It’s hard to believe when you look at the Nexus Forums these days, but there was a time when the Stardew Valley community didn’t have a lot of mods. Oh sure, they existed, but the selection wasn’t broad and the process seemed like more trouble than it was really worth. Since then, robust new editors have sprung up, making it both easier to create and install new content. And with them, the community delivered. Whether you’re looking to fix some of the minor flaws in gameplay or completely overhaul the experience (or just install some sweet anime avatars), there’s a mod for you.
As with all game mods, there’s some hefty research to do before beginning the mod installation process for Stardew Valley. Many mods require tools like SMAPI, ContentPatcher, StardewHack or JsonAssets, but also require or rely on several other files as well. Check the description of each mod carefully to make sure you download and install all the additional required mods.
And with that, here are the 10 Stardew Valley mods you absolutely need.
It should be said, but everyone already knows, that the walking speed in Stardew Valley is atrocious. A lot of key locations are all the way across the map, and getting by on foot takes up a lot of precious hours of the day. Get the lead out with the Movement Speed mod, which not only lets your character walk faster, but also improves the charging time of the hoe and watering can.
NPC Map Locations
One of the most frustrating things about Stardew Valley is the sheer amount of time spent tracking down NPCs. Not only do they all have their own unique schedules, but the map is so big that it can take hours just to reach one location (only to find out the character you’re looking for has gone somewhere else anyway). With this mod, players can simply use the map to check the spot of any citizen in town, making it much easier to deliver presents and increase their relationship with other characters.
Gift Taste Helper
A good friend always knows what to get you for your birthday, because they always remember what you really like. As far as Stardew Valley goes, I am not a good friend. There are well over 20 NPCs, and memorizing the preferences of everyone, while necessary, is exhausting. With Gift Taste Helper, which is compatible with the in-game calendar, you’ll have records of every beloved gift you’ve ever given an NPC, the items that will increase your relationship with them the most. It makes it easy to give the perfect present on that special day.
Look Up Anything
This mod is truly a gem and will save you an enormous amount of time. With it, you can use the F1 button to hover over any item or character and receive relevant information that you can use to your advantage. Farm animals, for example, will show their happiness and relationship levels with the player, any conditions that are bothering them (like poor heat in the winter), their sale price, and what goods (including quantity and quality) they’re about to produce. A piece of fruit meanwhile will list everyone who likes it and what recipes it can be used in, or a crop will tell you how much longer until harvest, among many other things. The complexity is glorious but too immense to fully detail, so check out the full features list over at GitHub before you start the installation process. It is staggering how much guesswork it takes out of the game.
Sure, the single-day cycle of Stardew Valley, which saves the game when the player sleeps in their bed, doesn’t seem like a long time to wait. Then again, sometimes you just need to drop everything and ditch. With Save Anywhere, you can save your file with the press of a remappable button, no nap time necessary.
Enemy Health Bars
Since the early days of the game’s release, the lack of enemy health bars during combat has been a source of frustration. The Enemy Health Bars mod solves that problem, adding a simple meter that shows you how wounded an attacker is, greatly increasing your odds of survival.
Similarly, in the visual progress department, you can grab Experience Bars, a mod that will show you how close you are to leveling up in a particular skill whenever you press X.
Skip Fishing Minigame
It’s been ages since I first busted my wrist after fishing too much in Stardew Valley. And yet, when starting a new playthrough to take advantage of the recent 1.4 update, the old injury flared up immediately—despite three months of physical therapy on my wrist last year. What I’m saying is, screw the fishing mini-game in Stardew Valley. Don’t make the same mistakes I have. Skip the whole dang thing with this mod.
If your primary passion in Stardew Valley is farming, and the base game is just not enough for you, then Farm Extended might help. It turns the map into a huge consolidated space with a vast field for planting crops, and a dedicated area for mining, a forested area for foraging, a minecart for transporting, “escape-proof animal fields” and more.
While you’re at it, if you’re going all out with the farming experience, there are tons of smaller mods that will make the process go much easier and faster, like Automatic Gates, which lets you get through gates without having to open and close them; Simple Crop Label, which reminds you what crop is planted in the ground; Better Ranching, which adds an indicator telling you when your animals can be petted, milked, or sheared; Tractor Mod, which gives you a big tractor to help clear fields; and Range Display, which tells you the range of sprinklers, scarecrows, bee houses, and junimo huts.
I don’t know about you, but I live for cooking in Stardew Valley. After all, what’s the point of growing all those crops and crafting all those artisan ingredients if you’re not going to do something with them? With More Recipes, you get exactly as advertised, more recipes you can cook in your kitchen. Pairs well with the sequel, Even More Recipes, Extended Fridge (which bumps the storage up to 144 slots), and Remote Fridge Storage, which lets you pull ingredients from other storage locations.
There’s also Starbrew Valley, a collection of alcoholic beverages.
Stardew Valley Expanded
In terms of mods that beautify the game and extend its gameplay, Stardew Valley Expanded is far and away the biggest and most impressive. Born from the designer’s desire to recreate the magic of playing the game for the first time, the mod adds 21 new locations, 108 new character events, seven new fully fleshed out NPCs, new fish, a new village, and 750 location messages, as well as reimagined maps and festivals, a custom farm map, a new world map (reflecting the mod’s changes), and many other miscellaneous changes. This is a wonderful complement to the original game, retaining its spirit and aesthetic while using the art and assets creatively to deliver a refreshing palette cleanser for long time fans who need the change of scenery.
The mod is so big (“30+ hours”), it even has a subreddit community! The developer also promises there are many more updates and changes (like new NPCs) on the way.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.