Essential Stellaris Mods18 Sep 2019 0
As if navigating through Crusader Kings II's 2,000 mods or Europa Universalis IV's 4,000 wasn't daunting enough, Stellaris boasts an entire galaxy of over 13,000 modifications. Properly charting a course to the brightest of these luminaries while avoiding wasting one's time on buggy or bland black holes is essential for anyone wanting to truly expand their Stellaris experience.
If you're looking for some advice on how to get the most out of Stellaris, check out our tips & tricks guide!
As we've done in previous mods recommendations, let's go through four categories of mods and see if we can make a constellation out of some of the most dazzling offerings out there today.
HOW TO MOD
For those new to modding, changing the base game has never been easier thanks to the Steam Workshop: simply subscribe to the mod you want and it will automatically be downloaded into the Stellaris launcher. Here are some tips for first timers to help facilitate the experience:
- Check if the mod is up to date with the most recent patch for Stellaris. Once a new expansion comes out you may have to wait a few days, weeks, or even months (for bigger mods), until the mod is updated. Thankfully, Stellaris will give you a warning if you're about to load a mod that isn't up to date. Also, each mod will tell you on the side menu if it requires certain DLC.
- Hey, still want to play that favourite mod of yours but Stellaris's latest update ruins your save game? You can always roll back your Stellaris version to continue your campaign. Check the mod pages on Steam or the Paradox forums on how to do this since it might be different for each mod and version of the game. If all else fails, ask in the comments threads for instructions!
- Check if the mods you've selected are compatible with the other mods you've downloaded. This information is usually found on each mod's page as they usually list which mods they are able to run with.
- Remember that most mods are Ironman incompatible as they necessarily change balance. If you're achievement hunting, you'll need to find those mods that will tell you on their descriptions that they're Ironman compatible.
- Finally, sometimes it takes a while for the Stellaris interface to properly load the mod's latest version. Check if you have auto-updates enabled for mods and then, if you're unsure, simply relaunch the Stellaris launcher to check if all of the mods are present and up to date.
For mods too large for Steam, you can usually find their pages on the Paradox Forums and find the instructions on how to install from there. You can also google search large mod Wikis in order to find instructions for installation.
As usual, most mod choices are subjective so take this guide more as a means of how to search for mods rather than strictly which mods to get. With that said, let's take a quick survey of four key sectors in the Stellaris Mod Galaxy.
TOTAL CONVERSION MODS
From upgrading and modifying every aspect of one's game to transporting the player to a whole new universe, Total Conversion Mods are a complete package deal with a focused vision. Massive and immersive, these are some of the most beloved types of mods in the Stellaris stable.
Twilight Imperium by spacht (Link)
If you're an old school, tabletop 4X space geek, you've played Twilight Imperium, with all of its fascinating and bizarre species, quirky rules, and the ability to claim the throne on Mecatol Rex and really cheese off the rest of the galaxy. Here you'll get 17 pre-scripted empires and a number of other changes which bring the game more in line with TI.
Star Trek: New Horizons by the Paradoxical Development Group (New Horizons Team) (Link)
Perhaps the most premier (and by far one of the most popular) mods today is this meticulous and immaculate total conversion of the Star Trek universe into Stellaris. This mod contains everything from graphics modifications to a deeply accurate Star Trek galaxy. An entire armada of true-to-canon ships is reproduced complete with modified components to match. Races, events, and even the User Interface will reflect this complete experience of immersing one's self into the franchise. Not only are the major races available, but even some of the most remote and obscure empires are ready for the player to take on a galaxy-wide conquest or peaceful cooperation in their own Federation. This is the gold standard in Total Conversions and it's encouraged to simply read over all of the features on their Paradox forum thread to see how total this mod is.
As a side note, if someone is wondering if there is a Star Wars equivalent to this amazing mod, the same team behind ST: NH has joined forces with those who had previously developed “Star Wars: Galaxy Divided” and a new Total Conversion Mod for Star Wars is underway but not yet released. Keep an eye out for “Star Wars: Fallen Republic” coming soon from those two teams.
AlphaMod 2.3 by AlphaAsh (Link)
Billing itself as an “Unofficial Expansion” to Stellaris, this mod seeks to enhance the in-game universe to a whole different level. New buildings, mechanics, ship types, components, resources, policies, government types etc. are presented for the player. This is the one stop shop if one wants to remain in the Stellaris universe but not at the base “vanilla” experience. The benefit of having a complete overhaul mod such as this is that all of the components are guaranteed to work together towards a common and balanced experience. While the latest version is still in the alpha stages (no pun intended), hours and hours of enjoyment can be had on previous patches for Stellaris. Waiting for more features to come online is worth it for a fuller game experience.
Warhammer 35M by kamip123 (Link)
Who can refuse the call of the God-Emperor to purge the Galaxy of filthy Xenos? The terrifying and brutal world of Warhammer 40K is brought to vivid life through this total conversion mod. Hope that your PC is ready to support a whopping 1,200 star systems as this deeply detailed total conversion leaves nothing untouched. Ship models, empire ethos, and End-Game crises are all tweaked to match the WH40K milieu. Not just an overlay onto the Stellaris engine, there are unique mechanics such as “Endless War” that make this experience not just a cosmetic one. Just make sure to read the instructions on the workshop page as there are some initial lag issues to be aware of.
Update: It's worth noting that the developer has officially ceased development of this version of the mod and is aiming to re-make it with a less 'directed' feel. Look out for the initial versions of this new mod in October 2019.
Perhaps a completely new game experience is too ambitious. Thankfully, there are other ways to bring the player closer to the Stellaris universe without oversaturation.
Dynamic Political Events by Caligula Caesar (Link)
Sometimes all someone wants is to be able to experience a life force behind the sheer mechanisms of the Stellaris engine. As such, this mod attempts to bring a level of personality to the game by presenting savoury political drama into the day to day life of running a Galactic Empire. With events tied to certain ethics, it also assures that the events are custom tailored to one's choices helping to immerse the player into the beating heart of their space civilization.
Gods and Guardians by AlphaAsh (Link)
From the mind that brought you “Alphamod” comes a quaint little mod that completely spruces up interactions with primitive worlds. From appearing as overbearing gods or faithful guardians, to even sending down mysterious monoliths to guide the flowering ethos of a new civilization (cue Strauss), this mod is a perfect little addition to help a player have a bit more fun with this sandbox of a strategy game. Will you institute a Prime Directive or enslave the lesser races? This mod allows you to decide complete with interesting events to guide your choices.
Changing the way things work in the game has never been easier with mods. Take advantage of some of these tweaks to streamline game mechanics for your enjoyment.
Improved Space Battles (Collection) by Ankain (Link)
A collection of different mods that improve balance in space battles as well as adds tons of new ships and superweapons. A really necessary collection for added definition in the battle mechanics of Stellaris. According to its description (and my experience with it), ISB aims to tweak technological rates and engagement logic so that more “strategic wars” are possible during the mid game while setting up the end game for massive fleet vs fleet action. In my own playthroughs of this mod, the end game crises truly become forces to reckon with.
Please note that the Living Systems is not updated to work with 2.3.3, but the rest of the immersion pack is working just fine. While the author has not given an ETA for the update of LS, there's no reason that you can't be enjoying this pack right now.
Auto Survey At Start Standalone by had (link)
Sometimes mods pick up the intuitive slack where the developers lack. This is certainly the case with this Auto-Survey mod which allows the player to let their little science vessel boldly go where no one has gone before without constantly having to micromanage its routes. Simple yet incredibly handy, the only downside to this mod is that this simple change makes the whole game Ironman incompatible. Still, this is a necessary tool for any veteran.
~Glavius's Ultimate AI by Glavius (Link)
Those of us who have played Paradox games for so long have perhaps taken it for granted that our computer opponents are simply sub-par. Thankfully, this AI-tweaking mod seeks to finally add some life and vigour to rival civilizations. Rather than simply giving the AI flat bonuses as per the difficulty settings, it also seeks out to solve some of the AI's crippling downward spirals such as economic mismanagement and passive early game expansion. It's important to note that these changes will help enhance Sectors which run on AI as well.
Stellaris cosmetic mods go far and beyond similar mods for other Paradox titles since so much depends on the visual style of this sci-fi blockbuster. Here are some of the best mods for this important genre of changes.
UI Overhaul 1080p Plus by Maple & Orion (Link)
Sometimes what you need is not integrating grandiose change to the mechanics but a simple improvement when it comes to the interface, and UI Overhaul 1080p Plus does exactly that. If you're running at a higher resolution, this will give you a better, clearer custom ship designer, larger outliner, and using it won't keep you from being able to get achievements.
Original Emblems: Black & White by TheRealLarkas (Link)
Sometimes you're just not in the mood for a goldtone symbol. What you need is stark black or brilliant white to communicate your raised fist (or whatever) to the cosmos. Is it a minor tweak? Absolutely. Does it shout your personal preferences to the heavens? Without a doubt.
Planetary Diversity by Gatekeeper et al (Link)
A prime example of cosmetic mods taking on a life of their own. This mod which seeds the galaxy with thirty new types of planets also brings about sweeping game mechanic changes that touches on other mod genres. This is one visual enhancement that also fundamentally changes how the game is played making this a genre busting tour de force of a mod.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes Ships MOD by LOBO (Link)
Changing ship models is a staple for Stellaris and what better way to experience the sheer joy of new ship types than to bust out Dvořák's 9th and experience the unforgettable vessels of the greatest Space Opera of all time: Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This mod is a demonstration that any fictional franchise can find its ship models faithfully reproduced on Stellaris.
Beautiful Universe 2.0 by Avelium, Antharis, and Exi (Link)
“They should have sent a poet.” Beautiful is too paltry of a word to describe the experience of this mod which adds actual images of space to enhance one's visual experience. Compatible with any other mod, this is a must have to enjoy and is better experienced visually than reading an insufficient description of the experience of this mod.
Astronomical Emblem Pack by Tal'kamar (Link)
From Mass Effect to Dune to Total Annihilation to Half-Life to Star Trek and Star Wars; fictional, historical, and original emblems are now available for your empire. Ironman and multiplayer compatible, this allows a player to add that extra edge of individuality or recognizability to their game.
Have a favourite Stellaris mod that we've missed? Let us know about it in the comments!