I play video games for fun. Who doesn’t?
But there’s only so many times you can play through a level on a three-year-old game before it becomes rote button-tapping: the interactive equivalent of bingeing “House” on Netflix. You know exactly how it’s going to go.
These are free patches fans create to expand the worlds of their favourite video games — sometimes for the better, and sometimes just for the weirder. Mods can soup-up graphics, add in-game content, or change the ways games behave. Some mods function as entirely new games, with the game they modify running invisibly underneath. Others just exist to make you laugh. The only requirement for playing them is owning the original game they’re based in.
Collected here are mods that, one way or another, promise to transform your gaming experience. A few are even so good they make buying their underlying games worth it. That is, if you don’t have them already.
See this friendly-looking fellow? His name is John. Would you like him running around your pixelated 'Minecraft' world? Neither would I.
In case you haven't run across it, 'Minecraft' is the wildly popular video game that resembles virtual LEGO. Players, just like LEGO builders, spill the contents of their imaginations across blocky landscapes of enormous possibility. And some players' imaginariums are apparently incomplete without horrifying, blood-soaked monsters.
John is just my favourite 'Minecraft' horror mod character to hate. There's a whole bestiary of his cousins in terror out there ready to download into and subvert your creations. If this is your thing, check out Slender Man and Herobrine as well.
'Grand Theft Auto V' is, for better or worse, all about the joy of utter mayhem. Most mods for the game are built for the purpose of pumping up that mayhem to ever more extreme levels. The 'Tanks Spawn at Five Stars' mod rewards mayhem with even more mayhem.
In the 'Grand Theft Auto V' universe, your wanted level -- reflecting how much violence and machinery of war the police will use to stop your crime spree -- raises as you commit crimes and maxes out at five stars. In older 'GTA' games, like 'Vice City' and 'San Andreas,' the star level went one step higher to six. At that point the army would step in to shut you down, often using -- you guessed it -- tanks.
(For the cool cats I ran with in middle school, reaching six stars without cheating or dying was the holy grail of late-night basement gaming.)
In 'V', the mythical sixth star is sadly absent. But 'Tanks Spawn at Five Stars' goes a long way toward fixing that grievous error:
'Star Wars: Battlefront II' is amazing. It was the perfect shooter for Playstation 2, maintains an active online community of players even though it was released in 2005, and is finallygetting its long-awaited sequel later this year. Just look at this gorgeous gameplay from the new 'Star Wars Battlefront,' which launches later this year on modern consoles:
But if the return of 'Battlefront' has you hankering to play again sooner than November, you don't have to return to the same maps you've worn grooves in over the last decade. The 'Star Wars Battlefront Conversion Pack' packs the game with new maps, the old maps from 2004's 'Star Wars: Battlefront,' new gameplay modes, and new unit types. It still looks like a 2005 game of course, but that's part of the fun. If you plan to play the 2015 game, consider this mod your appetizer.
'Fallout' is another series getting a much-anticipated new title in November of this year. But there's a mod for 'Fallout: New Vegas' that you can download today for all-new characters, places, and storylines.
'Fallout: Project Brazil' is a mod, but it sits on top of 'New Vegas' and replaces it with an all new game. The story takes place in the ruins of Los Angeles in 2260 -- years and miles from the 'New Vegas' plotline. The creators of 'Project Brazil' are releasing the game in a series of 'episodes,' so the full storyline isn't available yet. But, if you own 'New Vegas,' you can play those parts of the mod they have already released today.
'DayZ' is another mod that totally changes its underlying game. But it goes much farther than 'Project Brazil.' 'DayZ' doesn't just introduce a new story or add new characters, it's a new game entirely, in a new genre.
'ARMA 2' is a niche strategy game for hardcore fans of real-time battle tactics. Snoozefest. 'DayZ' created an open, online world where players' only goal is to survive the violence and deprivations of the zombie apocalypse. Its lesson was that even in a world overrun by the walking dead, the greatest danger is other people. When the mod launched, sales for 'ARMA 2' quintupled.
'DayZ' is headed for a stand-alone release on Steam, so it won't be a mod for long.
For the last entry on this list, we return to 'Skyrim,' one of the most-modded popular games around.
I've got to be honest with you. I almost didn't include this mod. There are plenty of other crazy fan creation for 'Skyrim' out there that don't reside so firmly in the gutter. 'Call of Trainwiz' creates a special attack that makes trains rain from heaven. 'Flyable Dragon Races' lets you play as a dragon. And 'WereChairs' ... well, 'WereChairs' makes werewolves turn into deadly chairs. But none of those wonderful patches capture the weird whimsy of the modding world as well as 'Animated Fart Shouts.'
Does what it says on the box.