When we talk about PC gaming, we all mention mods in the same breath. Mods are, above almost anything else, one of the keys to the PC gaming kingdom. A celebration of the community, and a pointer to how creative us gamers truly can be, mods improve, change, or overhaul our favourite games.
We’ve looked at the best mods for certain games in the past, but this is the big list. This is the 100 best mods of all time.
Project Reality (Battlefield 2)
Nearly every part of Battlefield 2 that has the capacity to be tweaked has been here; ballistics reconfigured to reflect real-life damage, deviation and bullet drop. But, though the rallying call for this wildly successful mod might have been realism, that’s really a misnomer - it’s a community fixated on teamwork and cooperation that makes Project Reality so vital.
DSFix (Dark Souls)
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die, as it was named by the time it reached PC, was a mess. From Software, bless them, had never worked beyond the consoles before. They did their best for the release - and luckily for us, Durante took up the torch afterwards. His mod tackles restrictive resolution and framerate limits, and allows UI-scaling to better fit high-res monitors. DSFIX is also a platform, providing a structure for other modders to replace textures. Lovely stuff.
The Sith Lords Restored Content mod (Knights of the Old Republic 2)
Stoney and Zbyl2 were among KOTOR 2’s early detractors. Obsidian’s sequel was inspired, yes - but it simply wasn’t finished. “Well,” said its defenders. “Stop your moaning and finish it yourself”. So they did: recruiting a team and setting about squashing the bugs in Chris Avellone’s anti-jedi journey through the galaxies. More than that, the mod dusted down ideas found in the game’s code - including a ditched organisation and the entire droid planet of M4-78 - for meatbags like us to enjoy.
Another exponent of the proud fan tradition of fixing wonderful western RPGs rushed to release by their publishers, Bloodlines’ unofficial patch represents 10 years of post-release support. Most of it’s been led by analytical chemist Werner Spahl, who has not only cleaned up glitches but dredged up half-finished quests, weapons and characters - eventually reinstating whole levels and recruiting fellow fans to record new voices. The game has been so utterly transformed under his direction that there are now two versions of the patch available: a basic version that sorts technical issues, and a ‘plus’ mod.
Black Mesa (Half-Life 2)
It’s a simple idea with obvious appeal: Half-Life 1 in the Source engine. Nearly a decade, a couple of Vapourware Of The Year awards and a mammoth effort from a 40-man team later, the mod was released as a standalone download. It’s still missing the game’s closing chapters on Xen, but if you can live without the giant baby boss fight you’ll find lots to love in this expanded, more detailed rendering of Gordon’s old workplace.
DayZ (Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead)
There’s a best-selling, standalone game available now, of course, but there’s a compelling argument to be made that the Arma mod remains the most complete version yet. Buy the fairly cheap Combined Operations package on Steam, and you’ll gain access to the quintessential multiplayer survival game: predicated on the tango of trust and suspicion danced by real human beings in a virtual post-Soviet state.
The Dark Mod (Doom 3)
We waited a long time for a fourth Thief sequel. The Dark Mod was one of the more successful fan efforts made to plug that gap - an effort to twist the shadowy Doom 3 engine into something resembling Looking Glass’ minimalist stealth sim. Download the 2GB base package, and you’ll have the swag bag ready to carry a growing haul of ingenious fan missions.
Dota (Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne)
The world-conquering, sport-redefining MOBA genre began as a custom scenario for one Blizzard RTS, Warcraft III, based on the ‘Aeon of Strife’ map of another, StarCraft. The precepts of the sequel can be found fully-formed here: the creeps, the levelling, the equipment and the Ancients. Even since taking up residency at Valve, former modder IceFrog has found time to update the original - and some would say definitive - take on the idea.
Paradox may be hesitant about pairing up with HBO for the grand strategy Game of Thrones adaptation they were born to make, but their community has long since filled the throne. This full conversion nudges the Swedish game of diplomacy and death, murder and marriage the short distance required to fit snugly within George Ah-Rah’s universe. The map covers Westeros in the west to Qarth in the east, and a period stretching 300 years from Aegon’s Conquest to the time of Martin’s fourth book, A Feast for Crows.
When Avalanche confirmed before Christmas that there would be no Just Cause 3 multiplayer at launch, a sizeable portion of PC gaming’s population sighed. They’d learned that Just Cause’s capacity for propane-propelled antics was only multiplied with friends. After a year of beta tests, the mod is now enjoying a relatively stable life on Steam - even when buses towed by jets are hurtling over the mountains.