Having written multiple times about how I love the fact that Stellaris openly supports modding, I feel that it is time that we go in-depth about the mods themselves. As I have mentioned, Paradox Interactive made it so that Stellaris is flexible enough to be modified by end users. You can get these “user-created/modified content” from many sources.
Today we will focus on mods you can get from Steam’s Workshop – which boasts a library of over 24000 mods at the time of printing. Let’s look at the most interesting from all those mods and see why they are worth looking at.
First on our list is a mod that aims to improve the game’s AI. Said to “improve AI economy, technological choices, ship design, and everything,” StarTech (and the more war-focused cousin-AI StarNet), improves the choices that the AI makes, improving the solo experience.
It does not seem flashy but is highly recommended as it improves the long-term feel of playing on your own (or with friends against AI). At the very least, for me, it lessens that jarring feel of playing against non-human factions by just a slight bit.
Expanded Espionage and Diplomacy
Feel like there should be expanded ways of handling escalating situations without having to wage war for the n-th time? Then, this mod should be right up your alley. It not only adds various features and events centered around diplomacy and espionage; it even provides the opportunity for you to create a “Galactic Republic” if you want to.
This is perfect if you’re roleplaying a benevolent empire and feel that the non-war options for domination and conquest in the “vanilla” game are constricted too. I find it almost indispensable to give you more variety in how you approach building your empire.
This mod is a bit of a QOL fix to something that should be allowed in the base game in the first place: Capturing Ships. Having long been a mainstay mechanic in most space-bound RTS and strategy games, being allowed to capture adversary ships provides you with a different path to battle than just destroying everything you fight against.
Besides, having a clear ragtag fleet of ships of different types does jive with my idea of a welcoming benevolent space empire made of beings converted to my cause, so this mod goes straight into my “keep” pile.
This mod does something simple, but it does so very well. It helps auto-rename the Star System and Starbase to the same name, which helps keep things organized. Considering the base game logic auto-names the Starbase for each Star System differently, this is an excellent time-saver and goes into my “must have” mod list.
Coloured Ship Type Icons
While this is another mod that sounds a bit unflashy, a few minutes with it equipped should be enough for you to understand the sheer need for it while managing a vast galaxy with a gazillion fleets under your control.
This gives your Ship Type Icons the ability to have a distinct color, simplifying everything on the overview star map as you can see from a glance which fleets are located where. I can’t tell you just how often this has saved me from needing to zoom into individual systems to find where my [insert-number-here] fleet was.
UI Overhaul 1080p Plus
Another unflashy-sounding mod, this one brings a considerable improvement to the UI if you regularly run the game at 1080p resolution and above. What the mod does is that it scales the UI correctly for 1080p resolution. It also expands most windows to minimize the amount of scrolling needed while showing as much information as possible.
While this sounds dull, in practice, it does make a world of difference to how information is presented in the game, so it still falls under one of the “must-have” mods for me.
Having expanded your planet types would mean very little if you’re still trapped with the basic set of rooms that Paradox has provided for the characters who talk to you in this game. With that in mind, this mod aims to expand that by a whopping 300. At least now, whenever someone speaks to you in-game, there will be more variety in the background.
It’s not a mod that changes much gameplay-wise, but it does make everything easier for your eyes when you’re playing a long-haul game and have been staring at the screen in-game for hours. I, for one, welcome this slight change in my games.
Endless Frontier: An Event Mod
Stellaris is a game that gets a considerable chunk of its personality from the many events that randomly pepper every one of your playthroughs. With that in mind, a mod that builds upon this with “dozens of new anomalies, events, archaeological sites, and more to the galaxy” can only be good for replayability.
I find that this one adds to the flavor of Stellaris without altering too much of the basic formula. The events added range widely, from mostly fluff events that only add to the game’s lore to huge events that can make or break your empire. All in all, it’s a worthy addition to your library of mods.
Real Space – Solar Storm
This is another Event “enhancement” mod, which adds new events to the game (there can never be too many random events). But the events that this mod adds specifically deal with space itself as the source of the events. This presents a very interesting perspective in which space itself is dynamic and changing around you, which adds to the intrigue and unpredictability of every game you play.
For me, this mod helps build immersion and is a welcome addition to the “vanilla” game.
Billing itself as a “Crisis Enhancement” mod, Shroud Rising adds a unique new event to the “vanilla” game. You will encounter a new and terrifying menace that will present you with a challenging and dynamic mid and end-game Crisis
In itself, it feels like a well-crafted mini-DLC and is a good addition to “vanilla” Stellaris, adding a good chunk of a challenge to the base game. And the Lovecraftian angle of the “menace” is also interesting to boot, and this was an easy add to my list of mods to try out.
Similar to the above, this mod enhances the personality of the “vanilla” game by adding new types of planets for you to find, explore and colonize. Specifically, it adds 54 new types of habitable planets, with 19 rare ones included in that number.
For a game whose meat and potatoes are the planets, you colonize, having more variety in the planets you find can’t be wrong.
The Great Khan Expanded
This mod is specifically for users with the “Apocalypse” DLC for Stellaris. It works by expanding on the Marauder faction added in the DLC and making the “Great Khan” mechanic more expansive and dynamic.
But if you do have the DLC, I see no real reason not to get this mod as it makes the Marauders even more meaningful and valuable as an NPC faction rather than just a side addition from the Apocalypse DLC.
Amazing Space Battles
If you particularly like the space battles in Stellaris, this mod takes the graphical fidelity of those battles up to 11. Battles feel more epic and look the part, with every weapon effect and explosion enhanced and improved. The fleets are now more spaced apart to fully use all the additional effects, making for very cinematic space battles.
However, remember that you need a decently powerful PC to run this mod, as it does tweak the battles to be more resource intensive. This mod is a must-have for me, as it improves the space battle experience enough that the performance hit is a small price to pay.
Strike Craft Extended
This is a mod that aims to overhaul the more minor strike craft system in your fleets so that they would be more effective and make space battles even more dynamic. The mod adds Fighters, Interceptors, Railpods, Bombers, Gunships, and Gatlings. Reworks Strike Craft combat completely and adds new strategic depth to carriers.
Anything to make the battles in Stellaris even more dynamic is a welcome addition for me and it was a quick addition to my stable of mods.
Gigastructural Engineering & More
Building megastructures is your thing, so this is the right mod for you. Featuring 45 new megastructures with a wide range of effects, it is up to you if you want to build system-spanning factories or pulsar-powered superweapons.
It considerably expands the mega-building part of Stellaris, so I feel like it is a good fit for my current mod-set. Like, what says “galactic empire” better than a star-system-sized Alderson Disc containing all the food production of half your empire?
Fatherland: Colonial Empires
This pretty intriguing mod adds to the dynamics of your typical Stellaris game. It does so by allowing for new factions to be formed out of old ones due to the splintering of populations, which promises a far more vibrant mix of galactic empires. The system behind everything is fully modular as well, and this splintering is not only limited to your empire. It even happens to AI empires.
I find that this mod adds an extra touch of “life” to Stellaris, allowing new factions to be born (and eradicated) as it would in reality. It doesn’t change much else to the game, so it seems compatible with what I already have running.
Engineers of Life Updated – 3.4
If adding a touch of “life” is literally what you want to do in your game of Stellaris, what better way than to invest in this mod, which allows you to “fill the galaxy with more life by creating new primitive civilizations or breeding space creatures of your own.” It sounds a bit like that game “Spore” but stays well in the framework that Stellaris provides.
Bio-engineering life sounds a bit like what a hyper-intelligent space empire would do given the resources, so I run this one on my list to provide even more options for what to do in my Stellaris games.
AlphaMod is a BIG mod. It’s even considered a “full conversion” by some, but the authors feel that it is more like an “official expansion” to the base game. That said, it does add a lot to almost everything, with new colonies, buildings, units, jobs, resources, and even policies.
If you feel that the minor mods I have shared so far do not add enough to the “vanilla” game, then look at AlphaMod. I have not yet exhausted the options available to be on my lightly-modded base game, so I’m reserving it for a future playthrough when I have.
Star Trek: New Horizons
New Horizons is a Total Conversion that brings the world and lore of Star Trek into Stellaris. This includes almost everything: ships, factions and even parts of the game mechanics. It says that it covers a large span of the Star Trek timeline from 2150 up to 2400 and beyond and it does seem to look the part.
In the end, it does look like a proper conversion, but I’m not entirely keen on changing my gameplay experience in Stellaris yet, so I’m putting it on the back burner for now.
Star Wars: Fallen Republic
And then you have this one, which is a Total Conversion of Stellaris into the Star Wars universe. Similarly, factions, ships, game mechanics, and even resources have been overhauled. It strives to remain as authentic to the source material as possible, and as it always is with Star Wars overhauls of any games, the attention to detail is immaculate.
But again, while I am a big Star Wars fan, I still haven’t fully appreciated the full depth and breadth of Stellaris itself yet, so it’s another Total Conversion that will be put into the “to try next” category.
The list above presents a few more exciting mods from the Steam Workshop, including the ones I currently have running on my Stellaris install (everything except AlphaMod). I feel these provide a wide breadth of extra content without changing the core of Stellaris, but even these barely scratch the surface of what’s available.
But if you just want some solid content add-ons and quality-of-life upgrades to the base “Vanilla” game, this list would be more than enough to start from. If not, AlphaMod should scratch that extra itch for content with its all-encompassing array of changes.
Or, you can try one of the Total Conversions available (like the Star Trek or Star Wars one).