Civilization 6 has had two expansions since 2016, and unsurprisingly that means it's a bigger and better game than it was at launch. Even if there are no more expansions in store for the future, that doesn't mean there's nothing new to check out. The Civ 6 modding community has pulled out all the stops tweaking graphics and gameplay, adding new civs and new units, and even improving the UI.
Here's our definitive list of the best mods for Civilization 6, updated to take 2019's Gathering Storm expansion into account.
Installing Civilization 6 mods
With the addition of Steam Workshop support, installing many mods is easy: simply subscribe to the mod on Steam. Steam will automatically download the mod, which can be enabled or disabled from the 'Additional Content' menu.
Mods that aren't on Workshop can be installed by creating a folder called ‘Mods’ in your Civilization 6 user directory: \Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization VI.
Extract mods to your new Mods folder (with each mod in its own subfolder) and then enable them from the ‘Additional Content’ menu in-game. Some mods may have extra steps, which I’ll describe in their individual entries.
If you want to make changes to Civ 6’s files yourself, the simplest way is to make direct changes to the files in Civilization 6’s install directory (after backing up the originals, of course). First, find Civ 6’s install folder. If you don't know where it is, you can right-click on the game in your Steam library and select Properties > Local Files > Browse Local Files. The default install location is Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Sid Meier’s Civilization 6. Identify the file you want to mess with, save a copy, and go for it—just don’t forget what you’ve changed.
Environment Skin: Sid Meier's Civilization V
One common criticism of Civ 6 is that it’s a bit too bright and cartoonish, as compared to the more realistic look of previous games in the series. This mod, released by a Firaxis dev, strikes a really nice balance between this Civ’s visual style and that of its immediate predecessor. The saturation has been turned down and almost every basic tile type and decal has been altered in some way. It even adds new, more naturalistic models for ground clutter like trees. Pair this with something like the R.E.D. Modpack (above) to get rid of the Clash of Clans-looking armies and you’re in for a much more immersive, less board game-y feel.
Gathering Storm added labels for major geographic features on the map, which was a really cool touch. But if you play a lot, you’ve probably seen the same ones over and over. Mappa Mundi can basically eliminate that problem forever, adding over 15,000 new names of real world rivers, deserts, mountains, and more. It’s also seamlessly compatible with a lot of the most popular mods that add new civs to the game, so your Taino or Icelandic empire can put their own linguistic stamp on the map.
Gedemon brings us a Civ 6 version of one of our favorite Civ 5 mods. The R.E.D. Modpack rescales units to make them a little more like miniatures, a little less like cartoon giants stomping over the hills. Check out the mod's collection for versions that are compatible with all of Civ 6's expansions.
Graphics mods can make certain things look more realistic, but if you want the world layout itself to feel a bit less game-y, this is the mod for you. In addition to adding more coastal detail to replicate all those little coves, bays, and fjords we expect to see on a globe, it also makes the placement and size of deserts, rainforests, and marshes much more true-to-life. And if you’re all about that Nile Valley life, it improves food placement along rivers running through desert tiles as well. It comes with seven different map scripts, including Continents, Pangea, and Islands.
Yet Not Another Map Pack
Yet Not Another Map Pack is another map pack from well-known modder and bundler Gedemon. YNAMP for Civilization 6 includes Earth-shaped maps with the correct start locations for each culture. If you’re tired of playing a landlocked Norway, this is your chance to create a proper Viking empire. The pack also adds new, bigger map sizes (one of which is so big it might take five or so minutes to load).
When starting a game, you’ll have new map types and size options available. Head to the post on Civfanatics for more information on how to use YNAMP, as well as known bugs and issues.
Catastrophic Disaster Intensity
The highest disaster intensity in vanilla Civ 6 is called "Hyperreal." If that’s just not enough for you though, this mod let’s you crank it up to basically Just Plain Ridiculous. The description states that some kind of disaster will happen somewhere on the map just about every turn, and the severe versions are made more common. There is no longer any such thing as a dormant volcano. And in the late game, the number of coastal lowland tiles that can flood from climate change has been increased from the vanilla 33% all the way up to 75%. Mother Nature is coming for you and this time she’s not gonna play nice.
To Hell With The Devil: Religious units fight Rock Bands
This mod is so great we wrote an entire article about it. The premise is pretty simple: Rock Bands, Civ 6’s new, late game "culture nukes," can now engage in theological combat with religious units. For the pious, you can send apostles to keep these long-haired hooligans from corrupting the hearts and minds of your people. For the sacreligious, you can cast down the sanctimonious clerics of the Demiurge and make sure all the world gets to hear your tasty riffs and the good word of our Lord, Satan. This mod is so much fun that I have a hard time playing late game Civ 6 without it.
Zee's Fewer Trade Offers
The struggle of having to tell Victoria you’re not interested in her weird trade proposals constantly is real. This mod forces the AI to give it a rest once in a while, whether it’s pestering you for your gems or begging for their lives in a war. The AI cooldown for trade offers is increased from 10 turns to 50, peace offers in war from 3 turns to 10, and offers of friendship from 5 turns to 30. Maybe now you can finally enjoy some peace and quiet while you plot their ultimate demise.
Adjust starting units, techs, and more
While I was messing with Civ 6 to try to play a game , I found that all the player and AI starting conditions are stored in a file called Eras.xml. You’ll find it in the Civ 6 install directory, under \Base\Assets\Gameplay\Data.
Using what’s there as an example, it’s not hard to copy and paste to add starting units, or limit the AI’s unit bonuses on harder difficulties. Just make sure you backup Eras.xml before you start tinkering in case you want to revert to the defaults.
Better Trade Screen
The 'Repeat Route' checkbox alone makes Better Trade Screen worth it, but it brings lots of improvements, such as new sorting options to the Trade Overview screen. It's one of those quality of life improvement UI mods we'll keep checked forever.
Radial Measuring Tool
One of the most poorly-explained mechanics in Civ 6 is the fact that certain districts, like Industrial Zones, grant their benefits to all city-centers within six tiles. (I’ll pause for the gasps of everyone who has played hundreds of hours and still didn’t know that.) What makes it even more annoying is that there isn’t an easy way to figure out which cities are close enough—you have to count out tiles individually while bouncing your cursor along. At least, there wasn’t an easy way until now. This mod adds a tool that makes it very easy to quickly display the range of these effects so you never waste land on a redundant district again.
If you love data visualization and miss the demographic graphs from previous Civs, you’re in luck. CIVIGraphs 2 adds a Civ 5-style demographics panel that lets you see info on things like army size and population for you and all of your rivals over time. Simple, lightweight, but very useful. TPS Report cover sheet not included.
Real Era Tracker
Rise and Fall brought us the concepts of Era Score, Golden Ages, and Dark Ages. But there was one glaring problem: You’re never really told what actions will give you Era Score. So until you memorize all of the mini-achievements that do so, it’s a lot of guesswork and hoping. It can be even harder to keep track of which world firsts are still available. But no more! This mod adds an objective list of ways to earn Era Score, and even lets you know which moments are no longer available once they’ve been claimed by another civ. This makes it much easier to stack up those Golden Ages and let the good times roll.
Australia finally got some representation in Civ 6 after long being the only populated continent to never appear in the series, but they’re represented by the British colonizers that came along pretty recently. This mod adds an Aboriginal Australian civilization, the Anangu, under Tjilpi with two unique units, a unique tile improvement, and bonuses to setting up specialty districts in arid regions akin to their Outback home. They also benefit greatly from finding and building near natural wonders. If you own the Australia DLC, which the mod creator recommends, they will use Australia’s music tracks for added thematics.
CIVITAS Vlad III
Vlad the Impaler leads Romania in this appropriately bloody addition, and he’s all about causing chaos for his enemies. His unique unit is basically a crossbowman with the movement speed of a cavalry unit, which is already pretty crazy. But even more interesting is his unique ability that damages enemy units adjacent to a tile that’s being pillaged and sends out a wave of disloyalty to nearby cities when he captures a city, which can result in a chain revolt if you use it in the right place at the right time. You’ll need to download the Romania civ separately, which gives even more unique bonuses like a free technology for being on the winning side of an Emergency.
"A Song of Ice and Fire:" Rise and Fall of Usurper
This mod adds NINE(!) new civs based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the basis of the television show Game of Thrones. These include Rhaegar Targaryen of the Crownlands, Eddard Stark of the North, Tywin Lannister of the Westerlands, Robert Baratheon of the Stormlands, Mace Tyrell of the Reach, Jon Arryn of the Vale, Hoster Tully of the Riverlands, Doran Martell of Dorne and Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. Each have unique units and bonuses appropriate to the lore. And yes, of course, you can train dragons.
TOTAL CONVERSION MODS
This is one of the most involved mods I’ve ever seen. It basically takes Civ 6’s gameplay and zooms way in on the Ancient and Classical eras "from the Dawn of Time to the fall of Rome," keeping the same game pace and roughly the same number of civics and technologies to unlock. This sharper focus allows Anno Domini to model things that would normally be outside the scope of a Civ game, including new Historical Moments and new government types.
Sounds cool already, but who can you play as, you might ask? Well, these beautiful, crazy bastards have gone way above and beyond to bring us THIRTY distinct leaders (some being alternates for the same civ), including Ashurbanipal of Assyria, Sargon of Akkad, Hannibal of Carthage, Hatshepsut of Egypt, Arminius of Germania, Boudica of the Iceni, Zenobia of Palmyra, Leonidas of Sparta, Helen and Hector of Troy, four new Roman emperors, and reworked versions of some vanilla favorites like Pericles, Qin Shi Huang, and Chandragupta.