Posted by Noah Gollin
Noah Gollin

Paradox Interactive has worked tirelessly to make Europa Universalis IV, the critically acclaimed early modern grand strategy game released in 2013, as complete an experience as possible. However, it is inevitable that anything of such a scope would abandon historical minutiae in order to get the game out the door.

But EUIV’s thriving community of modders is more than willing to pick up the slack. Aside from utility mods (such as graphical improvements or UI changes), most mods that you will find care less about historical realness and more about the novelty factor or ease of play. This is all fine and good, playing as the Shire is always good for a laugh, but some of the game’s more scholarly players might prefer a more historically accurate, or at least relatively historically friendly experience to satisfy their urges.

Some players may be drawn to mods like these because they want to learn something new about history. Others may want to resolve a niggling agitation that comes with knowing more than the game does about your favorite obscure moment in history. Others still may just want a new experience without any risk of breaking immersion. Regardless, here, in no particular order, are 11 of the best Europa Universalis mods that appeal to the history snob in all of us.

1. Historical Events Extended

The changes made by Historical Events Extended by Voffvoffhunden are rather self-explanatory: Players will find themselves dealing with hundreds of new events throughout a campaign, almost all of which have been written to reenact specific historical incidents. These events are littered with compelling, well-implemented pieces of historical trivia, with those taking place in and around Germany being particularly strong in their execution. I cannot name a cleaner solution to Europa Universalis's longstanding issue of the world's many political powers playing far too similar to each other without implementing a complete mechanical overhaul.

Caveat emptor: These events tend to be significantly wordier than those from "vanilla."

Download the Historical Events Extended mod by Voffvoffhunden here.

2. Expanded Religions

Theology in Europa Universalis has always been remarkably bare, considering the vast influence religion has had in foreign and domestic affairs throughout the world. The major religious powers in Europe and Asia were only ever meaningfully different when opposing faiths were forced to share a physical space, while the less-popular faiths tended to have little to no flavor beyond the ease at which they become fodder for religious conversion.

Expanded Religions by Spiderfist Island brings some much-needed complexity to the systems of religion, forcing players to always actively consider the boons and curses inherent in the melding of politics and theology. With Expanded Religions, the nature of a particular religion, as well as its similarities to related faiths, will have a significantly more dramatic influence on internal policy and foreign relations. It also adds a swath of new pagan and Dharmic religions and religious events to compensate for the base game's rather significant dearth of content in that area, each one logically implemented with flair.

Caveat emptor: This mod implements a system for many religions wherein conversion between denominations is very simple, which doesn't make a particularly great amount of sense.

Download Expanded Religions by Spiderfist here.

3. Veritas Et Fortitudo

By far the most expansive and well-known item on this list, Veritas et Fortitudo arguably counts as a full conversion mod, though it styles itself as a significant extension of the base game. The scope of the mod is massive, covering a significant timeline expansion and more robust diplomacy.

Caveat emptor: Contains some explicitly impossible "alternate reality" content, though only as an option.

Download Veritas et Fortitudo here.

4. Typus Orbis Terrarum

Typus Orbis Terrarum by Bizarcasm is specifically for geography nerds. The mod alters the world to use a new map projection, redraws provinces to match, uses a new heightmap, reworks rivers, adjusts the proportions of landmasses, and so forth. This is probably both the driest and the most faultlessly accurate mod on this list by its very nature.

Caveat emptor: While it isn't too buggy by mod standards, those using Typus Orbis Terrarum must deal with a lot more technical difficulty than one might expect from a mod with such a limited effect.

Download Typus Orbis Terrarum by Bizarcasm here.

5. Expanded Native Tribes II

My personal favorite on this list, Expanded Native Tribes II by mahna mahna and RedWolf adds a large variety of new tribal nations to regions that were previously just listed as unclaimed, as well as adding fresh content for those tribes that are already represented. The tribes are primarily in the New World, though there are also changes to Australia and the surrounding islands.

The writing for new events, decisions and ideas is brilliant, successfully managing to be informative, memorable, well-realized mechanically and, most of all, comprehensive. A lot of care has been put into sprinkling unique content throughout the world. Many native tribes have been given completely unique content; those that haven't have still been given more tailored content in the form of regional grouping rather than the base game's native idea group.

Caveat emptor: A few native tribes have been implemented without any written text, despite having their own idea groups. This is only noticeable if you attempt to learn their differences.

Download Expanded Native Tribes II by mahna mahna and RedWolf here.

6. Zubei's Flags — A Civil Ensign Mod

Zubei's Flags by Pandelis is hands down the simplest mod on this list. It changes the flags of more than 100 nations by a set of rules that the author feels best helps represent each country, prioritizing civil ensigns over coats of arms, a flag from 1444 alternatives introduced at other times, and so forth. Europa Universalis is a game that rewards being pedantic through its micromanagement, so some degree of pedantry seems appropriate when discussing how nations should be represented.

Caveat emptor: As is explained on the Workshop page, various flags look similar, leaving some room for confusion and misinterpretation of events if one doesn't pay close attention.

Download Zubei's Flags by Pandelis here.

7. Expanded China Mechanics

Spiderfist Island's Expanded China Mechanics adds a lot of depth to the states in and around the Middle Kingdom. East Asia is already relatively well developed in EUIV, on par with the parts of Western Europe that never became colonial powers. This mod, therefore, makes playing a Chinese nation an extremely robust experience, with the amount of choice available to the player in any given campaign being of paramount importance. The writing also manages to match the tone and style of the normal game quite well.

Caveat emptor: Contains multiple outlets for blatantly impossible alt history, though it is all clearly marked and optional.

Download Spiderfist Island's Expanded China Mechanics here.

8. Realistic Technology Groups

I'm a bit torn on Realistic Technology Groups by Alexander McLeay. The mod adds new technology groups to the game in order to make distinct certain influential nations, as well as creating new units for each of these groups, alongside adding new trade goods and rebalancing artillery units. It makes for both a unique degree of strength for some nations to match the success of their real-world counterparts, while adding much more content than one might expect from such a simple mod concept.

But, by the same token, it enforces a near approximation of real-world history to enough of a degree that it might actually reduce player agency and adds a lot of tangental content that is better suited to a separate mod. Still, this list is dealing with mods that maintain and enhance historical accuracy through their changes, and Realistic Technology Groups does this with greater success than I could ever have hoped. The real world was not balanced for gameplay purposes.

Caveat emptor: The changes aren't so significant as to halt a determined player, though they are dramatic enough that AI nations could gain traction when dealing with other AI nations where there once was a chance of failing to establish themselves.

Download Realistic Technology Groups by Alexander McLeay here.

9. Dynamically Cultured Music

The experience of playing Europa Universalis is, in my experience, often dry and slow enough that listening to your own audio will become a necessity during a long play session. The Europa Universalis score is certainly well produced, but the repetition and the lack of adaptation to context can be grating.

Dynamically Cultured Music by Feuerfuchs resolves this in a way I haven't seen much of: Rather than adding new tracks or replacing all the audio, this mod changes music depending on the culture and locale of the nation being played. This won't prevent some users from eventually switching to their own music, of course, but it certainly manages to extend the time listening to game audio while adding immersion, rather than detracting from it for the sake of more pleasant or repeatable music.

Caveat emptor: A lot of cultures are yet to have their respective music added.

Download Dynamically Cultured Music by Feuerfuchs here.

10. HaREM: Heirs And Rulers Education Mod

HaREM by mate0815 adds a degree of function and engagement to the fostering of heirs that were otherwise almost completely controlled by the fates, with the only reliable way to influence the traits of your leader or your heir being by way of events related to succession crises. With HaREM, players can, to a somewhat literal degree, invest in the future of their line. Expending your various monarch points in order to better either your ruler or your heir is a feature I might expect Paradox itself to implement.

Caveat emptor: The quality of a ruler has always been dependent on their inherent ability that exists, regardless of training. A 2/1/6 represents a naturally military-focused personality, while a 0/0/0 is mentally or physically unfit to rule, and so on. This mod, naturally, flies in the face of that idea.

Download HaREM: Heirs and Rulers Education Mod by mate0815 here.

11. Extended Vanilla Experience

Extended Vanilla Experience, made by Daniel, is, like Veritas et Fortitudo, straddling the line between a full conversion and an extension mod. Regardless of what you'd prefer to classify it as, this mod dramatically restructures many of EUIV's mechanics, many in ways similar to those on this list, with many others adding new features and utilities completely unique to this mod. This isn't just a literal aggregate of the other mods discussed, but it is ultimately similar enough that I can confidently describe this as the mod to get if you find all of these mods interesting but don't want to deal with potential compatibility issues.

Caveat emptor: Extended Vanilla Experience, clearly either drawing directly from or from the same mindset as many of the mods listed before it, has inherited a lot of the flaws, such as the issues with denomination shifting and heir training.

Download Extended Vanilla Experience by Daniel here.

An honorable mention to Autonym Empire — Native Language Names [Endonym] by mayaka, Korosuke of Ermor, and Chris, as well as Purple Phoenix Arise by Dorimi, 1.17-compatible version made by Kainazzo. The former is cute, but falls apart in actual play as a result of both being massively confusing to use and rather incomplete, considering the rarity of updates. The latter I appreciate as a result of my pro-Byzantine bias, but it strays so far from anything historically logical in some areas that it cannot justifiably be put in a list of realistic mods.

I am not in any way associated with the makers of any of the modifications displayed above. I have only ever experienced any of these mods coupled with certain utility mods, never with other major content mods, and never with a version of the mod that is outdated by the game's version number.

Have you played any of these mods? Let me know your experiences in the comments section below.