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!
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.
It's a shame to let a good engine go to waste, especially when it can expertly handle a huge, beautiful open world. DayZ is the most obvious example, but Ubisoft clearly understood this as well when it made Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which used the Far Cry 3 engine to build an '80s-themed spoof that was just as fun as the original game. The Far Cry 3 Z-DAY mod sounds a little too familiar, but the gameplay footage and explanation from the developer might win you over.
"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.
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.
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.)
Before it was released, SimCity Creative Director Ocean Quigley (who has since left Maxis to form an independent studio) said that SimCity's GlassBox engine was "built to be moddable." That may be true, but SimCity the game is a curated always-online ecosystem, not a fertile, offline ground for experiments which would otherwise interfere with the official multiplayer experience. The two seem at odds with each other, but yesterday, Maxis wrote that it encourages us to "create, redistribute, and consume Mods for SimCity." How does that work?
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.
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.
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!
I've not much sympathy for "things were better in the old days" reminiscing. For instance, those who prefer the twitch action of 'old-school' shooters still have valid options for their acrobatic rocket-spam. Far better then, are those retro-pastiche projects that filter the philosophy of nostalgia through something entirely more ridiculous. Take Half-Life 2: Deathmatch mod Jaykin' Bacon 3. As you'll see in this trailer, its Instagib mode will let you play a flying Solid Snake shooting his deadly electrified finger gun.
You're parachuting over the island of Panau, as you've done countless times before. This time, however, you're not alone: the sky is full of chutes. Planes streak by, wildly firing at each other, while a crowd of people with grappling hooks all try to hijack the same helicopter. On the ground, two dozen limousines careen past in the midst of a race around an airport. The Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Mod doesn't boast a server of 24 or 36 players, but hundreds, potentially thousands, all in the same game at once. Panau, already a ridiculous place, just got truly nuts.
End-of-the-year lists are great for shining a bright light on stuff we've missed and stuff we might want to see again. After starting with a number somewhere north of 10,000, ModDB's Mod of the Year award is down to its Top 100, a list of upcoming and released mods compiled after more than a week of player feedback.
"Khaleesi"... "Car-leesy"... "Kaleeeessi". Oh, sorry. You've just caught me practising my Jorah Mormont impression. I want to get it perfected before next week, when Crusader Kings 2's brilliant Game of Thrones mod will launch its Essos update. That's because the arrival of the Eastern continent will also mean the introduction of its most famous inhabitant: Dany Stormborn and her three dragons.
Ah, Autumn. It’s a time for brisk walks through the woods with crunchy, colorful leaves underfoot. A time for taking deep lungfuls of crisp, fresh air. A time for stuffing diet sausages into your mouth while firing panicky rounds from an inaccurate pistol as irradiated dogs leap and snarl from the thick undergrowth. A time for the Autumn Aurora 2 mod, for STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl.
Skyrim is a beautifully vast and sweeping game. Also vast: the possibility of its modding potential. The nomadic fans of Morrowind are crossing those rolling plains of creation, as part of their quest to settle within the safety and shelter of this newer game's engine. Their journey started just over a year ago, and now - while still far from the home stretch - they've made great progress. They've even released a trailer showing just how far they've come.
Arma has always been quite moddable. Every piece of Bohemia Interactive’s military sim has been renovated or replaced hundreds of times over by the game’s prolific community--its missions, islands, audio, weapons, and vehicles. Today Bohemia makes a major effort to support that culture of community content creation as it begins a more than year-long competition called “Make Arma Not War.”
Turn on the TV or radio, talk to a relative or co-worker, or listen to a random conversation in a restaurant or bar, and you’ll quickly realize one thing: everyone knows how to run the country better than the person currently running it. And, if cousin Zeke or Carl the bartender can run the country, running the country must be too darn easy, right? Here's how to make it a bit tougher.
The Arma series has long been known for its often stunningly realistic visuals. But alongside all that eye candy, modders have been consistently working to sharpen Arma's soundscape as well. A new, in-progress sound mod for Arma 3—the Advanced Combat Sound Environment—continues this work and looks to achieve a dramatic level of audio immersion for the military simulation.
There are 10,000 mods eligible to be nominated for ModDB's 2013 Mod of the Year award, and eight and half days in which to nominate. Which means, if you want to feel really confident in your selection, you'll need to play 50 mods per hour from now until the end of voting. As those diligent heroes embark on their impossible task, the rest of us can settle for hastily picking our vaguely remembered favourites, all while chuckling at the discovery of who's sponsoring this year's competition.