Take Back The City In This Ambitious Skyrim Overhaul

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim [official site] turns five this year [that can’t be corre- oh my god, we are so old -ed.], but that’s not stopped its dedicated community from expanding its dragon-bashing, Thu’um-shouting, knee-shattering boundaries with mods, updates and overhauls. The latest pick of the ever-multiplying crop is Galandil’s Holds The City – an ambitious overhaul that adds new settlements, architecture and characters to Skyrim’s towns and cities in a bid to increase its population and weave new tales into its existing lore. Come see a trailer after the drop.

It’s pretty impressive in its entirety, but skip to 1:35 for neat before and after shots:

Working part time on Holds The City Overhaul since late 2012, creator Galandil has poured countless hours into the game’s creation kit as a means of  crafting the best interpretation of Skyrim as possible. After transitioning from Oblivion, the lack of a Better Cities mod or equivalent set the project in motion, with Galandil even writing books from scratch as a way of fleshing out the realm’s history. Keen explorers can seek them out in various locations across the map, such as the book store in Falkreath, the Haafingar Library in Solitude, and The Palace of Kings Library in Windhelm. Speaking to the mod’s design choices, Galandil says:

“Falkreath, Winterhold, and Dawnstar have been rebuilt from scratch with their own unique designs. The mod also adds a bundle of new settlements like Amber Guard and Black Moor. Most of these new settlements have been placed far out of the way and hidden from view to not ruin the expansive wilderness theme of the game. The aim of all of this is to create a more memorable and diverse experience, making the cities actually feel like cities hopefully without ruining the natural and realistic design of the vanilla game.

“This is not a botanical garden mod, nor is it a beautification mod. Holds aims to stay as lore-friendly as possible and at the same time expand on the backgrounds and stories for its locations.”

Interested? If so, installation instructions and a handy Q&A can be grabbed over on the Nexus forum.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Der Zeitgeist says:

    Oh, that’s just great. Even more stuff to do that keeps me from ever finishing Skyrim.

    • tomimt says:

      You don’t really miss anything much by not finishing Skyrim. As it’s with every Elder Scrolls game, the plot is pig pile of meh.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        And unlike other TES games, the other stuff you can do in the game is also an extra large pile of meh.

        Nearly everything involves going through a series of long, completely linear dungeons.

        • Czrly says:

          Not just a pile of “meh” but built on the world’s worst engine and completely broken in every other way, too!

        • Mr_Blastman says:

          This! Linear dungeons are boring.

          • Winstons says:

            Good to know, thanks for the input from the three guys above. Really interesting, glad you took the time to let us all know this. Top commenting.

          • Unclepauly says:

            Top comments for the top kek game.

  2. Mi-24 says:

    Is this compatible with any other city alteration mods? I currently have all the “Towns and Villages Enhanced” mods from steam workshop and would prefer to keep it. If this is not compatible can anyone give an explanation as to which is the better one? thanks in advance

    • Czrly says:

      This is the problem with mods and precisely why I can’t stand games like Skyrim that rely on mods to “fix” them: something’s going to go horribly wrong, eventually, and it will probably be at a point where uninstalling the mod totals either your save-file or the game or both. Modding for fun is fine, I suppose, but I have no interest in fighting with them and their interactions just to achieve a worthwhile experience with a game – that’s what I pay the developers for!

      If it isn’t worth playing out the box, it’s rubbish. Skyrim, out the box, is dire. Even the U.I. is completely non-functional, it runs like a slide-show with v-sync on for no apparent reason and the physics engine and NPC schedules break hopelessly with v-sync off.

      • Winstons says:

        You are missing out on literally hours and hours of fun with that kind of attitude. Modded Skyrim is amazing.

        • brucethemoose says:

          It’s also ALOT of work. And unlike other communities, mod permissions aren’t established to allow for premade bundles.

          It’s fun if you have a lot of spare time. But it’s impossible if you don’t.

          • warthogboy09 says:

            I actually enjoy that fiddling in order to make things work almost more than the actual mods themselves sometimes. Just the sense of challenge completion I get when I see some minute change and I’m like, ” remember all the crap I had to go through to make that work? I’m glad I did”

          • sosolidshoe says:

            That’s a crock of cacky mate, total nonsense. Modding has never been easier, and the software like NMM and BOSS works pretty much flawlessly(as does the game) unless you’re running some creaking, 300-mod monstrosity of a load order.

            The amount of extra effort required to browse for mods you fancy and click “install with NMM” is utterly trivial compared to the amount of entertainment Skyrim provides with even a small handful of mods.

  3. MrFinnishDude says:

    Looks good, I like how Winterhold looks like an actual abandoned city now. But whats the town in the image? It looks so stupidly middle european that it almost makes me angry.

    Other settlements look fine though, keeping with the Nordic theme.
    I don’t know about Falkreath though, I always thought that it was supposed to be a small town, not a city.

    • Bizzy says:

      Quite the contrary. Falkreath is supposed to be a city, it even was a Kingdom once. A colovian (Imperial) one. This version is more “lore-friendly” then the one in the game.

      • MrFinnishDude says:

        Huh, wouldn’t have guessed from its state in the vanilla game.
        You are well versed in the lore.

  4. GWOP says:

    “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim turns five this year [that can’t be corre- oh my god, we are so old -ed.]…”

    Let me change that wording to make you feel worse…

    “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out half a decade ago.”

  5. aozgolo says:

    This looks great but I’m afraid in my current huge mod line-up I could never really use it, mods that change so many locations all at once like this are bound to conflict with something.

  6. Ethelred Unread says:

    I’ve got this unplayed in my Backlog. Can someone start a forum thread for some recommended mods on the forum, or give me a heads up here?

    • Farsearcher says:

      Essential mods

      The Unofficial Skyrim patches are mandatory. They fix tons of bugs the devs never had time to.

      SKSE is the script extender which many other mods need to work

      Mod organizer to manage your mods (better than nexus mod manager)

      SKY UI to get rid of the ‘orrible console interface and replace it with a much better PC centric one

      ENB to pretty up the graphics – though this is fiddly and you’ll need a decent machine to get it running.

      The link below –

      link to wiki.step-project.com

      – is a massive mod line up designed to fix everything broken in the game, improve the graphics and add actually make it more lore friendly than the vanilla game. It’s also designed to be compatible with other mods.

      Even if you don’t want to use it all you can learn a lot about modding skyrim from it.

      I’m part way through installing this monstrosity. It has taken a long time. And you’ll need to be prepared to do a lot of reading if you want to do the full thing.

      • Guy Montag says:

        That last paragraph could not be more true. I just reinstalled to do a final playthrough (at least until Enderal drops, which will be the last time I touch Skyrim) and it took me a solid day to download, install, and order my mods. And that’s with the experience that comes with playing Bethesda games for over a decade.

        I love their games, by I hope that they someday actually figure out proper game architecture. Their engine is the worst Frankenstein’s monster in all of the gaming world.

        • Baines says:

          Be fair, their engine likely really isn’t the worst Frankenstein’s monster in gaming. It is just perhaps the worst to (continue to be) be used across so many high profile and high popularity titles while simultaneously being exposed through a large and strong modding community.

          • Guy Montag says:

            Okaaaaay, I’ll be fair. It’s systems built on top of systems built on top of systems for over a decade, full of engine level issues so old that the people who’ve played around those issues forget they’re there and stop relaying warnings about them to the new generations.

            So maybe Frankenstein’s monster is too light a comparison. It’s Kowloon Walled City: huge and unknowable, full as hell, and extremely frightening.

          • brucethemoose says:

            It’s pretty freaking bad.

            – CPU shadows, and terrible ones at that

            – Obvious developer laziness on PC. VSync, for example, is still put in the wrong INI file by default, and the game is completely broken without it. It took ages for them to enable some very basic flags

            – On that note, basic physics completely break at over 60 FPS.

            – Stutters like crazy at loading boundaries, even on a modern i7 with an SSD

            And those are just a few of the REGRESSIONS FROM OBLIVION. And God knows Oblivion has issues that Skyrim carried over.

      • Ethelred Unread says:

        Thanks! I’m used to large mods through nexus for the Fallout games, just needed a steer on what is important.

  7. Lintire says:

    Call me when there’s a mod that makes the combat anything other than a bunch of girly-slapfight floaty rubbish.

    • brucethemoose says:

      There are like a billion of those, from vanilla enhancements like ACE to total overhauls like SkyRe and Deadly Combat (is that what it’s called).

      I’m sure there are many I don’t know about… That obscurity is the problem, I suppose.