Rise of the Reds (C&C Generals: Zero Hour)
The twin superpowers of America and China fended off terrorists and each other in vanilla Generals, but Rise of the Reds added a resurgent Russian Federation. A merger with Sir Maddoc’s Rise of Europe mod has also yielded a defensive, artillery-focused European Continental Alliance.
No More Room in Hell (Half-Life 2)
A playable tribute to George Romero’s Of the Dead series. Set just as a diseased world threatens to collapse into chaos, this co-op survival horror mod demands teamwork and promises a twisted sort of realism - removing HUD and crosshairs and dropping weapons and ammo sparsely. One bite is all it takes.
Radiator (Half-Life 2: Episode 2)
Robert Yang built an experimental single player FPS without any shooting to try and bridge the gap between art games and commercial fare. Episode 3 never arrived, but what’s here covers memory, relationships, social networking, gender politics and bureaucracy. The only mod in which you’ll sit through couples therapy.
Republic at War (Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption)
The Empire are replaced with the Galactic Republic, and the Rebel Alliance with the Confederacy. Republic at War draws from the relevant films, cartoons and corners of the expanded universe to allow players to reenact Clone Wars campaigns. Choice is important, and players have control over how and where they fight.
Superman Script (GTA IV)
Whether or not you consider Saints Row IV to have made this redundant really depends on how much of a DC fan you are. Armed with the cape and underpants, you’ve got access to all the super stuff: heat vision, fast sprinting, incredible strength, invincibility, car-chucking and, of course, flying. Brilliantly, you can use lamp posts as Nico would baseball bats.
Found in the widely-used Feed the Beast modpack, Industrialcraft begins by inventing its own Energy Units, and then pumps them through new systems for resource processing, mining and agriculture. An array of included generators and blocks can provide and store the energy, and machines offer ways to use it.
Minecraft may look stripped-back, but it chugs on low-end systems - especially when generating new chunks of world. OptiFine helps with that - enabled Notch’s opus to run faster and look better, while supporting HD textures and new configuration options. Its creators claim a doubled frame-rate is common.
SpaceToad’s construction kit for Minecraft introduces a host of tools designed to automate labour. Items like the pump, mining well and quarry offer hands-off mining, and you’ll find plenty of material-specific pipes and chutes to connect to the mod’s redstone, steam and combustion engines. For the foreman who likes a lot of alone time.
Thermal Expansion (Minecraft)
An extension for Buildcraft about shunting items between different energy states - cobblestone to lava, for instance, or water to ice. Powered furnaces, sawmills and pulverisers are all included, but the most exciting tools are the ones with totally incomprehensible names: the igneous extruder and aqueous accumulator.
Crossfire 2.0 (Freelancer)
Many of Chris Roberts’ ideas that didn’t quite come to pass in Freelancer now live in Star Citizen. The Crossfire Mod built on Digital Anvil’s story and universe in its own way - with a dynamic economy, challenging quests, updated graphics and thousands of small side stories and rumours.