Part of the reason I love PC gaming so much is because of the game mods that come with it. Now this is not to say that consoles have not adopted mods lately, but they only allow approved and sometimes monetized mods through their platform where as with PC game mods you can download whatever mod you want and use it.
Game mods are user created programs that either enhance or completely change a game or its features. This can be subtle or a complete overhaul of the game and its mechanics.
Game Mod Potential
So when it comes to game mods and their potential the sky really is the limit. Normally the most common game mods are fixes for issues that should have been fixed from the release of the game. Some times mods can also completely change the gaming experience entirely.
Sadly some games are released in a very unusable and broken state. Some game developers know that their dedicated fan base will fix their game for them. One game that falls under this category was Obsidian’s Fallout 3: New Vegas. This game was near unplayable until an unofficial patch was released called Yukichigais’s Unofficial Patch (YUP).
This mod is near essential for the game to played, and this is not the first case or the last of this. Another such game is, Deadly Premonition which was released locked to 720p resolution, a modder by the web handle Durante reverse engineered a fix and then released it to the world.
Mods have more potential than just fixing broken games and that is where some really creative mods come in. There is a project right now that will completely overhaul the X-Wing game to modern graphics. If they are able to complete this project then people with the original game can enjoy amazing graphics instead of the early 90s graphics that are present with the game.
Another mod that completely changes a game is the mod called the Stanly Parable. This started out as a simple mod for Half Life 2 that turned into a game of its own. This was nothing like the original Half Life 2 game it was a story based adventure where the character chose what path they went down and were commented on by the Narrator. This was a fun mod that had amazing and different game play.
The last realm of mods is just ease of life mods. Some mods take out the tedium and the questionable options to better streamline the gaming experience. I love the game Subnautica, but some times it can be a slog especially the crafting system where you have to craft every little component of a device then craft the device.
Enter the mod Easycraft for Subnautica if you have all the materials of the smaller components it crafts the entire device in one go. You would not believe the time this saves and allows you to just enjoy the game and not be bogged down by the details.
I am replaying through Subnautica with multiple mods installed and it is far more fun than the first time I played through the game. Some of these mods should have been implemented in the first place like the more quick slots mod. The game only allows you 5 quick slots, well when you are being attacked by a hungry killer leviathan sometimes you do not have time to enter your inventory swap out what is in a quick slot then hope you are still alive to use your stasis rifle to save yourself.
Some mods can be considered cheating but it is your game do with it as you will as long as you enjoy the experience. There are many mods that make games easier or harder. These mods are fun to play around with sometimes just to see what it’s like to experience the game from a different light.
I was one of those people who was staunchly against mods for the longest time. Not because I am a purist more out of fear of viruses. Luckily there are many reputable sites that offer mods for games for free. ModDB and Nexus Mods are the two best. They are safe to get your files from and have a very active community where you can look at peoples reviews of mods and the errors they ran into. I addressed Nexus Mods in another article about programs one should have on their computer here.
Some people worry about the legality of using mods. Well for the end user there is nothing illegal about using them. Now there are certain ones that may be grey area like defeating the DRM of the game but for the most part modding a game will never get the end user in trouble, as long as its a legal game.
Another fear may be breaking the game, and this is one I have been afraid of as well. Even now whenever I start a mod I hold my breath a little waiting for my game to break. Luckily if it does which is rare all you need to do is just reinstall the game and you are back to normal. Just make sure to back up your saves if you can.
Now onto viruses, this luckily is not much of an issue in the modding community just make sure you get your mod from a trusted site. Look up the site on other forums and see what other people say about it. Look at the user reviews of the file. Then as always scan the file as soon as it gets on your computer with an antivirus. If the file seems suspicious then ditch it and try and find the mod elsewhere.
Things To Remember When Starting
First, make sure to read the readme that comes with the mod so you know how to install the program correctly. Some come with their own software that will look for your game but not all so make sure you know how to install the program the correct way.
If the mod requires you to replace multiple files then create a folder in the game folder call it anything but place a copy of each file that is being replaced into this folder if the game breaks or you want to revert the program back this can be a quick way to revert the game back to the original without reinstalling.
A second consideration is that some mods will not play well together and have some game breaking effects when combined together. You can either roll the dice and see what happens or try and look up if the mods work together. There may not be an answer so rolling the dice may be your only option.
If the game does break don’t panic either get rid of newest mod or reinstall the entire game to reset it back to normal.
Some games actually accept mods readily. They are designed from the start to support them and they have a simple way to add mods to them. These games are fun because they welcome mods and normally provide a simple and clean interface in game to turn mods on or off.
Some mods are essential if you want to play game sometimes they offer fixes for games that the developers either didn’t know how to fix or refused to fix.
Some mods are just fun, they can either make a game easier or completely different. The beauty of using a computer is that you have access to all fan made mods so you can make a game do whatever you want.
The great thing about game mods is that if you can think about it someone else probably has made a mod about it. Also the mod community is so open if you ask you can sometimes find someone who will make a mod for a game like you suggest.