Adjust a file to play a whole new game
Rejoice, PC gamers! You are the most untethered entertainment seekers of all. It doesn't matter if a game is ten years old, insanely popular, or just plain bad: You have the option of turning it into something completely new. And for that, you should hug a modder.
Gamers will painstakingly twist and change files, or create whole new ones, to change a game. Some changes are minor, while others render the original game unrecognizable.
Check out these ten mods that change already-fun games into new experiences, starting with everyone’s favorite crafting game—relocated to outer space.
You can dig down to bedrock and build towering structures sky-high in Minecraft, but why stop there? When all that terrestrial stuff starts to get boring, you have the option to leave it all behind.
Galacticraft sends you above the restricted height limit to explore the monster-infested solar system. Planets and moons await you, each with their own unique landscape, gravity, and difficulties to overcome. But you’ll need to build a rocket first, and that’s no easy task.
The mod provides new items to build on a customized NASA workbench. Once you have a ship and a proper space suit, you can explore the other worlds without fear of suffocation. Just be sure to bring a sword. Blast off now and terraform Mars!
Required game: Minecraft
Grand Theft Auto 4: No Friction
Grand Theft Auto 4's Liberty City is chock-full of life, activity, and traffic. But all that comes crashing down when Carmageddon comes.
Set the vehicles to a negative friction value, and suddenly it's a game of survival. Cars bounce around like pinballs and change course without warning. Chaos and explosions erupt all around. People run for their lives. It’s a roadside hot-dog stand’s worst nightmare.
There's no real point to the mod, other than reveling in the mayhem. Try to get from one end of town to the other without getting pummeled by a car skidding by on its roof. I guarantee you won't make it far. Check out the video for some fun inspiration.
Required game: Grand Theft Auto 4
Half-Life 2: The Hidden
Whether you're an invisible, homicidal science experiment gone wrong, or its intrepid hunter, you're in for a scary, good time.
In The Hidden, a squad of elite, highly armed soldiers is tasked with taking down the unseeable menace. Outfitted with just a knife, the target of the hunt is also incredibly fast, and acrobatic enough to join Cirque du Soleil.
As one of the elite soldiers, your goal is to stick with your squad and use your tools and keen perception to eliminate "The Hidden." As the hunted, you want to taunt and attract the squad members to isolated locations, pounce on them for the kill, and then pin them to the wall with your knife as a warning. Yeah, that's pretty messed up.
Required game: Half-Life 2
Just Cause 2: Multiplayer
Just Cause 2 is chaotic enough as a single-player game. Add upwards of 1000 players on a single server, and it becomes a crazy-good time.
Once you're in, you can do whatever you want. Seriously, it stretches the definition of "sandbox" game to the limits. Run around aimlessly, ride a plane and shoot helicopters, participate in races and destruction derbies, or just make one of the many other players' lives a living hell.
The mod is available sporadically while the creators work on the beta version, which makes it just that much more special to play. Follow the devs for news of the next public test!
Required game: Just Cause 2
Half-Life 2: The Stanley Parable
A good, cerebral time full of branching paths and multiple outcomes, The Stanley Parable lets you play as Stanley, happily following orders and pushing buttons. One day the orders stop coming, and your coworkers have disappeared. You choose what to do next, but it really won't matter.
A charismatic narrator attempts to tell your story. Follow it, or don't. Think for yourself, or don't. No matter what you choose, you'll be on your own path, right? It’s an interesting power struggle between a game and gamer, and some outcomes are bad for poor Stanley.
Required game: Half-Life 2
Battlefield 2: Reality Mod
You think you’ve played enough Battlefield 2 to be a military superstar? It’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Ditch the kiddy run-and-gun style and play it like the real thing, or suffer humiliation and a really bad score.
Battlefield 2's Reality Mod amps up the pressure and intensity with realistic weapon ballistics, enhanced visuals, and supersize maps that have up to 128 players. It takes a military enthusiast with a good sense of teamwork to survive.
After eight years in development and many updates, the game finally got a version 1.0 release and is ready for you to prove just how much of a hotshot you really are.
Required game: Battlefield 2
Arma II: DayZ
So you're stuck in a remote area of Russia as the world succumbs to the zombie apocalypse. What else could go wrong? Oh, just the fact that you’re stuck with plenty of other survivors who may be more hostile than the flesh-eating monsters.
DayZ has you scavenging the land for food, weapons, and ammo to make the most of a bad situation. You can group up, but just expect to get stabbed in the back the moment you let your guard down. They need those supplies just as badly as you do.
When the food runs low, you won't have to wait for the zombies to pick at your bones to figure out who your friends are. Chances are they’ve already broken your legs and left you to die.
Required game: Arma II: Combined Operations
Left 4 Dead 2: Deathcraft II
Don't adjust your monitor or rub your eyes too hard. It’s still the classic Left 4 Dead 2 we all know and love, but now it resembles that other incredibly recognizable game.
Deathcraft II is a custom-made, seven-part mission that has been re-skinned to include the mobs, weapons, and textures of Minecraft. Shoot your pixel guns at block-headed zombies, and dodge lava pits and skeletons to make it all the way to the end.
The creepiest part is how fluidly they all run. You may not be able to look at either game the same way again.
Required game: Left 4 Dead 2
Call of Duty 4: Galactic Warfare
Tired of all this modern warfare stuff? Harken back to a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away, and blast some rebel scum.
The Galactic Warfare mod converts Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's multiplayer into an all-out galactic brawl. Weapons, locations, and character models have all been modded to look like they came straight out of your favorite space epic. The gameplay of the original, unmodded game is revitalized with the makeover.
Just pray you don’t shoot like a stormtrooper, and maybe you’ll actually be able to hit something.
Required game: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Company of Heroes: Eastern Front
Before Company of Heroes 2, there was no representation of the Soviet Union's eastern front in the Company of Heroes universe. The Eastern Front mod quickly corrected that, while maintaining a high-quality standard that fans of the series expect.
Two new factions, the Soviets and the Ostheer, were crafted with customized weapons, skill trees, and abilities. They are carefully balanced with plenty of patch support coming from the modders to stop any exploits that may crop up. This mod is a labor of love.
Eastern Front is a mod that acts more as an expansion. It doesn't mess with any of the original game's files and is loaded as a separate game entirely, meaning you may never have to start the original game again!
Required game: Company of Heroes
10 awesome PC games that are completely free
What's all this nonsense about buying games to play them modded, when you can just play some awesome ones for free?
Check out these great PC freebies to see some of the best games you won't have to spend a penny on.