25 Best Mods For Age of Empires II: HD Edition (All Free)

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Considered one of the classics in the world of real-time strategy, Age of Empires is truly a staple entry for RTS games even up to this day.

If you haven’t had a chance to give it a try, now is the perfect time.

Updated with an HD Edition and Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition being released just recently for the game’s 20th anniversary, one of Microsoft’s top-selling games has received multiple revamps.

Beyond just visual and gameplay upgrades, there’s tons of new content available as well. And this comes in the form of player-created mods which let you customize a whole bunch of crazy stuff.

For old-school and newer players alike, I’ve compiled a list of mods you should check out for Age of Empires II: HD Edition. For a classic that has already been upgraded, who says you can’t get a little more out of it?

25. Summons HD Water Pack V2

Summons HD Water Pack V2 Age of Empires II screenshot

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Though remastered in widescreen high-definition, Age of Empires has never really been known for graphics quality.

With more than enough to make up for it in terms of gameplay, the classic look of most RTS games just hasn’t changed much over time.

But things have changed a lot recently. And now gamers are more particular about looks. Especially for newer players to the Age of Empires series.

A simple improvement, sure. But you’d be surprised at what you get, because the Summons HD water pack completely changes the appearance of rivers and oceans in the game.

From the unrealistic bright blue visuals of the original game, bodies of water now appear deeper. The light reflections are just beautiful and give the game a much better feel overall.


24. Drums Of War

Drums Of War mod in Age of Empires II

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Here’s another small improvement that could potentially have a huge impact on your experience.

The Drums Of War mod changes the default attack sounds of the game.

Ever started a battle and felt that there just wasn’t a sense of intensity in the situation? Drums of War gives battles a more cinematic feel, replacing the anti-climactic trumpet sounds with actual war drums.

There’s even a clip of the Mighty War Horn from the Lord of the Rings films! This simple upgrade is sure to enhance that rush you get before each battle.


23. Ozhara’s Soundtracks – Game of Thrones

Ozhara's Soundtracks - Game of Thrones Age of Empires II

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By now the Game of Thrones soundtrack has become one of the most recognizable all over the world.

Once the opening credits roll, that music gets you pumped for what’s to come. As a fan myself I can relate.

Well now you can get the same experience in AoE: II with Ozhara’s Game of Thrones soundtrack. It simply changes the soundtrack and menu music with songs from the series.

Enjoy the epic GoT score from the first four seasons while engrossed in your AoE2 gameplay.


22. Enhanced Blood

Enhanced Blood Age of Empires II gameplay

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Probably for older audiences, these next two mods are simple enhancements for all you gore fans out there.

Though some games have options to remove blood and gore altogether, Age of Empires seems to have downplayed the visuals in this aspect. What’s war without blood, right?

This first one enhances the visuals of units killed in battle, making the aftermath appear much more devastating. A great addition to improve on the overall realism of the game.


21. Enhanced Blood II

Enhanced Blood II Age of Empires II mod

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Not being satisfied with Enhanced Blood, modder Silent Ape took it one step further with Enhanced Blood II.

Further improving on the realism of bloodied corpses of slain soldiers, death animations are further improved with this mod as well.

Taking from other mods, you can now see blood squirt and splatter from all units during battles. Dark, yet immersive.

As put in a comment on the mod page: “it looks like battles are straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film” (most likely referring to Kill Bill).

All this combined with the first Enhanced Blood mod will definitely make watching the battle sequences feel much more real and exciting.


20. Tech Tree UI

Tech Tree UI mod in Age of Empires II

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One of the handier mods on the list, Tech Tree UI is useful for both new and old fans of the game.

With 35 playable civilizations between the base game and all the expansions, it can get quite overwhelming.

Whether you’re trying to learn the game or starting over with a new civilization, Tech Tree UI is a great addition to your UI.

It simply adds the tech tree of the civilization you’re playing as in the bottom-center portion of the user interface. Also instead of showing the entire tech tree at all times, it only shows tech that has not been learned yet.

A great guide to keep track of your progression.


19. Nittlepicks Wonderful New Farms

Nittlepicks Wonderful New Farms Age of Empires II

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Another aesthetic mod, Nittlepicks Wonderful New Farms, replaces the dull colorless visuals of farms.

Adding life to farm plants, you can now have blueberries, carrots, beets, and leeks. It’s a small change but quite noticeable.

A great visual upgrade to make your crop fields look much more vibrant.


18. Day/Night Cycle ENB

Day/Night Cycle ENB Age of Empires II gameplay

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Further adding to the visuals of the game, you can even have a simulated day and night cycle. Nice!

Since the world in AoE II doesn’t reflect change in time, modder ModPositive decided to make it possible.

Cleverly making use of dynamic contrast, saturation, and brightness post-processing, everything in the world including buildings and units now reflect day, night, dust, and dawn.


17. Japanese Architecture

Japanese Architecture Age of Empires II mod

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Continuing on here we’ve got some more visual upgrades – because who doesn’t want to make the game look as good as possible?

There are a lot of mods that change the appearances of buildings per civilization, but the Japanese Architecture somehow stands out to me.

Replacing buildings of Asian civilizations with more detailed, realistic textures just makes the game look much better than the original.

If you’re tired of different civilization buildings looking too similar, check this one out. You can even explore all the other architecture packs on Steam to customize the game further.


16. Sheep Launcher

Sheep Launcher Age of Empires II game mod

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There are literally hundreds of pages worth of community content available for Age of Empires II. Sifting through some of the more popular mods, I was surprised at some of the things modders have come up with.

Ever wondered what it would be like to shoot sheep from cannons?

I bet you never have, because that would just be weird.

But thanks to modder Gallas, you can do just that!

As simple as it sounds, all the mod does is replace all projectiles with sheep.

If you’re up for some stupid fun then just fire this one up. If anything, you’re sure to get a good laugh.


15. Cartoon Empires

Cartoon Empires mod of Age of Empires II

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If you thought Sheep Launcher was silly, Cartoon Empires gives the game a blocky cartoon look.

If you’re into that kind of thing, well this could be a fun mod to play around with. Just to take a break from the normal appearance of nitty-gritty war.

What’s especially funny about this one is that the modder was just doing it for fun and decided not to complete the skins.

That means some skins have been replaced while others will still show the original game skins, giving the world a strange feel to it. I still think this was a cool idea, although too bad it isn’t fully a completed piece.

Yet if you’re up for some mindless fun, here’s a good way to waste a few hours!


14. Game of Thrones Taunts V2

 Game of Thrones Taunts V2 Age of Empires II mod

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Another one for the GoT fans, Game of Thrones Taunts replaces the in-game speech files with popular Game of Thrones lines.

Ygritte’s “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” or “Valar Morghulis” are just some examples of unit dialogue you’ll hear with this pack installed.

Just another fun mod to play around with if you have the time. And if you’re a fan who loves crossovers.


13. Far Side of the World

Far Side of the World Age of Empires II gameplay

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Moving on to some of the more serious entries, I picked up a lot going through some of the user-made content for the game.

Specifically I’ve found a lot of interesting mods that add hours on hours of gameplay to AoE II.

With Far Side of the World you’ll be leading a Portuguese crew on a naval expedition across the world. With different islands and regions to discover you get to sail through the seas, hire the best sailors, and make improvements to your ship along the way.

Along with the new storyline to playthrough, this scenario includes custom sounds and graphics to make your experience all the more immersive.


12. Sea of Thieves Mod

Sea of Thieves Age of Empires II mod

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Yet another sea-based scenario for AoE II, except this time you get to play as pirates. Yes!

In this free-for-all map you can play along with five other friends.

Build unique ships and fight for dominance over the seas and islands.

Some users have mentioned that there’s more to do in this map than in the actual game (if you can believe that!)

So if you’re looking to expand AoE II up to the max, this would be a great place to start.


11. Hunger Games

Hunger Games Age of Empires II mod screenshot

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Taking the basic concept of the Hunger Games series, there’s been an influx of battle royale games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, and Fortnite.

And they’re popular for a reason.

Though the genre has been mostly dominated by shooters, this modder known as Mr. N introduces his take on the idea for Age of Empires II.

Especially impressive as this is his first published scenario for AoE II, you’ll be able to play as two villagers struggling to survive. With no resources, you are set in the middle of the map alongside everyone else and tasked with finding each of your villages.

Hunger Games for AoE II is playable with AI, but I would recommend enjoying it with some friends. May the odds be ever in your favor!


10. DOOM Episode 1-3

DOOM Episode 1-3 Age of Empires II gameplay

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Would you believe that someone actually created an AoE II scenario to recreate Doom? That’s right!

Doom Episodes 1-3 are actually three playable single-player scenarios bringing the one and only Doomguy into the world of AoE.

The Martian Civilization, Union Aerospace Corporation, and Phobos Teleportation Gate are the first three servings in the series, while modder Hellknight61 has mentioned that he has two more on the way.

With updated game mechanics and sounds from some of the original Doom games, open the gates to hell and fight off the demons with this impressive mod.


9. Thrones of Iberia

Thrones of Iberia mod in Age of Empires II

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As historical accuracy was always a strong suit for AoE II, there is tons of additional content online that adds playable scenarios based on significant events from the past.

Do note, however, that most of these require DLCs to play.

In Thrones of Iberia we’re taken back to medieval Spain.

During the time of la Reconquista, Christians aim to reclaim territory that has been overrun by Muslims.

This one is packed with an updated diplomacy system, an exciting new map, as well as an updated economic system. A great addon you’re sure to have hours of fun with.


8. The Rise of the Joseon Dynasty

The Rise of the Joseon Dynasty Age of Empires II mod

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It isn’t common for games to feature Korean history.

Well thanks to modder jwj5787_Rook, we can get a glimpse of this with The Rise of the Joseon Dynasty.

The ancient kingdom of Goryeo is about to fall and is to be replaced with a rebellious general.

There are 8 playable factions, each with their own backstories and win conditions. Play as different generals and lead your armies to victory either by defeating rebels, capturing the capital, or collecting relics.


7. In the Name of the Serpent

In the Name of the Serpent Age of Empires II mod

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Bassi has become one of the better known AoE II modders for his captivating recreations of historic events.

The first of two that I found to be the most interesting focuses on Mayan history in the form of the Itza.

According to ancient Mayan history, the Itza return to their abandoned capital Chichen Itza. Informed by their priests that the only way to survive is to appease the God of Resurrection known as Kukulkan.

Play through the Itza’s journey to pacify the Feathered Serpent Kulkulan, while dealing with rumors of invaders from the west.

An exciting “build and destroy” scenario with added immersion from the epic custom soundtrack by established composers Derek and Brandon Fiechter.


6. Rise of the Totonacs

Rise of the Totonacs Age of Empires II mod

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Another one from Bassi, but this time it places you at the helm of the Totonacs.

These are an indigenous Mexican tribe led by Cacique of Cempoala. At war with neighboring Mexican tribes Zapotecs and Tepanecs, defend your homeland and lead your people to victory.

Another complete playable experience similar to In the Name of the Serpent, but with a completely new map and storyline.


5. Rise of Genghis Khan

Rise of Genghis Khan Age of Empires II gameplay

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Take the reigns as Temujin here, better known as Ghengis Khan.

He is certainly one of the most well-known conquerors in history so you know this one will be fun.

Unite the warring tribes and build your empire.

From acclaimed creator Filthydelphia comes the Rise of Genghis Khan. This scenario comes with a few updated gameplay mechanics to fit the historical context – dominate tribes with a unique raiding mechanic, hold feasts to improve authority, and pillage cities of powerful Chinese dynasties.

You may even take wives (as Genghis Khan was known for) boosting the economy and forming alliances.


4. Dandolo

Dandolo mod of Age of Empires II

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The last of the historical scenarios is Dandolo, which takes us through the rise of Venice.

Set in the 12th century, you lead Venice with Enrico Dandolo against rivals Byzantium, Pisa and Genoa.

In this completely new AoE II campaign you can play through 5 single-player scenarios which bring Venice to victory.

In the form of classic build and destroy gameplay, the mod includes the Crusaders and historically significant battles.

What’s most notable about this one though, is that there are even 10 custom videos that help you really get into the major events in Venetian history. Very cool added touch!


3. Nocturne’s ALPHA WOLF

Nocturne's ALPHA WOLF Age of Empires II mod

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An interesting custom campaign with a fresh take – Nocturne’s Alpha Wolf lets you play as a wolf.

Yes, you read that right.

With 6 missions in total, lead your pack to survival against different classes of human enemies.

Definitely a unique experience worth checking out. Not exactly your classic AoE II experience, but really fun.

If you’re not convinced yet just skim through the overwhelmingly positive feedback and see for yourself.


2. Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship RPG CO-OP

Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship RPG CO-OP mod

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There are so many LoTR mods out there, but this one particularly caught my attention.

Fans of the series know that although the journey to Mount Doom was an amazing feat, what made it all the more special was the companionship we all witnessed among Frodo, Sam, Legolas, and of course Gandalf.

Similarly, LoCoDoN’s Lord of the Rings mod focuses on just that: the fellowship.

A scenario best enjoyed with friends, play with 7 others as either Frodo and Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, or Gimli, among a few other favorite LoTR characters.

And there tons of new content here with each character having unique abilities, and some new cutscenes, random encounters, plus hidden areas to explore. This almost feels like a new game in itself!

Fight your way through the Caradhras, the Mines of Mora, Balrog, and ultimately Sauron in this epic adventure to protect the One Ring.


1. Age of Fantasy

Age of Fantasy Age of Empires II mod

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As the modder himself explains here, many AoE II content creators have touched on the fantasy genre fairly well. But I’ve always noticed one big thing missing: a complete fantasy world.

Some guys focus on specific topics like Game of Thrones or LoTR. But what about totally customized fantasy gameplay?

Age of Fantasy aims to give you a completely new fantasy experience.

With a deep new world consisting of 31 fresh civilizations to play as, this mod makes a complete 180 from historical significance to create a fantasy game out of this RTS.

Explore a brand-new world with everything from wizards, dragons, orcs, magic, and dwarves. This may not be your personal favorite mod here, but I think it deserves a lot of credit for basically reinventing what an Age of Empires game could feel like.

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