Hearts of Iron 4 (HOI4) – Which DLC Is the Best?

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Paradox Interactive has mastered the art of releasing games in an above-average state, only to release a million DLCs throughout the years to make these games reach their true potential.

Hearts of Iron 4 is actually one of the few games that was relatively “complete” when it came out, but it slowly got more and more DLCs that made players not even consider playing the vanilla version of the game.

Recommended Read: How to Unlock More Building Slots in HOI4

There are quite a few DLCs out for HOI4 at the moment, most of them cosmetic packs and music packs. However, that is not what you came here for, is it? Most players only care about the DLCs that actually change the gameplay.

The best DLC that you should buy if you really want to play Hearts of Iron 4 properly and not feel like you are missing a huge chunk of gameplay is either Waking the Tiger or No Step Back.

Table of Contents

What DLCs are Important in HOI4?

There are quite a lot of DLCs out for HOI4, but the only “important” ones that most players will want to get (especially if they are on sale) are:

  • Together for Victory
  • Death or Dishonor
  • Waking the Tiger
  • Man the Guns
  • La Résistance
  • Battle for the Bosporus
  • No Step Back
  • By Blood Alone
  • Arms Against Tyranny

Some of these DLCs add new mechanics to the game, improving the overall experience, while some only add minor things or unique focus trees for some countries in the game.

In general, you should aim to get all of these DLCs to get the full HOI4 experience.

Even though some of them only add minor mechanics, their lack of presence can be felt if you’ve ever played the full version of the game.

This is why it might be a good idea to play using the subscription until you can manage to buy all the DLCs, to get the full experience.

However, if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on all of these DLCs, here are some of the best ones that we consider necessary for a true HOI4 experience:

Which DLC is the Best in HOI4?

The most liked and most interesting DLCs that players should get for HOI4 are Waking the Tiger and No Step Back. These two DLCs add mechanics to the game that most players can’t live without.

Gameplay-wise, there are no better DLCs than these two. The other DLCs also add good mechanics, but most players consider them “extra”.

Waking the Tiger

Waking the Tiger will first add new focus trees for the Chinese countries, Japan, and Germany, allowing for a much more interesting experience with the most important countries of WW2.

However, the most important thing that this DLC adds to HOI4 is the addition of Decisions and Missions.

The Decisions menu will be one of the places where players will spend most of their time looking as they wonder where else they can spend their Political Power.

Most veteran HOI4 players probably can’t even imagine playing the game without Decisions, considering these allow players to change into other countries, get cores on new states, and change their government without a revolution.

Generals in HOI4 only get special traits and abilities (Command Power) thanks to this DLC.

With Waking the Tiger, players can select the bonuses that Generals get as they gain experience from battles, specializing them in what you need for your army, and also boost they can use to force offensive or defensive situations in their favor.

Another mechanic that is unique only to Waking the Tiger DLC owners is the ability to send attaches. This mechanic allows players to reveal what’s behind the fog of war of potential allies while gaining Army Experience.

You can also send volunteer Air Forces to like-minded countries stuck in wars, allowing you to help them on the aerial front while also getting you Air Experience.

The last important thing players get from Waking the Tiger is the ability to scavenge equipment from enemy troops.

As you defeat divisions on the battlefield, you can get their equipment, allowing you to weaken the enemy even more while strengthening your own army.

No Step Back

No Step Back also adds new, reworked focus trees to HOI4 that you wouldn’t get otherwise for Poland, the USSR, and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania).

One of the best things that the No Step Back DLC adds is the Officer Corps and Army Spirits.

In normal, vanilla HOI4, players would just select their Military Staff from a set number of people that the country gets from the start.

However, with No Step Back, players can raise generals through the ranks and appoint them as their staff. There are also Army Spirits now, which give various upgrades to your military staff and army by using Experience.

Communist countries, for example, have an Army Spirit that can give them free weekly Manpower, making even minor countries such as Luxembourg playable.

Combining this mechanic with general upgrades and traits from Waking the Tiger makes war a lot more fun for HOI4 fans.

The thing that probably most players love about the No Step Back HOI4 DLC is the ability to design Tanks. This allows players to build their own type of tanks, which specialize in either speed or armor.

With custom engines, unique modules, and as many turrets as you can possibly fit, No Step Back allows players to build the fantasy tanks.

The last thing that this DLC adds to the game that is relatively important is improved supply mechanics. It allows players to use Scorched Earth tactics to stop supply in their own regions.

This can be incredibly overpowered for the USSR, as you can destroy the Germans without even fighting them on the front line.

There are also more train variants that you can get, allowing you to use armored trains or even railway guns.

What All DLCs for HOI4 Offer

Most HOI4 DLCs offer interesting new mechanics. However, all players look out for some specific changes.

One of the most important changes to the game is the designer for tanks, ships, and planes.


Unfortunately, you can only get these features with DLCs. Here are the DLCs you need in HOI4 to get designers for your war machines:

  • Ship Designer – Man the Guns
  • Tank Designer – No Step Back
  • Plane Designer – By Blood Alone

Without these DLCs, you would just get default tanks, ships, and planes, based on your research and technology.

With these, even though you and another country have the same level of technology when it comes to planes, for example, you would both have totally different fighters, CAS, and bombers.

Focus Trees

Though modders do an amazing job bringing focus trees for all countries in HOI4, you know that the focus trees that Paradox has developed themselves will be much more balanced (in theory).

Here are all the focus trees you can get from DLCs in HOI4:

  • Together for Victory – Australia, British Raj, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa
  • Death or Dishonor – Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia
  • Waking the Tiger – China, Chinese Warlords, Manchukuo, Japan (rework), and Germany (rework)
  • Man the Guns – Mexico, Netherlands, UK (rework), and USA (rework)
  • La Résistance – Portugal, Spain, and France (rework)
  • Battle for the Bosporus – Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey
  • No Step Back – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland (rework), and USSR (rework)
  • By Blood Alone – Ethiopia, Switzerland, and Italy (rework)
  • Arms Against Tyranny – Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

Major Game Mechanics

Here is also a list of all the major game mechanics some of the HOI4 DLCs add to the game:

  • Together for Victory – Puppet Autonomy and Technology Sharing
  • Death or Dishonor – Different Types of Puppets for Fascists
  • Waking the Tiger – Border Wars and Attaches
  • Man the Guns – Governments in Exile and Naval Treaties
  • La Résistance – Spies
  • No Step Back – Military Spirit and Preferred Tactics for Generals
  • By Blood Alone – Division Commanders and Unit Medals

That’s everything you need to know about which DLC is the best in Hearts of Iron 4!

Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Adrian Oprea

Based in London, United Kingdom, Adrian Oprea is a Guides Writer. As a professional single-player RPG player, Adrian has often been stigmatized. He has decided to pour his frustration into writing guides!

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