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The best Victoria 2 mods and how to install them

Who needs Victoria 3 when you can have these quality Victoria 2 mods instead

Writing this roundup of Victoria 2 mods is like stepping back in time. It’s off to ye olde ModDB (along with a jaunt or two to the Paradox forums) for all your Victoria II modding needs. Steam Workshop has spoiled us with its handy library and easy integration, but there’s no such luck here despite it being available on Steam.

Even though Victoria 3 has been confirmed as the next grand strategy game, the fact remains that Victoria II never had the broad following that its younger siblings enjoy. For all the dedication of some, we are dealing with a game that’s over ten years old. A large number of worthy mods are untraceable due to any number of broken links and forgotten websites.

What follows is an all in one guide to installing Victoria 2 mods, troubleshooting those same mods if you’re having issues (which you probably are) as well as a list of some truly stand-out candidates that really help spice up this iconic strategy game.

The best Victoria 2 Mods

The best Victoria 2 mods are:

  • Cold War Enhancement (Total Conversion)
  • New Era (Total Conversion)
  • Divergences of Darkness (Total Conversion)
  • Historical Project (Overhaul)
  • Pop Demand Mod Ultimate (Overhaul)
  • Blood and Iron (Overhaul)
  • Historical Flavour (Overhaul)
  • Mish Mash Map (Visual)
  • Save Game Converters (Utility)

Please note that the larger collections and overhauls continue to receive updates semi-regularly. Unfortunately, a large number of the smaller utility and graphics mods are simply lost to time. Make sure you read right to the bottom of the article, where we have some top troubleshooting tips for anyone struggling to get their mods working.

Victoria II Cold War Enhancement Mod

‘Enhancement’ is to put too fine a point on matters. Anyone disappointed by the cancellation of East vs West, the semi-mythical Paradox foray into the Cold War, can find at least some solace in this remarkably detailed conversion of Victoria II to the modern day. Out of all of Paradox’s games, Victoria II probably fits a Cold War mod best – as CWE demonstrates. It’s not all smooth sailing however.

The sheer complexity of modern institutions means that a large amount of potential events must be bolted on through event pop ups. These can get annoying after a while. Until we get a proper Cold War game from Paradox, CWE is king. You can grab the mod here.

New Era Mod

Bringing Victoria II into World War II seems a fraught endeavour at the best of times. Yet there is method to such madness. Purists will grumble about how technologies jump straight from “aeronautics” to “subsonic jets”, yet Victoria II is better placed than most to handle how things escalated in the 1920s and 30s. In many ways NEM needs further development.

A start date in 1920 and 1936 is appreciated, but it is somewhat off-putting to find a 1920s Germany with something like three hundred thousand men under arms and no Versailles Treaty. It’s the kind of subject which must be handled very carefully. Grab it here.

Divergences of Darkness Mod

An ominous title conceals a quite eclectic alternate history mod that does everything at once. What if China had kept on exploring the seas around it? What if Burgundy remained independent? What if Scandinavia remained a unified state? The result is anarchy – which, in the best traditions of Paradox fans, has had quite a bit of thought put into it. Concealed beneath are the various improvements of the Pop Demand Mod covered later.

If you’re truly sick and tired of Prussia and Austria squaring off yet again (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), then DoD might well be worth a look in.

Historical Project Mod

The big one: HPM’s improvements are subtle. The point here is to maintain the fundamentals of Victoria II whilst improving a variety of things under the hood. Probably the most noticeable change are the dramatically increased number of decisions available to players. Victoria II, especially at first glance, can begin to feel sparse after so long being spoiled by Paradox’s other offerings.

The most important addition, in this writer’s opinion, is the inclusion of serfs – critical to the experience of some of the big names in Europe. If you’re finding Victoria just needs that little something extra, the Historical Project Mod is a good place to start.

Pop Demand Mod Ultimate

A development of the smaller Pop Demand Mod, where HPM exercises a certain restraint, PDMU pulls out all the stops. Want to form the Roman Empire? Go crazy! Worried about how much funding you’re giving to the arts – now you can feed starving artists to your heart’s content! Coupled with a quite expansive range of production goods (I’ve never been quite so excited to export financial services) and an extra couple of start dates and the stage is set for a quite unique game of Victoria II. Grab it here.

Blood and Iron

Fittingly, BAI stands out from the pack thanks to the changes it brings to war. Whilst new units are added in the other mods mentioned – BAI adding Stormtroopers to the mix does a better job of reflecting the changes World War I brought than most mods surveyed – where 19th century armies apparently are the beginning and end of things.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for a host of new additions that certain total conversion mods covered above might do well to note. War is hardly the only thing BAI covers of course, with a variety of event chains and other additions. I’d consider Blood and Iron a kind of middle ground between the expansiveness of PDMU and the restraint of HPM.

Historical Flavour Mod

A child of the Historical Project Mod, the HFM’s focus is upon piling as much alternate history as possible into the HPM. Those firing up the mod for the first time will notice that there’s an awful lot more wars going on, along with there being a lot more peculiar little states hanging around the periphery of the big boys that we’re used to.

Another notable addition is the inclusion of several of the more powerful trading companies, like the notorious East India Company. Grab it here.

Mish Mash Map Mod

We weren’t expecting to add new mods to this guide, but the Victoria 2 community is still very much alive and working on new projects for this classic strategy game. The Mish Mash mod’s main offering is that it uses some crafty magic to give the incredibly 2D Victoria 2 campaign map a 3D façade. It’s not actually 3D, but it’s as close as this game is going to get.

At the moment, the mod only touches up mountains and hills – the creator has plans to improve the heightmaps across the game, perhaps even adding water effects as well at some point down the line.

Victoria 2 Save Game Converters

No round up of Victoria II mods would be complete without mention of the quite remarkable potential offered by the Europa Universalis IV to Victoria II save game converter and the Victoria II to Hearts of Iron IV save game converter. I cannot comment upon their quality myself (my Victoria II save games are long gone!) but their united potential, coupled with Crusader Kings II, to play a game spanning more than a millennium is something not to be sneezed at.

How to Mod Victoria 2

You’d think that each and every mod would tell you precisely where the files should go in your Victoria II folder. Turns out, a fair number don’t. The following is the procedure for most mods:

Step One: With the mod downloaded, locate the ‘mod’ folder within your Victoria II directory. If you don’t have Victoria II on Steam, it will be under something like: C:/Program Files(x86)/Paradox Interactive/Victoria 2\

If you use Steam, it should be under something like: C:/Program Files(x86)/Steam/steamapps/common/Victoria 2

Step Two: With the mod folder found, open up the compressed mod file. You should see something like this:

Step Three: Copy both the folder and the “.mod” file directly across into the ‘mod’ folder.

Step Four: If all is well, you should see a convenient checkbox in your Victoria II launcher. Click on it to activate the mod and then launch the game. You should begin to notice peculiar changes almost immediately. (Note: Activating multiple total conversion mods is not advised.)

Victoria 2 Mods Troubleshooting

In writing this article I encountered no end of trouble getting the mods covered below to work. Thanks to that, I fancy myself PCGameN’s number one expert on Victoria II mod troubleshooting (out of candidate pool of one-ED). Here’s some tips and tricks that I found out along the way.

Check your versions – the simple stuff (1/2)

Make sure that you have the most up-to-date version of the game. If you own Victoria II through Steam, be sure to run: “Verify Integrity of Game Files” on it. If you’re running it outside of Steam then firstly: you’re in trouble and secondly: a quick reinstall might be worth your while.

More on my own adventures with Victoria II updates further below.

Delete Your Caches

If your mod crashes on start-up, the first thing worth doing is to go to My Documents and delete that particular mod’s cache. Admittedly, this advice didn’t work for me, but it appeared often enough that it bears repeating. The majority of the above mods will modify the map in some form, so let’s assume that you’ll be deleting both caches, better safe than sorry.

First of all you will need to:

Go to the Victoria II folder in the Paradox Interactive folder in My Documents. This should look something like: Documents/Paradox Interactive/Victoria II

Search for and open the folder marked with the acronym of the mod that’s giving you trouble, let’s say it’s the Historical Project Mod, it’ll be the folder marked: “HPM”

Open the map folder and inside it the cache sub-folder – delete its contents. Do the same with the “gfx” folder, in this case deleting everything within its “flags” sub-folder.

Then, when you’ve done all that, go to your main Victoria II folder, following the instructions up top covering installation to reach it. Then:

  • Go to “map” and then “cache”
  • Delete its contents.

Maybe, just maybe, this might work for you. Reportedly this is to fix a cheeky bug that can occur even without running mods.

Check your versions – the frankly bizarre stuff(2/2)

There is more to this business of ‘versions’ than you might think. If you’re blessed with Steam you probably don’t have this problem. For those of us who thought buying elsewhere would save them time/money… well.

For example, my copy of Victoria II was bought from GamersGate. The version you download from their site is not the most up-to-date version – nor will the launcher’s updater take you to the right site either. No – instead I had to update from Victoria II version 3.01 to 3.03.

From there I read strict instructions from one particular mod to update to 3.04. That mod worked fine. The rest didn’t. After much angst and delay, I gave up and reinstalled. That took me back to GamersGate’s version 3.01. That ran some different mods, but not others. The final official update with a proper installer took me to 3.03. I tried again. This time all the mods I tried worked – including the one that directed me to upgrade to 3.04.

Related: Everything we know about the Victoria 3 release date

Nevertheless, the advice time and again I see is to update to 3.04. So – go figure. As ever, in the pre-Steam world where everyone’s game is somehow that tiny bit different, modding remains something of a dark art. I am eager to hear thoughts from others who aren’t so burdened with a “difficult” game version.