Here are two of the best things about PC gaming: the Civilization series, and the ability to change your games by adding in user-created content. Modding Civ 6, then, is an expression of the very apex of PC gaming. It's peak PC. Steam Workshop may not yet be up and running, but that hasn't stopped Civ's vibrant modding community from flexing its creative muscles. We've picked out the cream of the current crop for you to enjoy.
All these mods were made without the Civ 6 SDK, which still isn't out. We spoke to the best Civ modders - some of whose work you'll find here - about what they want to see in the Civ 6 toolkit.
Civ 6 unit mods
'Unit rebalance' is a slight misnomer - besides some tweaks to unit attributes, this mod by WaterZer0 also makes several common sense changes to the way that units actually behave that go beyond a simple rebalance. Among the changes of which we emphatically approve are:
- All unit upgrade costs reduced by roughly 33%.
- Anti-cavalry units get their anti-cav bonus doubled to 20. In WaterZer0's words: "most anti-cavalry units would stalemate against cavalry of their era. I don't even have words for how little sense this makes." Harsh but fair, WaterZer0. Harsh, but fair.
- Scouts and Rangers ignore zone of control and no longer exert it.
- Military Engineers' build charges doubled to 4.
- War Carts now require the Wheel and replace the War Chariot. Clearly undermines Sumeria's biggest strength, but will be a welcome change for anyone who's started next to an AI Gilgamesh on higher difficulties. Hopefully humans will still be able to beeline War Carts and get some use out of them.
There are plenty more sensible tweaks, so check out WaterZer0's unit rebalance if you like what you've heard so far.
Moar Units (updated)
The work of Civ modding veteran Deliverator, this mod adds 28 new unique units (UUs) to the game’s existing civs. Many of Deliverator's choices bring back UUs from Civ 5, but some are from his own imagination and historical knowledge. Highlights include:
- American Minutemen
- Arabic Camel Archers
- Chinese Chu-ko-nu
- English Longbowmen
- Greek Hetairoi (also known as Alexander's Companion Cavalry)
- Norwegian Hirdmen
- Roman Equites
- Russian Druzhina Cavalry
- Sumerian Phalanxes
Deliverator acknowledges the risk of imbalance since not all civs will have equal numbers of uniques, but otherwise this is a fun way to add more variety to the armies you and the AI will get to play with. You can visit the mod's page here.
Civ 6 Diplomacy mods
Diplomacy total / fewer AI tantrums
Kavis's diplomacy total spells out the exact values governing your relationship score with the AI. Clearly it's not for those of you who feel information asymmetry is an important part of the game, but even with full diplomatic access, the AI's temperamental vicissitudes can be mystifying. No longer.
If you'd like to have a more consistent experience with the AI without reading their mind, consider instead Quo's fewer AI tantrums. It requires the Aztec DLC, but will calm the AI by dialing down the numbers on their agendas and the random 'first impression' roll when you first meet them.
Making a new civilisation is often the first thing new modders want to learn to do, but (in Civ 5, at least) it was one of the most challenging things you could do with the toolkit. As far as we’re aware, rob8xft was the first modder to add a brand new civ to Firaxis's latest, and in his Anno Domini mod, it comes alongside thirteen others(!).
Rob8xft is a veteran of the Civ modding community, having made previous versions of Anno Domini in both Civ 3 and Civ 5. In Civ 6 as in its predecessor versions, Anno Domini is a “total conversion” mod for the Ancient through Medieval eras, replacing every Civ with someone new. Check it out on CivFanatics here.
Considering how much work is entailed in modding even one whole civ, it’s pretty impressive Rob (we’re assuming that’s his IRL name) has put all this together in less than two weeks.
You can also check out rob8xft’s Steam Workshop here for his Civ 5 mods.
Civ 6 map mods
Yet (not) Another Maps Pack for Civ 6
The promise of Civ is to live through humanity's history, and something everyone wants to do is actually do this by playing on a map of Earth, with a true-to-life start location for their chosen civ. This continues to elude Firaxis, it seems, as the latest Civ game has once again launched without such a map. Thank goodness for Gedemon, then, who created Earth maps among many others for Civ 5. We've already written about this one, so check out Kirk's story for a full preview and installation instructions.
Civ 6 Religion mods
Several members of the modding community have decided that the religion system in Civ 6 could use a few tweaks. For a little more historical flavour, Tomatekh does what he did in Civ 5 and adds icons for dozens of new religions, from Zoroastrianism and Tengriism to Micronesian Itang.
Both RushSecond and anansethespider have had a go at rebalancing the competitiveness of religion overall, agreeing that it's underpowered in multiplayer and could use a tune-up. Both their mods are listed below for your consideration (don't install both, as they'll conflict). Rush goes much further, adding several new beliefs and drastically improving old beliefs and religious buildings, while anansethespider's tweaks are more subtle.
Rule with Faith
Rule with Faith (RwF) is the work of veteran Civ modder JFD, who sees it as a continuation of his Rise to Power mod for Civ 5. That mod aimed to bring greater political and religious depth to the game, and RwF does the same, adding a new religious policy slot, 16 new policies and 3 new governments.
RwF will be continually updated, and JFD hopes it "will come to parallel Rise to Power" in its scale. Download it here.
Civ 6 tweaks
Thank you, Lozenged. Much like Counting Crows, who now have to individually order the paving of Paradise and then the construction of a parking lot, we didn't realise what we had in city production queues until they were gone. Restore this crucial quality-of-life function to Civ 6 with Lozenged's production queue.
According to Remgrandt, "the restart button [is] already in the game files", but doesn't have any functionality attached to it. His mod simply enables it until Firaxis adds it properly in a patch, so with one click you can exit and restart your current game. Perfect for those who enjoy whiffing their early exploration/construction moves.
Get Remgrandt's restart button at CivFanatics.
Making a challenging AI is tricky in strategy games, perhaps more so than in any other genre. Designers usually have to resort to giving the AI artificial bumps to resource production, and even free units, to give a savvy player a run for their money. Unfortunately, the way Civ 6 does this can mean certain death for the player before there's anything they can physically do to stop it, as the AI swamps you with its five free Warriors (we’re not kidding - to see how much cheese drips from the AI on Deity difficulty, see our article on Civ 6 difficulties).
Fortunately, here’s RushSecond with a solution. This mod removes most of the AI’s extra starting units, and instead dials up its resource generation bonuses. The result should be a smoother challenge on higher difficulties, with the AI keeping pace with you throughout the game despite its technical ineptitude, yet unable to stuff you in the first two dozen turns through an unfair unit advantage.
Grab RushSecond's smoother difficulty mod here.
For those of you who didn’t take to Civ 6’s vibrant aesthetic, here’s 12@!n (no idea if that's trying to spell a real word) with a reshade mod. Inspired by the Game of Thrones opening sequence, it mutes Civ 6’s colours to give a cooler, more mature, washed-out look, as you see above.
You can download PhotoKinetik Westeros here. Note that it has some more complicated installation instructions than most other mods on this list as it relies on ReShade, a separate post-processing application, to achieve its effects. You can download ReShade here.
These are just a few of our current favourites - feel free to browse for yourself at CivFanatics and Nexus Mods. Having been spoiled with terrific content since Civ 5's launch in 2010, we know that the modding community is capable of so much more. Once the Steam workshop support for Civ 6 multiplayer modding is patched in, we're hoping they'll get around to some more complex additions.
Which of these are you going to install? Have you found any that we missed? Tell us all about them in the comments.