There are a lot of “top Stardew Valley mods” articles floating around the Internet, and most of ‘em get it wrong. Trying to find noteworthy mods shortly after a game’s initial release is futile, and framing their contextual importance is almost impossible if you don’t actually play the game. As a result, most early “best of” lists are a mixture of slim pickings and one-off anomalies that aren’t remarkable or fun to play.
With that in mind, I’ve cooked up this hefty list of Stardew Valley mods for the serious and dedicated Stardew Valley player, together improving many of the game’s minor imperfections to deliver a more polished experience. Most (but not all) require the use of SMAPI, a Stardew Valley modding API made by the community to facilitate Stardew Valley mods. You can get an overview of Stardew Valley modding and how to install and make mods over in the Stardew Valley forums. Further installation instructions are provided on each of the linked mod pages.
As time goes on in Stardew Valley, the many “dead spots” in its soundtrack are more and more noticeable. After awhile, it becomes a distracting mixture of dull and dystopian, and if you’re investing several hours into the game, the temptation is to turn the sound off all together and listen to Spotify instead. But that of course mean you might miss out on important audio cues. A solution is this mod from the Nexus Forums, which adds more tracks to the game. It’ll replace some of the sound effects looping in the soundtrack with new music, but since it sources from Undertale and other games—enjoy it while it lasts.
Once you start paying attention to the player character’s relationship with the citizens of Pelican Town, it may begin to feel as though there’s very little time in the day, especially once you make it a goal to get married. Your status with each person can fluctuate daily based on the conversations you initiate, any gifts you’ve given them, the quality of the gifts, when they are given, and other factors. If you’re pressed for time and focusing on crops, its time-consuming nature can be a bit frustrating.
In comes the Social Editor Menu, which allows you to cut down on the guesswork by listing every NPC and identifying the number of relationship points accumulated with each.
Like the Social Editor menu, the NPC Map Locations mod gives the location of the citizens of Pelican Town, however it does so as an updating icon on the map. This helps to specifically locate an NPC and go to them directly where time is of the essence and you don’t have minutes to waste tracking them down. And in Stardew Valley, time is everything.
Like the last two entries, this mod helps you make the most of your time in Stardew Valley by drastically reducing the amount of time needed to build character relationships. Gift Taste Helper will add a hover menu to the town calendar that, when scrolled over, will reveal the gift preferences of each person whose birthday is listed. Giving that NPC any of the items, particularly on their birthday, results in a significant jump in accumulated social points.
By this point it’s practically cliché to complain about the fishing in Stardew Valley. The minigame is wildly unpredictable and due to its key mapping is a huge pain in the wrist. Fix that with this Easier Fishing Mod, which, as its name suggests, cuts the difficulty of the process, primarily by reducing the intensity of the lure’s bob in the activity window.
Cooking is a lot more important to the success of your Stardew Valley game than you might think. With the hefty energy boosts and health bonuses provided by cooked meals, you can power through an entire day of mining, chopping trees and fishing for broken CDs and soggy newspaper. To keep a steady supply of necessary ingredients you’ll need to be constantly growing and foraging for food, but also buying some of the secondary items, like flour, sugar and vinegar.
With this mod you can now make those items yourself using corn, wheat, beets and apples from your own farm. Along with the Show Item Price mod, it can help drastically reduce the amount of trips back and forth from Pierre’s, and eliminate those pesky “AW I FORGOT IT’S WEDNESDAY” moments at the grocery, allowing you to cook an item whenever you need it instead of waiting for it to re-open.
If you’re serious about your farm in Stardew Valley, then you’ll want this mod to help organize your garden layouts. It puts a grid pattern over the game that illustrates specifically what unit of space you are working with as you hoe and plant, allowing you both to efficiently plan how you will use the plot but also gauge the range and effectiveness of items like sprinklers and scarecrows.
Selling the items you gather and grow in Stardew Valley is a chore without this mod. Unless you make frequent trips to the local grocery store to check prices during a transaction, it’s hard to decipher the value of an item, thus making it difficult to judge if it’s worth selling or keeping. If you have limited space in your inventory, this can make life in Pelican Town just that much more difficult. Spare yourself the time and effort with this
Perhaps the most aggravating aspect of traversing the many levels of Pelican Town’s mines is how time consuming it is. It’s easy to lose track of the hours and suddenly pass out in the middle of the night. Fix this with the Freeze Time mod, a tweak that not only can be used to stop time while you’re indoors, but also speed up or slow down the clock.
While the mines of Pelican Town are a great place to procure necessary ores and gemstones, they’re also home to enemies and cave dwelling monsters, with only a primitive combat system to fight them. Make the process of taking them down slightly easier with the Enemy Health Bars mod, which as the title suggests adds a visible marker showing you how many hit points your opponent has left. This simple change should help you survive the shaft’s many levels.
Holly Green is a reporter, editor, and semiprofessional photographer living in Seattle, WA. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gameranx, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.