In Pictures: 20 Of Our Favorite PC Game Mods

Cujo Bot

After all these years, digging up information on the Cujo Bot is rather tough. Although this wasn't a total conversion that inserted a huge amount of content, this mod simply added a sidekick bot that acted on command--in the form of a dog. If you haven't figured it out, this killer canine was based on Stephen King's fictional rabid St. Bernard, Cujo. While the novel was awesome, the bot was equally entertaining in the way it attacked, maimed, and shredded the enemy's lower extremities.

In addition to the dog, the mod also included a few new weapons, including the Blaze Gun (shoots fire balls), the Plasma Gun, the BFG from Doom, a low-energy blaster similar to the ones used by Enforcers, and the classic Grappling Hook. Cujo Bot can be found, along with a batch of other classic Quake mods, in the Killer Quake Pack downloadable here. And yes, some people still play this shooter after all this time (cough).

Desert Combat

Back in 2003, GameSpy awarded Desert Combat the PC Modification of the Year, boasting that it actually upstaged its parent game, Battlefield 1942, by adding modern tools of warfare like choppers, jets, and Humvees. A year prior to that, FilePlanet readers nominated Desert Combat as the Best New Mod of 2002, propelling it above other popular mods like Half-Life's Natural Selection, Thievery from Unreal Tournament, and even Earth's Special Forces from Half-Life.

The mod was created by Frank Delise, Brian Holinka, and Tim Brophy (Trauma Studios), and was set in Iraq during the first Gulf War. In addition to the new vehicles, the mod brought weapons, new Conquest maps, and new Capture the Flag maps. Due to the mod's popularity, Digital Illusions CE (DICE) swooped in and bought Trauma Studios to help work on Battlefield 2. However, before the game was released, DICE decided to dump Trauma Studios and ignore the $200,000 outstanding funds from its original deal with the studio.

The Trauma Studios team went on to become THQ's Kaos Studios and saw the release of its first game, Frontlines: Fuel of War, in 2008.

Capture The Flag

This mod really needs no introduction--it has become a standard multiplayer mode since its first appearance in Rise of the Triad. However, Capture the Flag's popularity really boomed after it appeared as a mod by Dave "Zoid" Kirsch for id Software's Quake. Players didn't need to download anything extra. They simply connected to a server with the mod already installed. Soon afterward, Threewave offered an expanded version, building upon Zoid's "classic" version and added downloadable custom maps and skins. This custom (Threewave CTF) version went on to become the template that shaped Capture the Flag in the Quake sequels and other first-person shooters.

Zoid was eventually hired by id Software to work on QuakeWorld and the CTF modes for Quake II and Quake III Arena. In 2000, Zoid worked as a senior programmer for Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes for Nintendo. His latest gig was Valve's zombified first-person shooter, Left 4 Dead. As for Threewave, the group went pro and worked on the multiplayer portions of Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Doom III: Resurrection of Evil, and even the recent Ghostbusters game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. As of December 2009, the company had closed its doors due to a lack of new contracts.


Like Capture the Flag, this mod needs no introduction. However, for the uninitiated, Counter-Strike began as a modification for Half-Life by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe. It's the classic team versus team multiplayer environment, where one team serves as the terrorists and the other serves as the counter-terrorists. Each round is completed by either meeting the mission objective or by eliminating the opposing team. Players earn virtual money by winning a round, killing an enemy, planting a bomb, and so on. The money is then used to purchase equipment needed within the round--surviving players can retain their equipment for use in the next round. Counter-Strike quickly amassed a huge following and attracted hardcore professional gamers.

The mod was eventually expanded into a separate, full game, while retaining the Half-Life engine. The retail version came bundled with Team Fortress Classic, Opposing Force, and the Wanted, Redemption, and Firearms mods. Counter-Strike: Condition Zero followed in 2004, containing a single-player campaign, bots, and other changes. Counter-Strike: Source is the current edition of the franchise, using Valve's Source engine developed for Half-Life 2.

Day Of Defeat

Listed as one of the 10 most-played Half-Life mods, Day of Defeat brought the European theater of World War II to Valve's popular first-person shooter. Serving as a multiplayer-only mod, the game simulated squad-level infantry combat between the Allied armies (U.S. or British) and the Axis Powers. Individual game modes included a variation of Capture the Flag (called Conquest Mode), destroying a specific target, capturing a specific target (like an airplane, truck, etc.), capturing a specified item (secret documents, etc.), and a "realism" mode.

Starting out as a third-party mod for Half-Life in 2000, the team joined Valve and produced a standalone version for Activision in 2003. Throughout the years, Day of Defeat received numerous additions, including an expansion (the Allied Staff Sergeant and the Allied Sergeant), changes to the weaponry, and an overall increase in the game's pace. Day of Defeat didn't really receive a major graphical overhaul until Half-Life 2 hit the market. This next version--Day of Defeat: Source--appeared on Steam in 2005 using Valve's Source engine.

Team Fortress

The original Team Fortress, a QuakeWorld mod designed in 1996 by Robin Walker, John Cook, and Ian Caughley, was a huge hit, offering team- and class-based online multiplayer action that was unlike anything gamers experienced in any other Quake mod. Players found themselves taking on the roles of important team positions, such as the medic, the engineer, the soldier, the sniper, and five other unique classes. Each with their unique strengths and weaknesses, players had to actually work together to reach a common goal: defeat the other team.

John Cook and Robin Walker soon began work on Team Fortress 2, while the game was put on hold to work on a revamp of the original mod after signing on with Valve. Called Team Fortress Classic (or TF 1.5), the revised mod took advantage of Valve's newer GoldSrc and became a free mod for Half-Life in 1999. Team Fortress 2 didn't see the light of day until 2007, demolishing growing doubts that--like Duke Nukem Forever--it had become vaporware.

Rocket Arena

This was probably one of the best mods for the Quake, Half-Life, and Unreal Tournament series. Created by GameSpy's David "crt" Wright, the mod first appeared in the original Quake PC game back in 1997, just a year after it hit the market. Packed with new maps and skins, the multiplayer-only mode took deathmatch to the next level by focusing only on rocket launchers. It was here that the rocket jump was perfected, allowing players to soar to great heights while taking minimal damage by timing jumps and rocket firing just right. Rocket Arena also implemented the spectator mode, allowing players to watch the match in-game, either willingly or after they were fragged and tossed in the queue.

Rocket Arena featured four modes: Standard, Clan Arena, Red Rover, and Practice. In Standard, the server admin determined the number of teams--players either create a team or join an existing team. With a queue in place, two teams play the match until one is defeated. The losing team goes to the end of the line, while the winning team plays the next in line. In Clan Arena, only the Blue and Red teams exist, and players get to engage in battle continuously throughout each match. There are also Blue and Red teams in Red Rover, but when a player dies, he's spawned on the other team. As for the Practice mode, it was merely for learning maps, ditching the queue, and rendering players invulnerable and with unlimited ammo.

They Hunger

This horrifying single-player mod hit the scene back in 1999, created by Neil Manke and Black Widow Games as a modification of Valve's popular first-person shooter, Half-Life. In what would be echoed a decade later in Left 4 Dead and its sequel, They Hunger merged the zombie-survival-horror genre with the first-person perspective, creating an intense environment that outdid anything found in the Resident Evil series.

As the story went, the protagonist--a troubled, unnamed writer--finds himself up against a flood of zombies spewing forth from the earth. In what began as a country retreat to work on his latest novel, the trip turns into a freak accident when a lightning bolt strikes his car, causing it to crash into a lake. Armed with a recharging flashlight, his only escape from the bitter waters is through a drainage pipe that eventually leads him to a mortuary chapel. All the while, a strange atmospheric phenomenon is taking place in the skies above...

Action Quake 2

This mod ditched Quake 2's sci-fi theme and instead mimicked Hollywood action movies using modern locations and real-world weapons. Players were typically locked to one weapon and item--the latter consisted of silencers, Kevlar vests, and other cool items. The mod also provided other goodies as well: new player models, skins, sounds, and a damage system that forced the player to slow down when wounded. The only drawback to this mod was that it didn't really offer any new game modes, but rather regurgitated the typical deathmatch and team deathmatch scenarios to fit the action-film theme.

"We wanted to try and make a Quake 2 mod where strategy, accuracy, and just damn cool-looking fights dominate. We tried it, and it's the most fun we've ever had in a DM game--we think you'll feel the same way when you try it," the author said. "The idea is that each bullet counts for a lot, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pump them full of as many bullets as you can spare--they'll get a chance to shoot back before they die if you don't finish them off. Cover actually means something, [so] it's better to make sure there's a pillar or a desk nearby to duck behind, especially if you have to reload or bandage yourself."

The author said other features stood out as well: "Once in a while, it's nice to get away from the rocket launcher/BFG fights and see what it's like to fly up from behind the bar with a shotgun or to drop behind your enemy through a skylight, executing them with one bullet," the author added. "Plus, you look damn smooth while you're doing it."

Alien Quake Total Conversion

This modification for id Software's Gothic first-person shooter is probably one of the most controversial and hard-to-find (if it's anywhere online at all) out of all Quake-based mods. But it was also one of the most awesome conversions at the time, appearing sometime after the game went retail. Players found themselves fighting against Quake's typical opponent AI, but with Alien-based skins. The environments brought total immersion, full of dark corridors and the lurking monsters we've come to know and love. The mod quickly became popular and was soon a hot, free download packed with 11 levels (plus a secret level), new weapons, enemies, textures, sounds, and more.

Eventually, 20th Century Fox took notice and swung its almighty Ban Hammer at the authors. "The Alien Quake project has been discontinued by 20th Century Fox," the mod's author wrote in a statement. "I received an email April 11, 1997 from a 20th Century Fox representative that ordered us to cease all activity. The Alien Quake project was using copyrighted material without permission and this makes Alien Quake an unauthorized and illegal production."

Wait. It gets better: "Therefore, you are hereby ordered to remove all your Alien Quake files from your computer storage. You must also remove all references to Alien Quake from any WWW pages or Internet sites you keep or maintain. All distribution of Alien Quake is illegal and you should know that the Alien Quake team is under obligation to report the name and URL of any distributor to 20th Century Fox. Please let us know if you know the URL of a distributor or potential distributor," the author wrote.

20th Century Fox released (the original) Aliens vs. Predator PC game a few years later.


This mod first appeared in Quake 2 and proposed an interesting variation of a deathmatch with two teams, bases, and jails. The object was to capture the entire opposing team. As an example, when a blue team player fragged a red team player, the defeated opponent was sent to the blue jail. The only way to jailbreak that player was for a team member to charge onto enemy territory and hit a button, opening the cell. If the entire team was captured, then they all fell dead and the winning team received many points.

This mod, originally developed by Team Reaction, changed hands when it moved over to Unreal Tournament in 2000, dubbed UT Jailbreak. The mod saw an overhaul in the second release, sporting a new HUD, a wider range of bundled maps, and better single-player support. Unlike the first UT Jailbreak, this version was seen as an evolution of the original, staying true to its Quake 2 roots but becoming a separate entity in the process. Later versions of UT Jailbreak for Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004 would separate it even more from the original.

The latest release is Jailbreak: Source using Valve Software's engine, available for free to anyone who purchased a Source-based game (Half-Life 2 or Portal).

  • rkelly1
    to bad the firearms mod for HL (now FA source for hl2) isnt listed.
  • sparkle_ftw
    The Specialists is not only the best mod ever, but may even be the best game ever. What a huge disappointment.
  • smithereen
    Whoa, too many shooters. Where's Planetfall and TSL RCM?
  • jools33
    Apparently only First person shooters are modded - what a tedious list... You guys ever play anything other than shooters?
  • rkelly1
    there are also TONS of mods for oblivion and fallout 3 (halo mods for fo3 were sweet)
  • magicandy
    Hell yeah Natural Selection. Shame that game is a ghost town lately =/
  • jonsy2k
    As long as NS gets a mention, I can live with it.
  • coconut
    Man, I sure played a lot of Action Quake 2. If it wasn't the inventor of the fps headshot, it came close (it did exist before Counterstrike).
  • What about the first real hard core mod Infiltration with iron sights, and in later versions breathing sway and running motion. Lots of fun. And speaking of the original UT mod's the western themed Badlands was cool as well.
  • jimishtar
    vampire vs slayer for hl2 was pretty fun to play :) there were also some very fun mods for Red Alert 2.