NMM vs. MO: Considered opinion, or dedicated follower of fashion?

Over the past 18 months my Skyrim install has been quite heavily tailored to telling Ashlynn's story, and with her adventure's end, it's time to think about which new adventure we'd embark upon next!

Inevitably this includes deciding what style of gameplay and character might be coming next, but it also requires thinking quite deeply about the mods and the tools used to support them. This is actually something I've been thinking over for a couple of months, and my main concern has been the tool underlying everything - Nexus Mod Manager (NMM).

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Previously I'd taken each new version of NMM to keep the program stable and the features up to date, but that all stopped a few months ago. Those of you familiar with modding games like Skyrim will be aware that a while back, NMM underwent quite a revolution, one designed to bring it in line with something else new in the last 18 months - Mod Organizer (MO), NMM's nearest competition.

At the time I simply stopped updating in order to avoid a number of reported early teething problems with switching from the old "mods installed to the Data folder" to the "virtually installed mods" version of NMM. A broken install was not something I wanted to chance when I still had more story to tell, and you guys wanting me to tell it!

In the meantime, support for modding Fallout 4 and Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have both come out with modding support, so the pressure to update to a mod manager that supports them has been mounting. With Ashlynn's story done, and the need to re-mod Skyrim already present, the time was right to update, but which way to leap? NMM or MO?

MO had profiling available far earlier than NMM, which gave many a reason to switch to it. Its also the favorite of many who see something pleasing in having their Skyrim install folder unsullied by mods (while still having mods installed)... something I've never really understood - I can only assume that having mods installed is confusing for some possibly?

Either way, these things that were once advantages still make MO the fashionable favorite in the modding community, generating a rather fanatical set of users who insist that everyone should by using their favorite tool with an almost religious ferocity, though when pressed few can identify why it's better when compared to the new NMM.

Now... Me being Me, I don't follow fashions blindly and prefer to make qualified decisions with all the info, so it was time to get my hands dirty and take a deep look at the advantages and disadvantages of both, then pick one to go with. I can only pick a single tool to modify my games as Nexusmods.com only allows for one handler for automatic mod downloads (clicking the Download button and your mod manager opens to download the file) - time to look at each mod manager's unique features!

Features common to both

  • Support for Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Oblivion, and Skyrim
  • Profiles (ability to switch between different mod configurations seamlessly)
  • Load order management
  • Nexus integration for easy downloading and updating of mods
  • Compatibility with BAIN and FOMOD installers
  • Archive invalidation
  • Customizable mod categories
  • Extensive help and tutorial system
  • Automated updating of the mod manager

Mod Organizer UNIQUE FEATURES

  • Data folder is kept clean
  • File conflict resolution is as simple as dragging and dropping
  • GUI support for manual installation
  • BSA unpacking via the BSA Extractor plugin
  • Savegame viewer with ability to recognize what mods were used with each saved game

Nexus Mod Manager Unique Features

  • Does not need to be run before playing (or during)
  • Guaranteed future compatibility with Nexusmods.com (same developer)
  • Guaranteed future support/development
  • Support for Fallout 4, The Witcher 2, The Witcher 3, Morrowind, Dragon Age, Dragon Age 2, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, World of Tanks, Starbound, X:Rebirth, War Thunder, State of Decay, Legend of Grimrock, The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Compatible with all modding tools built for non-profiled modding, due to the unique virtual file redirects ("messy" Data folder)
  • Planned modlist publication to the Nexus (not yet available, but a promised feature)

 

Conclusions

For me the contest seems very one sided. While MO offers a smattering of unique features, they're fairly unimportant in scope:

  • There are other (more comprehesively featured) tools available for BSA extraction and managing savegames
  • The Data folder may be clean in MO, but its the "messy" virtual presentation of files and folders into the Data folder that allows NMM's profiling to support all modding tools designed for a non-profiled mod manager. As a mod author this is essential - I don't want to have to wait (or have my options of tools limited) by having to wait for special versions designed for a 3rd-party mod manager.
  • The ability to "hide" certain files inside a mod from within MO as a way of resolving conflicts is certainly a nice detail, as is the fact that NMM doesn't need to be run before or during the game play, but neither of these are game changers.
  • ...and when you add to the mix support for Witcher 3 and Fallout 4, the potential to "curate" load orders on the Nexus at a later date, or even the cast iron knowledge that development will continue because it comes from the NexusMods team... MO just doesn't compare!

So there you have it... I will be going with Nexus Mod Manager for the foreseeable future, and I hope the comparison here is of use to you - if only so you can justify your own decision to stick with NMM!

Throw your comments, feedback or religious zealotry into the comments, and thanks for reading!

Plague