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The best Minecraft mods

Since its release in 2011, more than 200 million copies of Minecraft have sold, and its continued popularity on YouTube over the years will only add to that record-breaking number. Despite the high number of popular Minecraft clones, youngsters and veteran gamers alike keep coming back to the original, in part because of how easy it is to find Minecraft mods that add a fresh spin on a classic experience.

We’ve sifted through heaps of weird and silly mods to find the best UI improvements, visual filters, new gameplay mechanics, and cool ideas that will keep Minecraft from becoming stale.

If you need help implementing the aforementioned mods, we’ve also put together a guide on how to properly install Minecraft mods, so you can spend less time scouring forums and more time schlepping blocks to the outer regions of Mars.

The essentials

Applied Energistics

A giant minecraft computer in an open field.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Everyone is a bit of a hoarder in Minecraft, and Applied Energistics makes it easier than ever to become one. The ultra-convenient mod stores all of your items by turning them into energy, which is then stored on hard drives in your base. All of your items are wirelessly accessible from anywhere in your base, and the storage capabilities are virtually endless.

Just Enough Items

A screenshot of the Minecraft GUI with item icons appearing to the right of the main recipe interface.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Minecraft’s endless list of materials makes it difficult to remember why you need any of them. Just Enough Items enables you to hover over any item and check its uses or recipes, adding icons into the empty space right of the menu. Based on the now-defunct Not Enough Items mod, JEI includes the same text-based search bar to find any recipe and see what materials you have or still need. Also, check out the Just Enough Resources add-on for cool new additions like dungeon loot.

CraftTweaker

A crafting table logo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Should you wish to attempt your own Minecraft modding, either for a custom server or your own modpack, CraftTweaker offers an excellent starting point. With it, you can alter properties in-game, such as swap recipe components or change what an item does — for example, make all food less effective for a survival-themed server where you must fight off starvation. You can even add your own new custom blocks and items. It requires scripting knowledge, so get ready to study its wiki.

Waystones

A player looking at a pillar and the words "Waystone: The Mountain".
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ever forget your map at home, then go so far exploring that you can’t find where you left your home and the resources you spent dozens of hours collecting? Believe us, it’s incredibly frustrating, and this mod will prevent it from ever happening again. Craft waystones, place them around your world, then use a Warp Scroll or Warp Stone to return to where you’ve been. Or, in case you die and lose your stuff, simply add a button to your inventory that warps you anywhere, without an item.

DimensionalDoors

A dimensional door standing on the beach.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Somewhat similar to the waystones are DimensionalDoors. These function similarly, but instead of going from place to place, they can lead into your own little pocket dimension. Basically, they just allow you to access an infinite amount of space to do with as you please. You can simply use it for storage, but they can also function like waystones without the scrolls or stones since each one can lead out another you place wherever you like.

VoxelMap

A Minecraft mini-map showing coordinates, landmarks, and locations of nearby players.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you want to remove any mystery and always know where you are, who else is around you, and what you’ll find in any given direction, you’ll need a map or compass in your UI. Since the superb Journeymap is stuck in 1.15, consider VoxelMap, which gives you a mini-map or full-screen map that displays everywhere you’ve explored, mirrored to look like whatever weird biomes and resource packs you’ve downloaded. You’ll also see icons of NPCs and waypoints to which you can teleport.

Nature’s Compass

A menu showing all of the potential nearby biomes, and an option to teleport to one.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Compasses that only point north are so basic. This modded compass will point toward any nearby biome you wish to visit. You right-click the compass in your inventory to open a menu of nearby environments, then select one to have a heading for your next quest. The Nature’s Compass mod can also detect modded biomes (which we’ll reference below), so you can seek out the weird and wacky worlds you just downloaded.

Controlling

The minecraft controlling menu.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once you’ve installed a bunch of mods, it can be hard to manage all the extra features — and keep track of how to use them. The Controlling mod is a straightforward addition to Minecraft that lets the user pull up a search bar to find actions and the key they are mapped to. Controlling keeps the game organized and is essential for anyone using dozens of mods.

Expand your world

BSL Shaders

A minecraft world with shaders making it look nice.
Mojang

Made for the Java Edition of Minecraft, BSL Shaders is highly customizable to allow for real-time shadows, volumetric lighting, ambient occlusion, bloom, and many more visual effects that can turn your classic blocky world into something bordering on realistic. Just giving your world a fresh coat of paint can make exploring fun and interesting all over again.

Biomes O’ Plenty

Looking at a giant blocky volcano in Minecraft.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Minecraft’s biomes can be fairly uniform and can become somewhat monotonous after spending hundreds of hours in the same forests, islands, and caves. Biomes O’ Plenty adds new environments and climates, from alps and volcanoes (above), to new forest types, groves, and tropics at ground level and crystalline chasms below. With new plants and blocks everywhere you go, your world will feel more like a world than ever before.

Pam’s HarvestCraft 2

An inventory full of unique crop icons.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Make sure your avatar eats all of its food groups, with this awesome series of mods adding around 50 fruit and nut trees, 75 crops, 120 foods to cook or make, and new tools like a skillet, juicer, bakeware, and more. Crops and trees spawn to spawn in specific biomes, rewarding you for exploring with new ingredients for fun recipes. There are currently an entire set of mods adding crops, more food, trees, deserts, and more.

Quark

A "pickarang" flies back to the player with materials in the Quark Minecraft mod.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

An unthemed collection of small improvements, Quark adds creatures and tools that, once you see them, you’ll wonder why Mojang hasn’t already added them. Our personal faves of the 120-plus new features? The throwable pickarang that breaks blocks and returns with materials; skittish stoneling fairies that spawn underground, can be tamed, and love when you feed them rocks; inventory sorting by categories; beautiful new brick types; and hidden, underground mega-dungeons.

Aquaculture 2

A player fishing in a lake.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Base-game fishing is purely functional and fairly limited: You can only catch four types of fish, as well as some items and the rod cannot be customized. Aquaculture 2 adds more than 30 new fish found in different biomes, lets you customize your line and tackle, includes craftable hooks and bait for better catching chances, lets you cook your fish into fillets, and even adds special Neptunian armor. Try to catch ’em all!

Worley’s Caves/YUNG’s Better Caves

A deep and glowing chasm in Minecraft.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Most mods tend to customize biomes on the surface, but these two mods put great effort into giving the underground more character, so you spend less time mining just to find an open space. Worley’s Caves turns the underground into a customizable, endlessly generating maze of rooms, with mobs ready to jump out from every corner. YUNG’s Better Caves focuses more on different types of customizable environments, from poison lakes to flooded caverns, making each new area a treat to discover.

The Endergetic Expansion

A magical purple forest in Minecraft's The End.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Taking a portal to the End isn’t a field trip; you’re there to fight off mobs and take on the Ender dragon, after which there isn’t much to see or do that’ll compel you to return. This new expansion changes that, adding new biomes, critters to tame, food, blocks, and even bosses.

Simply Jetpacks 2

A row of different colored jetpacks.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For a world as expansive as Minecraft, it only makes sense to use something as cool and efficient as a jetpack. Beyond the straightforward joy of soaring around without having to use Creative mode, the mod allows you to build different types of jetpacks with varying max speeds and armor ratings. Or, you can build a Fluxpack, chestplate armor that protects you and charges modded objects in your inventory that run off of Forge Energy.

Advanced Hook Launchers

A minecraft character uses a grappling hook to climb out of the underground.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If flying everywhere feels a bit broken, these grappling hooks will make traversing the world easier, but not too easy — and even add new combat mechanics. Craft a sticky web hook for climbing up or rappelling down tall structures, a pudge hook to snag enemies in multiplayer, or a spear hook that works for climbing but mainly serves as a powerful weapon for flying creatures like dragons.

Origins

The description of the avian class.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

One of the more popular mods in recent years is the Origins mod, which adds some RPG flavor to your Minecraft experience. Now when you begin a game, you will choose a specific class for your character, with each one having a unique trait, as well as weaknesses, that can really spice up how you play. The Enderian lets you teleport as though you had Ender Pears, but take damage when you touch water, and the Avian can slow fall but has to sleep at high elevations and can’t eat any meat, to name just two.

Explore custom worlds

OneBlock Original

One Block - Official Trailer

The most downloaded map in Minecraft history has to make the list. This is about the most simple concept you could come up with, but still brilliant in a way. You spawn in a world with a single block that you can mine forever. From that single block, it is up to you to build out … well … everything. The more you build, the more that opens up to you, until you can even enter the other dimensions. If you just want to build an entire world from scratch, there’s no better choice.

Mekanism

Mekanism V10 - Teaser

Mekanism is a mods collection that will boost your Minecraft system from traditional mining into a more modern industrial age. This option adds a robot companion, fusion reactors, atomic disassemblers, solar generators, and power networks to level up your engagement with the game. Additional mods will give you other technology that can help you build entire cities.

RLCraft

The Hardest Minecraft Modpack You'll Ever Play - RLCraft Beginner's Guide

Originally a project the modder only intended to use for himself and friends, RLCraft was so fun and popular among their friends that they grew it into a full mod. The RL is intended to stand for Real Life or Realism and is as brutal as they come. Here are just a few of the new things you need to keep track of: thirst, temperature, random spawn points, items and abilities locked behind level requirements, item physics, new quests, and much more. If you’re ready for a challenge, this will be a very rewarding experience.

Vampirism

A team of vampire hunters stand on the left and vampires on the right.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Vampirism adds a layer of gameplay to Minecraft that will let you become a vampire who can feed on the villagers in the game or help you be the hero with the sharpest stake that can take out all of the vampires that are stalking you. This comprehensive mod adds RPG-style skills for vampires and hunters.

This mod allows you to level up using vampire rituals and trick out your vampire lair with unique coffins and blood storage. Vampirism also has village biomes full of NPCs to protect or feed upon, vampire barons with mobs of baddies to fight, and a castle that may belong to Dracula himself.

Botania

A view some of the magical tools built in a field.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Botania is a natural magic tech mod built to sync naturally into what Minecraft modders call the “vanilla” game. Players must harvest 16 new Mystical Flowers to attain Mana. You can use the Mana you attain to beautify your world even further by creating even more beautiful flowers.

The goal is to harness your flowers’ power for automated magical generators that produce materials. You can do this by building in-world rather than using a custom UI.

SkyFactory 4

A tree floating in space.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The latest and greatest iteration of the SkyFactory-style game mode, this new version makes the entire experience of building a world in the sky from scratch much more streamlined and fun. Resource gathering in particular is much faster, letting you get to the fun stuff without having to wait and babysit materials. On top of that, you get a brand new achievement system to help direct your building, as well as a Prestige mode that lets you gain access to brand new tech across any worlds you make in this mod.

Roguelike Adventures and Dungeons

A hill with giant mushrooms and trees.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sure, base Minecraft is already random, but at this stage, the base game is all but known backward and forward. If you want a fresh sense of excitement — and most of all, danger — injected back into your experience, this mod is the one for you. Not only does it shove in brand new environments, recipes, and dungeons, but threats as well. Plus, it makes searching for loot fun all over again, with less focus on long-term survival and more on high-action, high-reward runs.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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