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Fan Mods That Became Legit Parts Of The Game

Mods serve as a popular component of PC gaming. They allow players to alter experiences to fit their preferences, take on new content created by the most dedicated fans, completely change titles like "Skyrim," and can even make the unplayable playable. Mods can also help expand a game's lifespan and player base, which has led to many developers embracing mods and fostering communities of modders for their titles. 


Some studios have even gone so far as to incorporate some of the best mods for their games into the official versions. Doing so helps garner respect and publicity for the creators of the mods. It also gives console players access to some of the best content the community has to offer, expanding the reach of the mods beyond a title's PC audience. Here are some examples of fan-made mods that caught the attention of developers and were officially added to the game.

The Last Stand (Left 4 Dead 2)

"Left 4 Dead 2" gives fans more of what they loved about the first "Left 4 Dead." It has more zombies to take on, new weapons and gear to shoot and bash them with, and fresh campaigns and maps to do it in. The sequel also includes a new squad of four playable characters to choose from and learn about. As a fitting send-off for the game and a fun inclusion for fans of the first entry, the "Left 4 Dead 2" final DLC, called "The Last Stand," brings back the cast of the original. 


Perhaps the most interesting detail, however, is the fact that the update was developed entirely by modders from the series' community. The update is also quite sizeable, with never-before-seen melee weapons, guns, twenty Survival maps, and an original campaign based on a map from the first title. On top of these additions, the update also features a litany of changes that make it feel more like a mod. It fixes numerous bugs, restores unused dialogue lines, improves the UI, adds animations, and even brings back infected models from the original "Left 4 Dead." 

While it seems like "Left 4 Dead 3" will never happen, "The Last Stand" is at least a great way to send off the sequel with some fun and community-driven content.


The next-gen update (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)

The next-gen update for "The Witcher 3" was very exciting for fans because of how it overhauls the titan of western RPGs with a litany of graphical improvements. While fans knew that the developers at CD Projekt RED were working on the update for quite some time, many were surprised when the studio announced that it would be officially integrating a number of fan mods into the new version of the title. The studio claimed that it would implement five community mods that add more detail to monster models, provide HD textures, modify cutscenes, fix the game's world map, and address numerous small bugs. 


Since the update's release, however, the mods have caused some controversies for CD Projekt RED. Not only did explicit material on various monsters slip through against the developer's intentions, but Kotaku also reported that the creator of the mod in question claimed that CDPR "used [their] mod" without "[asking them] for permission." The issues have cast a shadow on the release of the next-gen update for "The Witcher 3," but the rest of the mods in the update are a great nod to the game's passionate community.

Horses (Minecraft)

"Minecraft" has become a massive icon of the video game industry. Not only is it the best-selling video game of all time, but it has also enjoyed a lasting legacy of countless players still purchasing and enjoying the survival title over 10 years after its initial launch. However, it definitely did not start that way. In the early days of "Minecraft," the game had a much smaller community of dedicated fans who often contributed to its direction and future content, whether through mods or community polls.


One of the earliest instances of such a contribution was the addition of horses.  Horses feel like a natural feature for a title like "Minecraft," to the point that before the animals were officially incorporated, they were present in numerous community mods. One of the most popular of these was called Mo' Creatures by DrZhark. Originally released in 2010, the mod predated the official horse rollout by around three years. 

So, when it came time for Mojang to add horses to "Minecraft," it opted to work alongside DrZhark. While the official implementation of horses does not have the more complicated breeding mechanics and other intricacies of the steeds in the Mo' Creatures mod, it features similar mechanics for riding as well as appearance options.


Official Mods Program (Ark: Survival Evolved)

"Ark: Survival Evolved" brought an interesting blend of prehistoric dinosaurs and sci-fi technology to the survival genre when it released in 2015. In the years that followed, the game has steadily expanded through the addition of new features, dinosaurs, and fresh maps like Valguero for players to explore. The title also found itself with a sizable modding community that works to add its own content to the experience.


This community inspired the developers behind "Ark: Survival Evolved" to implement the Official Mods Program in 2016. The program allows the studio to select community mods and officially add them to versions of the game on PC and Xbox One. Starting with an entirely new player-made map, the program enables the team to not only highlight and support the most dedicated fans within the community but also grants players on Xbox access to content they otherwise wouldn't have the option to sample. 

Loading times (Grand Theft Auto 5)

"Grand Theft Auto 5" has undergone countless changes over the years, resulting in a different player experience than it had at release, especially when it comes to its online component, "Grand Theft Auto Online." Updates have added mechanics for players to carry out heists, run their own gangs and businesses, and even purchase flying bikes. With how massive the online experience has become, it's not hard to believe that the online mode's loading times on PC often reached around five minutes at one point. This reality persisted until a fan named t0st found a way to reduce loading times by about 70% in 2021.


t0st discovered that "GTA Online" performed almost two billion item checks before loading each session, most of which didn't need to happen. t0st put out a "proof of concept" fix, and also shared his findings in detail, catching the attention of Rockstar Games. The company publicly thanked him for discovering the problem and worked the solution into an official update. After the patch rolled out, loading times for "GTA Online" on PC dropped from an average of almost six minutes to just under two. 

Forgotten Empires (Age of Empires 2)

Originally launched in 1999, iconic RTS "Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings" has remained a titan of the genre, even before it received the Definitive Edition remaster in 2019. Ahead of the remaster, however, it got an HD update in 2013 to help it run better on modern PCs. Fans expressed surprise when the developers also revealed that the update would add new content to the game as well — 14 years after its first debut. 


Much of the new content ended up being an official implementation of the popular Forgotten Empires fan mod. The mod added new historically-accurate factions for players to play as, story-driven campaigns, improvements to the in-game AI, Twitch integration, and fresh units. Alongside the new visuals, the mod's addition encouraged fans to return to the title, especially if they had not previously checked out the original mod for themselves. 

Long War 2 (XCOM 2)

When "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" rebooted the punishing sci-fi turn-based strategy series, one of the most popular mods it received was "Long War." The mod expanded the game to lengthen playthroughs, add new classes, rebalance research options, increase the number of soldiers players could take on missions, and incorporated numerous features to give players fresh methods of fighting back against the alien invasion. The popularity of the mod reached such heights that developer Firaxis partnered with its creators to put together mods leading up to the release of "XCOM 2."


The team behind "Long War," Long War Studios, created three mods that added new classes to "XCOM 2" at launch, but it continued to work closely with Firaxis to develop mods in the aftermath as well. These mods included additions to the roster of playable classes, alien enemies, perk options, and finally, a sequel to the original "Long War" mod. While the mods created by Long War Studios weren't added to the base "XCOM 2," instead functioning as optional add-ons, it is great to see that Firaxis appreciated the team's hard work and gave them official recognition.

Blitz Edition (IL-2 Sturmokiv: Cliffs of Dover)

"IL-2 Sturmokiv" is a series of combat flight simulators set during the Second World War. The first installment came out in 2001, and several other entries followed as part of the franchise's first generation. The second generation kicked off with "IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover," which received middling reviews at launch. In the years that followed, modders largely overhauled the experience and fixed many of the issues that the community had with it at release. According to Kotaku, this caught the attention of the game's developers, who decided to work with a proven team of modders known as Team Fusion Simulations.


The steps Team Fusion Simulations took to fix up "Cliffs of Dover" persuaded the original developers to give it the source code so that it could make further improvements. Its work with the source code, as well as some of its previous mods, was then bundled with the original game and released in 2018 as "IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover BLITZ Edition." Owners of the original version on Steam received the new edition for free, and Team Fusion Simulations got full credit in the related press releases and documentation.

Official Add-Ons (Doom Classic)

The original "Doom" games revolutionized the FPS genre and continue to be enjoyed decades later. This is partially because of the unending quest to see how many weird ways fans can find to play it, such as running "Doom" on potatoes. It is also because the original entries have received a consistent trickle of fan-made content that adds new campaigns, weapons, and enemies. This support motivated the developers at Id Software to start a program they called Official Add-Ons for "Doom Classic."


This program allows the developers to highlight the mods that most impress them, further support the modding community, and give console players the opportunity to check out some of the best fan-made content the community has to offer. The program has so far added more than a dozen fully fleshed-out and realized fan campaigns, drastically expanding the scope and content lineup for "Doom Classic." 

Boosters (The Binding of Isaac)

Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl created the disturbing roguelike "The Binding of Isaac" and released it in 2011. Following its subsequent success, the game received numerous expansions and updates filled with content. The last of these, "The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+," was massive, but it got even bigger thanks to the addition of the Booster system. The system allowed McMillen to pick his favorite mods from the community and officially add them to the title for all players to experience.


The fifth and final Booster launched in April 2018, bringing an end to the program that frequently added new trinkets, weapons, and enemies. The final Booster is also the largest the game received, with an entirely new character, eight new items, a never-before-seen boss, more than 60 achievements, and hundreds of bug fixes and small tweaks. Boosters helped make an already sizable expansion even heftier and reflected the dedication of the community "The Binding of Isaac" has attracted throughout its lifespan.