Halo 3's been moddable for a week, so here's Dust2

Master Chief layered on top of Dust2
(Image credit: Bungie, Valve)

If a game has mapping tools, the wisdom goes, you can be sure someone, somewhere, has remade Counter-Strike's Dust2 using them. That's how, after 14 years as one of the most enduring console shooters ever made, Master Chief can finally hold Bombsite B against Covenant invaders.  

Last week, 343 released official modding tools for Halo 2 and 3, letting players completely rework maps, AI, gametypes and more using a suite of development tools. Given their similarity to existing tools for the original Halo, it wasn't long before folks figured out how to import custom map geometry, allowing for entirely new and original takes on Halo 3's arenas.

Or, as Redditor peakforeverthing proved, they could bring one of the most famous PC FPS arenas of all time to the flagship console shooter. 

still_learning_but_im_loving_mod_tools from r/halo

It's an early attempt, of course. But having spent much of the last week poking through the mod tools myself, I'm confident in saying the hard part (importing custom BSP) has been sorted, and I'm keen on seeing if peak will continue tweaking props, lights, skies and weapon placement to make Dust2 a fully playable Slayer map.

While most custom maps so far are porting maps from other Halos into Halo 3 (or vice versa), a long history of Halo 1 modding has me excited for what's to come. Some of that game's best maps came from the moddable Custom Edition, including labyrinthine jeep rollercoaster Yoyorast Island—a map I maintain stands firmly among the best Halo arenas of all time.

Elsewhere in Halo modding, developers are finding ways to take the venerable shooter in entirely new directions. One's even managed to create a VR-friendly version of the final escape run, a first-person road trip that looks as stunning as it does nauseating.

halo_3_vr_the_warthog_run from r/halo

We've seen leaks of Halo Infinite's (unfortunately absent-at-launch) Forge mode, which looks powerful enough to be an engine unto itself. But chances are this means we won't get the kind of full-blown modding that made Halo Custom Edition such a delight a decade ago—and hopefully, can keep Halo 3 thriving well into the next 10 years.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.