If there’s anything video games have inspired in their core audience, it’s creativity. Whether it’s a bit of fan fiction or piece of digital art, fans show their appreciation with their creativity. Some go above and beyond, though, toying with the source material to deliver a different kind of art - the Video Game Mod. Mods allow gamers to take their favorite titles and change them to their liking, sometimes creating experiences that are lasting and catch on within the industry. For this installment, we are going to explore ten of the best mods out there, each one bringing something unique to the original design.
Defense of the Ancients
WarCraft III pushed the WarCraft series into an entirely new direction with a graphical overhaul and a large expansion on the lore introduced in the previous two titles. Blizzard didn’t intend this, but one of the biggest things to come from WarCraft III was a user created mod called Defense of the Ancients. DotA, as it is more popularly known as, sticks with a real-time strategy format and tasks players with destroying their opponents’ Ancient. Players control heroes and are accompanied by AI-controlled (A.i controlled) fighters. The game implements role-playing elements into the real-time strategy format by leveling up player heroes to increase stats and effectiveness. DotA’s success spawned a sequel developed by Valve and even a rival game, League of Legends, which shares popularity with the original WarCraft III mod.
Garry’s Mod is exactly everything that’s right with gaming these days. A completely unique sandbox game that allows users to create just about anything they could imagine. Garry’s Mod, created by Garry Newman, started as a modification of Half-Life 2 but soon became a standalone game. The mod is a popular tool for many YouTube gamers such as Markiplier, providing them an uninhibited and unrestricted level of gaming for ridiculous and fun-to-watch videos. In Garry’s Mod, players are able to manipulate the environment by adding a multitude of items – from furniture to props that can be tweaked via the “Tool Gun.” One popular game that spawned from Garry’s Mod is Prop Hunt, a sort of hide-and-seek where gamers controlling props try to hide their presence for as long as possible. Currently, there are over 30 different game modes courtesy of Garry’s Mod.
When your mod is impressive enough to be picked up and officially developed by a company like the Valve Corporation, you know you’ve accomplished something. That is the story of Minh Le and Jess Cliffe, two independent developers that used Half-Life to create the wildly successful multiplayer shooter. Le sought to create a game revolving around terrorism and counter-terrorism, an idea that required a more realistic environment and world such as Half-Life’s. Counter-Strike gained a large following quite rapidly due in part to its dependence on user-created levels. The game caught the attention of Half-Life’s original creator, Valve, which integrated Le into its team went on to continue development on the series, starting with Counter-Strike: Source.
In 1996, a small development team including John Cook and Robin Walker took iD Software’s first-person shooter, Quake, and modded it into a quirky multiplayer shooter known as Team Fortress. The small project picked up enough of a following to warrant the team to start working on a follow-up, Team Fortress 2. During development, though, Valve Software reached out to the team and requested a version be created using Half-Life’s code. With the potential to be involved in something much bigger than what they had already created, Cook and Walker shifted focus to deliver on Valve’s request, providing the ever popular Team Fortress Classic.
Amongst the sea of zombie-focused games is DayZ, a massive multiplayer open world survival horror title developed by Bohemia Interactive. DayZ wasn’t always a standalone game and definitely didn’t get its routes under a big developer, though. Rather, DayZ started as a mod created by former officer of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Dean Hall. After his military service, Hall modified the tactical shooter, ARMA 2, to focus on a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies. Pitting players against the living and the undead, Hall’s mod received acclaim for its emphasis on survival and allowing gamers to create their own narrative through a completely open, non-scripted world. The mod caught the attention of Bohemia, who offered Hall a job as Project Lead on DayZ’s official release.
So many things have been done with Half-Life that it’s getting kind of hard to count. Back in 2012, the classic first-person shooter received one of its biggest mods with Black Mesa, which was a complete re-envisioning of Gordon Freeman’s perilous journey. The team behind Black Mesa started the project when it was revealed that Valve’s “Half-Life: Source” was little more than a fancy port. Black Mesa is a complete rebuild utilizing Valve’s Source engine, featuring a redesigned Black Mesa facility and the alien world of Xen. The eight year long project came with many pitfalls, but the finished experience proved to be better received than Valve’s own attempt at a remake. The team even included a deathmatch to satiate the needs of multiplayer gamers itching for some explosive Half-Life combat.
Star Wars: Galactic Warfare
While everyone was busy waiting for the next entry in the Star Wars: Battlefront series, the crew at “Blackmonkeys.de” were busy creating a decent hold-me-over. This Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare mod moved the series to space and brought George Lucas’ universe to Infinity Ward’s modern shooter. Swapping Modern Warfare’s cast of memorable characters to cannon-fodder Stormtroopers and rebel soldiers, Galactic Warfare is a complete overhaul of Modern Warfare, with maps and weaponry pulled straight from the Star Wars universe. Those that weren’t thrilled with Battlefront’s structure will likely want to turn to Galactic Warfare as the ultimate Star Wars multiplayer romp.
When Mojang released Minecraft, it didn’t take long for the experience to take off and gamers started to turn it into their own little playground. Amongst the many mods that released for Minecraft was Pixelmon, a hybrid of Minecraft and Pokemon that easily outshine the other Minecraft Pokemon mods out there. In Pixelmon, gamers traverse the square world to try and capture more than 200 different type of Pokemon. The core component of building remains a heavy focus of the Pixelmon Mod, but the addition of a Pokedex, Pokeball, and battling Pokemon turn this into a genuine Pokemon experience. Gamers can build up their Pokemon collection to take on friends and strangers and their own army of Poke-creatures.
While still on the topic of Doom mods, let’s take a look at Aliens TC, another Doom overhaul created by ambitious designer, Justin Fisher. The mod launched on November 3rd, 1994 and threw gamers into the Aliens universe, complete with movie sound bites, authentic weaponry, and swarm of xenomorphs to completely immerse players. Players traverse alien hives and a derelict space station while blasting away at hordes of screeching xenomorphs. It’s the Aliens game that everybody pined for but few likely played. Its popularity did eventually reach outside of the Doom community, providing inspiration for Dreamworks’ 1998 game based on The Lost World, Trespasser.
File this one under completely unexpected. Doom has been used to create many things, but never would one assume a Batman game would be amongst them. Equipped with bat-a-rangs, smoke bombs, and a slew of other bat-gadgets, the Dark Knight squares off against Gotham thugs and a rogues gallery of Killer Croc, Bane, Penguin, Scarecrow, Two Face, and The Joker. Batman Doom was created by ACE Team Software in April of ’99, completely converting Doom 2’s source code to include Batman sprites and revamped environments to look like Gotham City, the Batcave, and Arkham Asylum. Batman Doom is the most complex mod for Doom II.