Mods

Mod of the Week: The Last Days, for Mount and Blade: Warband

Christopher Livingston at

The last time I played a Lord of the Rings mod, I made Aragorn marry a giant spider. This time, I'm not looking for weird fan-fiction nuptials but for massive fan-fiction battles. The Last Days (of The Third Age of Middle Earth) was originally released in 2011, but it's been recently updated and made newly compatible with Mount & Blade: Warband, transforming the game into Tolkien's Middle Earth.

Source SDK mod Estranged: Act I now on Steam for free

Omri Petitte at

It's always nice to see a mod progress from humble beginnings to its own Steam product page, and Estranged is fully deserving of the achievement. Alan Edwardes' spooky, puzzle-filled FPS plays and looks like a first-person Alan Wake, and it's an excellent deviation from standard run-and-gun zombie-fragging with its supernatural twists and an atmospheric sense of foreboding. The first act is available on Steam as a free download independent of any Source-based game, so you won't need Half-Life 2 to jump in and start exploring.


Mod of the Week: Aperture Tag, for Portal 2

Christopher Livingston at

Without his gravity gun, Gordon Freeman is just another geek. Without his grappling hook, Rico Rodriguez is just another agent. And, without her portal gun, Chell is just... fine? As it turns out, removing the portal gun from Portal 2 isn't that much of a detriment, provided you replace it with a gun that shoots endless streams of science gel. That's what the Aperture Tag mod plans to do, and now you can get a little preview of how it'll work.


Just Cause 2 Multiplayer's best server is Build World, and it's full of amazing creations

Wes Fenlon at

On the Just Cause 2 Multiplayer server Jman100's Freeroam Construction Sandbox, players can build cities, obstacle courses, and incredibly creepy statues. Jman100 scripted a custom server instance that he calls Build World. Build World includes an expansive build menu listing hundreds of objects from Just Cause 2. After only a couple weeks, players are building weird and hilarious things. Jman showed us around his server and told us how he built it.

Today we're sharing a gallery of our favorite sights from around Build World and an interview with Jman100. On Friday, we'll be back with video touring some of Build World's most impressive creations and showing off the hilarious physics of Just Cause 2 multiplayer. There will be buses. And stunt jumps.


Portal 2 mod swaps portals with paint in 26 new maps

Omri Petitte at

When billionaire bro Cave Johnson turned his vision away from the exciting world of shower curtains to tossing money at a bunch of science stuff, what if paint guns instead of portals were the result? That's the setting for Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative, a fledgling Portal 2 mod boasting 26 new puzzle floors designed for no portals whatsoever. Instead, we'll sail through that exit door by laying down carpets and dollops of the much-adored red and blue paint for speedy acceleration and longer airtime.


Mod of the Week: Australia, for Civilization V

Christopher Livingston at

If you're anything like me, everything you know about Australia comes from Mad Max, the first half of Crocodile Dundee, the second half of Crocodile Dundee II, and that Monty Python sketch about the Bruces. Let's change that right now with a history lesson! No, not recited out of some stuffy history textbook full of facts, but with a mod that brings Australia into Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World!


Mod of the Week: Mass Effect Edition, for Starbound

Christopher Livingston at

With early access becoming more and more popular, you don't need to wait for games to be complete to start playing them. And, with mods, you don't need to wait for games to be complete before you start changing them, either. The Mass Effect Edition mod for Starbound (which is currently in early access beta) lets you play as a Turian or an Asari, gives you control of the Normandy SR-1, lets you craft some of Mass Effect's guns and armor, and even includes biotic powers.


The Dark Mod's 2.01 update released, alongside info on new fan-made missions

Phil Savage at

If you haven't yet downloaded The Dark Mod, you should. It's an excellent stealth game, our Mod of the Year for 2013, and a refreshing reminder of Thief's better qualities ahead of what would seem to be a troubling sequel. If you have downloaded The Dark Mod, you should probably do it again (or at least run the game's update application). The standalone spiritual platform for larcenous levels has received a new update, bringing the game to 2.01. It's a minor update, as the one hundredth of an increase suggests, but it releases alongside details of some brand new missions for taffers to anticipate.


Mod of the Week: The Middle Earth Project, for Crusader Kings II

Christopher Livingston at

"Do you, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, also known as Strider, from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, take Shelob, a huge terrifying man-eating spider, as your wedded wife?" I do. I did. I married a giant spider! And that's just one of the many bizarre fan-fiction adventures you can have with The Middle Earth Project mod for Crusader Kings II. If marrying a spider sounds weird, it'll make more sense when I explain that I began the game playing as Aragorn's liege: a Balrog.


STALKER: Lost Alpha mod video shows the promise of an expanded Chernobyl

Phil Savage at

People are never satisfied with what they've got. That's okay, we're an aspirational species. Although, I do question the healthiness of that impulsion when it comes to STALKER: Lost Alpha. It's being created by a group seemingly dissatisfied with GSC's final version of STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. As such, they're trying to bring the game back to its 2002-era screenshots, when certain areas were larger, and more open. That's right: this is a group of people who want STALKER to be larger, more overwhelming and, of course, more harrowing.

They've been working on it for a long time, too. We last reported on the mod back in December 2012. Over a year later, and a new video provides a lengthy demo of their progress, and reveals why - despite its expanded bleakness - Lost Alpha is a place you may well want to visit.


Skywind trailer introduces the Skyrim mod's most savage inhabitants

Phil Savage at

Sometimes it's difficult to have a surname that can double as an adjective for uncontrollable, mindless violence. Especially when your job is to report on games, which are exceptionally good at making enemies that are characterised by their uncontrollable, mindless violence. The overuse of the word 'savage' in gaming is a completely unwarranted defamation of my ancestors. After all, they were only responsible for around 28% of maulings in the UK's West Midlands area. Still, the damage is already done, so here's the "Savagery" trailer for Skywind, the excellent looking Skyrim mod that aims to fully recreate Morrowind.


Starcraft II's 2.1 update rolling out this week, Arcade and custom games now completely free

Phil Savage at

This week's 2.1 update for Starcraft 2 doesn't rebalance any of the game's units, suggesting that - at least for now - Blizzard are pretty confident that everything in the game is OP. Instead, then, they get to focus on improving other key experiences: like music and tiny hovering clan pictures. They're also making a big push into another of the game's core components: mucking about. As such, the Starcraft Arcade is now available to anyone who downloads the free Starter Edition of the game.


Renegade-X is out next month, new trailer shows Command and Conquer based FPS action

Phil Savage at

I get told off by the community every time I suggest that C&C Renegade wasn't a good game. Let's try this instead: C&C Renegade was a heaping pile of shipped software that was technically unable to match its conceptual ambition, instead providing a shonky singleplayer experience, and a multiplayer mode that, despite being reasonably entertaining, was largely forgettable. There, that should keep people happy.

Before you run over to the comments to call me a blithering idiot, take a peek at this new video for Renegade X, the fan-made C&C shooter that is due to be released next month. Formerly a UT3 mod, it's now a standalone game that will be freely available to anyone seeking a tactical multiplayer fix.


Spelunky custom seed utility lets you generate and repeat your own set of levels

Phil Savage at

Spelunky is brilliant. Part of the reason it's brilliant is the random generation, ensuring that each of your many retries are a chance to explore something new. Even the Daily Challenges - which randomly generate a new level each day, and share that level between every player - are brilliant. Here, then, is a community application that lets you completely bypass those randomised levels by setting your own custom creation seed. Will it still be brilliant? It's Spelunky, so probably.

Mod of the Week: Network Addon Mod, for SimCity 4

Christopher Livingston at

Since EA just spent months fixing that mistake everyone (except EA) knew they never should have made, you may find yourself tempted to finally buy the 2013 version of SimCity. Nuts to that, says I, because there are still plenty of changes, additions, and enhancements being made to 2003’s SimCity 4, courtesy of the ever-growing Network Addon Mod. NAM is entering its 10th year and still adding new features to the game's transportation system. Lots of them.


Mod of the Week: Afterschool Special, for Fallout: New Vegas

Christopher Livingston at

School can be a drag, especially when a bunch of atomic bombs have turned your classmates into flesh-eating ghouls. This week, however, class is back in session in the Afterschool Special mod for Fallout: New Vegas, which lets you take an abandoned, decaying schoolhouse and transform it into an awesome high-tech base of operations, with a lab, a crafting center, a health station, and best of all, the CIMS: an awesome computer that can sort, organize, and store all of your worldly possessions at the touch of a button.

(Please note, the picture above of me decapitating a Fiend's attack dog with a laser rifle doesn't specifically have anything to do with the mod. It's just more exciting to look at than a picture of a schoolhouse.)


Mod of the Week: Journal of the Dragonborn, for Skyrim

Christopher Livingston at

It seems like everyone in Skyrim keeps a journal. Bandits, smugglers, fishermen, necromancers, and even serial killers all obsessively document their lives. Yet the most interesting person in Skyrim -- that Dragonborn character -- does not. It's time to change that, with the Journal of the Dragonborn mod. Take notes, keep a diary, and record your exciting adventures for posterity, all from right there inside the game.


Skywind mod's development diary shows the difficulty of remaking Morrowind in Skyrim

Phil Savage at

After last month's "Call to East" trailer, I doubt anyone would have dismissed Skywind's aim to port Morrowind into the Skyrim engine as an easy task. Now, though, the Skyrim mod's first official development diary will give you an idea of the epic scope of the project, and the ambition and dedication of its 70+ team of volunteers. And all so you don't have to go back to the third Elder Scroll's angular and low-poly giant mushrooms.


Mod of the Week: Advanced Genetics, for Minecraft

Christopher Livingston at

Feel like doing a little mad science? The Advanced Genetics mod lets you collect DNA from Minecraft's monsters and animals, analyze it, decrypt it, and grow it in your lab. Then, you can inject it into yourself, gaining the abilities of the monsters you harvested, like the the Enderman's teleportation power, the Ghast's fireballs, the Skeleton's endless arrows, and tons more.


Mod of the Week: A Bunch of Spelunky HD Mods

Christopher Livingston at

Have you been playing a lot of Spelunky? Maybe even playing it every single day for the Daily Challenge? Do you feel that even though Spelunky is different every single time you play it, it’s just not different enough? Do you promise not to hassle me about these not really being mods but just file replacements? Then read on!