Skyrim is, without question, one of the most successful role-playing games of all time.
It is also likely the most successful any Elder Scrolls game will ever get. This success can be partially attributed to the curb appeal it radiates, attained through a casualization or straight-up omission of many of the franchise's more old-school RPG roots.
Ironically, this same ingredient of its success has also often drawn criticism as a pandering maneuver for the masses at the cost of its older identity.
Whether this pivot in design philosophy overall works better for the title is still up for debate. In practice, however, some of its freedom of character-progression routes through the skill system removes the rigid identity that a more defined class system brings.
Fortunately, there are mods to bring back this class system in a way that tailors it to a player's preferred Elder Scrolls experience.
Five mods that allow Dragonborn to select classes in Skyrim
1) Starting in Classes
One of the newest additions to this vein of mods, Starting in Classes deals with Skyrim classes in a lightweight, plug-and-play manner. Instead of modifying the values in vanilla races, it can only be toggled on immersively by reading the 'scroll of destiny' in the user inventory to ensure compatibility.
Starting in Classes adds twofold attributes to classes. The first are skill and stat adjustments, such as +45 health and +10 to smithing as the brave warrior class, at the cost of -45 magicka.
The other addition is more specific ability modifiers relative to the class. The thief classes, for example, get 'ambush,' which adds 30% extra damage for all sneak attacks but also takes away 20% damage from all two-handed melee weapons.
2) Set of Skills
Set of Skills borrows many of its design ideas from Final Fantasy Tactics and its novelty Jobs system but makes some necessary adjustments to make such a system play well with the balance of Skyrim.
The mod adds a whooping 51 classes that gamers can choose from and evolve through with the game's organic progression curve. Unlike other class mods, however, it also adds six 'prestige classes' to sweeten the deal. These are hybrid classes that can only be specced into by completing certain quests.
To have the 'archmage' class, for example, players need to be either a battlemage, mystic, or occultist who has completed 'The Eye of Magnus.'
3) PATH - Choose your Destiny
For users who prefer the essence of class systems as found in its tabletop RPG roots, PATH is a natural blend between the classic classes of Oblivion and their Dungeons and Dragons parallels.
All their skills now start at 0 without modifiers, and certain races gain certain proficiencies on top of that. The classes then add further to these racial leanings.
More importantly, PATH is one of the few mods to directly add the DnD morality chart to Skyrim. These alignments will also affect which skills the characters have a better tendency towards.
4) CORI - Class Overhaul Re-Imagined
CORI is part of mod author DrPhamDawg's SkyREM series, but its modularity ensures that it can also be a standalone addition to suit any mod list. It implements classes through tiered specialization, like the aforementioned Set of Skills mod.
CORI is perhaps the class system that fits Skyrim's character-building system the most.
Its implementation, however, is a much more streamlined experience that focuses on becoming a class rather than just being a class. Gamers start with archetypes that they get to advance into stat boosts when they level up.
Eventually, depending on their play style, they can spec into a class and further progress to a Specialization branch in that class.
5) Apoapse's Balanced Daggerfall Traits
Like the classic Fallout games, earlier iterations of Elder Scrolls had a good deal of tools to add personality and nuance to a character build, the most prominent being character traits. Unlike classes, traits are add-on modifiers that add buffs or debuffs to a character.
Apoapse's Balanced Daggerfall Traits is an improvement over SpecsWeedle's original mod that brings the Daggerfall trait system to Skyrim. This removes some of the more exploitable traits infamous in Daggerfall but adds over a dozen positive and negative traits to their Dragonborn.
The traits use a points system as a balancing factor, meaning positive traits must be balanced out with a negative aspect of an equivalent level.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the author's opinion.