The Best Mods for Total War: Rome 209 Jul 2019 1
Ah, Total War: Rome II. Since launch it has struggled to forge its own path and find a way out of the shadow of its critically acclaimed namesake. Granted, following up on the seminal strategy game of the early 2000s is no easy task, and so it's understandable that Rome II does not totally succeed in accomplishing such a lofty goal. Lacking either the epic civil war of the original Rome, the climactic endgame of Shogun II, or the looming narrative weight of Attila, the Grand Campaign of Rome II has always been a little flat around the edges.
Luckily, the Total War mod scene is here to help. Boasting some of the most exciting player-created content of the series, the mods listed here help push Rome II from a good, but lackluster sequel to a genuinely great strategy title worthy of its revered lineage.
Overhaul mods do most of the heavy lifting in the Total War modding community. By taking the platform provided by the base game and drastically remodeling it to address the communities grievances, these mods provide an excellent way of squeezing dozens of more hours out of any Total War game. When pursued with vision and forethought, these can elevate the first draft of the vanilla game into something truly special.
Radious Total War Mod - Anniversary Edition by Radious and Team (Link)
We recently heaped acclaim on Team Radious for their Total War: Attila overhaul, and much of that same gleaming praise could just as easily apply to the team’s Rome II mod as well. If you had to install just one mod from this list for Rome II, this would be a very safe bet.
Like all of the Radious overhauls, it acts more like a suite of interlocking mods, all rolled into a single package, that flesh out in loving detail the campaign, battle system, economy, research, AI, and factions. This mod made it to the top of the Rome II Steam workshop subscription list for a reason. Be aware, however: if you’re installing on the Steam workshop this mod contains four parts, and you will need to install all of them for the mod to run properly.
Divide et Impera by Dresden and Team (Link)
As always, Team Radious will not go unchallenged. A close second on the list of most subscribed mods and a worthy rival for best overhaul mod, Divide et Impera adds a ton of new factions and features. The roster of playable factions is significantly increased to include way more tribes, Greek city-states, Mesopotamian and Caucasian factions, and Diadochi kingdoms.
The real allure of this mod, though, is a total campaign and battle overhaul aimed at making the strategic play more difficult and the tactical battles more realistic. This, alongside revamped units, textures, models, buildings, resources and more, make Divide et Impera a close contender for most valuable mod on the list.
Traits, Talents and Toadies: Character Overhaul by Hellbent, Dresden, and Team (Link)
As the name implies, this mod aims to improve the vanilla traits, talents, and character systems from the slightly bland original version into something a bit more robust and substantial. It adds new traits and a dynamic skill system for generals and provincial governors, as well as completely refurbished and more faction-specific Cursus Honorum rankings and Army Traditions.
Divide et Impera, listed above, uses a similar system for its character overhaul. So, if you want some improved character features, without having to sign on for the rest of the changes that that overhaul mod entails, this makes for a great standalone improvement that fixes a particular area of Rome II that has not aged that well and, even at release, felt a bit bland.
Quality of Life
While overhaul and total conversion mods seek to fundamentally redefine the player’s experience, these little UI, graphical, historical, and miscellaneous improvements, simply help to soothe the overlooked issues that just get under your skin or fix problems you didn’t even know were there. Plus, because most of these focus on a single particular issue, many are compatible with each other, as well as other, more comprehensive, mods.
Rome: Total War Music by Noif, .Mitch, Kinjo, Radious, spartan.warrior, wangrin, Grudge, and Mackles (Link)
The triumphant rising orchestras, the chants, the faux-ancient warlike drum beats, and the vaguely near-eastern twangs: this is the soundtrack of antiquity, or at least, what the brains of many in the cohort that grew up with the original Total War: Rome were trained to associate with the period through prolonged exposure to that original soundtrack. Even today, the score can resurface memories of lost afternoons adjusting formations and expanding borders. If you are the kind of person who enjoys that consistent evocation of nostalgia then this is a mod well worth installing.
It doesn’t always work perfectly, as sometimes the music cuts too abruptly and switches to a new song in a way that doesn’t feel natural, but if you still long for those glory days conquering in the name of the Republic then this is a good quick fix. And if this mod doesn’t sate that nostalgia craving, then you could try dipping into Familiae Romanae: Roman Houses by Turquoise-Falcon, which changes the starting set up to resemble that of the original Rome, with the Roman faction divided into three major houses and one city-state faction that eventually descend into civil war. The mod hasn’t been updated in a while and may not run smoothly, but in conjunction with the music mod, makes for a good, nostalgic lark.
AAA: Generals - Romans (Aging, Advancing, Acclimatising) by Benjin (Link)
Even someone usually indifferent to purely cosmetic mods can respect the subtle immersion offered by Steam user Benjin‘s AAA: Generals mod. With this installed, the appearance of Roman generals will change alongside their position on an axis of the three A’s (aging, advancing, acclimatizing). So, as a characters ages so will their character model; as they rank up, they will gain extra accoutrements and more varied personal armour; and, as the weather changes, they will switch from warm-weather to cold-weather garb. Seeing the physical circumstances of your campaign have a dynamic impact on a character’s appearance is a very subtle, yet effective way of visually displaying your progress. There is also a version of this mod for both Greek generals and the Roman’s of Rise of the Republic.
Campaign Camera For Patch 20 and Later by Phazer (Link)
The drawback distance for the vanilla camera is, quite honestly, insulting. Coming back into Rome II after playing some later Total War titles, it can feel especially egregious. The sort-of-over-god’s-shoulder view is fine, but it’s much, much too close to the ground, and makes it difficult to see even the most rudimentary of empires as anything resembling a collective whole. Don’t settle for such a restricted view: this mod will set the drawback distances as far as they can go without crashing and give you a view worthy of an emperor.
Rome II: Campaign HD Textures and Lighting by Celticus (Link)
At release, Rome II was quite graphically impressive, especially at the higher settings. Now, at a hefty six years old, however, it is beginning to show its age. Especially after playing some of Creative Assembly’s more recent entries, dipping back into Rome II can be a bit graphically jarring. Textures and models that were once perfectly adequate now leave a lot to be desired. A good quick fix for this problem is Rome II: Campaign HD Textures and Lighting. By importing some of the HD textures from the subsequently released Total War: Attila, reworking the campaign lighting and water textures, this mod adds a little bit of pampering that the base version needs.
Total Conversion and Alternate History
Using the skeleton of the base game as a starting point, these mods seek to redefine the vanilla version by placing it in a new place and a new time. These are not mere historical reskins, these are fundamental re-imaginings of what the game can be, which, when executed well, can drastically increase the lifespan of the base version. With such lofty ambitions, though, it's important to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Constantine: Rise of Christianity by Dresden and Team (Link)
The Tetrarchy is one of the most interesting yet overlooked periods in Roman history. Coming after the Emperor Diocletian dragged the Roman world kicking and screaming through the tail end of the Crisis years, the Tetrarchy was an attempt to reforge the Empire in a way that would bring lasting stability and end forever the ouroboros-like circle of rising and falling barracks emperors that had plagued the Roman world for a half-century before. Diocletian’s reorganization of the Empire into four zones with a more streamlined succession system failed pretty stunningly, but at least it gave posterity an interesting historical playground to cut through in this mod, which takes place after the death of Diocletian when the heirs of the first Tetrarchs, unsatisfied with ruling a mere quarter of the Roman world, descended into civil war and infighting.
Will you take up the role of Constantine, eliminate your competitors, and Christianize the empire, or will you take up the mantle of one of the other Tetrarchs to forge a new path based on the old ways. If not, you can always take command of the Sassanid Empire and seize the eastern Mediterranean or choose the Franks and flood over the Rhine amid the chaos of the Roman’s sibling squabbles. In addition to picking one of the most historically rich start dates, this will also serve as an excellent prequel campaign to a Total War: Attila playthrough.
Alexander The Great Campaign Hellenic Edition by Cyrus the Great (Link)
The world the burgeoning Roman Republic emerged into was fundamentally defined by the regional reordering which had occurred less than a century before when the king of Macedon, a plucky and ambitious youth known to history as Alexander the Great, flipped the world on its head and invaded and conquered that great bane of ancient Greece, the big-bad of Herodotus’ Histories, the Achaemenid Persian empire. At the time Rome II begins, from the Adriatic to the Indus, Hellenic warlords, the heirs of Alexander’s conquests, rule the world. It’s hard to overstate how profoundly this geopolitical shift changed the region, and how far downwards its echoes reverberate.
This total conversion campaign lets you relive this struggle by allowing you to take the reins of Alexander's forces and see if you can recreate his stunning lightening conquest of Achaemenid Persia. As a plus, this campaign is pretty consistently updated and is, at the time of this writing, still being actively tended to, something that can't always be said about a game several years out from release and long since eclipsed by sequels. There is also a separate sibling mod for a Persian Campaign so you can attempt to prevent the rise of Alexander and maintain the legacy of Cyrus the Great, as well as a Prequel mod that covers the events before the mod proper begins. This is a great mod and labor of love that deserves some attention.
Which are your favourite Rome 2 Mods? Let us know in the comments!