Skyrim Special Edition

About this mod

Realistic Lighting Overhaul is here! Ready for Skyrim Special Edition! This is a massive overhaul of Skyrim's lighting. Exteriors also vastly overhauled! No Post Processing - No FPS loss! New features added for SSE - Dwemer Lighting Technology. Check out Understone Keep for an introduction to this feature!

Permissions and credits
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Skyrim Nexus Mod of the Month for February 2013! Thank you!

RLO has been translated into the following languages, click your corresponding flag!

Remember to Endorse or alternatively DONATE if you like this mod. It will help keep us motivated.

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Trying so so hard...streaming games and also making channel art for people. If you need a channel rebrand or thumbnails, please DM me.

I have returned to streaming after 5 years to try and at least pay for my dinner each night. I want to thank everyone who has supported me during this really difficult time. Streaming has been helping me as it keeps me busy and helps me meet new people and pass time and have a laugh, temporarily forgetting my problems.

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Please like and subscribe! Streaming and selling my services (thumbnails/graphics/branding/logos) is now my full-time job.

This mod is dedicated to my brother Ross. You left us suddenly. You will be missed. RIP.

On a final note, this mod will be forever in the honor of those who have battled illness, depression and even death. Those who persevere and for those we have lost and remember in our hearts.

Thank you for all your donations over the years, they have helped us tremendously and saved a life!

Please feel free to go to my Patreon if you would like to support my work. I am under a lot of financial duress at the moment and every little bit helps.

Thank you.

My Patreon! Help support my family!

Directly donate any amount as a once off here! Help support my family!


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Realistic Lighting Overhaul (RLO) is the fourth iteration of the popular lighting mod, Realistic Lighting without Post-Processing. It is a complete overhaul of the games lighting system and is one of the most comprehensive lighting mods available for Skyrim. The changes number in the thousands and cover many bases. The aim of this mod is to make the lighting as realistic as possible within the confines of the game engine. It makes the lighting more realistic without the use of screen shader injections or other post-processing. This means the changes made to this mod only utilize the game engine and changes are only made via the Creation Kit. So this means there will be no performance decrease at all, in fact, some people might even get an FPS boost from using this mod due to the removal of bloom which takes up considerable processing power from older machines. We are also optimizing RLO so that it may even run FASTER than vanilla Skyrim in some instances.

This mod does not aim to make the game fantasy like, or add lights for the purpose of it looking beautiful on screenshots. This is a hardcore realism mod, that should be used by people who want their game to have an increased immersion level. Sunlight will be realistic and not blue and places which are poorly lit WILL be dark. If a cabin only has a few candles, yes it will be dark, don't blame us, blame Bethesda (haha) because we are trying to keep this lore friendly - and realistic as we can, even with huge engine limitations.

This mod adds a vast amount of sun lighting to cells , more shadow casting lights and bounced lighting (Over 600 new shadow casting lights as of v4.1). The lighting in RLO is very subtle and very balanced and many of its features can be missed if people are looking for a more "in your face" fantasy approach. This is why we only really tell you about a few main features and the rest is up to you to experience.

If you want fantasy lighting with over the top (for cinematic purposes) boom and effects, edited meshes etc - I would recommend looking for other mods, such as Climates of Tamriel or Enhanced Lights and Effects, which are mods we also adore and use!

 5.0 will introduce meshes and textures for smoke effects. All of these will be optional.

Realistic Lighting Overhaul does just that - it overhauls Skyrims lighting, and it aims to do it well. RLO comes with dozens of mods, all rolled into one, all custom made for this mod and all integrated for the best possible experience with the less amount of fuss. Yes our team has made each module or mod and intergrated it right into RLO - so you don't need fog removal mods, striping fix mods, weather mods etc - however our mod is modular so you can pick and choose between other mods! (wow I said mod a lot!)

This mod attempts to completely overhaul the lighting system but do everything within the limitations of the game engine, while not trying to go overboard and create annoyances for the user. Our main goal is compatibility, stability and providing an FPS friendly alternative to post processing, while also being ENB friendly. We want to keep performance at the maximum we can keep it, for mid to low end rigs, yet make it balanced enough to look great even on high end rigs. This means you can use an ENB with RLO and not be bogged down by two peformance sucking aspects of the graphics engine.

The aim of this mod is to basically feel as though the Skyrim was ALWAYS released in this manner, and deliver lore friendly lighting which seamlessly integrates with the game, while fixing bugs for the end user - not creating them.

When completed RLO will have over 10,000 edits, including lights, lighting templates, fog settings, light placements, weather templates, bug fixes, imagespaces, saturation levels, eye adaptation, and a whole host more. Our biggest aim is to give this mod balanced lighting, with a strong focus on realism without fake "ambient" lighting.

Please find below a list of some of our mod features.

Every cell in the game is covered by our imagespaces and lighting templates, including all DLC.

We have also gone through and hand crafted nearly 200 cells by hand (a very long and tedious task), replacing Bethesda's lighting.

Major Cities - Interiors : A Huge overhaul to revamp to 156 city cells - all City interiors are completed!

Major Cities - Exteriors : A huge overhaul that revamps ALL city exterior lighting. Some examples are New lamp posts, torches on doors, new graveyard lighting, lit statues, glowing eyes added to eagle statue in Whiterun, Window lighting bounce to trees and surrounding structures! Check our screenshots! This is NOT a weather module. Compatible with ALL weather mods)

Dungeon module, which makes dungeons darker and removes a lot of the fake ambient lighting.

Dwemer Lighting Technology - new npcs, contraptions, books, and interactive lighting devices.

Sure RLO is probably not the prettiest mod on the Nexus, but it sure is one of the most optimized mods you will use!
It has always been the poor mans lighting mod, but thanks to 64 bit Skyrim, pretty much anyone can use this mod.

Improved visuals with no cost - sounds good to me!

Realistic Lighting Overhaul is a highly tuned lighting mod that uses no scripts, no post processing (such as ENB's) and is highly optimized to run on older systems. In fact we run countless tests using fps counters, cpu and gpu usage/temperature tools. We optimize RLO cell by cell as we work on them to ensure that all users can experience our mod, even if that means spending a lot of time modding ensuring we get things right.

We manage to do this and still deliver one of the most realistic and beautiful lighting experiences on the Skryim Nexus. We do not fall back to using post processing or shader injectors to cut corners and deliver a game full of stuttering and lag. We manage to do all of this work within the confines of the engine and mesh limitations. We do our best to avoid flickering and try to keep game play even smoother than the vanilla game, as such intended by Bethesda. This is what makes RLO so technically staggering and time consuming to perfect. We pour countless hours into testing and optimizations and our documentation proves it.

Official RLO detailed log of how we go about optimizing the mod can be found HERE. As you can see A LOT of work was put into testing this mod and ensuring it did not affect performance.

This is an ambitious and time consuming feature that changes the emittance settings of all lights, windows and god rays of every interior/dungeon in the game. This allows for interiors to all have the region day/night cycle and weather effects, including thunder and lightning(where weather mods permit). We have gone a step further and introduced realistic lights where ambient lighting matches the exterior lighting and where the interior lighting drape interiors with REALISTIC and bright sunlight. One moment there will be realistic coloured sunlight inside the entire cell, and the next minute the sun will be down and only candles light the interiors.

Quite simply, spells now cast light when equipped. It adds an added element of immersion and excitement to the game. Magic casters may actually find you when they equip their spells, or having a spell equipped could give your location away. If you are lost and don't have a torch or a light spell, then equip any magic spell for a glimmer of hope. Do not expect the light to be very bright however!

Illuminated spells will once again be an optional file when 5.0 is released.

There are a few mods out there that try to fix the very intrusive eye adaptation in vanilla Skyrim. These mods tend to speed up the eye adaptation so fast that you literally never see its effects. However this is not realistic at all. In real life it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour for a human to adapt to drastic lighting conditions and in some instances even hours.

So instead of speeding this process up, we actually made it so the process is so slow (slowest setting in the Creation Kit) and gradual that you may not notice it in game at all, because the gradual change is something you become accustomed to over the time period. This means that when you first walk into an interior from an exterior, your eyes may need to adjust to the darker interiors. Things may seem over contrasted and dim at first but after a few minutes of gaming, your character will naturally adjust to the new lighting without you even noticing. It is literally amazing that you are now better at seeing in the dark, yet it happened on what now seems a subconscious level - like real life.

RLO is not just a "lighting mod". Some say it's "not very complex" - but it is one of the few if not only lighting mod that is also an Unofficial lighting patch. With help from Arthmoor we have ensured that there are no issues with RLO and that many lighting issues are resolved using our mod.

RLO will fix all sorts of issues with dimming lights, mesh connection problems, shadow striping, lighting template fog issues, flickering and a whole host more. Every single esp in RLO is basically an Unofficial Lighting Patch. This means you will no longer need shadow striping fixes, removed interior fog mods, mods that fix lighting placements, missing lights and so forth. RLO basically has it all.

More stability, less bugs, more immersion, less hassles and less esp's to worry about.

RLO will also carry over many of the USKP fixes to ensure that RLO does not override any unofficial patches by Arthmoor. Thanks goes to Arthmoor and others for this head's up.

As explained in the Unofficial Lighting Patch section, all the striping in the game has been fixed and we have also nearly tripled the amount of shadow casting lights in the game and set the shadow bias so this issue does not happen. If you do find any, please do report it - it is something very easy to miss, considering there are over 10,000 edited lights or light settings in the mod (and over 600 of them are shadow casters!).

The Fake fog which is in the game can be a very bad eyesore and also frustrating for people using Ambient Occlusion. It also adds a fake layer of grey to most interiors that takes away the natural beauty of the lighting and even hinder hunter type classes. We have now removed this from every interior in the game and will be present in every single esp we release.

This also works wonders with our True Colour feature - where we remove Bloom, Tints and other cinematics. Allows you to see much deeper into a cell and also add deeper shadows with a greater variety of colour. Texture details become more pronounced.

Realistic Lighting Overhaul is basically compatible with nearly every mod out there because it is so modular in nature. You can virtually pick whatever module you want and use it with other mods as long as they are modular in nature also. This means this mod is compatible with the great CLimates of Tamriel weather mod, Frostfall, Minty's Lightning mod, all ENB's and much much more. You are not forced into using anything if you do not want to.

The mod is even compatible with Dynavision, Imaginator and other weather mods - if you decide you do not want to use our weathers. In fact, our interiors will adapt to other weather mods if you should have the need to install our interiors with another weather mod. You will instantly see changes in brightness, saturation levels hue, all according to the weather mod installed!

So try out as many lighting and weather mods you like, ensure you install them correctly discarding any esp that you don't want from RLO.

We are happy as long as you enjoy your game, so if you don't want to use all our modules, that is totally fine.

Want to find out more about other lighting mods and/or compatibility?

Go to the below link!

As stated before, RLO is not an "In your face mod", we don't try to be dramatic or give you a super over the top fantasy feel. We try to make our lighting seem natural and as if it had come with the game all along. We don't edit meshes or change the way cells look, it is just not we aim for. We are purely an artistic lighting mod - and our focus is to make the lighting believable and lore friendly.

In all honesty, the mods charm comes in the subtlety of it all.

Lighting will be balanced across all cells, so no cell will be lit differently purely to make a dramatic effect. If you are looking for a mod that will change how a cell looks dramatically, I would suggest other great lighting mods out there.

RLO is very lore friendly and actually aims to improve the lore by adding a lot more immersion to the game, feeding off lore from previous games while using only the assets available in Skyrim.

RLO also has some tiny easter eggs hidden through it's esp's and usually all lore based - and sometimes clues as to why you found a torch in the middle of no where. It is up to the player to enjoy the experience and wonder "Was this in Vanilla or did a mod add this?"...!

In some instances you may find some added statues, graveyard offerings or notes scattered around the exterior of cities. This was made to aid in the immersion of added lights in exteriors. As an example, we added more tombstones and offerings in Whiterun. This is so we could add some candles near the offerings and have a reason for the lights to be added to a dark part of the city or to a bland area of the city.

5.0 introduces a new feature called Dwemer Lighting Technology or DLT. This adds numerous contraptions, working steam vents, new npcs, new lore books, levers, valves and more. Please check Markarth's Understone Keep for an introduction to this feature!

Check your load order! It is VERY important!

Troubleshooting Steps :

  • If the game crashes on load, please make sure you have the update.esm in your game folder and checked when you start the game. If you do not, please PM me with where you got your game and we'll go from there.
  • Read the Readme that came with the mod download.
  • Please read THIS. It will explain what cells have been edited thus far.
  • Please read the FAQ.
  • Load order is important. This mod should be loaded after all player homes, lighting mods but on select cases, weather mods loaded afterward.
  • Monitor Calibration Guide Please read it! It will help have the mod look it's best! This is a very important step before using any lighting mod and also helps determine the quality of your monitor.
  • Do not use any Climates of Tamriel interior modules with this mod. None at all.
  • If you install RLO and begin to get crashes while in exteriors, this is likely because your save is already "dirty" by previously uninstalled mods.
While donations are great, we are just happy that you enjoy the mod.

Thank you to all the people who helped me survive numerous surgeries via their donations back in 2013. You helped save a life.

I am also a single dad of 3 children and am scraping by on a disability pension, your donations usually go straight to my kids and for that I thank you all.

I would love to thank everyone who donated here, but there are over 250 of you and I tried my best to reply to all your Paypal emails with a
personal note of gratitude.

A donation pop-up has been added to the file when you download or endorse. This is a Nexus file feature added by DarkOne and his team.

Many thanks goes to the Nexus who help modders out for all the hard work they do. So thank you.

If anyone want's to add me to STEAM or Facebook and get to know me better - feel free to PM me. I am happy to meet fans of the mod!

On a final note, Tony (Sydney666) evenly distributes all donations made via the donations TAB to all active team members.


Tony (Sydney666)