Why now is the best time to get back into Stardew Valley (and how to install the best mods)

Stardew Valley is one of the best farming simulation games out there and now is one of the best times to get back into it. Why? New content!

Late December last year Stardew Valley updated to version 1.5, and it brought with it a TON of content. If you head on over to the official changelog you’ll see pages and pages and pages of new content, new crops, new maps, new NPCs, new dungeons,  new gear, and so much more. There’s even a late-game island you can sail to that has quests that open up a whole other farm! There are also improvements to multiplayer including a split-screen co-op mode.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing that patch 1.5 brought with it. It also brought with it a ton of bugs. Granted, the game was fairly playable even after the patch launched, but updates have been coming out weekly to tidy up all the loose ends. With the latest 1.5.4 update hitting as recent as January 22.

So why now, in mid-February, are we telling you to open up the gates to Grandpa’s Farm once again. Simple answer: Mods. Stardew Valley is known for being a game with astounding fan support, despite never officially getting a Steam Workshop of its very own. Mods are so integrated into the Stardew community that modders help compile changelogs on the official Stardew Valley blog.

Unfortunately, patch 1.5 broke a lot of everyone’s favorite mods. When it first came out in December, everyone reverted back to the base game for a while. But now some time has passed and many authors have updated their mods to work with this new version of the game. A few quick downloads and hopefully nothing will break anymore!

But let’s say you are new to the world of Stardew modding. Here’s how to get everything working on 1.5.

Step 1: Install the game and run it once

This is fairly simple. Stardew Valley simply needs to set up some files before you start tinkering with them. So make sure you run the game at least once before you start the modding process.

Step 2: Install SMAPI

SMAPI stands for Stardew Valley Modding API and is the main method through which the game loads mods. Head on over to smapi.io and download the latest version. It will be a zip file, so unzip it somewhere. You’ll then notice a series of files named things like “install on windows” and “install on mac.” Simply run the file that corresponds to your platform and SMAPI will install (Note: Stardew Valley 1.5 and the latest version of SMAPI are not yet available on Android and other mobile platforms, but they are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Step 2.5 Reconfigure your launch options

If you run Stardew Valley via a third-party service such as Steam or GOG on Windows you’ll have to configure your launch options. After SMAPI installed, it should give you a line of text in green detailing the path to the SMAPI launcher. Copy the entire line including both quotation marks and the %command% part and paste it into the launch options section of the general tab in Stardew’s properties menu on Steam.

Unfortunately, getting it to work on GOG is a bit harder. Create a new file in notepad that simply has the text start "" "C:\Program Files (x86)\GOG Galaxy\Games\Stardew Valley\StardewModdingAPI.exe"

The pathway above is the default GOG pathway but be sure to replace it with whatever pathway SMAPI gave you when you were done installing. Save the file as start.bat and include it in your Stardew Valley folder. Then, go to the Stardew Valley configuration menu in GOG and click the checkmark next to Custom executables/arguments. Click add another executable/argument and choose the start.bat file you just made. Then click the circle next to default executable and click OK.

If you have it installed in any other way, you don’t have to worry. Just launch the game via the SMAPI executable instead of the basic executable and you are fine. If you are on Mac or Linux, even better! You don’t have to do anything. Just launch the game normally.

Step 3: Install your mods

You will now have a Mods folder in your game directory. This is where all your mods go. Most mods you download will be compressed folders. Simply move the folder into mods and BOOM you are done. Note that each save file only works with the mods that were installed when you made it. There are ways to convert save files, but they are usually more trouble than they are worth. It’s better to just start a new farm after you have modded your game.

To uninstall mods, simply delete the folders that contain them inside the mod directory.

Step 3.5: Install Mod Dependencies

This is VERY IMPORTANT. Certain mods require other mods to work, usually some sort of code base. When you download a mod you will also be told what other mods are needed for it to run. Make sure you download them all or your game will end up breaking, or at the very least you won’t get the content you wanted.

Where can I find mods?

The two biggest resources for Stardew mods are Nexus Mods and ModDrop. Both also have their own mod installers if navigating through your file directories is a bit too stressful.

What are some mods you recommend?

There are hundreds of mods to add to your farm, but here are some of the ones we prefer.

Stardew Valley Expanded

The biggest mod out there. It introduces new NPCs, new maps, new weapons, and more. It’s basically on par with the 1.5 update. In fact, it probably has more content than the 1.5 update. This is the closest thing you will get to a sequel, or at the very least an expansion pack.

The PPJA Item Expansions

These packs add a variety of new crops, trees, and items to your farm. Ever wanted to grow cocoa beans and make your own sweet treats? What about becoming a florist, growing a variety of flowers to sell as bouquets? Perhaps you want to go into the meat business, slaughtering your livestock for food… or maybe that’s a little too violent for you and you’d rather just have meat grow on trees. All is possible with these expansions.

Content Patcher and Content Patcher Animations

These simple mods allow you to load packs that change around the game’s graphics, and that alone can be pretty fun. Reskin the game to have a Japanese theme. Animate items in the game menu. Replace monster sprites with more impressive HD versions. Or maybe you are one of those people who likes to turn every one of his farm animals into an anime girl… It’s OK. We won’t judge… much.

UI Info Suite and Lookup Anything

These tools are just simple changes to the game’s U.I. that make it easier to play. UI Info Suite will include things like experience bars that show you how close you are to leveling up, useful icons that tell you what the day’s luck is and if the merchant is in town, and useful range indicators on things like sprinklers. Lookup Anything does the same thing with items. It tells you what the item is, what it does, who likes it, what quests it can be used for, how much it sells for, and so on.

Do you have any favorite Stardew Valley mods? Leave them down below in the comments.