Despite not being the most recent entry in the series, Civ 5 can still be a ton of fun to play in 2023 with the best Civilization 5 mods.
From adding new civs to total conversions and a host of tools for improving the game’s quality of life, there are many approaches to modding Civ 5.
In this list, we’ll showcase the best Civilization 5 mods for improving the game by adding new features and content from the Civ community.
Make sure to stick around till the end to see our full list of the top Civ 5 mods!
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How to Install Civilization 5 Mods
Install Civilization 5 Mods In-Game
- Start the game and select ‘Mods’ from the main menu.
- Select ‘Get Mods,’ to browse through a list of currently supported mods.
- Once you find the desired mod, hit ‘Install Mod.’
- Start playing.
Install Civilization 5 Mods Manually
- Download a mod from a reputable mod hosting site, such as Nexus Mods.
- Windows – Place the downloaded folder in “C:\Users\\Documents\My Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 5\MODS folder”
- You can either leave it and let the game install the mod for you, or manually unzip the .civ5mod file yourself.
- Restart Civilization 5 to reload the new items.
- Navigate to the Mods menu to enable the new mods.
Install Civilization 5 Mods Using Steam Workshop
- Locate the desired mod on the Steam Workshop page for Civilization 5.
- Click “Subscribe” (Make sure you’re logged in).
- Keep the Steam app open until all files are downloaded.
- Restart Civilization 5 to reload the new items.
- Navigate to the Mods menu to enable the new mods.
Edit Everything In-Game
Mod: Ingame Editor
One of the most useful Civ 5 mods for tailoring just about any part of the game to your liking is the Ingame Editor.
This mod gives you the power to change a wide array of map and gameplay features, including terrain, resources, city religions, units, and much more.
As such, its applications are fairly open-ended, providing the flexibility of both a cheat engine and custom scenario builder that’s compatible with all Civ 5 DLC.
Give Units More Visual Flair
Mod: R.E.D. Modpack
Throughout the years, we’ve seen Civ’s art style swap back and forth between realistic and more stylized cartoony visuals.
If you prefer the former, then the R.E.D. Modpack is an absolute must-have for your next session as it makes some notable adjustments to Civ 5 units.
This includes rescaling units to look more realistically proportioned as well as adding more diver unit models for various civs.
Play On a Giant Map
Mod: Play the World Extended
Serving as a spiritual successor to Yet Another Giant Earth Map, the Play the World Extended mod lets you dominate other civs on a global scale, specifically 180×94.
Of course, there are some caveats to having such power, most notably a minimum of 4GB of RAM to play the game smoothly.
Additionally, you’ll find some civs won’t always line up with their correct locations, so make sure to take your time setting everything up before starting a new session.
Play With Futuristic Technologies
Mod: Future Worlds
If you’re looking to go beyond Civ 5’s timeline past the Information Age, a mod like Future Worlds is the best tool to do so.
This is because it adds a host of new tech (31 to be exact), along with a new “Nanomaterial” resource, 31 units, 52 buildings, and other “far future” content.
The only downside is that the AI can end the game early before you get a chance to explore everything; to counter this, it’s recommended you switch off cultural and diplomatic victories.
Turn Trading Posts into Towns
Mod: Trading Posts Grow into Towns
Anyone who played Civ 4 will remember having the ability to grow cottages into fully-formed towns over time.
With the Trading Posts Grow Into Towns mod, you can bring the feature to Civ 5 and have your trading posts slowly turn into villages with better yields.
Although these villages will still pale in comparison to full-fledged cities, their value is increased overall.
Unlock Advanced Customization Options
Mod: Really Advanced Setup
If you’re looking to squeeze as much customization out of Civ 5 as you can, the Really Advanced Setup mod is one of the best ways to do so.
On top of the existing options afforded by the game, this mod gives you the ability to set active civilizations, starting biases and bonuses, as well as adjust map visibility.
There’s even an “Always War” mode that will let you wage battle with every other civ you encounter throughout your session.
Reveal City Limits For Expanding
Mod: City Limits
Like many of the best city building games, Civ 5 greatly benefits from being able to see how much space you have to work with.
That’s where a mod like City Limits comes in handy, allowing you to see the visible limits for expanding a given city.
Not too much of a game-changer but definitely the kind of mod you won’t ever want to play without once you have it.
Speed Up Aircraft Combat Animations
Mod: Faster Aircraft Animations
Some of the combat animations in Civ 5 can feel long and drawn out, particularly those of aircraft in the game.
To get back some of that precious time wasted, we suggest installing the Faster Aircraft Animations mod.
As its name suggests, this mod speeds up aircraft combat animations X2 by default but can be increased further by editing the included .sql file.
Add More Diplomacy Features
Mod: City-State Diplomacy Mod
If you’re looking for more viable diplomatic ways to play Civ 5, the City-State Diplomacy Mod is an absolute must-have.
Once installed, it adds a host of new diplomatic units, buildings, and city-state quests that reward you with influence for completing.
In addition, the mod encourages you to explore diplomatic measures whenever possible, changing the way you approach the game.
Streamline Civ 5’s User-Interface
Mod: Enhanced User Interface
Seeing as most of your time in Civilization is spent navigating menus, the UI should be readable, efficient, and easy to navigate.
In this regard, Civ 5 could stand to improve with a mod like Enhanced User Interface, which adds a handful of optimizations to the game’s UI.
The result is a more streamlined and organized UI that requires fewer clicks to complete tasks while displaying more icons and mouse-over tooltips.
Gain More Insight into Civs
Players who enjoy diving into the nitty gritty of their civ’s growth, performance, and other stats will greatly benefit from using the InfoAddict mod.
The purpose of it is to highlight every notable aspect of a given civilization in an easily digestible way using time-based graphics.
Several sections will track each civ’s historical data over time in regard to demographics, global relationships, etc.
Add Natural Disasters
Mod: Real Natural Disasters
Like many Civ mechanics, natural disasters have come and gone throughout the series, with Civ 5 removing them entirely.
However, since some players love the added challenge, a mod like Real Natural Disasters was created to bring the system back.
With it installed, you’ll find yourself having to scramble to recover after parts of the map become damaged due to earthquakes, floods, meteors, and other random events.
Add Sickness and Disease
Mod: Health & Plague
Next up on our list of the best Civilization 5 mods is a rather morbid one, the Health & Plague mod.
With it, you’ll be tasked with monitoring the overall health of your cities to avoid widespread infectious diseases and other sicknesses.
These can trickle into your cities through various means, most prominently water and tourism, requiring you to keep a watchful eye over travelers and international relations.
Add Global Warming
Mod: Global Warming
In addition to the Natural Disasters mod, we suggest Civ 5 players add the Global Warming mod to spice up their next session.
The goal of this mod is to throw climate change into the mix of obstacles you’ll have to navigate to ensure your civ’s continued survival.
As ice and snow melt around the world, land tiles may be negatively impacted, resulting in drier terrain with fewer resources to go around.
To counter any negative ecological effects from your civ’s continued growth, a mod like Reforestation comes in handy.
This is done with a simple new system that lets you plant entire forests after discovering fertilizer in the game.
From there, you’re free to plant trees for lumber, grow dense forests to keep enemies at bay or help Mother Nature just for the sake of it.
Generate Better Worlds
Speaking of nature, the PerfectWorld3 mod is an extremely useful tool for broadening the potential of Civ 5’s world generation.
With it, you’ll be able to create more realistic terrain with mountains, deserts, forests, and rivers appearing as they would in real life.
This includes elevated rivers that run down mountains to create large bodies of water, jungles springing up near water sources and many other features.
Add New Religions
Mod: Strange Religions
If you’d like to expand Civ 5’s religious offerings in a lighthearted yet meaningful way, check out Strange Religions.
Admittingly one of the more silly entries on this list, it adds a host of new spiritual beliefs to the pool of possible religions in Civ 5.
This includes both conventional and recognizable belief systems as well as more whacky ones like Nike Philosophy and the Triforce Cult.
Add Islands and other Geographical Features
Mod: Communitas Map
Those looking for an alternative to the best Civ 5 map mods like PerfectWorld3 are welcome to pick up the Communitas Map mod.
The main features of this mod are adding continents and offshore islands to every map, opening up new possibilities for exploration, and expanding your empire.
To keep things balanced, the mod also introduces several gameplay changes to account for new geographical features like ocean rifts, which greatly benefit Astronomy.
Emigration is another unique mechanic that can add some variety to any Civ session as it introduces new challenges for players to consider.
The most notable addition with the Emigration mod is prosperity, a new resource that considers your civ’s overall happiness when determining citizen migration.
There are different ways to gain or lose prosperity depending on your civ’s social policies and productivity in relation to neighboring cities.
Make the AI Smarter
Mod: Smart AI
There are plenty of ways to raise the difficulty in Civ 5 but changing the way the AI makes decisions is by far the most engaging.
With the Smart AI mod, you’ll start to see the AI make smarter moves each turn to optimize their civ’s performance and growth.
As such, you can expect it to put up more of a fight than the standard AI, making this mod great for your next single-player session.
Play as Cavemen
Mod: Prehistoric Era Reborn
Prehistoric Era Reborn is one of the best civ mods for Civilization 5 as it lets you start your adventure much earlier than the vanilla game.
Instead of the ancient era, sessions begin in 20,000 BC when cavemen still struggle to survive against hostile wildlife and have yet to discover fire.
This adds an interesting twist to Civ 5’s progression complete with new, albeit primitive, technologies and units.
Play as Pirates
Mod: MC’s Buccaneers
If cavemen aren’t really your jam, perhaps you’d prefer sailing across the open seas as a thieving band of buccaneers?
With MC’s Buccaneers mod, you can follow a group of pirates led by Henry Morgan on a conquest to dominate the ocean’s waters.
This includes new naval units, Rum Distilleries, and the option to issue a Letter of Marque and gain uninterrupted access to enemy waters.
Play during the Enlightenment Era
Mod: Enlightenment Era
One of many great Civilization 5 era mods, Enlightenment Era transports players to the period of fervent cultural change between the Renaissance and Industrial eras.
With this comes a host of new tech, units, buildings, and wonders based on concepts like economics, humanism, and imperialism.
As such, there’s a big emphasis on exploration and navigation via warships, anthropology by the way of museums, and cultural enrichment from salons, theaters, and the like.
Play with Community Rebalances
Mod: Vox Populi
Without a doubt one of the most ambitious Civilization 5 mods ever created, Vox Populi is a collaborative effort that builds upon the Community Patch Project.
The primary goal of this mod is to take real player comments, suggestions, and feedback into consideration when making changes to Civ 5.
To this point, it features a wide array of gameplay rebalances and updates that affect leadership and civ abilities with the intended goal of improving the experience.
Completely Rebalance Civilization 5
Mod: Civilization Nights
Rounding out our list of the best Civilization 5 mods, we have Civilization Nights, an extensive overhaul mod that completely reimagines Civ’s gameplay.
Among its highlights is a revamped happiness system in which citizens now generate happiness and military units and cities generate unhappiness.
This provides a new layer of complexity to Civ 5 progression that forces you to carefully weigh decisions that may tip the scales in either direction.