[Top 15] Best Stellaris Mods For a New Playthrough

Stellaris, grand strategy games, consumer guide, Mods
There's no limit to what you can achieve with mods

So you want to do another Stellaris playthrough, but you’re wondering how you can spice it up and make the run different and more interesting? Don’t worry, I’ve been there, and I’ve got your back. Here’s some of the best Stellaris mods to make your next run feel like a truly epic adventure where you don’t know what’s around the next nebula!

1. Gigastructures and More

A solitary planet, illuminated by the light of an inhabited Birch World the size of a Galactic Core

Gigastructures and More is the titan of the Stellaris mod community. It's practically a household name within the fanbase. In fact if you don’t have this mod already, I’d be concerned, it has so many features it can easily account for 50% of the fun in your game.


There’s the new crisis factions for a start, custom-built to test the economical limits of all your brand-new megastructures. Then there’s the insane amount of variety and customization when it comes to the rules surrounding megastructures. Finally you can’t forget about the mid-game, small megastructures that can give you a jump on the competition. They may be small, but they aren’t to be underestimated, unless you like being vassalized.


There’s really no way you can make a “best Stellaris mods” list of any kind without this absolute staple front and center. It adds an entirely new dimension to end-game Stellaris that frankly didn’t exist before. Now you finally have a reason to suffer through all the end-game lag!


Get “Gigastructures and More” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1121692237


2. Starnet AI

For when you want to feel like you're fighting Ultron or Skynet

Many Stellaris players would argue this is just as much a staple as Gigastructures, and I’m inclined to agree. Paradox Studios are legendary for their lack of good AI to oppose the player in single-player games, and Stellaris is no exception.


Starnet AI goes the extra mile to make single player campaigns feel like a battle of strategy and wits, rather than exploiting loopholes in the AI’s logic. With Starnet the AI will act more like a clever opponent and shrewd foe out to destroy you than a nervous, cowering animal or a training dummy you can beat and abuse until you’re exhausted. You’ll find yourself being punished for bad decisions and tactics, and if you don’t make friends the AI will happily gang up on you and divide the spoils.


It isn’t just military strategy Starnet is good at, the AI will actually plan its economy now, making it a force to be reckoned with even on the lowest difficulties. Many players lost their first run within the first 50 years on Ensign when trying the mod out for the first time, because the AI was suddenly playing the game just like them! Yes, I was one of those players.


If you feel like you need a real opponent, and not just a cheat-buffed AI, Starnet AI is about as close to playing against another seasoned Stellaris veteran as you can get on the Workshop. For bonus points, it won’t care what you call its mother, or get mad if you crime up its empire as a Syndicate!


Get the Starnet AI mod here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1712760331


3. Dynamic Difficulty: Ultimate Customization

Perfect for modulating a run that feels stagnant, or nerfing a Crisis you accidentally spawned at too high a level

Dynamic Difficulty is the premier difficulty modulation mod for Stellaris players of all types. You have complete control of all difficulty modifiers with this mod in your launcher. You can directly modulate all the bonuses and even experiment with your own unique combinations.


AI nations die too easily in war? Just reduce or remove their ship-building costs and upkeep. Dominating the Galactic Community too easily? Buff everyone else’s economy as much as you like with no cap. Is that Awakened Empire that just crawled out of bed too disappointing? Give them as many uncapped bonuses as you want, the possibilities are endless.


It can be an absolute run-saver when the Crisis shows up and you realize you set it to be too weak, or too strong. It also allows you to experiment live with the default difficulties to figure out which settings you like best and in which situations. I can’t even count how many runs I would have given up on if not for this mod.


Get the Dynamic Difficulty mod here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1613880809


4. UI Overhaul Dynamic

Its like "true level", but for the Stellaris UI

Although this mod is technically a cosmetic mod, it really changes the experience of playing Stellaris. The upgrade it gives the UI really is something else, to the point of it changing your gameplay through improving the ease with which you can navigate the UI, and reducing a lot of the clutter of the vanilla UI. The changes to the planetary menu alone is enough to justify running this mod, but every piece of the UI has been given a similar overhaul.


The various interfaces are now more cleanly organized with all of the space in each menu being used economically and in a more user-friendly way. Things have been moved to better fit into the space provided and in some cases to allow for new content to be added in by other mods more easily, or to display more content than the original UI could.


UI Overhaul may be one of the least flashy and attention-grabbing mods out there, but once you start using it, you quickly forget that the vanilla UI ever existed and it becomes your new standard, after which going back to vanilla doesn’t ever really cross your mind.


Get “UI Overhaul Dynamic” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1623423360 


5. Technology Ascendant

Real technological diversity to go with the new tradition tree diversity

For those looking for more variance and true tech build diversity, this mod is a gift from the Shroud. It will fundamentally change your playstyle as you strive for certain techs this mod offers and ignore others for fear that taking them might lock you out of the specific tech you are looking for.


As you progress through the tech trees, you will begin to receive various powerful technologies as research options. You are limited in how many of these powerful techs you can research, so once you reach the cap (which is lower than the total number of these techs), you won’t see any of the remainders pop up anymore. This forces you to pick and choose which of these ground-shaking techs you want for this playthrough, and which you aren’t all that enthusiastic about, making for genuine player choice that is both interesting and balanced.


I haven’t been able to stop using this mod since I first discovered it, and it feels foundational to the way I play. Almost every empire I play feels technologically different by end-game because of this mod, and I highly recommend it if you are bored with the same old tech trees every run.


Get “Technology Ascendant” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1455861246 


6. Known Precursor

Why gamble when you can rig the game instead?

I know what you’re probably thinking, and yes, being able to choose your own precursor is indeed unbalanced. Especially with how powerful some are compared to others. You have some Precursors that give you Relic Worlds, damaged Megastructures, or large deposits of the most valuable strategic resources, while others give you some basic resources, research, and some regular strategic resources.


This mod simply does away with the RNG and lets you outright choose which Precursor you want at the beginning of your run. It does this through an edict you fire off right after loading your brand new galaxy, which spawns a menu of options to choose from. Choosing an option will fire off the appropriate Precursor event chain, preventing any other chain from firing.


While this can have some serious balance issues in a multiplayer setting, in single player it's very useful for those who want a specific Precursor relic or reward, or for those who just have a headcanon around their empire and see a certain Precursor as a part of it.


Get “Known Precursor” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1780597499 


7. More Civics

For when you finally run out of new empire ideas

If you’ve grown bored of Stellaris because of its lackluster selection of civics to customize your civilization, don’t worry, I’ve been there too, and civics mods are your solution. One of the best civics mods I’ve found that is still being actively updated is simply titled “More Civics.”


The mod adds over 30 new civics to the game, and the mod authors are always adding new civics. With the selection the mod currently offers, you will be able to create exceptionally powerful leaders, stabilize your empire during hard times, forge strong bonds with your neighbors exceptionally quickly, or completely decentralize your government to massively reduce the weight of your empire on the bureaucracy. That’s just some of the things you can do, we didn’t even get into the Megacorp civics the mod has on offer.


More Civics isn’t the only civic mod out there, just one of the most frequently updated and high-quality ones. I recommend trying out multiple different civic mods after trying this one. Find the ones that suit your playstyle best and you’ll find the game begins to feel like it has much more depth.


Get “More Civics” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1647628520 


8. Federations Expanded

Unify the galaxy in more ways than ever before!

Much like its civic selection, vanilla Stellaris doesn’t have an exceptionally wide array of options for Federation types. This mod changes that, giving you new Federation types for almost every playstyle, from religious orders looking to convert the galaxy to the faith through friendship, to the fanatic pacifist who just wants them and their friends to be left alone.


The mod adds a new federation type for every ethic except authoritarianism and militarism, which are both already covered by the Hegemony and Martial Alliance federations respectively. Even Gestalts get their own unique federation type! Egalitarians will get large bonuses to economic growth and development, Xenophiles will get more diplomatic power, Xenophobes will get what is essentially a complex mass-non-aggression pact with benefits, while pacifists get bonuses to national and federal defense. Spiritualists will get bonuses to ethics attraction and special modifiers to help make things like unity rushing easier and cheaper, while Gestalts get bonuses to genetic modification.


This mod essentially completes the Federation type roster, ensuring that everyone has access to a Federation type that suits their playstyle and ethics. There are numerous little hidden features and bonuses in each Federation that are good for both roleplay and metagaming, making this mod useful to you regardless of which side of that particular fence you fall on. I haven’t stopped using this mod since I found it, and having such a variety of Federations at my disposal during each playthrough feels perfectly natural. If you feel like the Federation system is incomplete, this is your go-to mod.


Get “Federations Expanded” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2065121501 


9. Exalted Dominion

Add new depth to the shallow vassalization system

If you feel that the lackluster vassalization system is part of what is preventing you from enjoying your playthroughs, this is the mod for you. Exalted Dominion adds a whole new level of depth to any of your runs that involve vassals. The diversity in the mod allows you to pick and choose how you want to rule over your subjects according to your (or even their) needs. The best part is that you don’t even need to play authoritarian. Egalitarians can get in on the fun as well!


Exalted Dominion adds a grand total of sixteen different vassal and tributary types. You will be able to demand any kind of tribute from your subjects, from alloys and unity to pops and strategic resources. The various vassal types will impart a variety of different effects, privileges, and abilities to your subjects, with you being allowed to be as light or as heavy-handed as you want to be. An empire of Feudal houses is not just possible and playable, but enjoyable with this mod active. If you are Egalitarian, you can have subjects who aren’t really subjects but allies who aren’t allowed to abandon you. Even vassalizing Gestalts comes with its own unique subject type with interesting and potent boons for the Overlord.


The new subject types aren’t the only content the mod has to offer, Some Ascension Perks and Domination traditions have been upgraded and overhauled, new edicts and planetary decisions have been added, and a bunch of other under-the-hood changes surrounding vassalization have been thrown in. This mod is one of the most jam-packed with content that I know of, next to Gigastructures and various civics mods. It's enough to be considered a complete overhaul of the vassal system that makes it fun to roleplay as a feudal space empire.


Get “Exalted Dominion” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2464438188 


10. The Twilight State

The sun sets on the chaos of old, heralding a new Dark Age of peace and safety

The one and only type of empire that Exalted Dominion doesn’t really cater to is Rogue Servitors. This mod makes up for that by giving Rogue Servitors a flavorful new subject type with real depth. It’s mostly a roleplay-friendly mod, but there are reasons to use it as a meta choice too.


The new subject type: The Twilight State, is a materialist technocracy with reduced pop growth and vastly increased robot-building speed. Once a certain percentage of the total population in the Twilight State is robotic, its overlord can begin to integrate it at will. The subject type reflects the slow and gradual transition from an organic-run society to a fully automated civilization under the guidance and care of a vast artificial intelligence, providing a host of roleplaying opportunities, especially if rebellions occur, and giving meta players the ability to minimize micromanagement after the assimilation is complete.


If you were thinking about a Rogue Servitor run but opted out, try one with this mod active. It's a small thing, but it can really add to your experience in a big way. It really is something else to watch the whole galaxy slowly submit to the superiority of machine-run civilization and surrender to the cold, metallic, and affectionate embrace of their rightful caretakers. Probably had something to do with the free, all-you-can-eat ice cream.


Get “The Twilight State” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2074113651 


11. Money’s Corporate Civic Parities

Even more ways to make credits!

Ever bemoaned the lack of options Megacorps have when it comes to civics? You aren’t alone, Mr. Handmann and I are with you on that. While this is yet another civic mod in the list, this one adds new civic options exclusively to Megacorps, which a lot of regular civic mods tend to overlook. In any case, you’ll find this mod gives you a wider variety of ways to profit off of the xenos than ever before.


The mod adds Corporate-flavored versions of regular civics like Reanimators, Shared Burdens (Corporate Communism FTW?), and even Pompous Purists. You can have your megacorporation ruled from the shadows by a secret Board of Directors (great for SCP Foundation roleplays) with the “Backroom Dealings” civic, or try your hand at being Elon Musk in Space™ with the “R&D Prominence” civic. There are a lot more options than that, so subscribe to the mod and give it a test run the next time you want profits over purging.


This mod is a fantastic addition to any mod list, as the lack of diversity in civic options for Megacorps is just as apparent as it is with Hive Minds. Paradox could do an entire expansion focused on making new Megacorp civics (Or Gestalts for that matter) and it would still only bring Corps close to parity with regular empires for civic variety. Of course, arguably, the ability to profit off someone else’s pops makes up for that, but it wouldn’t kill the game to have a bit more flavor, which this mod and mods like it provide in spades.


Get “Money’s Corporate Civic Parities” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2662226452 


12. Origins Expanded

This sheer variety can't be beat

If you feel like the current selection of origins Stellaris has to offer is too lacking, this mod has your bases pretty well covered. It’s got a wide variety of origins, some for flavor, some for meta, and some for challenges. I haven’t found any other mods that add the sheer variety of origins that this one does, although certain other origins mods do give you more specific origins that this one is missing.


The sheer amount of variety in this mod is its strength. It has origins specific to your governing ethics, origins to help you get a faster start, or origins that give you flavor for your RP but can be used for meta strategies if you’re clever and creative enough. You can start as Psionic, be a machine intelligence devoted to diplomacy, or be the last survivors of a previous empire who rebuilt civilization on an abandoned Resort world. There genuinely are too many origins to name in this mod, so if you want the full scope of the mod, grab it off the workshop and check the empire creation menu, you will find something you like, guaranteed.


While this isn’t the only origins mod out there (obviously), no others I’ve found come close to the variety this origins mod offers. If you’re looking for something more specific that this mod doesn’t have, shopping around could be a good idea, or if you’re patient and want to keep your mod list below 300 (because you already have mod lists of 500+ for Fallout and Skyrim and frankly you don’t want to risk having your PC spontaneously combust), you can just hop down into the discussion section of the mod page and offer your origin idea for the mod authors to consider. They’re pretty welcoming and accepting of well-articulated, polite suggestions.


Get “Origins Expanded” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2476102240 


13. Fallen Empire Megastructures

Remnants of past glory long buried, but never forgotten.

Ever wondered why in all of their millions of years of existence, the Fallen Empires never seemed to have built any Megastructures even at their height? I mean sure, technically the ruined ones you find all over the galaxy could be theirs, but you would have thought that they would have at least built them closer to their capital sector. Well this mod is meant to change that, and make it dangerously obvious that the Fallen Empires are not just an early-endgame speed bump, but a genuine threat.


Each Fallen Empire will get a ruined vanilla Megastructure in accordance with their Ethos. The mod has extra compatibility with Gigastructures however, giving the FE’s more powerful Gigastructures in place of whatever vanilla counterpart they would get without the mod active. Xenophobes get a Nicoll-Dyson Beam, Xenophiles get a Virtual Reality Simulator, Spiritualists get a Hypersiphon, and Materialists get a Matrioshka Brain. These start out ruined or incomplete but get finished once the FE becomes an Awakened Empire.


Combining this with using the Dynamic Difficulty mod to buff Fallen Empires specifically and you will make them and any potential War in Heaven a true Endgame Crisis on its own. I myself have had several War(s) in Heaven that were far scarier, challenging, and more interesting than the end-game crisis factions thanks to this mod, and I don’t really enjoy fighting FE’s or AE’s without it.


Get “Fallen Empire Megastructures” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1539722097 


14. Gods and Guardians

Nothing like a good holy war to get the blood flowing!

Lack of ability to interact with primitive civilizations has always been one of Stellaris’s shortcomings, but this mod opens up new dimensions and layers of interaction with primitives that let you fulfill any kind of space fantasy. Will you be watchful guardians from another world? Benevolent non-interventionist caretakers? Or perhaps you will be a wrathful or even generous pantheon, demanding worship and service in exchange for protection, favor, and eventual enlightenment.


This mod adds new stances to the Observation posts you can build above primitive worlds. Access to these missions is loosely based on your governing ethics, so xenophile egalitarians shouldn’t be able to demand the mud-dwelling xenos worship them and tremble at their wrath, while authoritarian xenophobes won’t be able to just be silent, watchful guardians. There are also a variety of different event chains which can be triggered by each of the new stances, giving you opportunities to shape your empire’s policy towards that specific group of mudball-dwellers. From inviting them up to visit the observation post to literally sparking and fermenting religious wars and enabling religiously-motivated genocides. It wouldn’t be a Stellaris run without a little genocide after all!


This mod isn’t the end-all be-all when it comes to expanding on primitive interactions, but it’s one of the best ones to start with if you aren’t intent on making it your main focus to “play” with your pet primitives every game. No judgment if you do, I’ve found games with x5 primitive civs to be rewarding in their own way, both as slavers and liberators. The mod has become particularly fun to use with Necrophages since 2.8, as taking over primitive worlds already worshiping you as gods is rather quick and painless compared to the usual hostile takeover penalties. Try this mod with a Necrophage empire with x5 primitives and you’ll get what I mean by the time the run ends.


Get “Gods and Guardians” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2613761945 


15. Undeath Worlds

Finally, true Tomb Worlds!

Speaking of Necrophages, have you ever thought that the space vampires™ needed more style? That your empire of undead space wizards just weren’t gothic and malevolent enough? Well I have, and so has Steam user Cephalon Sithalo. That’s why he created this mod, to give Necrophage empires that air of utter malevolence and a real feeling of being “undead aliens.”


The mod adds a new planet type locked behind an ascension perk exclusive to empires with the Necrophage origin. This new planet type is something of a specialized Ecumenopolis for Necrophages, with districts that create jobs from all of the new civics added in 2.8, as well as Necrophyte and Base Resource jobs. The planetary bonuses are quite good as well, and you can “necrotize” Ring World segments too. Not to mention that there is a planetary decision to change the color and theming of your undead world from a necrotic green to a sinister purple, so if you aren’t running an empire of necromancers but of horrendous darkspawn, you won’t have to choose between immersion and power.


If you are a Necrophage fan like I am, this is one of the best mods on the workshop. I normally can’t stand to use Necrophage without it active. While it doesn’t produce the advanced resources of an Ecumenopolis, the two perks aren’t mutually exclusive, so you can happily make however many Ecus you want, then turn the rest of your empire into dark, shrouded worlds steeped in death, malice, and horror. Lovecraft would be proud.


Get “Undeath Worlds” here: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2273646485 


These mods are just a few of the countless good-quality content produced by passionate, talented, and creative fans in the Workshop. If you are only playing vanilla Stellaris, trust me, you are missing out on so many more fun and enjoyable runs full of diverse civilizations and a wide array of player choice.


It’s not that Paradox has made a bad or incomplete game, it's that the creators in the Workshop have used what Paradox has made as a solid foundation to turn a game that would otherwise have a half-life of 1-2k hours into a game with a theoretically infinite half-life. I know multiple players who have sunk over 5000 hours into this game, and are still nowhere near bored with it yet, myself included.


With the recent release of the Aquatics Species Pack, I have to say that the water is warm, and the space shanties are quite catchy. Dive on into the Workshop and I’ll race you to 10000 hours!

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A gamer to the core, Joel enjoys building and exploring worlds. The Internet is his magic mirror, and his gaming chair his throne.
Gamer Since: 2007
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Stellaris
Top 3 Favorite Games:Stellaris, Darksiders II, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

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