For as long as there have been moddable games, players have been inserting stormtrooper and X-Wing skins into them. Some of these projects have grown into full Star Wars games in their own right: ambitious total conversions that warrant recognition and acclaim. Even as LucasArts shifted the series in directions that core fans may not have appreciated, many of those same fans made steps to take ownership of Star Wars for themselves. Here, you’ll find a selection of the best.
By Chris Thursten, Tom Sykes, and Chris Livingston.
Tides of War for Freelancer
CL: Freelancer and Star Wars are a perfect fit, and years ago several modders teamed up to mash the two realities together. Set in the time period following Emperor Palpatine's unfortunate excursion into a reactor core, the rebels have gained power but the war—the star war—is far from over. Pilot all sorts of ships from the Star Wars universe, from the plucky X-wing to a massive star destroyer.
Star Wars: Requiem for Sins of a Solar Empire
TS: While most Star Wars mods take the form of total conversions that replace near every aspect, Requiem takes a different approach. It posits the theory that Sins of a Solar Empire and Star Wars take place in the same universe—and shows what would happen if the two worlds were to ever collide. Predictably, after stumbling upon Sins' little patch of spacetime, the Empire decides to conquer it in the name of ol' Electric Hands himself, Emperor Palpatine. In response, the warring factions of Sins come together as the Alliance. As an extension of Sins rather than an entire overhaul, Requiem should suit players who don't want to throw its finely tuned balance out with the bathwater.
Conquest for Mount & Blade
CT: An astonishingly ambitious mod for the medieval sword- ’em-up that fully integrates the Star Wars universe from the galaxy-spanning world map to lightsaber combat, custom races and working speeders. It’s not available for Mount & Blade: Warband, however, so if that’s your preferred platform you should look up the Bear Force II mod instead. Yes, that’s its real name.
Imperial Assault for Arma 3
CL: If you're finding that Star Wars Battlefront isn't providing the depth you were hoping for, you might look to the incomparable soldier simulation Arma 3 and this full-conversion mod, which adds stormtroopers, scout troopers, and even speeder bikes. The mod is still being developed and delivered in small pieces as it's completed, but there's an official server if you want to give it a spin and there's a website where you can keep up with the changes and latest news.
Warlords for Homeworld 2
CT: With a Remastered version on the way, this is one of the most stunning Star Wars total conversions ever made. It’s more ambitious than most retail games, incorporating the full roster of factions from the films plus the Yuuzhan Vong from the (now deprecated) expanded universe novels. The scale is immense, with squadrons of X-Wings tangling with everything up to—and including—Super Star Destroyers.
Sins of a Galactic Empire for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
TS: Sins of Galactic Empire is a total overhaul mod with its roots in Homeworld 2: Warlords. As the Galactic Civil War rages on, pick from a vast range of factions: the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the Galactic Republic, the New Republic, the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance and the Yuuzhan Vong with their weird organic ships. As this is Sins we're talking about, there are also NPC pirates who will show up to ruin all your warmongering plans. Sins' slow pace and huge galaxies are a great fit for the enormous Star Wars universe, bringing the Galactic Civil War to life on an epic scale.
First Strike for Battlefield 2142
CT: The 2142 community has struggled to maintain new multiplayer mods since EA axed the servers, so the next release for this Star Wars total conversion will focus on singleplayer. Multiplayer mods may be possible again fairly soon, however. That’s a good thing: First Strike amounts to an interim sequel to Battlefront II, with dogfighting, a selection of vehicles, and a range of detailed maps.
Galactic Conquest for Battlefield 1942
CL: This Battlefield 1942 mod lets you choose between the Galactic Civil war and the Clone Wars, then do battle on land or in space. Engage AT-AT walkers in your snow speeder and pilot the Millennium Falcon among hulking star destroyers, or choose from other vehicles from the Star Wars universe. This mod was first released in 2006 but is still receiving attention from its makers.
Vector Prime for Haegemonia: The Solon Heritage
TS: Vector Prime is another mod that explores the Galactic Civil War—well-worn territory if you've played similar mods for Sins of a Solar Empire or Homeworld. It's the differences to the base game that give each mod a unique flavour, bleeding through the samey TIE Fighter and Millennium Falcon assets to show the conflict in a new light. Haegemonia's complex RTS mechanics complement Star Wars pretty well, and this mod even embellishes them to a degree. Vector Prime adds a random map generator to proceedings, so no two games need ever be the same.
Imperial Architect for Prison Architect
CL: In truth, this is more a reskinning than a full conversion, but it adds enough Star Wars flavor to Prison Architect for inclusion here. Guards are replaced with various types of stormtroopers and officers, dogs look like probe droids, and every bedspread bears the Imperial logo. Adorable. If you've ever dreamt of managing (or escaping from) an Imperial prison cell block, now you can.
Galactic Warfare for COD4: MW
CT: Despite the ageing engine, this is one of the better-looking modern Star Wars games—let alone mods. It’s a total conversion for Modern Warfare’s multiplayer that incorporates Star Wars weapons to a rare degree of fidelity. A huge effort went into building maps that feel like replicas of the movie sets, and the foundation of an already-strong shooter enhances the feel of combat from the outset.
Star Wars Eternal Conflicts for Nexus: The Jupiter Incident
TS: With the Kickstarter for Nexus 2 failing to get off the ground back in 2012, mods will be our only way to enjoy more of the cromulent The Jupiter Incident for the foreseeable future. The battle-focused tactical RTS was a one-of-a-kind, so if you want a Star Wars-themed strategy game that doesn't waste time with base-building or resource-gathering, then you've found it. There's a good chance Eternal Conflicts might never be entirely finished, but you can't accuse it of lacking ambition: it encompasses moments from the entirety of Star Wars history.
Republic at War for Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
TS: A total conversion mod for an existing Star Wars game—how does that work? It works because the Star Wars universe is pretty damned sizeable, its history well-detailed and long. In Republic at War, the base game's Empire are swapped for the Galactic Republic, while the Rebel Alliance tag in the Confederacy. This allows the mod to tell the story of the soggy prequel trilogy of films, while diving into the Clone Wars cartoon to re-enact campaigns including the Outer Rim Sieges.
Thrawn's Revenge II: Ascendancy for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
TS: Ascendancy extends the story of Star Wars past the original film trilogy, exploring what happens after the Emperor falls down that big shaft, and the Empire collapses in his absence. You can play as either the New Republic (formerly the Alliance), or as the remains of the shattered Empire, as they fight to assert control over a fractured galaxy. Yes this is Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion again, but with a new time period, units, and a bunch of other changes that should help make it feel fresh.