Best SimCity 4 Mods: A List Of Must-Have Essentials

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Maxis’ SimCity series was a pioneer in the city-building genre. Amateur urban engineers worldwide could immerse themselves and just go ham on their cities.

Nowadays, the city-building genre is more successful than ever thanks to games like Cities: Skylines, but few can match the charm of the classics like SimCity 4.

Since this first came out in 2003, it isn’t exactly the most sophisticated game compared to more recent titles. Still, a vibrant modding community has released enough updates for SC4 to stand proud among modern city-builders.

You could begin by installing some fixes and you could spend hours picking new buildings to bring into your simulation, but that’ll only take you so far.

Here I want to share the best mods that are genuinely essential for an updated and improved SC4 experience.

Keep in mind that most of these mods are hosted on sites that require you to register, but it’s always easy and free. And if you like SimCity 4, you’ll be glad you did.


20. Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant

Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant Simcity4

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There are countless buildings and lots online that can improve your city building experience.

But I’ll focus on a few simple structures with the potential to completely change the game.

The Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant by creator Sim151 is one of them, helping you diminish the environmental impact of your sprawling industrialist metropolis while also occupying less space than your average Water Purification lot.

It looks pretty legit. And it even creates more jobs for any environmentally-conscious Sims who don’t want to work in polluting industries.


19. Air Purification Plant

Air Purification Plant SC4 mod

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Also by Sim151 comes another environmentally-friendly structure – the Air Purification Plant.

It’ll appear listed under “parks”, but no park can give you the level of air cleanliness that this monument to human engineering can.

With it, your industry-heavy city will have no trouble continuing its growth without its inhabitants having to wear masks to work.

It also looks incredibly cool. With a sort of bio-industrial design that brings together the sober concrete with the lush greens of nature.


18. Police Headquarters

Police Headquarters SC4 mod

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One of the most difficult-to-deal-with issues you’ll almost always run into as your city grows is criminality, requiring you to build a police station every two blocks if you wish to retake peace from the hands of wrongdoers.

These massive Police Headquarters by modder JoeRG will solve the issue by covering a colossal radius that’s enough for most megalopolises.

It even has a built-in jail, diminishing the need for a dedicated structure.

Build a couple of these, and you’ll turn an average town into a crime-less dystopia with a police patrol behind every corner.

Big Brother is watching.


17. Steet Cul-de-sac Mod

Steet Cul-de-sac Mod SC4

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Real-life cities and suburban areas are filled with cut-off two-way streets that lead nowhere in particular, and cities in SimCity 4 are no different.

With this Cul-de-sac mod by creator Quirlix, any cut-off streets will end in an aesthetically-pleasing cul-de-sac. So?

Well, this allows you to design realistic suburbs and other similar residential areas.

Keep in mind that this change goes a bit beyond the aesthetic and into functionality, so be sure to check out the usage instructions for more information.


16. Crime Doesn’t Pay

Crime Doesn’t Pay SC4

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We’ve already covered the authoritarian wet dream that is the massive Police Headquarters. But some of you would rather let your Sims roam free, rather than throw them in jail after a few bad decisions.

Well thanks to RaphaelNinja, you can keep them free as a bird.

The Crime Doesn’t Pay mod can almost eliminate crime in a big city with just a couple of small, community-run police stations.

It doesn’t entirely remove crime from the simulation, but it makes it considerably more manageable.


15. SimFox Day & Nite Mod

SimFox Day & Nite Mod SC4

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Vanilla SimCity 4 has a built-in day-night cycle, but many users – myself included – find it much too subtle.

Created by SimFox as the name implies, this Day&Nite mod makes the changes in natural light more noticeable, darkening substantially at night and looking even brighter and more vivid during the day.

Just keep in mind that this mod directly modifies the textures of almost everything to achieve its effect, and may not work on any new structures you install if they don’t specify it.


14.SimCity 4 Extra Cheats Plug-in

Extra Cheats Plug-in SC4

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The Extra Cheats Plug-in is one of the most interesting tools on this list due to its origins.

In fact, it was a tool used by the developers during testing, and was only released to the public years later by Buggi, a SimTropolis user.

This nifty tool will allow you to cheat in almost every way, from giving yourself unlimited Simoleons to making it snow, or just setting down a new structure for free wherever and whenever you want.

Keep in mind that this was never designed for recreational use. So it may lead to some stability issues in the simulation, depending on how you use it.


13. RoadTop Mass Transit Plug-in

RoadTop Mass Transit Plug-in SC4

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Roads and transportation are some of the most important things you have to take care of manually for your simulated cities to take off and become sprawling metropolises.

This incredible mod by user DarkMatter makes designing a functional public transportation system much easier by allowing you to build both Bus and Subway stops directly on top of roads rather than to the sides.

This way, there’s no need for any urban re-designing, and your roads will look much more regular.


12. SC4Terraformer

SC4Terraformer SC4 mod

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Only the truly hardcore will find any use in the next couple of mods.

But considering you’re playing SimCity 4 about 20+ years after its initial release, maybe that’s you.

The SC4Terraformer was made by SC4Devotion user Wounagaine to simplify creating custom-made regions where to start your cities. As such, it includes several tools for visualization and modification of the terrain.

Whether you want to make a mountainous region or one where water plays a significant role, this tool will turn those ideas into reality.


11. SC4Mapper

SC4Mapper Simcity4

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Once you’re done with creating new regions, you may want to share them, and that’s where SC4Mapper comes in.

This simple tool lets you take overview pictures of regions, as well as export them and, better yet, import them.

That means you can go into SC4-focused forums, check out other player’s regions and try them out yourself.

If you’re active in the SC4 community, this is a must.


10. Hole Digging Lots

Hole Digging Lots SC4

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Sometimes, you don’t need to create an entirely new region. But rather make some minor modifications to the one you’re playing in.

In real life, you can hire a firm to move dirt around for you.

In SimCity 4, you’ll have to install this Hole Digging Lots mod by Smoncrie, which simply introduces a lot programmed to dig a 1-lot hole, along with another set to create a 1-lot hill.

Whether you use it to build underpasses, the entrance to tunnels or even an entire city under sea-level like in the Netherlands, this tool makes is a breeze.


9. “Stupid News Ticker” Mod

Stupid News Ticker SC4

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One of the most annoying aspects of playing an unmodded SimCity 4, and even many newer city-builders, is the excessive amount of “news” you get about what’s going on in the city.

This mod by RedLotus is designed with the idea that this newsfeed is supposed to be a tool instead of just a source of mild entertainment.

It’ll completely discard anything that doesn’t require you to react, leaving you with major upgrade alerts, population milestones, and anything linked to immediate problems.

With it, you’ll no longer have to sift through hundreds of Baby Shower invitations to find the news that require your attention.


8. Opera House Fix

Opera House Fix SC4 mod

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Culture and entertainment are important.

But most cities don’t have a massive temple to the arts every few blocks.

And frankly, they probably don’t need it.

Opera Houses in SC4 have a surprisingly low capacity, limiting the growth of your cities by becoming overcrowded.

The fact that its capacity is a hidden number doesn’t help in identifying the problem.

This mod by Toroca not only makes it easy to see the Opera House’s inner workings, but actually increases their capacity.

This means they’re more realistic and useful, rather than limiting.


7. Functional Landmarks Complete Set

Functional Landmarks Complete Set SC4

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In real life, landmarks aren’t only memorials to times past.

But also sources of tourist income and jobs for the surrounding population.

This mod, also made by user Toroca, makes your SC4 landmarks more than mere decoration.

They’ll create jobs now, and you’ll get to decide how many posts each of them brings in.

Not only is it more realistic, but it’ll let you fill your cities with beautiful landmarks without wasting prime real estate.


6. IH Missing $$$ Jobs Fix

IH Missing $$$ Jobs Fix - Simcity4 mod

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The technology industry is one of the fastest-growing sources of wealth the world over.

And it shouldn’t be any different in SimCity 4.

Regrettably, vanilla SC4 has a tiny bug causing tech industry zones to create a demand for high-earning Sims without actually employing them.

Thanks to creator HeinBloed4711, you only have to install this simple mod to restore IH industrial zones to their intended working order.


5. SimPeg Agricultural Mod (SPAM)

SimPeg Agricultural Mod - SimCity4

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Vanilla SimCity4 treats agriculture and all related structures as a temporary step towards a bustling industrialized metropolis, making them utterly unsustainable in the long run.

But what if you want to create a green city where Sims can reach toward the future? Without losing their connection to the land as well, of course.

This mod by Pegasus does just that.

It changes how farms work and what they can provide to a city. If you want to understand how to build an agricultural enclave in SC4, be sure to check the ReadMe file here before installing.


4. Colossus Addon Mod

Colossus Addon Mod for Simcity4

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If you’ve already seen cities rise and fall several times and feel like you’ve experienced all the SC4 simulation can do for you, consider this revolutionary mod.

The Colossus Add-on by InvisiChem alters the economic, demographic, and environmental simulation on a deep level to accommodate for new growth stages for most zones, fundamentally changing the way cities develop.

Among other things, this maximizes the potential of industrial districts, making sustained growth easier to achieve.


3. Industrial Revolution Mod (IRM)

Industrial Revolution Mod for SimCity4

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Speaking of maximizing the potential of industrial districts, we can’t overlook the Industrial Revolution Mod.

Developed by creator Twrecks, the IRM makes a wealth of changes to industrial lots with enjoyment in mind, making them look less repetitive.

They’ll also evolve more organically.

With it, you can choose the kind of industrial district look you want, including brick-heavy old-timey ones and more modern, minimal-looking facilities.

They’ll no longer be an unavoidable ugly part of town.

But rather the beating heart that keeps the city moving.


2. Network Addon Mod (NAM)

Network Addon Mod for SimCity4

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Ask anyone online what’s the most essential mod for SimCity 4, and they’ll say “NAM” 100% of the time.

This massive mod by the NAM Team is a compilation of transport-related fixes, additions, and expansions that bring countless new features into the transport system.

These features include new overpasses, highways on ramps, better intersections, and many, many more goodies.

It’s easy to install, and it will forever change the way you design your cities, giving you a level of freedom you’ve only dreamed of until now.


1. SC4 Launcher

SC4 Launcher - SimCity4 mod

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While the NAM is the most essential mod you need, there’s something even more fundamental that you really shouldn’t ignore.

Created by Logic_Bomb, the SC4 Launcher is a tool that’ll solve a bunch of issues before even running the game.

It applies fixes to issues you never knew were there, mostly to help with stability.

It’ll also let you set auto-save intervals, disable or enable the intro cinematic, and more.

And this launcher auto-detects your resolution and determines the best settings for your computer. Add to that the built-in Mod Manager, and you’ll begin to see why this has to be at the top.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.