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Best Stellaris Mods

Make space greater again

Stellaris [official site] is a wonderful sci-fi strategy endeavour but, like any game with so many concurrent moving parts, keen and inventive modders-cum-cosmonauts have dismantled it, inspected its innards, and put it all back together again with newer and shinier and quirkier parts so as to improve intergalactic space travel for one and all. In essence, they’re making space even greater.

At the time of writing, Stellaris’ Steam Workshop page boasts over 2,000 practical, plausible, weird and wonderful modifications. Here’s our collection of the best.

No Clustered Starts and Complete Colors

By Taw and Delincious respectively

Space. The Final Frontier. The Vast Expanse. The Void Above. Going on nicknames alone, it seems it can get pretty lonely above and beyond the stratosphere, and when you’re thrust helmet-first into Stellaris’ great unknown, the first thing you’ll notice is just how little there is past the borders of your modest little universe. That is, until you send your surveying science vessels towards adjoining solar systems and suddenly realise there’s a whole thriving galaxy out there, some of which lies smack bang on your doorstep. By default, Stellaris’ empires spawn in clusters.

Now, while sight of new neighbours may excite on first contact, what happens if they turn on you further down the line? What’ll you do if you decide to buddy up but then get dragged into one of their future wars? At equal distance, is it possible they’ll snatch up all the unclaimed, innominate planets and siphon all the best resources for themselves? It probably is, which is why No Clustered Starts causes empires to spawn more spread out and unclustered. Saying so long to your homebodies not only distances you from potential peril, but also allows for added exploration at the start of every game.

Even with the map a little less congested than the norm, it’s not unusual for rival nations to sport similar colours on the field of play. This can get a wee bit confusing, particularly as each occupation starts to expand, therefore Complete Colours not only helps to make your empire stand out from the rest, but also makes the galaxy that bit prettier. Adding a complete RGB colour table, this mod introduces over 2048 colours (and a grey scale slider) to the colour selection menu housed within the Empire Creator.

Playable Robots, Playable Invaders and Alien Suns

By Delincious and S.C.Watson respectively

In fact, let’s dial it back a bit. Before we even take that first giant leap, I should probably ask: who’re you leading into this star-studded macrocosm of ours? By default, Stellaris offers players the choice of six different species from the outset, with a range of subcategories specific to those headings inclusive. During my first playthrough, for example, I opted for a pacifist race of slender octopus-like Molluscoids. My second venture saw me head up a massive Mammalian cat population; my third, an angry war-hungry troop of Reptilians. But, even with this pretty sizeable ensemble of characters, I always wanted something a bit, I dunno, cooler.

Enter both Playable Robots and Playable Invaders. Bringing with it 16 playable android races, the former also adds 84 new robot-inspired skins, three “synthetic-themed” government types, and both Android city and ship types. The latter acts in similar fashion, allowing players to take control of the Swarm and Extradimensional Invaders - all the while adding 13 playable Invader races, 65 total variants, and both Swarm and Extradimensional city and ship types.

Alien Suns adds even more flavour to this ever-expansive cast, bringing with it 11 handpainted aliens and four new species: Carnivores, Detritivores, Herbivores and Omnivores.

40K: Twilight of the Imperium Cosmetic Mod

By {KOSD} Panfuricus

Actually, why stop there? While we’re in the business of adding new playable races - perhaps we should tackle something a little less generic. Like, I dunno, Warhammer maybe? I mean, it’s made an appearance in virtually every other game that’s ever included modding support, and has recently enjoyed much success via its recent crossover with turn-based strategy affair Total War: Warhammer. Why should Stellaris be any different?

It’s not! And it took one whole day before modders managed to shoehorn 40K into Stellaris’ voluminous bounds, courtesy of the 40K: Twilight of the Imperium Cosmetic Mod. Alongside unique planet names, artwork, event pictures, and faction-appropriate traits and governments policies, this mod welcomes the Imperium of Man, the Tau, the Dark Eldar, the Eldar, the Tyranids, the Orks and the forces of Chaos into the fold. True to form, the Tyranids, for example, are pre-programmed as war-mongering super-breeders; whereas the Imperium of Man star as fanatic spiritualist xenophobes. Which sounds about right.

This one’s a work in progress and although it’s not been updated much - at the time of writing, at least - the creator apparently plans to add more races over time. As you might expect, commenters have been quick off the mark to offer personalised suggestions since release.

Flags: Emblems & Backgrounds and National Emblem Pack

By swefpifh and Swiss Knight respectively

Okay, so you’ve decided on the form you’ll take on the intergalactic battlefield/space, and that you’ll kick things off on your tod, but there’s still the small matter of how you’ll be represented at war. Yup, now you’ll want to choose the flag under which your civilians will honour/pray to/worship/spit on/set on fire and hurl dog poo at, and Flags: Emblems & Backgrounds has you covered.

You could opt for one of the game’s default options, but that’d mean missing out on everything from Zelda’s Triforce insignia, to a Colonel Sanders-sporting KFC banner; from the infamous Superman ‘S’, to the Vatican coat of arms - this mod offers over 50 surplus emblems and backgrounds to make your species’ flag stand apart from the rest.

The National Emblem Pack, on the other hand, takes a more serious approach by offering a range of recognisable international organisations, such as NATO, the UN, the Dutch lion, the Welsh dragon, the Polish eagle, and the Irish harp, among a host of others.

NB - modder swefpifh, creator of Flags: Emblems & Backgrounds won’t be updating their mod for the time being as they’re instead working on “a total convertion [sic] mod based on the Stargate universe.” We’ll be keeping our space goggles tuned to that one's development.

Flexible Core Planet Cap & Resettlement Cost and Civilian Trade

By Legendarymarvin and kyojin

Right, now we’re getting into the thick of it. So, you’ve steadily grown your empire, you’ve sent science vessels to the furthest corners of the galaxy, you’ve established mining stations and research facilities all over the shop, and you’ve grown a distinguished fleet that’ll conquer all that dares cross its path. You’ve waged wars and came out on top, mineral stockpiles are through the roof and so too is your influence. You’re bossing it, basically, and you need more of a challenge.

What if you sacked Stellaris’ sector system, then? I mean, it’s quite handy in that it lets assigned AI handle the year-to-year running of certain facets within your empire, but doing away with it would put you directly in charge of every planet and would leave zilch, zip, zero to automated help. Flexible Core Planet Cap & Resettlement Cost lets you keep sectors if you like, but also grants you full autonomy over the micromanagement of your galaxy.

“If you love micromanagement and want to control all yourself without giving control to greedy governors, this mod is for you,” reads the mod’s descriptor. “It raises the limit for planets flexible using cost-free edicts to up to ~10k.” That’s quite a lot of free rein.

Which is why you might like to consider putting your civilians to work. After all, if you’re taking on more graft it seems only fair they get their proverbial fingers out. Civilian Trade prompts your citizens to setup their own trade routes between colonies and makes your galaxy feel a bit more alive and lived in. Technologies are tied to the process by increasing individual trader limits, and more techs and unique trader ships are planned for the future.

More Events Mod and Expanded War Demands

By VonMourn and Dr.Cthulhu respectively

While Stellaris’ early game is packed full of fresh ideas and character, my mid-late games have suffered at times from stagnation. Long engaging and exciting periods of war, exploration and cradling tenuous diplomatic relations have been on occasion met with even longer spells of stat-accumulation, military and economic growth, and, well, a degree of tedium, to be brutally honest. Patches and expansions further down the line will likely iron these discrepancies out, however in the meantime let the More Events Mod steer you in the right direction. By introducing a new late-game crisis, five new anomalies, two new events, one new exploration event and a smattering of new diplomacy events, More Events hopes to kickstart faltering mid-late games and keep things fresh.

Likewise, Expanded War Demands grants you access to the War Demands that Fallen Empires do. Getting to grips with terms such as Humiliate (where you mock your neighbours until they receive -33% Influence and -10% happiness for 10 years, while giving you +1 Influence per month), and Abandon Planet (where you essentially force neighbours to evacuate their planets, remove their pops, but keep their buildings) should make for interesting scenes towards the game’s end. Furthermore, this mod adds 13 new force policy change demands and six new resource demands which means you can do things like abolish an empire’s slavery policy, or nab all their mineral and/or energy credits. You big bully, you.

Ringworld Start and Fallen Empire Ship Types

By Aru and Delincious

Speaking of stealing traits and ideas from the Fallen Empire, how about sharing some of that Ringworld love ya miserable bunch of near-impenetrable sods? You see, I’ve perished at the hands of these end game stalwarts more times than I care to admit, which is why I like the idea of Ringworld Start. Ringworlds, for those of you unaware, is described as thus by the Stellaris wiki:

“An immense band encircling the system's sun. Built to allow for numerous artificial habitation zones along its inner span, freed from the restrictions and mundanity of planet-bound, spherical existence.”

In short: they’re sort-of inhabitable force fields that’re otherwise exclusive to the Fallen Empire. This mod, though, adds four habitable Ringworld segments and eight decorative ones, with random asteroids and gas giants making up the outer layer. Damaged Ringworld are included too which are ostensibly the same as above but with one damaged seam. Destroyed Ringworlds only include one single habitable segment, whereas Super Ringworlds include a staggering 12 habitable segments.

If you fancy all-out cloning the Fallen Empire, the Fallen Empire Ship Types mod lets you craft uber-cool looking Fallen Empire spacecraft.

ZBeautiful Battles, YBeautiful Battles Companion and Epic Explosions

By Blackthorn and Chondrite respectively

Stellaris is a very pretty game by default, however there’s no harm in making it look even better. Make space great, and all that. ZBeautiful Battles - and its companion mod YBeautiful Battles, which focuses on balancing - improve battle aesthetics by tweaking things like: ship behaviour, collision awareness, strike craft range, preferred attack range, formation distance and return to formation distance, among other things, all of which can be found on the mod’s page.

Similarly, Epic Explosions, although currently a work in progress, makes explosions look more, well, epic. Look at that screenshot up there. That’s pretty epic. “Does it feel wrong to you that ships equipped with unimaginably powerful fusion reactors quietly drift into the darkness after destruction?” asks its Steam Workshop page. “This mod will make them blaze with the brightness of a star for one last glorious moment.”

Hyperbole! But it is pretty darn nice.

Cadet’s Corner

Attention! While all of the mods listed here should help make your time with Stellaris more enjoyable, the following three will likely help newcomers adapt to the game’s galactic warfare. Ten-hut!

No Mining Station Maintenance
By Averax

Pretty self-explanatory this one - removes monthly mining station maintenance which means you get to keep your lovely energy credits for other things.

By Anex

Again, this one does what it says on the tin - the speed of building combat fleets is expediated, meaning you can get to war/defend your boundaries quicker than the normal rate.

Planet Cap Raised
By Aleph

This one didn’t have a decent image which makes me and my article formatting sad. Instead, you get a slightly out-of-focus image from an episode of Pingu entitled Pingu's Moon Adventure. Anyway, this mod raises the Planet Cap to 10. Which is nice.

Honourable Mentions

The Rick and Morty Overhaul 1.6

By Abracadaniel

Ricky-ticky-tappy! Get four custom-made Rick and Morty-flavoured empires with hand drawn portraits. Oh, and custom loading screens too.

Kerbal Space Program
By knuckey333

Adds the Kerbol solar system from Squad’s Kerbal Space Program. We’ve written about this one before but it’s so cool that it made it in here too.

Synthwave Stellaris Music
By Araxiel

Adds 40 synthwave tracks that creator Araxiel thought better suited Stellaris over the original soundtrack. There’s nearly three hours worth of tunes there should you wish to find out if you feel the same.

And so concludes our interstellar tour of the best Stellaris mods available right now. The Final Frontier is pretty huge, though, which means we’ve inevitably missed some of your favourites. Let us know which ones in the comments below.

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