Best Graphics & Visual Mods for Stellaris

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Most of us play Stellaris as a massive HIIT workout for our brains, with enormous role-playing opportunities that let us live out our fantasies of discovery and conquest.

But there’s a reason why we’re not just sitting down and writing a terrible Star Wars fanfiction with a self-insert protagonist.

Video games make everything more immersive – and graphics are a big part of it.

Stellaris came out a while ago, and though the graphics remain competent, they’re beginning to look dated.

Let’s turn to mods to fix this situation, bringing along new textures, visual effects, and lots of eye candy.


1. Epic Explosions

Epic Explosions Mod for Stellaris

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Ships in Stellaris are loaded with high-tech engines capable of generating incredible amounts of energy.

Where does it all go when one is destroyed?

Vanilla ships just shut down and drift off into the great unknown. It’s an anticlimactic end to your bad-ass battleships, to say the least.

Creator Kondi offers a solution with the Epic Explosions mod, which lights up your ships in a final blaze of glory comparable to a tiny supernova.


2. Battle Debris – Starship Graveyards

Battle Debris – Starship Graveyards Stellaris mod

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With so many ships blowing up during the average space battle, you’d expect to find sizable clouds of space debris after intergalactic combat.

The Battle Debris mod by Mzilli makes the galaxy more dynamic and immersive by introducing significant accumulations of metal scrap and other spaceship materials wherever a battle has taken place.

You’ll also find two new buildings for your Starbase that can affect these debris fields. One of them contributes to clearing them up faster, while the other allows you to preserve them as a reminder of your empire’s history.


3. Downscaled Ships

Downscaled Ships Mod for Stellaris

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Have you ever noticed how vanilla spaceships pile up on top of each other when in a large armada?

I can’t imagine future military tactics having ships so close to each other when there is so much space around them in, well, space!

The Downscaled Ships mod makes your armadas more realistic by downscaling the size of most vessels and placing them farther apart. The mod also creates a visible size difference between small, lower-level ships and larger vessels like Titans.

This also affects starbases, habitats, defense platforms, and many extraterrestrial objects, providing a better sense of scale.


4. Reduce Aura Graphics

Reduce Aura Graphics Stellaris mod

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If you want to show the other empires in your side of the galaxy who’s boss, you’ll need the best spaceships your resources can buy. In Stellaris, that’s the Titan-class ship.

These colossal vessels can give other ships in the vicinity special buffs or debuffs like better hull regeneration for your allies or weakened shields for your enemies.

Regrettably, these status effects are shown on-screen as an obnoxious colored aura glowing around every affected ship. This makes space battles look very “video-gamey” and frankly ugly.

Creator Kondi fixes the issue with the Reduce Aura Graphics mod, which greatly diminishes the intensity of these glowing effects and clears up your view of the battlefield.


5. Diverse Rooms

Diverse Rooms Mod for Stellaris

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Other than the vastness of outer space, you’ll spend most of your time in Stellaris looking at menus and character portraits.

The backgrounds on these portraits are the best way to know how life is on your planets, space stations, and vessels – and it helps keep you immersed and invested in the fate of your people.

If you’re bored of always looking at the same backgrounds, you’ll love Blackfyre’s Diverse Rooms, which introduces a whopping 300 new chamber designs with more life than the vanilla options.


6. Improved Space Battles (Graphics)

Improved Space Battles (Graphics) Stellaris mod

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The “Graphics” module of the Improved Space Battles add-on by Ankain is one of the least invasive ways you can enhance your space combat experience in Stellaris.

It makes space combat incredibly cool and flashy without altering the game’s balance.

The mod makes laser weapons much more visually striking with a stronger glow that contrasts with the dark space background.

It also introduces new ship models that look way cooler than what’s available in vanilla Stellaris.


7. Amazing Space Battles

Amazing Space Battles Mod for Stellaris

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Amazing Space Battles is another fantastic option to embellish your intergalactic war.

We’ve seen some of ASB’s improvements individually in other mods, such as better spaceship spacing and more eye-catching explosions, but there’s more to it.

ASB features many new visual effects such as muzzle flashes and shield/hull hits, better ship targeting, and a battery of new effects for all types of weapons, including lasers, particle launchers, and missiles.

This makes putting the game in 1.0X speed and zooming into your latest military campaign more enjoyable.

And you can make it even better with the optional More Particles add-on.


8. Immersive Galaxy: Planet Variety 2K

Immersive Galaxy: Planet Variety 2K Stellaris mod

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One of the most essential aspects of Stellaris’ visual appeal is the individual planets that make up the galaxy.

There’s nothing quite as exciting as zooming in on a new planet and trying to guess what you’ll find there as your scouting ships slowly approach its orbit.

Immersive Galaxy: Planet Variety can make this all the more exciting by introducing new textures for planets across the galaxy.

Instead of alternating between the same six textures all the time, every type of planet now has upwards of ten, and often more. This makes the galaxy feel diverse and infinite, as it should be.


9. Immersive Beautiful Stellaris

Immersive Beautiful Stellaris Mod for Stellaris

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Getting new ships, planets, and visual effects are great ways to make Stellaris prettier – but what about everything else?

I’m talking about the menus, the backgrounds, and even the individual flags flown by your rival galactic empires.

Immersive Beautiful Stellaris by ShinazugawaKasako addresses these visual aspects with a coherent art direction, helping the game look just as gorgeous when zooming in or out.

My favorite feature in this mod is how the core object of a given system determines the color of the background behind it. With it, Red Giant systems look like deep red hellscapes and bright yellow suns create realms of golden glory.


10. Aesthetic Cinematic Gameplay

Aesthetic Cinematic Gameplay Stellaris mod

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I know some of you lack the patience to download ten different mods and painstakingly work out the kinks and compatibility issues to get a prettier game.

Some of you want everything served to you on a silver platter… and, luckily, someone already did.

The Aesthetic Cinematic Gameplay mod is the culmination of years of work by Ajey, who sought to create his own perfect Stellaris, and decided to share it with the community.

Nowadays, the mod includes new content and even some balance changes, but at its core, it’s a visual add-on meant to beautify Stellaris.

Some of the ways it achieves this are greatly improved weapon graphics, flashy lasers, epic explosions, and new ship death animations.

It also rescales ships, stations, and entire star systems for realism and a clean polished look.

This is the complete Stellaris overhaul you’ve been waiting for.

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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.