Today we'll be taking a break from our standard formula of news and reviews. As I'm sure I've stated before, Paradox Interactive is known for two things: 1) making quality in-depth RTS games and 2) Cultivating a well-rounded and creative community. Now occasionally this has gotten fans into a bit of trouble but this is the exception rather than the rule. Their latest game, Stellaris has already been the subject of much discussion in the past here on Keengamer and will likely continue to be so in the future. But while we wait for the next update and expansion why don't we take a look at some of the mods created by the community for when you get a little tired of the standard vanilla gameplay? In no particular order we will be looking exclusively at those made available on the Steam Workshop page for free, so you don't have to worry about downloading from any third party shady site or place you've never heard of and we'll only be looking at ones that have been updated to work for the most recent patch so you can be sure that you're downloading a mod that works.
Number One: ZBEAUTIFUL Battles
From Steam user Blackthorn with a whopping 72,000 downloads, ZBeautiful Battles is a simple aesthetic mod designed to make your space combat (an important aspect of the game) more appealing to the eyes. In Stellaris, the ships have a tendency to clump together and become a confusing mess of flashing symbols and colors. With his mod, the ships are farther apart and more 3-D looking and generally have a more graceful look about them. I've included down below a before and after photo taken directly from the Steam page so you can see exactly what I mean.
Number Two: ISBS: Doomsday Weapons & Ships
From Steam user Ankain with exactly 40,000 downloads, Doomsday Weapons & Ships doesn't modify any vanilla experiences like other mods, but rather includes a whole new class of ships and options. Doomsday weapons galore and the new capital ship class to replace your standard battleships as top dog in the war zone. The doomsday weapons are capable of wiping out entire Star Systems in a giant Super Nova if you so choose to use them. But you'll need to have researched Sentient AI for doomsday tech to show up. The logic being that only a computer could come up with weapons so terrifying.
Number Three: Ethic & Government Rebuild
From Steam user Petruxa with 11,015 downloads, Ethic & Government Rebuild doesn't have much to do with combat like the previous two do. Rather this is a mod that centers around how you build your governments. A central pillar of the game is building your own society, and since the games release certain players have found that the game is currently too restrictive on what kind of government and species attributes you can pick from. This one should put all those concerns to rest, with a massive array of government types and species traits to greatly expand your setting and immersion.
Number Four: ISBs: Living Systems
Living SystemsAnother mod from Ankain, this one doesn't really do anything to improve Stellaris. Living Systems doesn't really do from a gameplay standpoint like the previous three and only has 36,000 odd downloads. But I like this one, for one reason really. This one fixes a problem that I've long seen go unchecked. The systems are completely devoid of ships. When you click on the system map to see each individual solar system, notice how empty and barren it feels? This one fixes that right up, now instead of empty black space with the occasional fleet patrol or military outpost there are civilian ships flying between your star systems, and even billboards with advertisements to make your empire feel less like lines on the map and more like an actual empire, with things going on in your empire that don't center around a research or a military feel. This mod is tied directly to your pops and your spaceports, so now it feels like your pops have an added value instead of solely for colonist production. Civilians fleets are created from planets with spaceports. Once a planet grows to 4 pops or more, civilians will start leaving the planet to explore the solar system in one of 40 different ship types. Pop activity increases along with the planet population – larger planets will generate much more activity within a system.
Number Five: New Ship Classes & More
Have you ever looked at Stellaris and said 'geeze for a space themed game the ships are kinda meh.' Well then do I have some good news for you. This last mod from Captain X3, Crusader Vanguard, eximius, and Zyrixion New Ship Classes & More expands greatly on the possible fleet combinations you have. This mod adds new ship classes and new features to the game. These changes affect all the space empires in that game, and the AI will use all the new ship classes in the same way that the player can to try to counter you. This mod includes a host of other features, like improved ship scaling and new spaceport modules, and new technologies to research. With a whopping 52,000 downloads, this mod is in high demand and it is highly advised that players also have the UI Overhall 1080p mod as well. This mod might be a little more complex and have a bit of a learning curve, so it is also recommended that new players check out the guide found here.
That's all for now, and of course these five aren't the only mods out there. There are hundreds of really good ones and you should definitely look around the Steam Workshop to find ones that you like, and I'm sure as time goes on the ones mentioned will be replaced by something thats better and newer, continuing the cycle of player creativity. And at the end of the day that's what this is really about, a bunch of dedicated fans getting together to celebrate what they enjoy.