Ever since there have been Total War games, there have been Total War modders. As soon as the Creative Assembly release a new Total War game, an army of enthusiasts pounce, retexturing units, overhauling the AI and crafting new campaigns. We've sifted through the hundreds of Total War mods out there and found ten of the best. These mods give us whole new areas of history to explore, fantasy worlds to conquer and challenging new campaigns to play. From Rome through to Napoleon: Total War, we've got you covered.
1. Rome: Europa Barbarorum
Fans of historical accuracy will be delighted with Europa Barbarorum, easily the most well researched of the mods on this list. Five new factions have been added to diversify the barbarian forces, and all of the vanilla factions have been rigorously reworked to bring them closer to what modern scholars know of the era. This is an essential download for history buffs, or for anyone looking to get a more detailed and challenging experience from their copy of Rome: Total War. 2. Rome: SPQR
SPQR is another realism mod that offers a different experience to Europa Barborum's intensely researched overhaul. There are new units and hundreds of balance tweaks to the core game, but the most important changes have been made to the battles. Reduced upkeep costs mean that there are more armies on the campaign map and more troops on the battlefield. Warriors break far less often and some units, like the Spartans will fittingly never flee, preferring death to dishonour. The rewards are greater should you manage to outmanoeuvre the enemy as well, with added damage bonuses for flank attacks. Rome's battles are bigger, brainier and more brutal with SPQR installed. 3. Rome: Roma Surrectum
Roma Surrectum is a great mod for anyone who loves playing as the Romans. It adds four new factions and 35 new Roman legions, supported by a detailed new recruitment system that will only let you train certain warriors in certain regions, adding an extra layer of strategy to army management. The new models and textures give every legion a unique look and the campaign map has been tweaked to accommodate the new forces. Check out the video below for footage of the new Romans in action.
4. Medieval 2: Broken Crescent 2.0
This remarkable mod moves Medieval 2 to the Middle East. It's an extensive and incredibly polished package that introduces 30 new factions and over 250 new units, with expert reskins from the team's dedicated pair of artists. Religion has been overhauled to reflect the tensions in the region at the time, and leaders can now gain specific titles based on their experience and the lands they've captured. On top of all this, the area of recruitment system added by the most recent release adds even more strategic depth to an already excellent campaign.
5. Medieval 2: The Third Age
It was only a matter of time before someone realised that the Total War format would be perfect for a Lord of the Rings conversion. The Third Age is the result, a lovingly crafted mod that brings Middle Earth to Medieval 2. Every race is represented in the twelve new factions, including Orcs, High Elves, Dwarves and the forces of Mordor. The fantastic new skins and models provide a detailed take on Tolkien's fantasy universe, with designs heavily inspired by the films. Even now, the mod's creators are working hard on creating new campaign to bring the story of the Fellowship of the Ring to your copy of Medieval 2. Not convinced? Here's the trailer. It has Oliphants in it!
6. Medieval 2: Lands to Conquer
If you're tired of the Medieval 2 campaign, check out the alternatives provided by Lands to Conquer. The early, high and late era custom campaigns offer varying experiences from the short, action packed expansionist feel of the early campaign to the long, settled, diplomatic style of the late era. Lands to Conquer also makes a few general changes, incorporating a few aspects of other mods to improve battle AI and slow down the pace of empire expansion to a more realistic rate. 7. Empire: Darthmod Ultimate Commander
Many grizzled Total War veterans have fallen to Darthmod's cunning AI over the years. There's been an edition of Dathmod for almost every iteration of Total War, but Ultimate Commander for Empire: Total War is the best, bundling Dathmod's traditional swathe of AI updates and difficulty tweaks with a series of smaller mods that improve almost every aspect of the game. Most notable of these submods is the excellent Blood and Smoke update, which does a brilliant job of making Empire's gorgeous battles even more brutal and satisfying.
8. Empire: The American Revolution
The American Revolution doesn't exactly revolutionise Empire, but it certainly expands it, adding four new campaigns, new units and beautiful, carefully researched new skins and uniforms for many of the existing units in the game. It's an ideal mod for Empire players looking for a bigger and better version of the original game, who don't particularly relish the crushing difficulty of Darthmod. The 24-bit skins are another fantastic addition if you have the machine to support them. 9. Empire: Period Music Mod
Empire requires you to spend an ungodly number of hours on the campaign map, and it's only a matter of time before the eternally looping music begins to grate. Avoid a slow descent into psychosis with the Period Music Mod, which adds 50 period accurate pieces to the mix. It's a quick and easy install process so you'll plotting massacres to the jaunty sounds of Mozart in no time.
10. Napoleon: All In One
Napoleon: Total War has been out for less than a year, but the Total War modding community has already released hundreds of mods, tweaks and additions for the game. There are almost too many, which is why the super helpful Napoleon: All In One mod is so useful. It incorporates over 50 mods into one big package. Most of the updates focus on retexturing many units to help differentiate them on the battlefield and, where possible, bring them more closely in line with their historical counterparts. More sweeping changes include an increase in unit size to ensure even bigger battles and some alterations to unit AI that should see them stay in a fight for longer. Have a look at the trailer below for an overview of the changes.
That's just ten of the hundreds of mods out there for the Total War series. If these ten aren't enough then you'll find many, many more over at the excellent Total War Centre.