Sid Meier’s Civilization V is a pretty old game with a wealth of mods. Civilization as a franchise has stood the test of time—it's one of the oldest 4X strategy games that’s still kicking. Civilization V is nine years old now. One of the best things about its launch was that Firaxis Games, the developer, gave the game mod support at launch and everyone got a free SDK, an application for easily making mods. Over the last nine years, Civilization V has enjoyed a flourishing modding community. From simple settings changes to full gameplay changes, there’s something for everyone.
Unfortunately, the modding community is fairly small now, with only a handful of mods released per week. But it's undeniably still alive, partly thanks to the nature of the game itself. The game has near-infinite replayability without mods; according to Steam Charts, Civilization V keeps about a 20,000-40,000 player count (myself included). It’s my most played game on Steam, with 832 hours at the time of writing. During those hours, I’ve dabbled with a variety of mods. Here's a list of my most essential mods for Civilization V in no particular order. Note: Some of these may require some DLCs.
#1: Metal Gear Solid: Militaires Sans Frontières Civilization: Subsistence [BNW]
This mod is one of my favorites made by the legendary modder Vicevirtuoso. There are many mods that add in new civilizations to play as and play against, but this one has the most depth. Unlike most other modded civilizations, this mod adds a new mechanic exclusive for this civilization: salvage. Salvage is used to either upgrade the palace building in your capital city—increasing its yields over time—or to upgrade your troops in the field. You play as Big Boss, leader of the mercenary group known as the MSF, who are soldiers without borders. The traits of the civilization match the leader and the aesthetics perfectly. This isn’t even the coolest part, though—if your capital gets taken by a civilization you’re at war with, but you take it back, the entire civilization changes. The MSF becomes the Diamond Dogs, Big Boss becomes Venom Snake, and the colors and emblems all change. This extra touch, which fits with the overarching Metal Gear Solid storyline, is absolutely awesome.
#2: Barbarians Evolved
Barbarians are already a core part of the Civilization V experience. They are often described as an early game annoyance. They pillage your improvement tiles, steal your workers or settlers, and then leave. By late game, they’re practically wiped out. This mod overhauls the barbarians. Encampments, which spawn barbarians, can evolve into barbarian cities if left alone for long enough. The barbarians will try to take your cities, turning them from an annoyance into a serious threat. The mod also comes with a barbarian civilization that can fight with the normal barbarians. The mod is fully configurable, allowing you to customize your barbarian experience in a multitude of ways. If you like fighting barbarians like I do, you’ll love this mod. If you’re like my friends who don’t, stay ten feet away.
#3 City States Evolved
City State politics are an important part of Civilization V. Some of the civs you play as and against are based around interacting with City States, and getting bonuses for it. This mod takes it a bit further. City States are now nation-states, and can settle several cities. They can also declare war on each other, adding more life and more tension to the game world.
#4 Quick Turns
This simple mod is a huge quality-of-life improvement. During the late game, waiting for the AI turns to end takes longer and longer. An old solution was to enable the quick movement setting and the quick combat setting, which removes the animations of those two actions for everyone. This mod toggles these settings for the AI and barbarians, except for anything relevant to the player, like an attack. This makes the late game stay at a consistent speed, where it would normally slow to a crawl.
#5 Really Advanced Setup
The really advanced setup is not as simple as its title. This mod overhauls the advanced settings menu, allowing you to change much of the game before you start. You can pick and choose which civilizations are randomly selected, and you can disable happiness or nuclear weapons. You can change the default visibility of the world when the game starts or what spawns around natural wonders. The configurability of this mod is crazy. This mod is definitely a must-have.
#6 Future Worlds
Ever feel like late game Civilization V is really boring? This mod is right for you. It changes up the tech tree for the Information Era, then adds in a new era afterwords: The Future Era. The mod adds a ton of new techs, buildings, and units with their own custom models. The amount of content in this mod is insane. It includes units like the Bio-Titan that spawn smaller kamikaze units when attacked, massive artillery units that have a 33% chance of spawning a guided missile inside of it, and dinosaur units.
#7 The Enlightenment Era
Ever feel like the Renaissance and Industrial Eras could use some more content? The Enlightenment Era mod adds a new era in between the Renaissance and Industrial eras. Like the Future Worlds mod, there’s a ton of new techs, units, buildings, and wonders with custom models, like Line Infantry and Skirmisher units and wonders like Versailles Palace.
#8 Civilization IV Diplomatic Features
Civilization V is a great game, but it is lacking in features for interacting with other civilizations. This mod fixes this by adding in the elements from Civilization V’s prequel, Civilization IV. It’s a huge quality-of-life improvement, with new features like trading technologies and world maps, as well as being able to turn other players into vassals.
#9 Info Addict
This mod is made for people who identify with its title. It adds a new menu that provides a time graph for every civilizations' stats in your current game, as well as a visual representation of global relations and a ton of other info.
#10 Ingame Editor
This mod consists of console commands.The Ingame Editor can be used for cheats, but also for the development of user-made maps and scenarios. It’s a very in-depth mod, and can do most of the things console commands can do.
Nate Beeler is originally from Hazlet, New Jersey. He is currently a game production management student at Champlain College. He loves FPS games and 4x games, and he's exploring modding Civilization V.