Europa Universalis IV Best Expansions (All Expansions Ranked Worst To Best)

europa universalis iv, euiv, best expansions
To boldly colonize where no one has settled before


Europa Universalis is a fantastic game, as well as an old one. In fact, the game was originally released all the way back on the 13th of August, 2013., and yet, the game is still going strong.

This is partly due to the game simply being fun of course, but more so because it has been continually supported by Paradox throughout its lifetime with numerous expansions. That being said, while all of the expansions add something new to the game, not all of them are made equal, and in this list, you’ll get to some of the best expansions Paradox has released for the game so far.


10. El Dorado

Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado - Release Trailer

El Dorado was the second DLC released to have the New World in its focus. However, unlike Conquest of Paradise which came before it, El Dorado adds much more meaningful features to that area, as well as some additions for the rest of the world.

Previously, the only way to explore the new world was to manually click each and every undiscovered province with an army that has a conquistador. With this expansion, however, you now have the option of automatically exploring the New World in order to find the mythical city this DLC was named after, as well as other similar ones.

Beyond that quality of life improvement, El Dorado also adds a mechanic to Catholic colonizers that mimics the historical Treaty of Tordesillas. As well as the ability to hunt pirates stealing your trade, be it your local commerce, or the gold your treasure fleets send. Which is, coincidentally, another feature this expansion brings.

Beyond that, the so-called High-American civilizations following the Nahuatl, Maya, and Inti faith gained brand new mechanics, turning their somewhat lackluster religions into genuine powerhouses, for the determined players.

Finally, the last added feature is one that, depending on how much you use it, can vastly change the ranking of this particular expansion. And that is the custom nation designer. 

For anyone not satisfied with the hundreds of picks for countries in the base game of EU4, this expansion adds the ability to create and customize totally unique player nation to an unprecedented degree. From ideas and religion to rulers and culture. There isn’t a single thing that you can’t change.

Overall, it’s a good expansion, but one of the more specialized ones on this list. True, it adds plenty of stuff, and the stuff added is of great quality. But the fact remains that many nations simply won’t ever interact with most of what was added here. 

While custom nations can be great fun, they still don’t get any missions, aside from the generic ones that is. And besides, it isn’t like there’s a shortage of nations to pick and play as.

Expansion score: 1/10

Full details here.


9. Mandate of Heaven

Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven - Release Trailer

Mandate of Heaven is another fairly focused expansion that nevertheless adds plenty of new features and mechanics to the rest of the game. The focus this time is on East Asia, specifically China and Japan.

As previously said, the various Chinese dynasties upheld something called the Mandate of Heaven, and up until this expansion, this wasn’t really represented in the game. Now, however, a brand new interface was added, in the same vein as the one for the Holy Roman Empire, except that there can be only one holder of the title. 

Besides that, the Emperor can also establish tributaries, as well as gain a new system that substitutes legitimacy, called meritocracy. And should a dynasty, which doesn’t necessarily have to be Chinese, hold the throne for long enough and maintain a safe and secure society, the reforms they take can turn even the weakest of nations into powerful adversaries.

Of course, in time, all empires fall, and as was the case in our own history, in-game the Manchu’s of Manchuria have gotten expanded mechanics and new units. With them, they are able to sweep aside the old and establish a new and better order.

That being said, the Japanese have also gotten a rework. Their religion, Shinto, was reworked to be much more interesting. As well as that, the Shogunate was added, allowing any Daimyo to claim the title should they be able to conquer Kyoto.

However, that isn’t the only thing added in this expansion. A new Age feature was introduced to everyone, as well as a Golden Era mechanic to reward those players who have achieved significant progress during a particular age.

Beyond even that, the single greatest quality of life improvement the game has ever gotten was introduced with this expansion. That addition is the macrobuilder. Now, while recent updates to the game have allowed the use of the macrobuilder, the diplomatic tab is still locked behind this expansion and is a must-have for those who don’t want to, or can’t be bothered to, use their diplomats in the most efficient way possible.

While the QoL improvements are great, and the other features nice, this is still a primarily East Asia-focused expansion. And if you’re not playing in the region, or don’t think the expansion-specific addons are worth it, then this DLC won’t really add much to the game.

Expansion score: 2/10

Full details here.


8. Cradle of Civilization

Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization Release Trailer

As the Fertile Crescent once brought life to the first ancient civilizations on the planet, so too does the Cradle of Civilization breathe new life to the largest religion in the game, at game start.

The expansion for the most part focuses on the Middle East, however, since a good chunk of the new features and mechanics are related to the different sects of Islam, it ends up influencing almost half of the world.

From new government reforms that give you powerful interactions, to new religious schools which give certain bonuses and can even influence your relations with other nations. The sheer amount of content and events added in for Muslims is incredible.

 Including special events and even chains for the big powers of the region, the Ottomans, Mamluks, and Timurids. All of which also have plenty of unique flavor on their own with this expansion.

That being said though, the rest of the world hadn’t been forgotten and mechanics such as Army Professionalism have impacted the game significantly as well as having given your armies something to do while at peace. Even though the feature was jokingly compared to the same mechanic in another Paradox game, Hearts of Iron 4, as being virtually the same. Over the years, however, new additions and revisions have truly made this mechanic stand on its own.

Other noteworthy mechanics added were also the ability to exploit your own development, giving you boosts like more money, sailors, or manpower, at the expense of long-term profit. As well as trade policies, which allow you to give you certain bonuses depending on whether you have a merchant in a specific trade node or not.

While the expansion itself is decent, the fact remains that it impacts an incredibly wide and diverse range of countries. From West Africa, all the way to Indonesia in fact! And for that alone, it deserves the spot it received.

Expansion score: 3/10

Full details here.


7. Leviathan

Europa Universalis IV: Leviathan - Release Trailer

Behold, the single worst-rated DLC to have ever been released on Steam. 

So what is Leviathan doing so high up on the list, let alone being on the list? Well, the funny thing is, the expansion itself is actually pretty good, but the base-game update that came with it was the one that borked the game. I could go on and on about all of the myriads of problems that plagued the release of Leviathan, but I don’t think I’d be able to list them all before I die of old age.

Fortunately, however, Paradox managed to fix most, if not all of the issues that the update brought, and as a result, the game is once more playable. Hip hip hurrah!

As for the expansion itself, however, it added a surprising amount of good things. From a brand new monument system, reminiscent of the one in Crusader Kings 2. To an overhauled favor system that is much more interactive, and far more reliable than before. 

Of course, it wouldn’t do to forget the fact that this expansion adds the ability to consolidate the development of your territories into your capital, as well as the development of your subjects. You can even pillage your enemy's capital as well in a peace deal if you’re feeling particularly malicious towards an enemy.

And for anyone who likes to play “tall”, that is to have a limited number of provinces, but have those provinces be super rich and powerful, this expansion adds many new mechanics to aid in such a playstyle.

And beyond that, an improved Totemist faith, turning it into the most min-maxable religion in the game. As well as an entirely brand new religion in aboriginal Australia add plenty of extra content to these regions. Not to mention all of the additions to South East Asia in general, both in the form of events, as well as missions for most of the countries there.

Overall, while the expansion itself offers an enormous amount of new content, and the fact that its poor launch wasn’t entirely the fault of the expansion itself, it still can’t go any higher on the list. Partly because of how long it took to return the game to a playable state, and partly because some of the new mechanics were either utterly overpowered, or pointlessly weak.

Expansion score: 4/10

Full details here.


6. The Cossacks

Europa Universalis IV: The Cossacks - Release Trailer

The Cossacks, despite being mostly focused around the horde-like steppe nomads of Central Asia, is, for the most part, the diplomatic update.

As far as the focused content is concerned, the Tengri religion was given unique mechanics, as well as new events to spice up gameplay. The hordes themselves received a rework and became much more fun to play, incentivizing a kind of total war style of play that few other nations can match.

Beyond that, new government reforms and estates were added into the game. In fact, the estate system itself, before it was made available to everyone, was added into the game in this expansion. Giving players the ability to interact with what was, in our reality, a kind of check and balance to the absolute rule of a nation’s ruler.

From giving certain privileges to controlling who has how much land, the estate gameplay has become a staple of the game, providing you with great bonuses, if controlled wisely. However, this wasn’t the only new staple added to the game.

The trust system, as well as the favor mechanics, were first introduced in this expansion. Making it so that your enemies will truly learn to hate your guts, while your allies will greatly value your friendship. Truly, the power of friendship knows no bounds! 

You also gain the ability to coordinate conquests with your allies by marking provinces of interest, so that when they conquer land you desire, they will transfer it to you. In fact, they will even go so far as to avoid conquest in the land you desire, should your ally see a benefit to long-term friendship.

Honestly, while the previous expansions added a good deal of small changes, and then many changes to a specific region, The Cossacks is the first expansion on the list that truly affects every single part of the world. Even Cradle of Civilization was less impactful, and it was only as important as it was due to the religious changes!

Expansion score: 5/10

Full details here.


5. Emperor

Europa Universalis IV: Emperor - Release Trailer

Play in the HRE they said. It will be fun they said. Jokes aside, Emperor is the expansion that affects the aforementioned Holy Roman Empire, as well as Catholicism as a whole. 

From dozens of new mission trees and new formable nations spread throughout Europe to a new and improved Papacy and Counter-Reformation. If you play in Europe ( because let’s face it, this is Europa Universalis and not India Universalis ) then this expansion is a must.

The changes to Catholicism during the Counter-Reformation turned the religion from something you almost always converted away from during the Reformation, to a religion that can stand toe to toe with the best of them. In fact, it is even possible for the Curia controller to delay the start of the Reformation by investigating heresy. So if you’ve ever wanted to roleplay as an inquisitor, this expansion finally lets you burn the heretics and convert the faithless!

That being said, the expansion isn’t only focused on Catholicism. The Empire itself, which has remained the exact same since the launch of EU4, has gotten a major overhaul. 

From new Imperial Incidents that lead to important decisions, most of which have a significant impact on the game. To a more engaging and historically accurate Burgundian Succession Crisis.

Beyond these changes, the expansion also improves and reworks the Revolution mechanic, essentially making the late-game much more enjoyable. For those rare and prophesied individuals who actually manage to reach it, anyway.

Of course, the update that Emperor launched in also changed the game drastically. Moving away from the old state and corruption system, which brought many a woe to wide players. To a new governing capacity system, which brought many a woe to wide players, but also made it more manageable and interactive.

As well, the mercenaries present in the game were reworked from the infinite armies they once represented, into a much more logical and immersive company. Where you no longer hired random regiments, but instead fully fleshed out armies, with their own manpower pools and leadership. As well as unique compositions depending on culture, religion, and place of origin.

Finally, considering the sheer volume of games played in Europe, this expansion is a great one to grab. As well the other improvements and reworks that came with the expansion as part of the free update make the game a much more enjoyable experience.

Expansion score: 6/10

Full details here.


4. Common Sense

Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense - Release Trailer

Like the name of the expansion implies, this is an expansion that is generally speaking a very good one to have. In fact, prior to the release of Mandate of Heaven, it was a flat-out must-have.

The expansion itself added many new mechanics and features to various religions and governments. For Protestant nations, you now have the ability to choose various church aspects so you can customize your faith to best suit you. 

Buddhists, and the various denominations that fall under the religion, gained a Karma system, where you need to balance warlike actions with peaceful ones. In order to maintain a balance and keep powerful bonuses.

On the government side of things, theocracies gained new mechanics and events, as well as adding mechanics and special governments to certain countries, like England and the Papal States. This expansion also added the ability to improve the rank of your government, going from a lowly duke to a mighty emperor.

Of course, these aren’t the only government-related features added. Subject interactions are another thing this expansion adds. So for anyone willing to create and maintain a vassal swarm, a whole host of new options and features were added.

Another thing that was also added to this expansion, which was featured previously, is the ability to focus on a specific kind of power. This ability was first added in Res Publica and allows you to sacrifice one monarch point per month on two of your monarch points, in order to gain a boost of +2 on the third one.

And finally, it also added a feature that, almost entirely on its own, made this expansion a must-have. Development. Or rather, the ability to develop provinces yourself. 

The fact of the matter is, this one single feature completely changed the game and how it was played. So much so, that it was actually possible to finally play tall, rather than wide and only grow in strength through conquest.

However, as of Mandate of Heaven, all players now have the ability to develop their land. And as a result, this expansion went from being a no-brainer to buy, a common-sense decision if you will, to one that is simply very good to have.

Expansion score: 7/10

Full details here.


3. Rights of Man

Europa Universalis IV - The Rights of man, Release Trailer

Rights of Man is, like the topic it’s named after, a great thing.

Adding in a great amount of flavor, as well as the ability to customize your rulers' personalities is just the start of the features added in by this expansion.

Like I’ve mentioned already, rulers can now gain personalities, which can either give positive or negative modifiers for your country. And for the AI, it may even change how they play. 

For example, a Bold Fighter may fight wars that might seem hopeless, yet incredibly rewarding if he wins. Whereas a Zealot will Deus Vult his way through Heathens and Heretics alike.

Of course, the rulers aren’t the only ones who can get personalities. Consorts were also added in with this expansion, and should your ruler meet an untimely demise, they’ll take over instead of a regency council. 

Aside from that, Great Powers are another mechanic that this expansion added, and it makes the game much more dynamic. Influencing other nations, as well as making strategic alliances based on the rivalries of the Great Powers allows for much more in-depth gameplay throughout the game.

Even your subjects got expanded, with a new ability to more closely coordinate how their armies should function. And beyond all of that, both the Ottomans and the Prussians gain more flavor to work with. And, yet again, none of that even covers any of the changes to the Coptic and Fetishist religions, which give them unique mechanics and make them even more entertaining to play.

The end result of this expansion is that it ends up being a whole bunch of really cool things packed together, and it really feels like a whole new avenue for roleplaying is opened up with it.

Expansion score: 8/10

Full details here.


2. Dharma

Europa Universalis IV: Dharma - Release Trailer

Despite being an expansion that primarily focused on India, the features and mechanics introduced here add so much more to the wider game that it is frankly incredible.

The estates feature, which was originally added in The Cossacks expansion was made free, though some estates still remained locked behind that DLC. Furthermore, another feature, originally added in by Wealth of Nations also became available in Dharma as well, the feature in question was the ability to create trade companies.

However, adding in already existing features wasn’t what made this expansion great. No, it was the adding of new features. Colonists for example now had a use outside of, well, colonizing. If you no longer had provinces you could colonize, or simply didn’t wish to colonize any longer, you could now improve your own provinces with them instead.

The various centers of trade found throughout the map now had the ability to be improved. So you can make any of them true world trade centers, rather than just some really popular trading village. And for anyone having trouble with rebels, the ability for your armies to autonomously patrol your land and crush any insurrection was finally added in with this expansion.

However, by far the most important feature added by this expansion was the ability to choose your own government reforms. Gone were the predetermined governments of yore! 

Now, whenever you unlocked a new tier of reforms, you had the ability to freely pick whichever bonuses suited you most. Essentially allowing you to customize your nation to an unprecedented degree.

And none of that even mentioned anything about India itself! The amount of content added in for India makes any country there a joy to play. In fact, aside from Europe, India is probably the most feature-rich region in the game, with this expansion.

As a result of the incredible amount of content, as well as how flexible said content is, this expansion easily earns its spot on this list.

Expansion score: 9/10

Full details here.


1. Art of War

Europa Universalis IV: Art of War - Release Trailer

As the Great Sun Tzu once said, “This expansion be dope yo!”... or something like that.

In all seriousness though, Art of War is the de facto single best expansion ever released for EU4. Adding far too many events to count, as well as adding Events and mechanics to simulate some of the most historically important events in the game.

From the Religious League War, meant to simulate the death and destruction caused by the 30 Year’s War in our timeline, to Revolutions. The amount of content added in that has since been refined and perfected is almost insane. Of course, these literally game-changing mechanics and features weren’t the only things added to the game.

The ability to direct your allies' armies to strategic locations, as well as coordinate with them to present a unified front to the enemy was another thing added. As well as a new type of subject called a March, which, unlike regular vassals which pay taxes and can be annexed, Marches don’t pay you tribute and you can’t integrate them. But on the flip side, you can turn any nation into a military powerhouse from the bonuses Marches get, or, if you’re really determined, get a nation that is already very powerful militarily, and March them, letting them loose on your foes only to watch them demolish all opposition.

Finally, while the flavor to the game is all nice and neat and all, the expansion also adds many new ways to go to war. And speaking of war, army templates were also introduced here, allowing you to build armies with a single click, rather than having to recruit each and every regiment individually.

And finally, there were even new map modes were added into the game, to allow you to more easily determine what kind of terrain you could fight in, or which provinces had forts on them.

Overall, there are precious few things this expansion doesn’t at least touch up on, and the things that it does focus on are truly must-haves.

Expansion score: 10/10

Full details here.


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Be it heroic or gritty face-to-face battles or a general's war table, I've seen it all. No bullet was left uncounted in my wake, nor was any soldier left behind (well, mostly anyways).
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Europa Universalis 4
Top 3 Favorite Games:Europa Universalis IV, Metro Redux, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition

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