Stellaris: 15 Best Mods for Ironman Mode (All Free)

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Stellaris is a very long game involving many decisions that can change the course of your empire’s future in just a couple of clicks.

Many players like to keep different save files to try out strategies and test the waters before making a decision that could doom their empire after hours of hard work.

Still, if you want to become immersed in your game, you have to commit to your choices and make the most of whatever arises.

Paradox introduced Ironman Mode as a way for players to force themselves to face the game’s challenge, without circumventing anything by save scumming or breaking the balance with mods. It’s also the only way to get achievements!

If you love Ironman Mode (or achievements) but still want to get the most out of modding, you’ll love these Ironman and achievement-friendly Stellaris mods.


15. Dark UI

Dark UI Stellaris mod

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We’ll kick things off with a UI mod some players just can’t go without.

I understand what the team at Paradox was thinking when choosing the green hue of the in-game menus.

It makes me think of holograms, circuit boards, and futuristic tech, which makes a lot of sense for a game focused on research and technological advancement.

That said, with a game as long as Stellaris, you need to take user experience into account – and there’s a reason why all the most popular apps like Twitter and Instagram have a “night mode.”

Dark UI is basically Stellaris’ night mode. It makes all the menus and tags a dark grey color that makes it easier to read text and looks much more stylish.


14. Tech Tiers Revealed

Tech Tiers Revealed Mod for Stellaris

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One of my main gripes with Stellaris is that it puts the burden of remembering every detail about the game’s technological progression on the player.

In other words, there are no evident “tiers” for buildings, weapons, or technologies.

Tech Tiers Revealed helps you track how much focus you’re putting into specific technological development routes by revealing the “tier” of each tech available for research.

That way, you won’t accidentally advance your laser tech to never before seen levels while completely ignoring missiles, defense systems, and resource-gathering improvements.


13. Tier Numbers: Buildings

Tier Numbers: Buildings Stellaris mod

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Tier Numbers: Buildings addresses the same issues as Tech Tiers Revealed but focuses on the various buildings you can construct in your planets and habitats.

It’s much easier to manage building development if there’s a “II” or “III” symbol representing how many times you’ve clicked that yellow arrow in the top left corner of the building tile.

No more time wasted trying to recognize the minute details that change in the building illustrations or remember whether an Administrative Park is better or worse than Administrative Offices.


12. Job Descriptions

Job Descriptions Mod for Stellaris

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Something else the game fails to correctly indicate to the player is exactly how many resources each working pop spends and creates in a given job.

For example, the Civilian Industries tooltip tells you that the building creates two Artisan who’ll turn Minerals into Consumer Goods, but never tells you how many of each.

Job Descriptions solves the issue by adding the exact numbers to the tooltip description. In the above example, you’d see that each Artisan turns six Minerals into six Consumer Goods per month.

This might not be too important with the less experienced players – but it’s vital information for those obsessed with min-maxing your strategies.


11. Flags in the Void

Flags in the Void Stellaris mod

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You may not be able to introduce entirely new species and cultures into Ironman Mode, but you can certainly roleplay to your heart’s content.

An essential part of enjoying your RP is creating national symbols that really make you feel connected to your empire, representing their history and foundational values.

Flags in the Void introduces 130 new background designs for your empire’s flag, so you can design a genuinely glorious banner that’ll inspire respect in the galactic community.

Some of these designs are much more complex than the ones offered by vanilla Stellaris, which I’m sure many of you will love.


10. Extended Vanilla Palettes

Extended Vanilla Palettes Mod for Stellaris

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In the real world, colors in flags represent stuff like “wheat fields under a blue sky” or “the blood spilled by our ancestors,” and there’s no reason your Stellaris flag should be any simpler.

Regrettably, vanilla Stellaris limits your creativity to only 24 colors.

They work relatively well together, and they’ll let you make respectable flags for sure, but they might stifle your imagination.

Extended Vanilla Palettes believes in you as an artist and respects your creative process by adding 28 new tones and hues for the symbol of your galactic rule.


9. Crest Materials

Crest Materials Stellaris mod

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For some reason, Stellaris assumes a golden emblem is appropriate for any empire – but what if you’re Agrarian Pacifists who despise symbols of wealth like gold?

You could also be playing an ex-slave machine empire that sees gold as a symbol of oppression – and the list of hypothetical situations where gold just doesn’t fit your RP goes on.

Luckily for us, Crest Materials adds three new textures for our emblem, including silver, bronze, and obsidian.


8. Astronomical Emblem Pack

Astronomical Emblem Pack Mod for Stellaris

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As I mentioned before, it’s impossible to bring all-new species with unique abilities and origins into Ironman Mode.

Still, you shouldn’t let that stop you from playing as your favorite sci-fi empires.

The Astronomical Emblem Pack makes it easier and more immersive by injecting the symbols for several factions and organizations in popular sci-fi franchises into your flag crest pool.

These franchises include the usual suspects like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Mass Effect, but also slightly more unusual picks like Magic the Gathering and Warframe. I even caught a glimpse of the Invader Zim logo!

Note: If you want this to be enabled for AI empires, check out this add-on.


7. Project Xenotype: Lite

Project Xenotype: Lite Stellaris mod

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Project Xenotype is an exciting portrait overhaul that revamps and expands the vanilla portrait pool. This means improving what’s already there and adding new portrait groups to the list.

PX: Lite is the Ironman and Multiplayer-compatible version, primarily affecting humanoid portraits.

It includes ten new phenotype variations with four different skin colors each, 46 new headgear options, and 50 new job-specific outfits.


6. Tiny Outliner

Tiny Outliner Mod for Stellaris

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If there’s one UI mod you absolutely need to have in Ironman Mode (or any mode, for that matter), it’s Tiny Outliner.

This simple mod reduces the visual clutter in the outliner, which is your primary tool for accessing your planets, starbases, shipyards, and ships.

The mod basically reduces every tab to a single “line,” essentially making everything half as tall, so it all fits without you having to scroll down.

It makes it easier to keep an eye on everything, and you’ll waste a lot less time looking for stuff. In a long-format game like Stellaris, every second counts.


5. Light Borders

Light Borders Stellaris mod

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As a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, I’ve been profoundly traumatized by Ubisoft’s insistence on making maps an unreadable mess thanks to the ridiculous amount of useless clutter.

Stellaris isn’t nearly as bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

One mod that makes the Stellaris map easier to read and a lot more visually appealing is Light Borders, which replaces the thick multicolored borders with a stylish, thin white line.

The mod also removes star pins and raises the border lines slightly to look like a high-tech projection. It’s simply more tasteful and fitting for such a futuristic game.


4. Amazing Space Battles – Ironman

Amazing Space Battles – Ironman Mod for Stellaris

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Playing in Ironman Mode doesn’t mean you can introduce big changes to the game – it just means they can’t affect the game’s balance.

That means graphical enhancements get a green light.

ASB – Ironman is an achievement-compatible graphic overhaul of space combat bringing new visual effects to lasers, kinetic weapons, missiles, disruptors, and much more!

While this version lacks the original mod’s enhanced ship behavior and better targeting, it’ll still have a sizable impact on your game.


3. Diverse Rooms

Diverse Rooms Stellaris mod

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The only way you can get an idea of how the people live on your planet is by looking at the background in planet view and on the leader screen.

The same goes for other empires contacting you over diplomatic channels.

Regrettably, vanilla Stellaris offers a pretty limited amount of backgrounds – and they don’t really differ that much from one another.

Diverse Rooms will improve the variety and help you feel immersed in your Ironman playthrough with 300 more rooms.


2. Immersive Galaxy LITE

Immersive Galaxy LITE Mod for Stellaris

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Mods that increase planet variety are some of my favorites in Stellaris modding – but most of them are incompatible with Ironman Mode for obvious reasons.

Immersive Galaxy – Planet Variety is one of the most celebrated visual enhancements for planets introducing a new cloud system and numerous new surface textures.

Regrettably, the main mod is incompatible with Ironman Mode – but there’s a fantastic alternative in Immersive Galaxy LITE.

This mod brings together everything in the original mod and its add-ons that doesn’t break your achievements.

You’ll notice better nights, improved clouds, and many new and appealing planet textures.


1. Immersive Beautiful Universe

Immersive Beautiful Universe Stellaris mod

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One of the best opportunities Stellaris has to make us marvel at the beauty of space is the background behind stars and planets in System View.

Immersive Beautiful Universe is an Ironman-compatible overhaul to these stellar backgrounds introducing over 115 new “skybox” options that’ll transport you to far-away nebulae and draw you into the fantasy of exploring the galaxy.

The background’s color is determined mainly by the hue of the centermost celestial body, and it may change over time depending on environmental factors.

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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.