Initially installing them in this manner wasn’t too bad, but checking every single webpage for every single mod I had installed to see if they had updated proved to be a bit of a frustrating experience.
It wasn’t until after I had stopped playing World of Warcraft and moved on to ESO (where figuring out how to install addons seemed a bit trickier) that I learned of a program called Minion that made the entire process of installation and upkeep significantly easier. I can only assume that was what the developer (Cairenn, I believe?) had in mind when whenever Minion was first conceived.
Designed for Windows and Macintosh systems (sorry, Linux users), Minion connects to the list of mods on both WoWInterface and ESOUI (although we’re only going to be discussing ESO-specific mods in this post) to allow users to easily find the mods they want, install them, and see at a glance what needs to be updated as well as installing that update for you with the click of a button.
For anyone looking to mod Elder Scrolls Online, this is the first thing I tend to recommend people pick up. You will not regret it if you do.
The Mods I Use
In preparing to write this article, I realized I use less mods than I thought I did. The majority of the addons in my Minion list tend to be dependencies that the mods I’ve installed need to function, so remember to check each mod to make sure you’ve got the necessary dependencies installed or they just won’t work! That’s one thing Minion does not do automatically for you.
And no, I will not be listing off all the dependencies here. That would just take too long.
I think the first two mods I ever installed were SkyShards by AssemblerManiac and LoreBooks by Kyoma. I group these two together because they’re very good for completionists. If you’re going for relevant achievements or just want an easier way to acquire skill points or experience with the Mages Guild, you can’t go wrong with installing one (or both) of these addons. With these addons installed, the locations of both skyshards and lorebooks are marked on your map and in your navigational compass if you’re close enough, and you can change the style of the pins in the options.
Speaking of finding things, Lost Treasure by CrazyDutchGuy is probably my new favorite addon. It marks not only the locations of treasure maps I’ve found on my map and in the overhead compass, but also locations for crafting surveys. This is particularly nice if you have issues recognizing certain locations from the sketchy artwork or maps that the game provides you like I do.
AwesomeInfo by StormKnight is another particularly good addon, and one I’m not sure I could play without now. Do you want to be informed when your weapons need recharging or when you can research a new trait for crafting? Train your mount? How much inventory space you have left? AwesomeInfo can tell you all of that and more! You can use multiple addons to acquire the same information, of course, but this keeps it confined to one specific location (by your navigational compass at the top of the screen) and you only need one whole addon for it. You can even enable or disable features of this particular addon, so you only ever have the information displayed that you want.
If you’re a crafter and do crafting writs, I’d highly recommend Daily Alchemy and Daily Provisioning by Marify and Dolgubon’s Lazy Writ Crafter by Dolgubon. Prior to a recent UI overhaul, these addons were the easiest ways to keep track of what you needed to craft for your daily crafting writs. This was a bit of a blessing for me as I’d often find myself exiting out of the crafting station menus to look at the quest text to see what I needed to craft, only to have the knowledge immediately fall out of my brain and need to exit the crafting menu again. Additionally, these addons automatically accept the writ quests from the daily board for you and craft the items (handy if you don’t remember what you need to craft specific items). I can only imagine this is especially nice if you have multiple crafting characters and want to get through your crafting writs quickly.
Also, if you enjoy crafting, I’d recommend installing Research Assistant by Baertram. It’s a very simple mod, adding a little colored dot next to your gear and weapons that informs you whether or not you’ve researched a particular gear trait. I’m fairly forgetful sometimes, so it’s nice being able to look in my inventory and seeing immediately whether or not I’ve researched a particular trait or if I have multiple items with that particular trait on it. The colors of these dots are completely customizable, as well, so you can color code things in a way that makes sense to you.
And I haven’t even talked about the fact that you can find addons that completely customize the look of your UI or add minimaps or anything like that (mainly because I tend not to utilize them). But they exist! And you can find so many more mods to help you on your journey through Elder Scrolls Online! So go forth, adventurers, and add the things that will make the game feel good to you.
I have yet to regret it.