The best mods for Minecraft – For The Win

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Despite being one of the most endlessly replayable games around, there will inevitably come a time where even the most faithful Steves and Stevies will start experimenting with mods for Minecraft. From spacebound odysseys to planets made of cheese to subsurface expeditions using Leonardo da Vinci’s proto-submarine, modded Minecraft servers open up a whole new world of possibilities to anyone willing to try them. 
With so many options on offer, browsing through dozens of Minecraft modpacks and server mods can quickly become daunting – hell, even reading that sentence feels a bit sluggish. Because of how saturated the market is right now, we’ve taken the liberty of collecting our ten favourite Minecraft mods – download them at the links below.
Steve, the protagonist of Minecraft
Before we get into the nitty gritty of modded Minecraft, you obviously need to know how to actually, you know, download mods. Fortunately, Minecraft is and always has been highly compatible with mods, so it’s pretty easy to tailor your server to your own interests.
The first thing you need to do when modding a Minecraft server is download either Minecraft Forge or Fabric, both of which serve as mod loaders. Once you’ve done this, you can download individual mods from a reliable source like CurseForge, which is the site we’ll be linking to throughout this guide. The only problem with CurseForge is that it has 91,500 Minecraft mods – that’s why we’re compiling a list of our favourite ten here.
After you’ve downloaded the mods you want, all you need to do is ensure your version of Minecraft is the same one referenced in the mod description. If so, simply drag the downloaded mod file into the ‘mods’ section of your main Minecraft folder. The next time you boot the game up and specify the mod loader you want to use, all compatible mods in this folder should automatically be applied to whatever world you decide to create.
As a short disclaimer, the mods we’ve chosen here are mostly large, world-altering projects that completely reinvent what Minecraft is. Somewhat controversially, we’ve omitted certain beloved mods like Optifine and Just Enough Items on account of the fact that a) they’re more about performance and quality-of-life enhancements, and b) loads of modern mods automatically support them anyway. You can just assume that those two, HWYLA, and Tinker’s Construct should always be installed.
Instead, we’re going to focus on the best standalone mods to drastically shake up your game, all of which can be easily downloaded and applied following the instructions on each mod’s landing page. Here are the ten best Minecraft mods to download now.
Two dragons modded into Minecraft
As a big fan of dragons and Direwolves, it should come as no surprise that the first entry on the list is a personal favourite. Boasting a rather obvious namesake, Ice and Fire: Dragons is a mod that not only allows you to fight flying, fire-bellied serpents, but actually befriend them. 
Over the last four years, this mod has seen some impressive growth. As well as the two titular dragons, a Lightning variant has also been added, as well as a variety of other monsters including hydras and hippogryphs; cyclopes and cockatrices; and ghosts and gorgons. On top of that, this is one of those aforementioned mods that already supports a bunch of other popular ones like JEI, Thaumcraft, and Tinker’s Construct. 
Dinosaurs modded into Minecraft
Whether you’re an aspiring paleontologist or someone who just likes Ian Malcolm a bit too much, there’s a pretty good chance you’re at least somewhat interested in adding massive dinosaurs to your Minecraft server. If so, JurassiCraft 2 is the mod for you. 
From synthesising fossil DNA to roaming biomes ruled by a fearsome T-Rex, JurassiCraft 2 is true to its name in terms of its Jurassic ambitions. While a lot of people prefer the more academic Fossils and Archaeology Revival, you can now access it at the same time as JurassiCraft in the latest version of the latter and get the best of both worlds. Just remember these are live dinosaurs you’re dealing with – as a wise man once said, if Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists. 
The Botania mod in Minecraft
Another personal favourite, Botania can enchant even the most mundane Minecraft server simply by introducing the Lexica Botania, a magical book dedicated to the natural arcane. 
Basically, Botania is all about using flowers to harness and direct magic – flower power, if you will. You gain Mana from certain types of Mystical Flowers and can use it to activate all kinds of fascinating features packed with the mod. There’s also a pretty tough endgame boss called the Gaia Guardian, so you’ll need to master magical botany if you want to excel in this brilliantly inspired version of Minecraft.
A deserted city modded into Minecraft
If you were a fan of this year’s The Forgotten City – which also started life as a mod, initially being developed using Skyrim’s proprietary creation kit – then The Lost Cities is the Minecraft mod for you. As opposed to traditional biomes like the desert, jungle, and weird mushroom forest Minecraft inexplicably introduced a few years ago, this mod revolves around a dilapidated metropolis filled with all kinds of unique obstacles to overcome. 
What’s more, this mod is highly… well, moddable. If you want to mess around with the configuration for it, head on over to The Lost Cities’ official wiki for inspiration. It’s also compatible with some extremely popular mods like Biomes O’ Plenty and WildNature, and you can ramp up the difficulty with its official companion mod, Lost Souls
A drill to make mining easier in Minecraft
Ok, so unlike the mods mentioned so far, all of which completely overhaul how Minecraft works on a fundamental level, Caterpillar is the kind of quality-of-life mod we said we’d avoid mentioning at the start. The thing is, Caterpillar is just too good to leave out – having it installed improves whatever revamp mod you’re using tenfold. 
Caterpillar essentially revitalises Minecraft’s most basic concept: mining. Instead of having to manually break blocks one by one, Caterpillar allows you to construct a 3×3 drill capable of tearing through mountains and mineshafts like a hot knife to butter. Admittedly, it hasn’t been updated in a few years and isn’t optimised for the newest versions of Minecraft, but hey – maybe if we see an increase in popularity the modder will come back and bring it up to speed, eh?
A screenshot of a rocket ship in Minecraft's GalactiCraft space mod
Starfield what? For the last three years, enterprising Minecraft players have been exploring the cosmos on high with little more than makeshift rocket ships and munchies for mystery. Widely regarded as one of the most ambitious Minecraft mods available to download, GalactiCraft is a must-play for any miner with even the vaguest interest in space.
There are, admittedly, quite a few copycats out there – probably because of how popular the original is – as well as some pay-to-play modpacks, so we’ve linked to the official GalactiCraft homepage to avoid any unnecessary costs being incurred by grifters. Our suggestion is to just look it up and see how good it is for yourself – one of its official expansions even adds a planet made of cheese. 
While it’s not quite as daring as space travel, there’s a lot to be said for soaring through the sky in a working model of da Vinic’s revered flying machine. Like Caterpillar, da Vinci’s Vessels – misspelled in the mod name – isn’t quite as sprawling as some of the other mods on this list, but it’s just as intriguing as several.
While the mod initially only allows you to build a new kind of boat, you can mess around with it in order to convert it into either a flying machine or submarine. In case you didn’t know, da Vinci attempted to invent both of these vessels before anyone else figured out how to make them work properly, so it’s nice to see good ol’ Leonardo getting some credit in a children’s game with one-foot zombies who run faster than Usain Bolt, which is absolutely the accolade he was hoping for.
Pokemon in Minecraft
It’s Minecraft but Pokemon – need I say more? Download Pixelmon
Pam's HarvestCraft combines Minecraft with elements of Harvest Moon
It’s Minecraft but Harvest Moon – need I say more? Download Pam’s HarvestCraft.
Minecraft's beloved Twilight Forest
Like Ice and Fire: Dragons and Botania, this is another one of the mods at the top of my own personal list of must-plays. Self-described as a ‘dimension exploration mod,’ The Twilight Forest puts a new spin on Minecraft’s conventional woodlands. Also, it’s constantly updated – as its team states on the CurseForge page, “we never stop.” 
To access The Twilight Forest, you need to build a portal and throw a diamond into it – such is the price of interdimensional travel. Once you arrive in the alternate universe, you’ll be able to explore all kinds of inventive new dungeons. One thing to note here is that even the development team cites ConnectedTexturesMod as a necessary companion mod for this one, so it’s definitely worth installing that alongside it.
Written by Cian Maher on behalf of GLHF.
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There are tons of great Minecraft mods out there, but these ten are our personal favorites.

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