Okay, I have 250 hours on my Stardew Valley counter on Steam (and that’s not counting the time that I spent on modded Stardew Valley, before I realised you could launch that through Steam, too.) Safe to say that I would immediately, without a doubt, give Stardew Valley a 5 star review. Throw some mods into the mix, and I might have to add a few extra star slots to my review score.
Relaxing, adorable and satisfying farming game… with mods!
In this review, I’ll give you a short review on all of my favourite mods, in hopes to inspire you to try your hand at modded Stardew Valley, too!
And in case you’re interested in making mods yourself, come join us at Mod Bucket on Discord. We’d be happy to help you get started, test your mods out for you or just in general hear about your progress!
SMAPI, short for Stardew Modding API, is where all the magic starts.
This is the mod loader for Stardew Valley modding, so you will need it for most, if not all, mods you want to download. Just grab it over at their official site or on Nexus if you prefer using a mod manager.
Tip: When you’re done installing SMAPI, head to Steam, right-click Stardew Valley, go to Properties, click on ‘Set Launch Options’ and put
"yourpath" %command% in there. Replace yourpath with the location of StardewModdingAPI.exe, which is in your ..\steamapps\common\Stardew Valley folder.
This will allow you to launch SMAPI and thus modded Stardew Valley from your Stardew Valley page on Steam, allowing you to track your time and get achievements in your modded game.
Do you want to be able to play both a modded and unmodded Stardew Valley save file at the same time? Check out this guide on how to install a modded game alongside your vanilla game. Just make sure you don’t load a vanilla save in your modded game and vice versa.
Content Patcher doesn’t add anything to the gameplay itself, but is a necessary tool to make your modding experience that much more satisfying.
Before Content Patcher, if you wanted to change anything visually about your game, e.g. Medieval style buildings, you would have to manually replace your .xnb files in the Stardew Valley content files. You would have to keep track of your mixed and matched mods, and when a game update came along, the files would be overwritten. Mistakes were easily made, so you’d have to verify your source files and, once more, lose your modding progress.
Content Patcher changes that. It provides a framework in which you can dynamically change the way your game looks based on in-game variables (like seasons, weather, location, etc.) Through the config files, it is very easy to change the customisation you initally chose.
Stardew Valley Expanded
+ Immersive Farm 2 Remastered
I had over 250 hours of vanilla and modded Stardew Valley on my counter before I installed Stardew Valley Expanded – and it’s like I’m playing a completely new game. If you could, for some weird reason, only install one mod, it should 100% be this one. And if that genie (I’ve decided it’s because of a genie) is benevolent enough not to count Immersive Farm 2 Remastered as a separate mod, definitely add that, too.
Stardew Valley Expanded adds:
- 9 new NPCs, complete with dialogue, schedules, backstory, events, housing, etc.;
- Several new events for existing NPCs;
- 21 new locations, including a giant forest to get lost in;
- Several fixes to existing maps (with most important fix being Dusty. You’ll know it when you see him);
- and much more I haven’t discovered yet!
This mod is best played going in completely blind. Let the game surprise you!
Immersive Farm 2 Remastered is a massive custom farm map. It turns the default farm into a huuuuuge piece of land all yours to command. There are two version, one with paths and fences and one wihout, so you can either completely start from scratch or rebuild an existing farm that has gone into ruin
because your grandpa… you know.
If you’re not convinced by the mod page on Nexus and not even by my high praise above, you should definitely check out Fiery_Fae on Twitch. She is currently streaming her adventures in Pelican Town with both Expanded and Immersive Farm installed.
NPC Map Locations
The NPC Map Locations mod is pretty straight-forward: it adds little NPC heads to your map to indicate where those NPCs are currently located.
I would recommend this mod in general, but especially if you have Stardew Valley Expanded installed as well. It’s hard enough to find yourself on that map, let alone others.
I was so happy when I first found the Customize Exterior mod, you have no idea! I wanted non-vanilla buildings, but there were so many packs I liked, and I hated that you can have two coops that look differently.
This mod fixes that! You can customise the exterior of all your buildings (including your farmhouse!) whenever you like.
But full disclosure, this mod still has some bugs. Sometimes your chosen exterior will revert back to vanilla, and customising Silos seems troublesome. But other than that, this is one of my favourite mods!
Before I found Animal Skinner, I had a much more complicated roundabout save editing way of making sure real-life biodiversity was represented on my Stardew Valley farm (read: I wanted to be able to have 4 different rabbits that looked like my irl rabbits.) Now that Animal Skinner exists, though, this has become so much easier. So much.
Through a command, you can change the way every animal looks individually. This means there is some set up required in naming all your files a specific way, but once that’s done, you’ll have so many different animals running around!
Any new animals you buy will have a randomly picked skin, to ensure the natural progression in in-game terms.
And Marnie will pick up stray cats and dogs for you to adopt as well!
This one goes out to those precious people who enjoy automating things to the extent that they’ll spend hours and hours on games like Autonauts, The Colonists, Kubifaktorium, Factorio, Satisfactory – you name it.
The Automate mod adds some of that awesomeness to Stardew Valley.
By placing a chest next to a machine, it will automate the input and output to and from that machine. Say you put a chest next to a furnace and drop some coal and copper nuggets in there, the machine will automatically smelt them and put the produce back into the chest.
This works for turning your eggs into mayonnaise, for turning your wool into cloth, for turning your wood into coal, but also for pressing slime eggs and incubating your slimes – practically every machine action in the game can be automated this way.
Additionally, you can define “connector blocks”, for instance wooden paths, that connect chests to machines, so that you chests don’t always have to be right next to the machines they operate.
It’s basic, but it gets the job done.I’ll take “things you can say about me, but also the Automate mod” for 500, Alex.
Breed Like Rabbits
Okay, the breeding mechanics in Stardew Valley are, well, weird.
You get cows that you can milk, that indicates they are female, yet somehow, they can reproduce. That’s… special. But convenient, I agree! New cows, woo! And same goes for your pigs and sheep.
And then there’s the rabbit. An animal notorious for fast and copious reproduction. But in Pelican Town, rabbits are sterile.
Just one question: why?!
And the answer – not to that question, but to the frustration – is: Breed Like Rabbits.
This mod does exactly as it advertises: it allows your rabbits to breed like themselves. There are a few configuration options like accounting for gender and happiness, that you can adjust to your heart’s desire. After that, sit back and enjoy your baby rabbits!
Part of the Community
The last mod mini review is all but the least: Part of the Community.
This super wholesome mod expands on the friendship system, in the sense that it will account for NPC interactions in the vicinity of other NPCs. Chat to Penny while Jas and Vincent are in the area? The kids will like you a little better, just for seeing you talk to their teacher. Give Abigail a gift in front of Seb and Sam? The boys will be happy to see their friend happy, so your relationship with them increases as well. Stop at Pierre’s every day to buy his seeds instead of Joja’s? Well, now he’ll actually love you for that, literally.
It makes building and maintaining friendships a little bit easier, and in my opinion, a little bit more realistic. And who knows, maybe now you can actually dance at the Flower Dance in year 1? Bonus: this gives you incentive to go to hangouts, like fitness with the girls on Tuesday, or to the bar on Friday.
Some other small mods
I talked about my 7 favourite mods above, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have about fifty more. I’ll drop a list with links below.
- Auto Animal Doors: automatically opens and closes the doors to your coops and barns at the beginning and end of each day.
- BetterHay: hay drops as an item in your inventory if you don’t have a silo yet or if your silo is full.
- Better Ranching: adds indicators for when animals need love, shearing, milking, etc.
- Customize Anywhere: allows you to go into character creation mode whenever, wherever.
- Gift Taste Helper: this one’s a little “cheaty” in the sense that, instead of figuring out who loves which gifts or looking it up on the wiki, the game now tells you.
- Happy Birthday: adds a birthday for you, on which NPCs will give you love and gifts.
- No Fence Decay: another cheaty one because fence day was so annoying.
- Simple Crop Label: adds a label with crop names.
- Skip Intro: allows you to play Stardew Valley faster by skipping the intro.
- Tractor Mod: I felt this one was necessary with a big farm.
- Tree Transplant: allows you to ask Robin to move around grown trees.
- What Are You Missing: another “so I don’t have to look it up on the wiki” mod.
- Seasonal Villager Outfits and Seasonal Outfits – SVE: NPCs wear different outfits depending on the weather and seasons.
- Dinosaur Shirts and Boots to match the Dinosaur hat
- Ragnarok Online Hats
- Seasonal Hats