You may have heard of Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 or Red Orchestra 2, but you might not know that those game were based on a mod. Originally created as a mod to Unreal Tournament 2003, Red Orchestra turned the sci-fi shooter into the Eastern Front of World War II. The mod won the Make Something Unreal Contest in 2004, netting its creators, Tripwire Interactive, $50,000 and a license for Unreal Engine 3.
The Dark Mod
Set in a gothic steampunk world, The Dark Mod puts players in the quiet boots of thief armed with a blackjack, water arrows, holy water, and more. The mod encourages you to avoid combat whenever possible, using stealth as your primary weapon instead. The Dark Mod was originally created as a mod for [/i]Doom 3[/i], it is now available as a standalone release.
The Third Age
Fans of The Lord of the Rings and strategy games should all try out The Third Age mod. It’s a total conversion of the Medieval II: Total War – Kingdoms expansion that features 14 unique factions from Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, including Gondor Rohan, Isengard, Mordor, and more. Best of all, they do battle using familiar units on a large playable map of Middle-Earth.
While almost every gamer is familiar with Team Fortress 2, many don’t know that it started out as a mod. Robin Walker, Ian Caughley, and John Cook created the original mod for the game Quake. Shortly thereafter, Valve hired the two modders, and they ported the mod to the Source engine. It was then released as Team Fortress Classic in 1999.
Crusader Kings 2: A Game of Thrones
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at the diplomacy and intrigue of the world of Westeros, Crusader Kings 2: A Game of Thrones comes closest to letting you do just that. Rather than trying to recreate George R.R. Martin’s novels, the mod drops players into the world and sets them free to create their own outcomes in the world.
Defense of the Ancients
Some mods create a new game, but Defense of the Ancients popularized an entire genre that has taken the gaming world by storm. Based on the Aeon of Strife map in StarCraft, DotA was actually created using the word editor for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Its simple gameplay and competitive appeal led to the explosion of the MOBA genre as we know it today.
It’s one thing for a mod to have a dedicated playerbase, but it’s another thing entirely when a mod’s playerbase is larger than that of the game it’s based on. That’s exactly what happened with Desert Combat. A modern combat mod for Battlefield 1942, it was set in Iraq during the first Gulf War. The team behind it, Trauma Studios, was hired by DICE to assist in the development of Battlefield 2, and later went on to form Kaos Studios.
Counter-Strike may not have been the first mod to make it big, but it may be the longest-running. Created by Minh “Gooseman” Le and Jess “Cliffe” Cliffe in 1999, it modded the original Half-Life into the familiar terrorists vs counter-terrorists game that we all know today. One year, in 2000, Valve bought the rights to the mod and hired its developers. SInce then, the company has released Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Counter-Strike Source, and COunter-Strike Global Offensive. Almost every release of the game still has a group of dedicated fans playing it today.