Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox Game Pass for PC is moddable, but with limitations

Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox Game Pass for PC is moddable, but with limitations

Skyrim Special Edition on Xbox Game Pass for PC is moddable

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim owes much of its fortune to its mod support, which over the past ten years has attracted crowds of modders who have enriched and sometimes improved the original experience with a huge amount of content.

For some, modding Skyrim has become even more fun than playing Skyrim, so it is easy to understand the interest in the Special Edition that has just landed in the Xbox Game Pass catalog for PC along with many other games from Bethesda, first move implemented by Microsoft after the acquisition of the Maryland company.

Basically, PC games purchased from the Microsoft Store, including those downloaded from Xbox Game Pass, are installed in a read-only folder that prevents them from being modification. For some titles (including FTL and State of Decay 2), however, the possibility is offered to do differently, and this also applies to Skyrim Special Edition. Unfortunately, not all is roses and flowers: even if it can be installed in another folder and therefore moddated, the Microsoft Store version has a different executable from the Steam edition, which is incompatible with the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE). "Windows Store applications are blocked much like console games and do not allow the script extender APIs to work." In other words, "SKSE cannot support any Windows Store version of Skyrim," reads the SKSE official website.

What does this mean? Without the SKSE tool, many of the most popular mods cannot be installed. This is the case, for example, of SkyUI and Legacy of Dragonborn. On the other hand, PC Gamer reports that all those listed on are compatible, just like Alternate Start - Live Another Life, A Quality World Map, Inigo and The Forgotten City. Better than nothing!

The version of Skyrim on Game Pass is moddable—with limits

Skyrim Special Edition mod - Inigo follower

(Image credit: Bethesda, modded by Smartbluecat)

By default games acquired through the Windows Store, including those on Game Pass for PC, install to unchangeable read-only directories, making them impossible to mod. However, some games have a toggle to alter this, meaning the Game Pass versions of FTL, State of Decay 2, and a handful of others actually can be modded. And so can Skyrim Special Edition, one of 13 Bethesda games recently added to Game Pass, and a game that's improved significantly by mods.

However, it's not all good news. The Game Pass edition of Skyrim Special Edition has a different executable to the Steam release, and is incompatible with the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE). Without SKSE, many of the most popular and ambitious mods won't work. According to the SKSE webpage, it may stay that way. 'SKSE cannot support any potential Windows Store release of Skyrim', it says. 'Windows Store applications are locked down similarly to consoles and do not allow the APIs necessary for script extenders to work.'

So no SkyUI or Legacy of the Dragonborn then. There are still great mods out there that don't require SKSE, however, like those collected at If you've got Skyrim through Game Pass, you'll still be able to use Alternate Start—Live Another Life, A Quality World Map, Inigo, and The Forgotten City. Here's our list of the best Skyrim Special Edition mods to help you find more, or see what you're missing.