Rome wasn't built in a day, but now it can be built in a turn. A new mod for Civilization V, called CivRome, lets you play from 323 B.C., the death of Alexander the Great, to 500 A.D., the fall of the Roman Empire. You can play as one of 22 possible civilizations including the Romans (Caesar), the Egyptians (Cleopatra), the Macedonians, the Goths, the Gauls, and even the Huns (led by one Mr. Attila T. Hun). There are new technologies to research, specific attributes for some of the civs, and a beautiful, historically accurate new map to conquer. In other words, it's a toga party, Civilization-style.
The above image may look like a cat walked all over an MS-DOS word processor. What it actually depicts, however, is unspeakable violence and brutality. A field strewn with spent arrows, severed limbs, and pools of blood leads to the trap-riddled narrow entrance of an underground fortress. Corpses of elves, goblins, trolls, humans, and even dogs rot in the open air, slain in attacks on peaceful trade caravans. The inhabitants of the fortress do not care. They got what they wanted from the wagons. Any outsiders who happened to be captured alive in the cage traps will soon be thrown screaming into the open magma pits several floors below.
This is Dwarf Fortress: an endlessly sprawling simulator of procedurally generated worlds awaiting dwarves brave enough to plunder their precious metals. Simple graphics interact with the imagination to reveal more detail than the most vivid high-polycount game—for anyone willing to learn Dwarf Fortress's notorious complexity. It's actually not as hard as you think, and 2014's Dwarf Fortress update dramatically expands Adventure mode to tell sprawling RPG adventures with the same depth as Fortress mode. It's the perfect time to learn, and we're here to help. You'll be pouring magma on goblins in no time.
So much of the Watch Dogs discussion has been centred around its graphics. Maybe that can now be resolved with this: the final release of TheWorse Mod. Originally designed to enable the visual effects present in Ubisoft's E3 2012 demo of the game, it's since been expanded to offer a full compliment of graphical and performance related improvements. Maybe now we can't talking about what's really wrong with Watch Dogs: its total lack of dogs.
The v20 update for Brutal Doom has been in development for a while but there's still no solid release date. While you wait for the gory mod to be finetuned, why not watch 15 minutes of it in action? The update includes a number of improvements, such as general performance tweaks, more realistic/brutal blood fountains and most importantly: ragdoll physics.
My spider-sense is tingling... and it's because there's yet another superhero mod for GTA IV! This time it's the Spider-Man IV mod, which introduces Liberty City to the masked hero who shoots webs, sticks to walls, beats up policemen, and swings around from skyscrapers, just like spider can. And since Peter Parker is a photographer by trade, there's even a neat photo mode that slows down time to a crawl (heh) to easily allow you to snap pictures of everybody's favorite web-slinger.
Mods, eh? The fun, free way to extend and/or fix your games. But what's this? Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative looks like a mod, behaves like a mod, and even has the word "MOD" in the corner of its Steam icon. The difference: it's not priced like a mod. This premium package offers a new campaign for Portal 2—one that does away with portals entirely, in favour of puzzles centred around the base game's gels.
I was scrolling through ModDB's latest offerings, as I do most mornings, when the words "The Keep on the Borderlands" first caught my eye... then caught my memory. See, The Keep on the Borderlands was the first module I ever played in Dungeons & Dragons, the pen-and-paper RPG, back when I was in grade school in the early 1980's. It's been modded into The Temple of Elemental Evil, the 2003 D&D video game by now-departed developer Troika. Though the full-conversion mod is still in development, I couldn't pass up the chance to check it out while getting all nostalgic for my first D&D campaign.
"CivilizationCraft" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but I don't imagine too many players will get hung up on the name. After all, an open-source multiplayer mod that recreates a very Civilization-like experience in Minecraft is such a good idea, it's almost dangerous.
Competitive first-person shooters love to depict the gritty 'realism' of soldiers locked in an endless war of explosions and swearing. NeoTokyo isn't entirely different, but supplements its urgent shooting with cyberpunk and a nice soundtrack. After being successfully Greenlit in 2012, the Half-Life 2 mod is finally available to download directly from Steam—now entirely free from its SDK dependencies.
2014 will go down in history as the year Very Serious PC games got a karting mode. First it was Arma 3, and now Dota 2. While 'Dota Dash' doesn't look like the most polished karting game, it will no doubt please those who, for some reason, desire to burn around Dota 2 maps collecting power-ups and dropping bananas.
ArmA 3 is a challenging game to learn, especially so when it comes to piloting choppers. Enter the Pilot Civilian Air Rescue mod, which features a number of single-player Mohawk chopper missions, from insertion (transporting doctors to a combat zone), extraction (retrieving injured NPCs and delivering them to a hospital), and even search and rescue, in which you look for lost hikers or downed pilots and ferry them back to safety. It's a great way to hone your chopper flying skills offline while getting a warm and fuzzy feeling from helping NPCs in need.
When we last caught up with Skywind, it was for its second official development diary. But as interesting as the internal workings of this Skyrim mod team are, I'm more interested in the results—a full recreation of Morrowind in Bethesda's latest engine. You can see how far the team have come in this new trailer, which not only provides long and sweeping shots of its alien locations, but also gives a look at the creatures and clutter that will populate the renewed world.
As happens with all the best sandbox game, a huge and creative community has attached itself to Starbound. While the game's still in Early Access, through the use of mods you can expand it into something more varied, more vibrant, and specifically tailored to what you want it to be. Here are ten of the best mods, chosen from the many now available in Starbound's growing mod directory.
The Citizen Returns, a mod for Half-Life 2: Episode 2, is a sequel to a 2008 mod called The Citizen. They're both about, as you may have guessed, a citizen. He's trying to escape City 17 at the same time Gordon Freeman is fighting the Combine elsewhere, and he's teaming up with rebel forces along the way. In addition to urban combat with enemy soldiers, zombies, and gunships, there's a fun rescue mission in which you can choose the style of your attack, either at long range as a sniper, up-close in disguise, or just plain loud, with explosives. It's like a little taste of GTA V's heists crept into the Half-Life universe.
Every few months, I get ambitious; abandoning my modest selection of must-have Skyrim mods, and embarking on a grand plan to build it into something impossibly beautiful. Inevitably, it all goes wrong. The lighting isn't quite right, the distant mountains look a bit off, or whole sections of water have just vanished. But its videos like this—a showcase of what can be achieved with RealVision ENB—that make me want to try all over again.
Excited for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but can't bear to wait until next year to get some fresh Witcher action? The Witcher Kings mod for Crusader Kings II might tide you over in the meantime. This full conversion mod (still being developed) transforms medieval Europe into the Witcher's world. Go to war with Nilfgaard (or rule them), employ sorcerers and witchers in your court, and send your children to magic academies in hopes of developing their arcane talents. Or, like I did, become moderately obsessed with the idea of becoming besties with Geralt himself.
There’s no doubt that discussions about the graphical fidelity of Watch Dogs have overshadowed the quality of the game itself, with many claiming that the open-world hacker looks no where near as good as it did upon unveiling in 2012. To add to the controversy, it turns out that many of the high quality assets used during that demonstration are in fact hidden in the game’s PC build, and they’ve since been unlocked by a proactive modder.
It's becoming an increasingly common practice: taking a recently released PC port, and working to improve its visual fidelity. What makes Watch Dogs slightly different is its own pre-release media. Specifically, its 2012 reveal, which promised a level of fidelity and shiny visual effects that the final release couldn't match.
Not without mods, that is. A new work-in-progress "E3 Bloom" mod not only introduces more dramatic lighting, but also comes with performance tweaks, stuttering improvements and depth-of-field effects.
With another E3 come and gone and nary an official word from Valve about another Half-Life game, it's probably time to get some new content the old-fashioned way: with mods. Enter Hopelessness: The Afterlife, which gives Half-Life-hungry gamers about forty minutes of new-yet-retro action split between careful puzzle-solving and frenetic gunplay. Grab your crowbar: we're going back to Black Mesa.
I'd just installed a Skyrim mod and was standing in Whiterun, noticing that nothing seemed to be happening. Broken mod, I assumed, or more likely I installed it incorrectly. Then I noticed a few NPCs drifting into the outdoor market area. Then a few more. A couple started playing instruments, some began to dance, others stood around chatting. I noticed some decorations were up, and a couple tables of sweets had appeared. As night fell, it became a full-on party with throngs of townsfolk, followed by fireworks. It was one of several celebrations added by the Wet and Cold: Holidays Mod, one of the most enjoyable mods I've ever tried.