Stellaris was released in May 2016 and, since then, has acquired nearly 10,000 mods (as measured by the Steam Workshop). The state of mods is always in flux as the Paradox developers continue to drop new free and paid content with which the incredible modding community will experiment. I kept a close eye on these mods throughout 2017. Below is a list of what I consider to be the Top 10 Stellaris Mods of 2017.

The requirements for making this list are not particularly strict. The mod doesn’t have to have been released in 2017, but it does need to work with the latest version of Stellaris (1.9.1 at the time of writing). The list reflects my personal taste rather than the opinion of the larger community, so I’m sure many readers will have items they think should have made it on the list, or items they think shouldn’t be here. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings, though, so please get in touch or leave a comment if you wish!

With so many mods to choose from, it’s often difficult to limit my selection to about 10 every month, let alone in a whole year. But, I’ll give it a go anyway!

Top 10 Stellaris Mods of 2017

Without further ado, here’s the list (click to jump to the mod description and Workshop link):

  1. Cultural Overhaul
  2. Real Space
  3. Improved Space Battles
  4. New Ship Classes & More
  5. Alien Suns: Atmospheres
  6. Plentiful Traditions
  7. Glavius’s Ultimate AI Megamod
  8. AlphaMod
  9. Adv. Custom Empires Pack – Extended First Contact
  10. Expanded Stellaris Ascension Perks

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.


1. Cultural Overhaul

Stellaris Cultural Overhaul

Author: petruxa
Workshop link

PayPal donation email: [email protected]

Cultural Overhaul used to be known as “Ethic & Government Rebuild”. Despite being renamed, it has retained its core design philosophy of expanding and enlivening the cultural aspect of the game. Creating civilisations feels new again because of the extent of the changes in this mod. If you want to read more about petruxa’s reasoning for the changes, see the Steam thread here.

Cultural Overhaul does an awful lot, as the name might suggest. There are seven Ethics scales in total, including three new ones:

  • Individualist – Collectivist,
  • Ecologist – Industrialist,
  • Elitist – Egalitarian.

It uses 53 Civics, 96 Traditions (over 16 different trees), 5 new Ascension Perks, 7 new Policies, and more in order to reflect the cultural depth the author thinks the game deserves. (If you’re looking for more ways to customize your empire, look at the Stellaris Empire Customization Mods post.)

Anyone who’s followed my Mod Roundups knows that this mod is a favourite of mine, having been featured twice in May ’17 and November ’17 (winning Mod of the Month in the latter). Cultural Overhaul is a personal favourite because it makes empires feel more complex, deeper, and full of the nuances that one might expect of a space-faring civilisation. I particularly enjoy the mod author’s extensive consideration of the changes and how they fit together within their own political/cultural understanding.

If you’re interested in alternative forms of government – and Cultural Overhaul certainly gets one thinking – then there are a lot of books out there that explore some wild ideas. One such book is Polystate: A Thought Experiment in Distributed Government, in which Zach Weinersmith examines the idea of governments that rule minds rather than locations, so that individual citizens can migrate between different forms of government as their needs and preferences change.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

This is an overhaul mod and, as such, is likely to conflict with lots of other mods, particularly those that touch the same areas of the game.

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • ascension_perks/
      • 00_ascension_perks.txt
    • buildings/
      • 00_buildings.txt
    • diplomatic_actions/
      • 00_actions.txt
    • edicts/
      • 00_edicts.txt
    • ethics/
      • 00_ethics.txt
    • game_rules/
      • 00_rules.txt
    • governments/
      • authorities/
        • 00_authorities.txt
      • civics/
        • 00_civics.txt
      • 00_governments.txt
    • personalities/
      • 00_personalities.txt
    • policies/
      • 00_policies.txt
    • pop_faction_types/
      • *.txt
    • random_names/
      • 00_empire_names.txt
    • species_rights/
      • species_rights.txt
    • technology/
      • 00_soc_tech.txt
    • tradition_categories/
      • *.txt
    • traditions/
      • *.txt
    • war_demand_types/
      • 00_planetary_war_demands.txt
  • events/
    • crisis_events_1.txt
    • crisis_events_2.txt
    • on_action_events.txt
    • pirate_events.txt
  • interface/
    • customize_species_editors.gui
    • hotjoin_view.gfx
    • technology_view.gfx
    • texticons.gfx
    • topbar_traditions_view.gui
  • prescripted_countries/
    • 00_top_countries.txt
    • 99_prescripted_countries.txt

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

As mentioned, this is a total overhaul mod, so this is unfortunately incompatible with most of the top 10 Stellaris mods in this post (though it may be possible to make some work if you were to merge altered files):

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


2. Real Space

Stellaris Real Space

Author: Annatar
Workshop link
PayPal donation link

Real Space adds a touch of graphical diversity to the star systems in Stellaris, with more types of star, multiple star systems (binary, ternary, and more – oh my!), plus more planet skins. It also reduces the size of some celestial objects for a greater sense of realism. This works well with Downscaled Ships. You might also want to consider the Real Space – Astrogeology mod, which adjust the resources of stars according to their class.

I first featured Real Space in the June ’17 roundup, and also included it in a longer list of Stellaris Beautification Mods, which I recommend you check out if you’re into pushing the visual boundaries of Stellaris. This, though, is my favourite beautification mod, which is why it makes it into the top 10 Stellaris mods of 2017.

I include Real Space in practically every one of my Stellaris games because it’s just such an easy way to improve the visual appeal of Stellaris. I miss it when it’s not there as the stellar systems feel much more cut-down and further from reality.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

If you want to maximise mod compatibility and are willing to sacrifice some of the features of this mod, you might try the Real Space Max Compatibility mod. Read on to learn more about other mods Real Space is likely to clash with.

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • megastructures/
      • 00_ring_world.txt
      • 01_dyson_sphere.txt
    • planet_classes/
      • 00_planet_classes.txt
    • random_names/
      • base/
        • 00_random_names.txt
    • solar_system_initializers/
      • *.txt (except for example.txt)
    • star_classes/
      • 00_star_classes.txt
  • gfx/
    • lights/
      • star_lights.asset
    • models/
      • planets/
        • _planetary_entities.asset
      • ships/
        • megastructures/
          • dyson_sphere/
            • _dyson_sphere_entities.asset

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


3. Improved Space Battles

Stellaris Improved Space Battles

Author: Ankain
Workshop link

Improved Space Battles (or ISB) stands as one of the most popular mods for Stellaris and likely doesn’t need much of an introduction, but for the uninitiated, it comprises a collection of five mods, although just one core mod (and two being mutually exclusive):

The core component aims to speed up the early game, encourage strategic wars in the mid-game, and set up the end-game for massive battles with other empires and galactic invaders. There are also some modifications to the fleet AI to make large battles less of a mess.

The graphics component of the mod collection makes these battles look even prettier than they otherwise would be. The doomsday weapons and ships component is a lot of fun, with weapons capable of obliterating entire fleets, planets, and star systems.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files (Core mod only)

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • component_templates/
      • 00_weapons_extra_large.txt
      • weapon_components.csv
    • global_ship_designs/
      • extra_dimensional_ship_designs.txt
      • swarm_ship_designs.txt
    • ship_behaviors/
      • 00_strike_craft.txt
    • ship_sizes/
      • 00_ship_sizes.txt
  • events/
    • crisis_events_1.txt
    • crisis_events_2.txt
    • crisis_events_3.txt
    • crisis_trigger_events.txt
    • guardian_events.txt
  • gfx/
    • interface/
      • buttons/
        • radio_button_01.dds
  • interface/
    • combat_view.gui

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


4. New Ship Classes & More

Stellaris New Ship Classes & More

Authors: CaptainX3, Crusader Vanguard, eximius
Workshop link

New Ship Classes & More, or NSC, is one of those mods that you’d be forgiven for thinking is part of the base game having used it for some time.

The flagship feature (ha!) is the new ship classes, inserted within the existing ship spectrum (e.g. frigate), beyond the ship spectrum (e.g. flagship), and orthogonal to it (e.g. science cruiser). It adds much more beyond this, though, including:

  • new station classes (including the sensor station, something I massively miss from Distant Worlds);
  • designable stations (i.e. you can design mining stations, research stations, and frontier outposts now!);
  • unlocked vanilla races (such as the Ancients) plus a brand-new race;
  • new technologies (to support the new ship classes);
  • playable Guardians;
  • buildable planets;
  • incorporation of changes from Automated Behavior Adjustment;
  • hundreds of other tweaks.

If you just want some new ship classes, you might want to check out Ship Classes Extended (SCX).

NSC requires the UI Overhaul 1080p mod for the 5-section Flagship to display properly in the ship designer. You might also consider pairing it with Advanced Ship Behavior Modules to improve combat AI even further.

There’s a lot more information on the Workshop page, including recommended mods, compatibility patches for other popular mods, links to ship sets that support this mod (important if you’re thinking of using any of the ship sets from the Stellaris Ship Set Mods or Stellaris Species Customisation Mods for Established Sci-Fi Franchises pages), and some add-ons.

The NSC mod is great. We all know that much. It’s worth saying just how great their Workshop page is, though. Very few authors go to the trouble these ones have to support other mods around their own. There’s even a guide for using the mod and live tech support via Discord! You couldn’t ask for more from a bunch of volunteers, to be honest!

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

If you want to maximise mod compatibility and are willing to sacrifice some of the features of this mod, you might try the Ship Classes Extended or the NSC: Streamlined mod. Read on to learn more about other mods New Ship Classes & More is likely to clash with.

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • global_ship_designs/
      • guardian_designs.txt
    • section_templates/
      • battleship.txt
      • constructor.txt
      • corvette.txt
      • cruiser.txt
      • destroyer.txt
      • guardian.txt
      • other.txt
      • science.txt
      • spaceport.txt
    • ship_behaviors/
      • *.txt
    • ship_sizes/
      • 00_ship_sizes.txt
    • solar_system_initializers/
      • guardian_system_initializers.txt
  • events/
    • guardian_events.txt
  • gfx/
    • interface/
      • icons/
        • ship_parts/
          • ship_part_armor_4.dds
          • ship_part_armor_5.dds
          • ship_part_reactor_*.dds
          • ship_part_sensor_*.dds
          • ship_part_shield_*.dds
        • technologies/
          • tech_antimatter_power.dds
          • tech_cold_fusion_power.dds
          • tech_corvettes.dds
          • tech_cruisers.dds
          • tech_destroyers.dds
          • tech_fission_power.dds
          • tech_fusion_power.dds
          • tech_zero_point_power.dds
      • ship_designer/
        • ship_designer_slot.dds
      • sliders/
        • ncp_scroll_down.dds
        • ncp_scroll_up.dds
    • loadingscreens/
      • *.dds
  • interface/
    • solar_system.gfx

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


5. Alien Suns: Atmospheres

Author: Shane Watson
Workshop link
PayPal donation link

Shane has featured on Odin Gaming before where I dove into his wider project, The Outer Rim. He’s also the artist behind Odin Gaming’s banner!

Alien Suns: Atmospheres takes an interesting approach to planet colonisation and habitability so that, in addition to the standard climate axis, there’s also an atmosphere axis. In introducing eight atmosphere types (including the Earth’s nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere), there are over 120 different planet habitability combinations. Shane has introduced graphics for all of these new planet types, too, and revamped Sol to include atmospherically-correct orbital bodies.

This introduces another dimension to colonising the worlds of the galaxy. Not only are you on the lookout for planets that have the right climate for you species, but one which has a breathable atmosphere. Of course, technologies become available to you to broaden the range of worlds that are habitable enough to colonise.

I enjoy the way Shane’s mod adds an additional depth to the biological complexity of the space empires in Stellaris; it’s plausible that other intelligence species across the universe – should they exist – would have a totally different biochemistry to our own. Shane explores that idea within the mechanics of Stellaris.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • deposits/
      • 00_deposits.txt
    • planet_classes/
      • 00_planet_classes.txt
    • planet_modifiers/
      • 00_planet_modifiers.txt
    • solar_system_initializers/
      • *.txt (except for crisis_initializers.txt and example.txt)
    • terraform/
      • *.txt
    • traits/
      • 01_species_traits_habitability.txt
  • gfx/
    • interface/
      • frontend/
        • selection_planet.dds
      • icons/
        • tile_blockers/
          • tb_dangerous_wildlife_01.dds
        • traits/
          • trait_pc_alpine_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_arctic_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_arid_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_continental_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_desert_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_savannah_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_tropical_preference.dds
          • trait_pc_tundra_preference.dds
  • interface/
    • customize_species_editors.gui

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Explicit incompatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely incompatible.)

  • Planetary Diversity.

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


6. Plentiful Traditions

Stellaris Plentiful Traditions

Author: Birdy
Workshop link
PayPal donation link

This adds 13 new tradition trees (it began with eight – updates are not infrequent!), some additional ascension perk slots so you can take advantage of the newly-finished trees, and additional factions. This gives the player something to do with all of that late-game Unity!

There are other mods that add more tradition trees, but Birdy’s seems to have that extra something that draws players in. The explicit compatibility with two other top 10 Stellaris mods on this page – Cultural Overhaul and Expanded Stellaris Ascension Perks – make it another of my go-to mods.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

There are no modified vanilla files so this should be compatible with anything that doesn’t modify topbar_traditions_view.gui.

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


7. Glavius’s Ultimate AI Megamod

Stellaris Glavius's Ultimate AI Megamod

Author: Glavius
Workshop link

Glavius’s Ultimate AI Megamod was Odin Gaming’s first ever Mod of the Month, featured in September ’17.

This mod makes many changes to the game AI (sector and general) to make it ultimately more competent while restricting the extent of “cheats” to help it keep up. (In fact, there’s only one cheat included, which is quite remarkable considering the extent of the changes.)

The author has done a great job of listing the AI changes on the Steam Workshop mod page. In summary, it promises to make the AI much more efficient with resources, better at building and building placement, better at research… just better!

The AI should build larger fleets, keep up technologically, and be more willing to go to war. Your sectors will actually flourish under the AI’s guidance!

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • technology/
      • 00_eng_tech.txt
      • 00_horizonssignal_tech.txt
      • 00_phys_tech.txt
      • 00_soc_tech.txt
      • 00_strategic_resources_tech.txt
      • 00_synthetic_dawn_tech.txt

Explicit incompatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely incompatible.)

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

  • Cultural Overhaul, featured in this post.
    • It only conflicts with common/technology/00_soc_tech; an intelligent merge of the files might make them compatible.

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


8. AlphaMod

Stellaris AlphaMod

Author: AlphaAsh
Workshop link
Patreon link

This one almost doesn’t require an introduction – a Top 10 Stellaris Mods list would certainly feel a little empty without it – but here goes. AlphaMod adds a staggering amount of content to the base game, including (but by no means limited to):

  • more techs, buildings, edicts, army types, and strategic resources;
  • more local resources;
  • more tile blockers;
  • more policies;
  • intricate “production chain” type economy utilising the new buildings, techs, and resources;
  • adjacency bonuses for tile blockers, expanding the colony planning mini-game;
  • special techs and buildings for different ethics and government types;
  • expanded faction mechanics, including new “extreme” factions;
  • heaps of extra spaceport modules;
  • colonise normally uninhabitable worlds with new tech.

If you enjoy extra depth and complexity in your games, then you’re likely to enjoy AlphaMod. I love nailing planet and spaceport specialisation to work with the local and strategic resource supplies to really boost my empire’s economy.

If you enjoy AlphaAsh’s content, you might also want to check out a game he’s working on with his wife. It’s a turn-based tactical fantasy called Majestic Trials.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

This is an overhaul mod and, as such, is likely to conflict with lots of other mods, particularly those that touch the same areas of the game.

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/
    • building_tags/
      • 00_tags.txt
    • planet_classes/
      • 00_planet_classes.txt
    • pop_faction_types/
      • 00_imperialist.txt
      • 00_isolationist.txt
      • 00_progressive.txt
      • 00_prosperity.txt
      • 00_supremacist.txt
      • 00_technologist.txt
      • 00_totalitarian.txt
      • 00_traditionalist.txt
      • 00_xenoist.txt
    • tile_blockers/
      • 00_tile_blockers.txt
    • traits/
      • 01_species_traits_habitability.txt
  • gfx/
    • interface/
      • icons/
        • tile_backgrounds/
          • pc_alpine_*.dds
          • pc_gaia_*.dds
          • pc_savannah_*.dds
      • main/
        • game_logo.dds
      • planetview/
        • army_icon.dds
  • interface/
    • icons.gfx
    • species_mod_window.gui

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Explicit incompatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely incompatible.)

Any of AlphaAsh’s “component” mods (all of which are in AlphaMod anyway):

  • Alternative Tilesets,
  • Banned!,
  • EthicTek (all four of them),
  • Gifts of Nature,
  • Gone Nuclear,
  • Hostile Worlds,
  • Landscapers,
  • Machinery of Empire,
  • MegaCity,
  • Spaceport,
  • State of Lies,
  • Where There Is Water.

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


9. Adv. Custom Empires Pack – Extended First Contact

Stellaris Advanced Custom Empires Pack

Author: zoston
Workshop link

This mod adds 25 hand-crafted custom empires, which is perhaps not particularly special in-and-of-itself, but also adds extended first contact and final contact events to each, which adds significant flavour to the empire in question. There is opportunity to converse with the species and get a feel for their personality and history, more than you would with normal randomly-generated empires.

A must for those who like to role-play in Stellaris. (And let’s face it – who doesn’t?)

The author continues to update the mod and has, for example, included Hive Mind empires when the associated Stellaris update was released. It’s one to watch to add some flavour to empire interactions.

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • events/on_action_events.txt

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


10. Expanded Stellaris Ascension Perks

Expanded Stellaris Ascension Perks

Author: Girion
Workshop link

Adds a massive 60 new Ascension Perks to the game, with more around the corner. What’s more, the author has come up with some creative perks, such as the ability to gain interest on stored energy credits, or the ability to combine perks from the various ascension paths (i.e. they’re not longer mutually exclusive).

The author has also created an add-on which contains perks that may have compatibility issues, but feel free to give it a crack!

» Read more about mod compatibility and known issues.

Mod Compatibility and Known Issues

There’s a mod compatibility matrix for all top 10 Stellaris mods featured in this post at the end of the post.

Modified vanilla files

(Will clash with other mods that modify these files.)

  • common/ascension_perks/00_ascension_perks.txt
  • gfx/interface/icons/army_attachments/attachment_special_forces.dds

Explicit compatibilities

(Mods that have been verified as definitely compatible.)

Incompatibilities

(Mods that file conflicts would indicate are incompatible.)

» Hide mod compatibility and known issues.


Compatibility Matrix

Some of the mods featured in the top 10 Stellaris mods make quite extensive changes, and it can be difficult to keep on top of what works with what. Unfortunately, you can’t get away with downloading and playing all of the mods above – you’ll have to pick and choose.

The matrix below shows which of these mods can work with which others, with the following colour codes:

  • Green: compatible;
  • Blue: compatible only with a patch (see the compatibility notes attached to each mod above);
  • Purple: compatible with a functionally similar (but generally less fully-featured) mod replacement (see the compatibility notes attached to each mod above), though incompatible without replacement (identical to yellow);
  • Yellow: both change the same vanilla file, so are likely incompatible, but the mod authors haven’t explicitly pointed the other out as being incompatible;
  • Red: one or both mod authors have identified the other mod as being incompatible with their own.

Note that you can also see the matrix here as a Google Sheet if you prefer.

Top 10 Stellaris Mods of 2017 - Compatibility Matrix

 

 

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