Since you already know what the best Crusader Kings 2 mods are, I thought you should probably get the skinny on the best additions to Paradox’s other grand strategy romp: Europa Universalis 4. It’s got more than a few, too.
Tweaks, fantastical overhauls, graphics improvements – modders have given the game plenty of love. And while some mods have fallen by the wayside, there’s still a mountain of crackers to dig through.
All mods are compatible with the most recent version of the game (1.21) unless stated otherwise.
By Common Universalis team
Let’s jump straight into the deep end with Common Universalis. There’s barely a single facet of EU4 that this mod doesn’t affect, burrowing its way into religion, vassal control, diplomacy... the whole kit and caboodle.
“Common Universalis focuses on the engine – how all those stuffs work together, how the world evolves from 1444 to 1836 and how human and AI players make decisions,” explains creator Corpsemania. ”In Common Universalis, every country can choose its own path to advance, every path has its problems, and every problem has its solutions.”
It’s in governance where the mod makes some of its biggest changes, introducing wrinkles to managing huge empires and making them feel fundamentally different from tiny nations. Trying to conquer the world means dealing with a bloated empire where corruption is rife and people aren’t open to new ideas. Ruling over provinces also costs Governance Capacity, generated by the primary culture, but reforms can allow you to give more authority to other cultures, embracing diversity.
By Imperium Universalis team
Engine overhauls are grand, but they aren’t quite as sexy as conversions that change even the setting. Imperium Universalis casts EU4 back through time to 559BC, to the founding of the Achaemenid Empire. But don’t worry if you don’t care about Cyrus the Great or Persian shenanigans, there’s also plenty of Roman Empire dick-swinging, as the name suggests.
Though still in development, the mod already boasts hundreds of playable nations from antiquity, mechanics like Senate debates and historical events like that time Kirk Douglas kicked off a slave rebellion. You’ll also be able to watch the rise of Christianity, which sort of became a big deal. At the moment, the team’s looking for a new addition to help with creating 3D unit models.
In antiquity, people had to worry about this thing called food. What a strange time the past was. Imperium Universalis simulates this with a food system. Provinces and armies all need food for development and consumption, while certain provinces with the food trade good produce it every summer, allowing it to either be exported or used to feed your hungry population. Along with grub, the mod also introduces slaves that can be taken from battles, but you can be less of a dick by abolishing it entirely.
If you’d rather conquer the Seven Kingdoms than the Roman Empire, you’ll want to pick a House and jump into A Song of Ice and Fire. With its focus on nations and empires rather than dynastic intrigue, EU4 isn’t quite the perfect fit for George R. R. Martin’s fantasy world that Crusader Kings 2 is, but this is still a robust mod with a lot of flavour and mechanical tweaks.
Ideas, buildings and religion have all been reworked to suit the lands of Westeros and beyond, while nations have been replaced by Houses – minor, great and royal – along with Free Cities and clans. The Houses all act like independent kingdoms, though they’re held together by the Iron Throne, effectively ASoIaF’s Holy Roman Empire.
Plenty of bookmarks mean that you can play a lot of historical starts, but only as one of the Great Houses, like Stark. If you want to try out a minor house, you’ll need to use the Shattered bookmark, inspired by the Shattered Europa mod, which lets you create alternate histories with greater ease.
By Warcraft team
Crave Orcs and demonic invasions instead of White Walkers? Then the Warcraft mod might tickle your fancy. With its huge, intricate map it covers both Azeroth and Outland, letting you take control of any power from Stormwind to the Burning Legion. It starts with the rise of the Horde and goes right up to Mists of Pandaria.
So far, the large team has added a great deal of custom icons taken from WoW, new governments, fel and holy religions, magic, and even the weird technology of the Gnomes and Goblins. Nations have their own National Ideas as well as cultural quirks, and there’s a multitude of decisions and events inspired by Warcraft’s venerable history.
By MEIOU and Taxes team
Gigau and the rest of the MEIOU and Taxes team have barely left any part of EU4 untouched, reworking some parts, completely replacing others. 4,000 provinces, over 920 nations, new religious and trade systems, updated graphics and even a new musical score – it’s massive.
New features include a more elaborate development system that takes into account everything from policies to buildings, extra idea groups, war dynamism and totally reworked autonomy and westernisation mechanics. Be warned though: it’s a beefy mod that will probably make the game run a bit slower.
By PirateAE and Moon Moon (originally by Neprut)
Shattered Europa takes the alternate history conceit of EU4 and cranks it up to 11. Every country that has a core is playable, splitting the world up into tiny, squabbling states. It’s not a battle of super states, it’s a messy, chaotic brawl.
Along with the Shattered Europa 1444 start, the mod also throws in a few different alternate bookmarks for good measure, letting you try to construct France or unite Europe against the might of the angry Ottomans.
The mod’s original creator has stopped working on it, but PirateAE and Moon Moon have picked up the torch and updated it for the latest patch.
Though they’re only small, the converter mods continue to be some of my favourites. The Europa Universalis 4 to Victoria 2 converter takes your save from EU4 and allows you to keep playing in Paradox’s 19th Century grand strategy romp. It’s also compatible with saves started in Crusader Kings 2, so you can begin your journey as a marauding Viking Jarl and end it as one of the great European powers preparing for World War 2.
EU4’s most absurdly ambitious mod, Extended Timeline expands the scope of the game to cover everything from 2AD onwards, all the way up to the year 9999. Almost 10,000 years of history is maybe too much history for anyone to handle, but if you’ve got the time, go for it.
Impressively, start dates comes with appropriate leaders, cultures, religions, buildings and territory, and the mod adds a whopping 500 new countries to the game and hundreds of historical decisions and events.
You can start in present day, the final bookmark, and try to wrest this runaway train back onto the tracks. Alternatively, begin your journey at the height of the Roman Empire and try to keep it going for as long as possible. No DLC is required either, which is a bonus.
Graphical Map Improvements
Makes the map look gorgeous.
Changes the font size and makes some improvements to menus.
Lord of Universalis
Conquer the world with Hobbits... when it’s updated for the new patch.
By Fallout team
Post-apocalyptic EU4 with all the Fallout factions. It’s currently out of date and won’t work with the latest patch.
Extended Vanilla Experience
Overhauls the base game without making too many dramatic changes. It’s only been updated to 1.18, however.
And that’s your lot. But not really, because Europa Universalis 4 has more mods than there are countries. I’ve almost certainly left out your favourite, so feel free to lambast me in the comments, or just be nice and let people know what they’re missing.