If you’re a fan of Civilization 6, you’ll know that each playthrough is a completely unique experience that depends on a variety of factors ranging from map layout and starting location, to which leaders and resources are available. While this formula has allowed each entry to still feel fresh and exciting even after multiple campaigns, having to keep track of so many variables can be overwhelming for some players.
Thankfully, the Civ modding community is constantly finding new ways to streamline the series for newcomers while also catering to veterans hungry for more content. This includes graphical and gameplay improvements as well as things like better UI mods and new civs/units.
Here, we’ll be highlighting the essential Civilization 6 mods to check out with consideration for the most recent Gathering Storm expansion. Each mod we’ve included is available through Steam Workshop so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them. Make sure to check back as we will be updating this list in the future with new entries and if you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
Bring Back Civ V’s Visuals (Civ V Environment Skin/R.E.D. Modpack)
A lot of players prefer the more realistic look of previous entries compared to Civ 6’s cartoonish visuals. Luckily, you’re not stuck with the look of the vanilla game as modders have provided numerous alternatives, including a mod that brings back Civ V’s aesthetic and neutral color palette. The Civ V Environment Skin mod alters just about every basic tile and decal in Civ 6 while decreasing the overall saturation.
It also assigns a bunch of new textures to objects like trees and grass which give the game a more natural look. While most of the changes are subtle, they each go a long way towards creating a more immersive gameplay experience reminiscent of one of the best entries, especially when paired with mods like the R.E.D. Modpack, which rescales units to a more accurate size.
Unique Location Names (Mappa Mundi)
One of the highlights of Gathering Storm was the addition of labels for major geographic landmarks on the map. However, if you’re a consistent player, chances are you’ve long since grown tired of seeing the same names over and over again. That’s where the Mappa Mundi mod comes in hand, adding 15,000+ names for rivers, deserts, valleys, volcanoes, mountains, and more, all based on real world locations.
The mod’s script achieves this by pulling data from Wikipedia in order to come up with new names for each location on your map, referencing iconic landmarks from around the globe. Additionally, it’s compatible with most other popular Civ 6 mods, making installation completely seamless and painless.
Detailed Map Layouts (Detailed Worlds)
There are a plethora of mods dedicated to increasing the sense of realism in Civ 6’s worlds; however, none are as carefully detailed as this one. The Detailed Worlds mod elevates maps to new heights by implementing a series of changes to the way worlds are presented.
This includes better placement for volcanoes, deserts, rainforests, and marshes as well as detailed coastal lines filled with numerous bays and coves. In addition, this mod reduces the amount of polar land you’ll encounter as well as adjusts food placement throughout desert tiles to appear near rivers more frequently. There are seven different map scripts to explore including Continents, Pangaea, Archipelago, Islands, and more.
Increased Natural Disaster Intensity (Catastrophic Disaster Intensity)
Playing Civ 6 on the highest ‘Hyperreal’ disaster intensity is a formidable challenge in of itself. However, if you fancy yourself somewhat of a masochist, you may want to take things even further by installing the Catastrophic Disaster Intensity mod, which causes a new disaster to pop up nearly every turn.
Dormant volcanoes become a thing of the past and the chance of finding floodable lowland tiles is increased from 35% to 75% across all intensities. Additionally, this mod makes it so stronger versions of each disaster type are more likely to appear than their weaker counterparts. If you feel like Civ simply isn’t challenging you enough, this is the perfect mod to prove yourself once and for all and battle it out with Mother Nature.
More Map Diversity (Yet Not Another Map Pack)
Another way to boost the immersion in Civ 6 is to install new map packs, such as the aptly named Yet Not Another Map Pack mod. This mod allows you to use more accurate maps as well as culturally-linked start locations based on your chosen civ.
However, the real highlights here are the new, bigger map sizes which include Enormous (128×80), Giant (180×94), and Ludicrous (200×100), with players able to select the map type and size whenever starting a new game. There are a few compatibility issues when running this mod after the Gathering Storm update, specifically potential crashes when selecting maps larger than ‘Enormous’.
Receive Less Trade Offers (Zee’s Fewer Trade Offers)
Experienced Civ players will know how annoying it is to be fully entrenched in a playthrough only to have the Queen of England constantly bombard you with trade offers. With Zee’s Fewer Trade Offers mod, the game’s AI is adjusted to leave you alone for longer periods of time.
The cooldown for AI trade offers is increased from 10 turns to 50 turns, peace offers during war from 3 turns to 10 turns, and friendship offers see a substantial boost from 5 turns to 30 turns. You’ll no longer have to worry about keeping the Queen in business and can instead use your newfound freedom to plan out her demise.
Improve UI (Better Trade Screen/Simple UI Adjustments)
Civ 6 has a bad habit of cramming way too much information into the user interface to the point where it becomes downright impossible to keep track of. However, with these two mods you’ll be well on your way to a more seamless experience free of clutter. The first mod we recommend installing is Better Trade Screen, which adds new sorting options to the Trade Overview screen as well as the ability to select ‘Repeat Route’ when trading.
Combine it with the Simple UI Adjustments mod for a more productive and easy-to-understand UI. This mod streamlines a majority of the vanilla UI functions and includes a couple neat features, such as the ability to see which tiles are currently being worked on by hovering over a city’s banner. Additionally, it provides the player with info regarding final flood yields, tooltips for building, districts, and wonder, and plenty more.
More Accurate City Placement (Radial Measuring Tool)
As great as Civ 6 is, the game doesn’t always do a great job at explaining how some gameplay mechanics work, especially when it comes to district benefits. Certain districts, such as Industrial Zones, are able to share their benefits with all city centers within six tiles, even though the game doesn’t share this at any point.
Making things even worse is the fact that there’s no built-in system for counting tiles other than manually by hand. Luckily, someone has taken the liberty of creating a Radial Measuring Tool to make the process a lot less tedious. This simple mod measures the effect distance for different districts as well as terrain yields for tiles not currently owned within a set radius.
Keep Track of Milestones (Real Era Tracker)
Era Score is one of the more interesting new features introduced in the Rise and Fall expansion, however it’s still missing one essential part: the ability to track which actions count towards your Era Score. This makes the vanilla system feel like a lot of guesswork and achievement memorization in order to raise your score.
Thankfully, the Real Era Tracker mod improves upon vanilla Era Score in a number of ways. Players are presented with an objective-style list of methods to earn Era Score as well as indicators for when objectives have been claimed by another civ. In order to see this mod’s full potential, we recommend starting a fresh playthrough and watching as your Era Score quickly fills.
Experience Ancient Eras Like Never Before (Anno Domini)
Total conversion mods are a great way to breathe new life into Civ 6 if you feel like you’ve exhausted all the content in the vanilla game. Mods such as Anno Domini allow the player to experience things that are normally outside the scope of a Civ game by focusing in on a specific time period, in this case the Ancient/Classical eras.
Taking place “from the Dawn of Time to the fall of Rome,” this mod maintains the same pacing, civ count, and number of unlockable technologies as you’d expect in a full game while zoning in on a moment in history. The same can be said about the numerous buildings, units, wonders and resources that are made available to the player.
Improved Resource Strategizing (Zee’s Strategic Resources Overhaul)
Although Gathering Storm forced players to change how they approached strategic resources, the expansion still didn’t address many of the glaring issues that arise late in the game. Zee’s Strategic Resources Overhaul mod attempts to remedy a lot of GS’s oversights in some clever ways.
For one, it adds more practical applications for strategic resources that become obsolete early on, such as Iron, Horses, Copper, and Aluminum. Additionally, these resources become extremely useful bargaining chips which can be leveraged in negotiations with other civs and factor into wars.
Receive More Benefits From Tourism (Diplomatic Favor with Tourism)
First introduced in Civ V, Tourism has had a hard time proving its usefulness in playthroughs beyond a single strategy. However, the Diplomatic Favor with Tourism mod seeks to make the mechanic more relevant by rewarding the player with one Diplomatic Favor point for every +100 Tourism they manage to generate.
The intended goal is to provide players with a more substantial incentive for investing in Tourism beyond just a ‘Culture Victory’. It really adds a subtle, but noticeable layer to how the game is played without compromising gameplay balance.
Reduce Pollution (Decommission Power Plants/Snowlar Panels)
Climate change is an interesting new mechanic that drastically raises the level of challenge to be had in Civ 6. However, the game is awfully pessimistic when it comes to providing eco-friendly power alternatives, essentially locking you into an eventual environmental disaster. Luckily, there are two mods which can be combined to give your civ more room to breathe.
The first one is the Decommission Power Plants mod, which lets you shutdown power plants within the management panel in order to reduce your carbon footprint. Since you’re going to have to find somewhere else to get power from, we recommend installing the Snowlar Panels mod as well. It lets you turn what would otherwise be unusable snow tiles into a source of energy by building solar panels on top of them.
Fight Rock Bands with Religion (Religious Units Fight Rock Bands)
If you find yourself wanting to crush Rock Bands in Civ 6 only to find the game provides no way to do so, then you’re in luck. With the Religious Units Fight Rock Bands mod installed, you’ll be able to defeat those blasphemous, music-blasting cretins once and for all through the power of prayer.
This is achieved by assigning Rock Bands a religious strength level of 125 within the game’s files. They don’t gain any additional bonuses but are instead made vulnerable to fervent praying, fasting, and proper use of wonders/policies from Apostles and Inquisitors. Rock Bands are not able to initiate combat, making them the ultimate guitar-playing punching bags.
Add More Civilizations (Civilization and Leader Mods by JFD)
If you feel like you’ve seen and done just about everything you can in Civ 6, the only logical choice is to add a bunch of new civs to the game. There are a plethora of options for expanding civs/leaders in the vanilla game, however, not many are as impressive or large as JFD’s Civilization and Leader mods pack.
You’ll find a massive list of civs and leaders from previous games as well as new ones with traits not found in the base game. Highlights include Isabella I for Spain, Elisabeth for Russia, and Wilhelmina for Netherlands.