Yesterday Blizzard revealed the three custom game modes they've designed using the StarCraft 2 editing tools. However good they turn out to be, they'll struggle to compete with the wealth of player-made offerings made over the past 6 months using the same kit. The community has done some amazing things. There are mods out there that can turn StarCraft 2 into a fully fledged RPG, a survival horror, a tower defence game or even a game of space combat. Read on for our pick of eight of the best.
To get hold of these mods, start up StarCraft 2, head to the multiplayer section and select 'join a game' in the custom game panel at the bottom right. Then simply search for the mods below. When you join a game the map will be downloaded automatically.
1. Income Wars
There are a ton of great custom tug-of-war maps, including the magnificent Nexus Wars, but Income wars pips its rivals by escalating the tug-of-war idea to an insane scale. It's a 2v2 map in which each player must chose one unit to spawn. All units head towards the enemy down a single lane, and kills grant each team money to spend on more advanced troops. Each wave becomes more and more massive until the whole battlefield becomes a warzone, with hundreds of troops battling for supremacy. Each player has a last ditch nuclear option with which to wipe out a wave that's too close to home base. If you want to see a single nuclear explosion wiping out 77 Terran Battleships, Income Wars is the mod for you.
2. Marine Arena
As Marine Arena proves, you can never have too many marines. This 2v2 map gives each player a single building that relentlessly churns out marines. Every enemy marine killed scoops resources that can be used to upgrade your marines, or, if you're feeling blasphemous, spawn a unit that isn't a marine. Marine Arena gets the edge on the many other auto-spawn custom games with its brilliantly designed map. A central, raised point contains a healing node which can be taken for an obvious advantage, while four raised sections on each side offer a secondary tactical objective. After a while there are skirmishes all over the map as each team tests the other's weak points. This map couples strategic intrigue with millions and millions of marines, which can only be a good thing.
3. Zerg Hunter
This is a fully fledged 1 to 4 player RPG created entirely using StarCraft 2's characters and abilities. You can choose from one of a number of character classes, from assassins to tanks, and go out into the world, completing quests and killing Zerg for experience. Every time you level up you get a point to spend in your character's skill tree, and you can return to base at any time to spend your hard earned cash on bigger and better weapons. It's Diablo dressed in StarCraft 2's robes.
4. Star Battle
There are many Defence of the Ancients style custom maps, but only one is set in space. Star Battle offers a faster and less complicated version of your traditional Dota experience. and, I'll mention this again, it's in space . Each player controls a vessel. Your aim is to support the stream of attacking NPC ships as they try to take out the enemy space station. Your vessel's weapons can be upgraded as the fight goes on, and each ship can carry a number of its own fighters for fire support.
Tower defence mods have been a proud tradition in Blizzard games ever since Warcraft III. Green TD is the best of the current bunch in StarCraft 2 thanks to its huge and cleverly designed map. The numerous starting positions offer varying degrees of difficulty, meaning newbies and veterans can play alongside each other. The aim is to place a series of towers in your patch to eliminate the waves of troops marching down the long, meandering road. Each one that crosses the threshold at the end will cost the team one of 50 lives. Each wave of enemies is weak to a different variety of tower, which means you'll need to manage your resources wisely and plan ahead if you want to win.
6. Night of the Dead
Night of the UNdead would be a more accurate name for this StarCraft 2 custom map. Space zombies have struck, as they often do, and it's your job to band up with some team mates and roll out into the night to cleanse the streets of the undead menace. But what about peace? why can't we talk to the space zombies? You can, using a series of upgraded weapons and special abilities, you can speak them using the universal language of bullets, and make peace by killing everything that isn't you. This is StarCraft 2 as survival horror. Stick together, keep your flashlights pointed in all directions and don't stop shooting.
7. Raynor Party
Why is Raynor party so great? Allow me to direct you to the image above. Yes, that's a siege tank carrying a huge bunch of bananas. That's just one of ten multiplayer minigames that make up this quick fire custom map. Players take it in turns to pick a game. The challenges range from racing events to arena deathmatches in which each player must throw their opponents into an abyss using gravity powers. And yes, that is as much fun as it sounds.
8. Storm of the Imperial Sanctum
Storm of the Imperial stars wins awards for both having the most impressive name, and being the most accomplished Dota style custom map for StarCraft 2. The 5v5 map, with its numerous lanes, automated NPC troops and its defensive towers, closely resembles the original Defence of the Ancients map for Warcraft III. Of course, the heroes and creeps are all made up of StarCraft 2 units, and the many, many upgrades on offer for your character and your NPC troops all have a sci-fi flavour. If you've never played a Defence of the Ancients style map before there's no tutorial to guide you, but if you're familiar with the game mode, Storm of the Imperial Stars is a great modern take on a classic formula.
That's just eight of the hundreds of great StarCraft 2 mods and maps in the Battlenet databse. Which ones are your favourites?