When it comes to changing a video game’s language from the default localization to your mother tongue (or vice versa), all you need to do in most cases is opening the settings and simply pick the option you want without even reloading. However, there are some titles like Skyrim that unfortunately do not have such feature implemented into the menu and you have to force the language change directly on Steam. This does not represent a real problem if your game is simple and does not require any other specific action on different files, but Skyrim has a very complex structure and you need to be extra careful with everything you do with it, from the modding to the actual language change as stated.
What may the consequences be if you change it via Steam settings?
The most common issue seems to be related to a total game crash, or the voice audio going completely missing and preventing you from even starting new quests because of that. The first time I tried changing the language from Italian to English (not only I enjoy the original voice acting, some of the installed mods are coded in English and I found myself with two different languages playing in the game) I literally freaked out trying to figure out what I did wrong, seeing my perfectly modded game failing on me. The only thing that seemed to work was a fresh new save from the normal Steam loader, but we definitely don’t want that when we have a lot of progress going, right?
That said, how are we supposed to change the language so that our modded Skyrim will not freak out?
First things first, just right-click on the game in your Steam library and select Properties. Go the Language tab and pick your preference from the drop-down menu, then close to confirm.
The second step you need to follow is about a text edit of the Skyrim.ini file from Mod Organizer (Tools > Editor INI). Simply type the new language you want (example, ENGLISH) replacing the default one.
Now, I’m not sure this step is even required for Oldrim, but it totally is for the Special Edition. Before closing the ini document move to the Archive section and locate the .bsa file for the voices. It should be right next to “sResourceArchiveList2=Skyrim” and named for example Voices_it0.bsa. In this case I want to replace the “it” text with “en”, since the game is originally in Italian and I need the English audio. Save the ini as it is and then close.
Before jumping into the game to see your final changes in action though, you also need to modify the Skyrim.ini file that comes with the game and stores itself in My Documents > My Games > Skyrim Special Edition. If you double-click on that file you will notice the language hasn’t changed at all, despite the settings you modified on Steam. Replace the text language again and edit the .bsa just in case.
Once you’re done editing both INIs, your Skyrim installation should work fine and load without any issues nor the need to painfully reinstall everything.
“Will the language change if I simply set Steam to run in English/other?”
No, it won’t work that way. Even if you change the Steam language, new installations will have the updated localization while all your other games are going to keep the default one.
“I did all this, but now all of a sudden the game gets stuck into an infinite loading right on startup, before the main menu even shows up.”
This can happen depending on which mods you are using and their load order. The language change obviously affects the entire Skyrim game, so this kind of troubles is to be expected. If everything worked fine prior to the change and we’re not talking about a random fluke, check your mod order in Mod Organizer and be sure all the installed scripts are updated, along with SKESE64.
A mod that seems to create issues in many cases as reported on Steam Community is RS Children. Should you have it and still want to use it, be sure it is pushed under Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch and that also Alternate Start (if in use) is set on a high spot under said patcher.
Please feel free to report any other problem related to the change in a comment below if you experienced something different!