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Despite challenges, modders are adding clever new squads and enemies to Into the Breach

The Into the Breach modding community is small. Without deep access to the game's code or official mod tools, we'll never see the crazy mods of a Skyrim or an XCOM 2. One of the wackiest mods is a simple art pallet swap, replacing grizzled pilots with Super Mario Bros. characters.

Only a handful of modders remain active, but they've managed to reshape Into the Breach's turn-based combat in large and small ways. The community lives in the game’s Discord channel and official forum, where most modders share knowledge and early builds of the projects they work on.

We've assembled a collection of the most fun, useful and creative Into the Breach mods, and also talked to the modders about the challenges of modifying Into the Breach, and how they made their mods.

The best Into the Breach mods right now 

Mod loader: A tool for applying mods to Into the Breach.

Comprehensive Screenshot: This modification of the screenshot tool adds in extra information on your mechs, weapons, and upgrades, so you can easily take a screenshot that "contains all information needed for people to theorize a solution to the situation presented on the game board."

Lost Missions: A substantial, ambitious mod that restores and completes some cut content from ITB's files. They may not be as finely honed as the mission types that made the final game, but longtime players may welcome the variety.

More Bosses: "7 new bosses to change up your ITB runs. Intended to be slightly more adept than the usual bosses. Especially when playing on hard."

Evolved Vek: Three new enemy types that will emerge as you progress further into runs.

Roach: A brand new enemy type that can attack with talons or spit acid.

RF1995 Squad: A fun squad of traditional vehicles, taking inspiration from kids toys. Several sprites were unused, leftover assets, but here they've been given custom abilities to form a new squad.

Freezing Inferno: A creative squad that can light things on fire or freeze them, and usually triggers both those actions simultaneously, resulting in some very creative combos. 

The Lost Missions mod.

How Into the Breach grew a mod scene

Cracking open Subset Games’ latest creation was a challenge, as self-appointed community manager Simplykasi recalls. “Modding wasn't even announced at all, we just kind of collectively stumbled into the game's directory, which had a load of LUA files that defined all sorts of useful stuff, such as squads, weapons, enemies, and AI,” they said. “But over time, we kind of ran into one brick wall after another. We discovered the game's code isn't completely contained in the LUA files we could see. The more we looked into it, the more we realized a large chunk of code was within the game's binary itself; translated into pure machine code.”

Eventually help arrived in the form of modders from the Faster than Light and Invisible Inc. communities. These users created a way to pull the graphical assets out of the game for use, overlay different UIs over the screen instead of trying to replace it, and expanded a modloader's capabilities to include more features. 

Once those problems had been tackled and some early proof-of-concept mods were complete, modders really started digging in to expand on mechanics and assets that were in the game, although the strict processes behind modding Into the Breach has kept the community from growing much larger.

The Roach, a new enemy mod.

While modders like building unique squads and weapons, they found a bigger challenge in creating new enemies and bosses. Lemonymous, who created the Roach, the 'more bosses' mod, and many others, finds that new enemy mods stay interesting over multiple runs, while squad mods grow stale more quickly. His bosses mod takes standard enemies and creates more powerful versions of them with new abilities.

“I could have just increased the stats on regular enemies, but the original bosses sometimes have interesting quirks, like the Beetle boss leaving fire in its wake, and the Scorpion attacking in every direction,” he said. “With the Burrower [boss] I created for example, instead of burrowing after taking a hit, it will change its attack to target in the direction the attack came from. Making it change its attack direction is not something that is available via the normal functions of the game so it had to be hacked with tools our community created and inject code where we normally wouldn’t be able to.”

Another popular new enemy mod is the Evolved Vek. It adds three new enemy types, the Viper, the Termite, and the Cobra, that appear randomly on the second, third, and fourth islands during a playthrough. It’s an ambitious mod that contains its own artwork and can completely change the way you play.

Advanced modding

While the mods that create new squads, enemies, and UI adjustments have added new layers to the strategy required to get through playthroughs, a few mods have introduced mechanics that are completely new to the game. 

One of those mods is the Freezing Inferno created by neozoid, a community favorite praised for being well-balanced. “Every mech can either freeze and/or set on fire both themselves and the enemies, and as a player I need to balance between both,” Lemonymous said. “At the end of the mission, it is not uncommon to have half the map covered in fire, with a few ice cubes sprinkled in here and there.” 

Freezing Inferno adds several new elements to consider and can get increasingly confusing as the match goes on. Custom sprites make the chaos look particularly stylish. 

Another mod that creates a brand new mechanic is the unreleased Hive War by cannonfodder. It creates a new timepod-hunting enemy, known as the Warrior, that follows the player across a playthrough, spawning at every timepod.

“Originally it started out as part of the evolved vek mod, but you only get 2-6 timepods per game, and only 1-2 per island. If this Vek spawned like normal enemies, it would only be able to show up very infrequently,” cannonfodder said. “As such I decided to make one spawn at every timepod mission, but an enemy type that hounds you for the entire game and spawns differently to normal Vek should be unique so I split it off into a different project.”

The impressive undertaking has been in development for four months and cannonfodder plans to release it soon. “It’s not complete, but it’s stable enough for the community,” he said. “The AI system isn't making the Warrior step on mines anymore and the game isn't crashing whenever the bio cannon is fired. I plan to continue to work on it and make the Warrior talk just like any good monologuing villain when it spawns.”

A bleak future

Just like the impending apocalyptic and Vek-filled future that Into the Breach depicts, the game's modding community is worried that it may not have long left. With modding being restrictive and vital information being stored in difficult-to-search Discord servers, many see the community getting even smaller over time.

“The crazy thing is that FTL has more concurrent players as of right this very minute than Into the Breach had after about 3 months from its launch,” Simplykasi said. “So there are less players staying, less players wanting new experiences, and less players to hop aboard and start modding. Which kind of starts a slow but sure spiral downwards for the modding scene.”

Even as community-created tools have become more welcoming and efforts to bring modders together on Discord have been successful, few people are playing with mods. But regardless of that player base, mods like Hive War prove that there are still a couple of mech modders around to make something special.