Be careful of the wording here: it isn’t “CAN you play” or “IS IT POSSIBLE to play,” because it is, indeed, possible to play Skyrim without mods. Of course you can play Skyrim without mods. Skyrim came out before its mod, so everyone got the chance to play the game without it. No, the question is, should you play it without mods?
The Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch
If you want to play through a game with hundreds of bugs and issues, then play Skyrim without mods. Skyrim was such an ambitious game, that there’s no way you can develop it perfectly without any issues. The Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch fixes hundreds of placement issues, bugs, and general issues with the game.
Disable Mods If You Want Achievements
If you want a playthrough where you work on achievements, then you shouldn’t play with any mods. We suggest playing through the game at least once without mods so you can get the original experience before you start populating the game with giant weapons and anime schoolgirls.
Mods Improve Performance
There seems to be an anti-mod or mod-only community of Skyrim. The answer is: yes, you can play without mods, but Skyrim runs on an older engine and there’s bound to be some performance issues. Some mods improve water flow and even frame rate.
If you are going to play with one mod, let it be the one that lets you skip the beginning. No one wants to sit through twenty minutes of a carriage ride followed by a dragon saving you from execution for the 1,000th time.