The Best Graphics & Visual Mods for Civilization 6

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Many people think that “real” strategy gamers don’t care about graphics.

After all, strategy games are about working out your brain – and you’ll spend more time reading policy cards than marveling at the game’s visuals.

Still, that theory fails to consider that a game of Civilization VI can take anywhere from three hours to half a day. That’s a lot of time to spend staring at ugly graphics!

One of Civilization VI’s greatest achievements is making history look fun and giving historical figures like Gilgamesh or Eleanor of Aquitaine cool designs and magnetic personalities.

Yet there’s always room for improvement.

Thanks to modding, it’s possible to customize the visual aspects of Civ VI more than ever.


10. Better Civilization Icons

Better Civilization Icons / Civ 6 Mod

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After the realistic aesthetic of Civilization V, many saw Civ VI’s return to a more cartoony style as a downgrade.

I love the new style, but there’s one place where the game’s playful personality doesn’t work as well: Civilization icons.

Instead of looking for accurate historical symbols, Firaxis gave some civs the most random stuff. I get Spain likes bullfights, but was there really no better symbol for this colonial superpower than a bull?

Better Civilization Icons by Sukritact replaces the worst offenders with more historically accurate and visually appealing icons. It affects over 30 civilizations and 25 city-states.


9. Unique District Icons

Unique District Icons / Civ 6 Mod

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My favorite civilizations to play as all have a unique district.

It’s amusing to try and create a playstyle around them, and I love that they cost less to build.

This mod by Leugi makes them even better by giving them unique icons instead of having them share the same one with everyone else’s boring, regular districts.

For example, the Greek Acropolis culture district now shows a traditional Greek lyre instead of a generic G-clef. The Brazilian Street Carnival’s carnival mask is another fantastic example.


8. Real *Stylish* Great People

Real *Stylish* Great People / Civ 6 Mod

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One of Civilization’s main draws is the historical inspiration.

I enjoy immersing myself in ancient history with every unique building, district, and unit – and, of course, I love getting to know notable historical figures by recruiting them as Great People.

Real *Stylish* Great People by Plati replaces the generic Great People icons with authentic portraits of each historical figure, putting a face on the name and making each recruitment memorable.

In addition, the mod also tweaks Great People progress to show remaining turns rather than GP Points for easier planning ahead.


7. Hillier Hills

Hillier Hills / Civ 6 Mod

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Hills are one of the most important terrain features to keep an eye on.

They provide natural protection from invaders thanks to their movement penalty, but they also offer extra production, and you can build mines on them to increase your yields even further.

Regrettably, they can be hard to spot in vanilla Civ VI due to their gentle slope and low height. It becomes nearly impossible if the hilly tile has resources on top.

The solution is Hillier Hills, a mod by Deliverator23 that makes these faults on the terrain a lot more dramatic and easily visible.

Hilly and mountainous regions have never looked so good.


6. Colorized Historic Moments

Colorized Historic Moments / Civ 6 Mod

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I love having a long scroll to commemorate the historical moments of our Civilization – but why did it have to be colorless?

If we already invented papyrus and created ink to write on it, we probably have some pigments lying around.

Colorized Historic Moments by MiniRagnarok replaces the drab vanilla art with fun colorized versions.

The coloring on each of the 250+ possible events is nuanced and perfectly matches the original papyrus scroll style.


5. City Sprawl Graphics

City Sprawl Graphics / Civ 6 Mod

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One of the great pleasures of city builders and games with settling mechanics is watching your little oasis of Civilization grow far and wide across the land.

Civilization VI did a lot for wide city growth by creating districts separate from the main city tile, but it failed at making these districts look like part of a single urban sprawl.

City Sprawl Graphics by Hiraeth makes the game generate more buildings around the outskirts of districts adjacent to the city center. This makes your cities look like proper megalopolises.

With a couple strategically-placed neighborhoods, you can even fuse different cities together, mimicking what happens in real life as urbanization ramps up in developing countries.


4. Vibrant Waters

Vibrant Waters / Civ 6 Mod

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One of the biggest complaints I heard back when Civ VI came out was how the water looked like blue paint rather than a transparent liquid.

Enter Vibrant Waters by Pokiehl.

This convenient mod changes every water body – even wonders like the Dead Sea and Crater Lake – to look more natural and typically lighter-colored.

Make your seas even more immersive with Tsunami Waves, also created by Pokiehl.


3. Vegetation Variety

Vegetation Variety / Civ 6 Mod

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Most large forests around the world tend to be thick with greenery – and yet Civ VI seems to think around ten pines on a hill constitutes a coniferous forest.

Vegetation Variety by JNR overhauls forests in Civ VI and grants them a lot more density. You’ll also notice attractive new visual cues that reveal what kind of tile the forest stands on.

There’s a slight color difference between forests on plains and grasslands, and a jungle might be denser on plains and more lightly populated on hills.


2. RED Modpack

RED Modpack / Civ 6 Mod

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At the dawn of Civilization, as you settle your first town and the men of your tribe risk their lives exploring the wilds around you, a group of three dudes with clubs might look like a sensible military unit.

However, as your population booms and your empire advances through the ages, you’ll need a lot more people to effectively carry out any military operation.

The RED Modpack modifies almost every military unit in the game by making the individual soldiers smaller and more numerous.

This way, a besieged city looks more immersive, and confrontations between units look more like full-fledged historical battles and less like minor skirmishes.


1. Environment Skin: Sid Meier’s Civilization V

Civilization V visuals for Civilization VI / Civ 6 Mod

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I’ve mentioned how Civilization VI’s cartoonish visual style wasn’t an immediate hit.

People took some time to get used to it – and some never did.

If you count yourself among these old-school gamers, you’ll love the Civilization V Environment Skin mod – created by none other than Brian Busatti, Project Art Director at Firaxis Games.

This unbelievable mod brings back the realistic, subdued tones of Civ V’s maps and units.

It also remodels some terrain features to resemble their Civ V counterparts. This is especially noticeable in forests.

Even if you don’t mind Civ VI’s more colorful style, this is a fantastic way to spruce things up after years of playing this fantastic game.

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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.