If you’re a big fan of Paradox games, then you’re probably familiar with the Hearts of Iron franchise (known more commonly as Hoi). If you’re not, then you’ve really been missing out on a really awesome grand strategy game.
Being in the same vein as EU4 or CK2, Hoi 4 puts you right before the start of World War II, where you can choose to play as either a major nation or a minor nation, in one of the most brutal wars that humanity has ever seen. There’s a ton of complexity to the game too, with focus trees, ideologies, a variety of different units, actions that you can take, and you can really role-play the whole thing to your heart’s content.
Want to be the Reich and go on world-domination (by not attacking Russia waaaay too soon)? Go for it! Want to lead the free world to victory as the UK or the US? You can do that too!
Of course, while all that is pretty great and awesome, for those of us who’ve been playing the game for a while now, especially the previous installment, you might want to add a little bit of zest into the game. Thankfully, the modding community is both great, and has your back when it comes to Hoi 4.
While there are an absolute ton of mods out there, I’ve decided to mainly focus on two things. One section are total immersion mods, which change the game fundamentally, such as extending the timeline, changing it to WWI or even setting you in the lore of a beloved franchise. The second section is more about utility and adding complimentary mods, such as things which make the AI better, or that change the textures of the game to look nicer.
Regardless of which you chose, all the mods below are available on the Steam Workshop so they’re super user-friendly and easy to use.
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Immersion Mods
Arguably one of the best Hearts of Iron 4 mods out there, Kaiserreich actually has its roots in Hoi II, so it’s been around for a while now. An interesting take on alternate history, Kaiserreich posits the question “What if the German Empire won WWI?”. It’s a pretty interesting question, and a fleshed-out scenario for you to play and experience.
With Germany becoming the dominant world power, countries like the UK and France take on isolationism and a unique form of communism. What path you take relies solely on you, whether you want to grab hold of the German Empire and take it to global domination, or maybe one of the defeated countries and lead them back to victory.
To help you on that journey, the game boasts tons of new and unique events and decisions to make, fully-formed focus trees, and a ton of new ideologies to experience. I don’t really want to go into too much detail since experiencing it’s a pretty unique ‘what if’ scenario that has so much to explore and discover. If you’re interested in an alternative post WWI era, this is the mod to play.
Now, if you’re more interested in the actual WWI, then this mod takes you back to a time where planes and tanks basically didn’t exist in large-scale warfare. Pitched battles, dug-outs, and infantry combat are the name of the game here, and a lot of it relies on what you decided to do with your nation.
We’re not even talking a simple wind-back of the clock here either, as this mod fully fleshes out the time period with authentic units, countries, policies and decisions. There are even full focus trees for the major powers if you decide to go in that direction (which you probably will). The game also adds a bit of detail in terms of revolutions worldwide, such as in Mexico, as well as Italy’s interest in African expansion.
What’s great about this mod is that it’s still in active development, and the devs are currently working on trying to bridge the gap between WWI and WWII, so that you can start in 1910 and go all the way until WWII and however long that takes you. Definitely keep an eye on this one.
Will you side with the Triple Entente or the Central Powers? The fate of millions and Europe is yours to decide.
So many war games are focused on history, with probably the most landing squarely on WWII, and Hoi 4 is no exception. Thankfully, this mod rips you out from the 1940s and places you squarely in the 21st century.
Starting you out in either 2000 or 2016, you can now see what the modern world would look like if war tensions rose up and WW III decided to break out. With a whole slew of new units, trees, events, and everything you’d imagine from something this detailed, the mod takes you all the way to 2050. What’s especially interesting is that you can pretty much mold the future as you wish, such as having the communist UK if you feel like it.
Millennial Dawn: Modern Day is the most subscribed and therefore most popular Hoi4 mod, so it stands in the hall of fame along with some EU4 mods and CK2 Mods. While generally, I don’t like to say that something is good because it’s popular, in this case I’ll give it a pass.
I’ll give you three whole guesses as to what time period this game goes to. . . did you guess 1965? Well, you’re correct!
Aside from just extending the timeline into 1965 though, this mod actually adds a ton of extra detail and stuff to do. You see, one of the main issues of the vanilla game is that most minor nations don’t really have their own unique stuff. With this mod, smaller nations finally get to step into the limelight, even if it’s just a little bit. Not only that, but the mod actually gives you a surprising amount of freedom of how you want to direct your nation.
This mod is all about giving you more choices and more options, regardless of what nation you go for. It manages to do that without actually affecting the historical aspect of the game too much, so if you’re not interested in alternate histories, this is the mod to go for. That being said, I’d still argue playing the vanilla game at least once, just to get a feel for how the game works.
Truth is, there’s still a large portion of Hoi 4 gamers who love the historical accuracy of the game, and really want to play it as it unfolds. Well, this mod is actually a carry-over from Hoi 3, so it’s got a bit of history behind it.
While it doesn’t change any of the historical aspects of the game, it does add a bunch of detail to the already unfolding story. New focus trees, unit types, law and politics mechanics, just the works. Oh, and the AI has gotten a bump to their intelligence so they offer a bit more of a challenge this time around.
I will admit that this mod isn’t fancy or flashy, but it certainly gets the job done. In-fact, I 100% recommend that you play this mod with ‘historical accuracy’ ticked, as that’s when the mod will really shine.
There is one downside though, which is that the mod is not currently functional on Husky 1.9. That’s not to say the devs have abandoned it, they’re just waiting for 1.9.1 to be finalized by Paradox before moving forward with an update. So, if you have the older version of the game, go full steam ahead, otherwise, bookmark it and check it out when the new Hoi 4 update comes out.
Now this one is actually a pet favorite of mine, as I used to be a big Fallout fan *cough* Fallout 76 *cough*.
As you might have guessed, this mod brings the Fallout world to Hoi4, and more specifically, the world of Fallout: New Vegas. This isn’t a tiny or bare-bones mod either, it takes all the lore of the Fallout universe and applies it in-game. For example, you have Caesar’s Legion that you can control, or maybe you’d rather play as the New California Republic and bring some semblance of old world order.
Not content with just storyline stuff, this mod also includes units and equipment from the Fallout universe and integrates it into the story. For example, power armors of different types exist in this world and are accessible to different factions depending on how technologically advanced they are considered.
Another example is drop ships are also something you can research and build, which can seriously help you get an advantage by dropping infantry behind enemy lines.
Of course, there’s a ton of different nation ideas depending on which faction you play with, as well as really complex focus trees. So much so that completing a focus tree can send you to a completely new one (the game does a wonky reload thing, but it’s super interesting). So yeah, there’s a ton to experience here, and even if you’re not a Fallout fan, you’ll still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
Best Hearts of Iron 4 Utility Mods
While Waking the Tiger DLC went some way towards addressing this issue, there still is no real way to form your own nation beyond the path set out for you by the devs.
Instead, with this mod you can basically do what you will in terms of creating a nation, which goes a long way towards the enjoyment of playing smaller nations. It does this by giving you clear goals to work towards forming nations, as well as rewards for having specific territories. It’s a great little mod and an especially great addition if you don’t have the Waking the Tiger DLC.
If you’ve ever felt that the base game AI is just simple to easy for you to deal with, even on harder difficulties, then this is probably the mod for you.
This is actually quite a deep mod, with an alleged 50,000 lines of script added, which touches on pretty much every aspect of the game’s AI. It doesn’t even go the ‘cheaty’ route of just giving the AI a huge buff of resources so they can steamroll you, but actually affects their decision-making process. We’re talking about things like division design, research, construction, invasions, and a bunch more.
This mod also gives you a limited amount of control when it comes to dealing with your allies, so you can now do coordinated attacks or invasions.
The only big downside here is that this mod doesn’t have a lot of compatibilities, since it alters the base game’s AI. It also isn’t recommended to play this as a minor nation when you run this mod.
One of the biggest issues of not playing a major nation is that the manpower you get is pretty abysmal. That’s not surprising given that the default manpower from non-cored states is only 2%. Well, this mod is pretty simple, in that it increases that number from 2% to 30%.
Now, you might be thinking “well, that’s just completely OP”, but the truth is, it’s not. That number was picked to keep the game balanced, but at the same time give you a little bit of extra breathing room. You aren’t going to suddenly out-class Germany or the US, but you might be able to make your own little moves locally, especially if you’re playing in a non-European region.
Probably one of the most annoying things in Hoi 4 (and these types of Paradox games), is that peace conferences are absolutely terrible. A lot of the time you might make major contributions and only be considered a minor player. This leads to you getting second, third, or even last pick in each round, which is just silly.
While this mod doesn’t exactly follow historical accuracy, it does allow you to take the helm of the peace process and dole out regions more responsibly. Or, you could just go wild and give yourself all the good stuff and leave all the trash for others. That’s completely up to you, but I generally tend to take the latter approach.
#11 HOI4 Texture Overhaul Collection
So rather than just being one individual mod that does a bunch of stuff, this is a group of mods made by the same author, that really adds a ton of beauty to the game. Granted, this might be a bit of a shallow mod and can rarely be a bit heavy on hardware resources, especially if you don’t have the best gaming pc, but it’s still worth looking into.
The Terrain component is arguably the most ‘must-have’ of the bunch, as it basically replaces all the terrain with much more realistic looking versions.
Fields, rock formations, deserts, all look much better and more realistic, and it’s a real joy to have when you’re just spending some time looking around.
The Water component does exactly that, it changes the water from that bright-bluish hue to a darker, more realistic navy blue. This doesn’t only apply to large bodies of waters like the oceans, but to rivers as well.
The Citylights component is another favorite and really adds some cool immersion into the game. Of course, it’s true that during the war, especially in later stages with aerial bombings, blacking out lights was the name of the game.
If you can put that aside for a moment though, you can really get a grand sense of what our civilization looked like back then.
Finally, the Borders component is pretty simple, and just gives you more defined borders, which is nice when you’re trying to micromanage a bunch of different troops.
One thing that can certainly be annoying is the lack of sea crossings in the game. This isn’t a major issue so much as it’s a nuisance, but having the extra sea lanes provided by this mod are excellent. Not only does it just make the overall gameplay more fun and engaging, it actually expands your reach beyond what you could traditionally accomplish.
That being said, it doesn’t give anybody an unfair advantage, it just makes transportation life so much easier.
Well, there you have it folks, some of the best Hearts of Iron 4 mods out there for your modding pleasure. I couldn’t really pick any favorites out of that lot, especially the immersion mods, so I’d suggest giving them all a shot in the order of which one interests you the most.
Of course, be aware that not all mods are compatible with all other mods, so make sure you check the compatibility before installing something; it sucks having a game crash on you half-way through because you weren’t paying attention.
Either way, whichever mod you chose, I wish you luck in either conquering or protecting the world!