Even if you’re not really a big strategy or 4x fan, you’ve probably heard of the Civilization franchise. With the first title being released in 1991, the Civ franchise has come to be one of the most celebrated franchises on the face of gaming. Given its pedigree, it has also proven to be a standard-bearer for what defines the genre.
Of course, even though each game always comes with several DLC post-release, sometimes years into its cycle, there’s always room for improvement, especially from the community. After all, the somewhat abysmal AI has become a meme, and players in the community are used to modding the UI because there’s just too much clutter. So it’s no surprise that the Civ franchise has a massive modding community.
Civ VI is probably the second-best, if not the best Civilization game, and the great tradition of modding has carried over from there.
One thing I want to mention before moving forward is that all of the mods listed here are on the Steam Workshop. While there are a lot of mods outside of steam, I decided not to include them for the sake of ease-of-use. That certainly doesn’t discount them as good mods, it just requires a bit of extra effort which some people won’t have.
Related: Best Hearts of Iron 4 Mods
#1 Anno Domini
Total conversion mods are a great way to help add a little bit of extra life and replayability into any game, and luckily Civ VI has a great one in Anno Domini. While not a fully-fledged total conversion mod like some mods for EU4, it’s a great mod if you’re interested in changing things up.
Instead, Anno Domini transforms your game into a more focused experience of the Ancient and classical areas, described as “from the Dawn of Time to the fall of Rome”. It also has its own policies, buildings, and so on, while also having quite a bit of polish.
Essentially, this focus is turned into a typical ‘epic’ or long game you’d expect from Civ, so you can imagine the amount of stuff there is to experience. Better yet, the mod is still being actively developed and updated, so there’s always new things to look forward to.
Aside from the focus on the above-mentioned eras, the mod features and absolutely whopping 30 civilizations for you to pick from. While there’s the traditional civs you’ll see from the un-modded game, there’s also a couple of new ones you get to try out.
If you were big into modding Civ V, then you might have heard of JFD, who is a well known and pretty prolific modder for the Civ franchise. Well, he’s continued his work on Civ VI and has a ton of great mini-mods to help enhance your game. There are policy changes, different buildings, great people, and even monuments.
Unfortunately, the downside is that you’re going to have to go through and individually look through each specific mod to see what you want and don’t want to add. It’s still totally worth it though, and the piecemeal approach to adding mods means that you can really fine-tune how you want the game to play, rather than having a mod that adds a ton of stuff you might not want.
I was originally going to suggest Rule with Faith, another mod by JFD, but unfortunately, he/she is no longer supporting it, and it’s not compatible with Gathering Storm if you have that DLC. Of course, if you don’t, you could always give it a shot, as it similarly adds a ton of stuff and cuts out the legwork of doing the individual modding on your own.
If you ever thought the natural disasters in Civ VI were weak, or maybe you just wanted to experience a world where the core of the earth stops spinning, then boy is this the mod for you.
As you can guess from the title, it takes the ‘hyperreal’ difficulty and cranks it up to 12, maybe 13. When you use it, a natural disaster happens somewhere on the map almost every turn. Not only that, but the chances of flooding of coastal areas go from 35% to 75%, so it’s not a question of ‘if’ as much as it is a question of ‘when’.
Basically, this game is a mashup of that 2012 movie and when Kratos killed all the gods. You’re going to be so neck-deep in natural disaster I’m not really even sure if you’ll be able to play through it. That being said, if you’re a masochist and feel the hardest difficulty in vanilla is not enough, well then this mod is perfect for you.
Probably one of the most annoying things in most games, especially Civ VI, is the advantages the AI is given on harder difficulties. In fact, when it comes to certain difficulties on Civ, civilizations can start with up to a whopping 5 warriors. If you’ve ever been swarmed very early on in the game, you know how annoying that is.
Well, Smoother difficulty attempts to address that by removing the warriors, and instead of giving the AI a bump to resource generation instead. That way, the graph sort of levels out in terms of difficulty, and you aren’t forced to deal with an overwhelming threat. A threat that you’ll probably lose to I might add.
I should also add that while I’m adding a link to the ‘basic’ mod, there’s also a similar mod that takes tourism into account and helps buff the AI with that too, so they can be competitive in cultural victories.
Now, if you’re looking for a slightly more sweeping change to AI behavior, this is probably the best of the lot. While it doesn’t alter any of the bonuses that the AI receives (and therefore should still work with AI+), it does make some changes into how the AI acts in general.
For example, there’s a rework of how it chooses settlers, it doesn’t make the AI take terrible peace deals, and generally better city-state AI. On top of that, the AI now is much more aggressive in a military sense, willing to send out troops to the front lines, rather than just have them hanging randomly around.
This mod also gives civilization AI a more distinct flavor to their personality depending on the civ, so warlike civs will try for a domination victory, while generally peaceful civs might try for a cultural or diplomatic victory.
All in all, it’s a pretty great AI mod, especially if you aren’t looking into making any big tweaks of the base game itself.
If you’re going to expand and make the AI better, why not also expand some other mechanics in the game as well?
Religion Expanded adds a lot of new features into the game, such as nearly 50 new beliefs, up to a whopping 16 religions, and a bunch of new buildings.
Personally, I’ve always found the religion system to be a little bit bland and tiresome, so adding a little bit of extra customization into it can certainly make it more enjoyable. It might also make you take part in the whole religion wars if you’ve mostly been staying away like I have.
City-States Expanded also does something similar, not only adding 40 new city-states to spice things up but also 4 new city-state types.
There are also some great suzerain bonuses to the new cities, so they’re worth getting under your influence. City-states are also a bit more powerful now with free Ancient Walls, more districts, and a quicker expansion of tiles.
#7 Mappa Mundi
One great thing that Gathering Storm added, was the naming on the maps. While this might seem like a pretty simple and low-key change, it actually added a ton of extra . . . well just being able to know where everything is rather than trying to look around randomly. You could also start creating your own little head-canon and roleplay of ‘The civilization of X valley’ or what have you.
Unfortunately though, after a while, it tends to get a bit drab and boring seeing the same names over and over again. This is where Mappa Mundi comes in, adding a whopping 15,000 names to cycle through and keep things interesting. There are even mod compatibilities that make names civilization specific, so you can get a little bit of extra immersion from your modded game.
#8 Detailed Worlds, PerfectWorld6 and YNAMP
Speaking of maps, these three map mods are great for hitting a variety of different Civ needs.
Detailed Worlds makes the maps a bit more realistic, in terms of the features you’re likely going to see. It’s a set of scripts that basically redo all the basic map types and makes them more interesting and more life-like. For example, food in savannah tiles are more likely to be next to rivers, volcano placement makes more sense and smaller polar areas which kinda suck for the most part.
PerfectWorld6 is very similar in terms of being lifelike, but instead of only working with the basic map types, you can create any type of map your heart chooses. Honestly, even from the mods’ steam page, you can see how gorgeous the maps become, and not only geographic features parallel the real world much better than with the vanilla game.
YNAMP, on the other hand, is there to add the true start locations of the earth, which is a pretty popular map/mode, but it’s just better done here. There’s also a Terran map script if you want to play around with values yourself.
If you’ve played a lot of Civ VI (or any Civ game really), you know how incredibly annoying it is to be constantly bombarded with trade offers.
NO MONTEZUMA I DON’T WANT YOUR DARN HORSES.
Phew, glad I got that out of my system.
Zee’s Fewer Trade Offers delivers exactly what’s on the tin, meaning you don’t have to constantly be dealing with annoying trade offers.
With this mod, the cooldown timer is increased from 10 turns to 50 turns. The same also applies to peace offers which are equally if not more annoying, where the cooldown timer has increased from 3 turns to 10. Friendship offers have also gone from 5 turns to 30, although friendships offers aren’t that annoying or come as often.
Honestly, this all goes back to just a terrible AI system that doesn’t really take into account the context of your actions, so an AI mod really becomes necessary in Civ VI.
While it’s nice to be bombarded less with offers from other civs, there’s still certainly an issue with just too much information being thrown into the UI that just makes everything super annoying to see.
Thankfully, this mod adds a bunch of functionality so that you can sort by a variety of things, such as food, gold, or faith. You can also filter trade routes based on city-states, city-states with trade quests, or international routes. Probably the biggest and most useful addition though is the automatic trade route repeater, so you don’t have to constantly be repeating the route over and over and over and over and . . .
Now, if you’re looking for a bit more UI tweaking than just the trade area, these two mods are pretty awesome.
CQUI or “Community Quick User Interface”, is a collection of components that do quite a big change to the UI of Civ VI.
Things such as map pins, better trade windows that actually make a bit of sense now, and even tech/policy reminders that you can extend beyond just the button on the bottom left. A lot of information is also downsized and/or made to fit better and just be more presentable, so you get the information that you need at a glance.
Sukritact’s Simple UI Adjustments, on the other hand, is a bit of a toned-down version of CQUI, which may cause some lag or slow down of the game on some systems. So, if you don’t have the best gaming PC, this second mod might be a better option for you. Tooltips have their information presented better, the city attack icon is moved to make it easier to use, and a couple of other minor things here and there which are great quality of life improvements.
That being said, if Sukritact’s mod isn’t enough, you could always download component parts of CQUI to better fine-tune your UI.
#12 Real Era Tracker
One really interesting mechanic that Rise and Fall brought back from previous games is the golden ages, and more specifically, the expanded era score. With this new system not only are their golden ages, but there are dark ages as well, so it becomes a really big struggle to try and keep your era score on-track if you don’t want to plunge yourself into a bunch of debuffs.
Of course, this presents a problem of actually knowing what gives you era score, and memorizing all of them is just not feasible without playing the game for hundreds of hours.
In steps Real Era Tracker, that not only tells you the different things that can give you era score, but it also presents them to you in a nice objective-like format that is easy to follow. Not only that, but it also tells you when other civilizations have achieved a specific thing that gives an era score, so you aren’t working towards something for no reason at all.
What you may not know if you’re a new player to Civ VI, is that a few districts actually provide benefits to any city-center within a 6-tile radius. Armed with that knowledge, it actually makes a bit more sense now that you can’t just endlessly build districts without population requirements.
So, now you have a whole new strategic layer to your planning, except . . . well, now you have to individually count 6 tiles every single time this issue comes up.
“Not anymore!” a hypothetical mod salesman might say, “With this new and improved measuring tool, you won’t have to worry WHERE you place your cities anymore (within reason)”. You see, the radial tool highlights out to 6 tiles from a central tile that you place it on. In that way, it’s much easier to just visually look and plan where you want your next city or industry to be.
Well, there you have it folks, some of the better, if not must-have mods for Civ 6. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should download and install all of them right away, but instead, you should focus on the mods you feel will enhance your gameplay the most. I’d also suggest playing the game without mods first so you can get a good baseline of what the game is like before changing it up.
Either way, good luck and enjoy building your very own empire!