It's a Brave New World for Civilization V, and a brave new world for Civ V mods. We've gone through our and tested our collection from the Steam Workshop for 2014 compatibility and freshness, while at the same time adding new mods that caught our eye or won the community's favor. As with all mods, compatibility can depend on a lot of factors. Our setup includes both major expansions of Civ V—Gods and Kings as well as Brave New World.
The best Civ mods range from total conversions—transforming historical Earth into the world of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire or Elder Scrolls' Tamriel—to tools that improve AI or tweak animations.
Here are the 15 best Civilization V mods, broken up into three helpful categories.
Communitas AI and Tools
With the goal of making Civ V's AI “smarter, not harder,” the Communitas AI and Tools sets a base for other mods like the Communitas Enhanced Gameplay mod outlined below, which I ran paired with the CAT mod for best results. Probably the most useful and noticeable change the AI and Tools mod brings is a new analysis of tech trees. Once enabled, new “good for” tooltips pop up to give players a way to synthesize bigger chunks of information at once, saving time in the race to out-build your opponents.
For troubleshooting on the Communitas mods, be sure to check out the CivFanatics forums.
Really Advanced Setup
For the detail-oriented world builder, the Really Advanced Setup mod includes the standard suite of options when starting a new game, plus a new group of variables that makes setting up as granular a process as you could want. These include options to tinker with starting units and gold bonuses as well as terrain features that let you control what kind of region your settler spawns in. Get the mod here at the Steam Workshop.
This mod brings an additional map option into the setup menu which features a more naturalistic appearance, altered river placement, and craggier mountains. Although it was uploaded to the Steam Workshop by a third-party instead of its original creator, the mod functions well and gives you a unique visual update to Civ V's geography.
Since all worthy empires begin with just a city or two, it's worth it to know as much as possible before founding a new settlement. City Limits, by selecting either a city or a settler, shows you the potential borders of every new urban landscape as you plot the most efficient takeover of the known world. Get it here.
Faster Aircraft Animations
A small tweak, but one that can save you time over the long haul if you want a little more sonic boom from your flight tech. Available on Steam Workshop.
Even in Civ V, sometimes all you want—or need—is just a bit more information before making your next move. InfoAddict will graph all kinds of data for you over time, with an interface that's unobtrusive but also there when you need it. It tracks things like military power, cultural development and international relations in a way that's quickly readable and informative. There's a version for the Brave New World expansion, as well as a vanilla edition and one for just Gods and Kings.
The most obvious change by having the Regiment and Ethnic Diversity Modpack enabled is the rescaling of unit sizes so the difference between soldiers and armored units is more obvious. It's not an extreme change, but rather one that adds to the graphical variety of the game. The mod also adds new unit models and as well as new formations to reflect the change in scale. Find it at the Steam Workshop.
For a rescaling that's even more dramatic, stack this mod on top of the R.E.D. Modpack to boost the number of units in each formation. Be sure to install Xtreme after the original Modpack for the correct display of units. Available here.
Inspired by the visual update provided by the R.E.D. Modpack, Ethnic Units adds a new level of diversity to a long list of units in Civ V. And even two years after its initial release, it's still being updated. The latest version from June added new takes on Polynesian swordsmen and French cavalry.
Communitas Enhanced Gameplay
Building on the first mod on our list, the Communitas Enhanced Gameplay mod requires the Communitas AI and Tools in order to run. CEG cuts a wide swath through Civ V's Brave New World feature list, marking changes to most aspects of the game. These include balance tweaks to religions, leaders, as well as research trees, among many others. As is the case with the AI and Tools mod, CEG is an update to the earlier gameplay mod for Gods and Kings.
Want to worry more about cave art and basic survival technology such as fire? Try out the Prehistoric Era mod for a swift boot back to the year 6000 BC, no phone booth required. It's a decidedly more primitive origin story, but one that should extend even the most epic of marathon Civ games. As a replacement for the game's ancient era, this mod should keep you occupied with things like fire eating and berserker cavemen while you wait for the years to tick by.
R.E.D. WWII Edition
This mod pulls almost zero punches in its presentation of six custom scenarios that cut across the breadth of WWII history. From the world's stage to the more intimate, but also infinitely bloody battle at Stalingrad, all the major players are present, including Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Franklin Roosevelt. The various possible campaigns present will likely occupy WWII enthusiasts for hours.
Don't forget to install the R.E.D. WWII Data Files along with the R.E.D. WWII Edition.
A Mod of Ice and Fire
I love G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. At its heart, both in the book series and in the adaptation by HBO, it's a story about dirt and water and the people who rule it (or want to). It's very primordial in its passionately violent depiction of the personal as well as political history that drives the stories people tell each other. In this way Martin's world is a perfect fit for a Civ V mod. A Mod of Ice and Fire requires the Gods and Kings expansion in order to play.
The presentation isn't perfect, and you might have some trouble selecting your favorite house to play as, but the ambition in this mod, especially in the expansive and detailed map design, is palpable. And just like in the source material, your choices have consequences.
On a technical note, be sure to disable your Brave New World DLC expansion in the main menu before launching the mod.
Strange and Historical Religions
For a game whose major expansions includes one called Gods and Kings, religion is obviously a big deal. From Muad'Dib's Jihad to the Sith Order, the Strange Religions mod has you covered. There's even a Church of Gaming. For a bit more Earthly orientation, you can check out the Historical Religions mod. As for me, I'll be meditating at the altar of Jediism.
Both mods should work with either the Gods and Kings or the Brave New world expansion.
The Elder Scrolls Civilization V Pack
When I'm looking for an experience with a little more “Fus Ro Dah” in my total conversion mod there's the Elder Scrolls Civilization V Pack. You can play as one of a variety of Tamriel societies, including leaders representing Skyrim, Morrowind, and the mysterious Dwemer.
The link above requires both Gods and Kings as well as the Brave New World expansions. For the vanilla version mod, go here.