2012 was a fantastic year for the world of PC gaming. But some of the biggest PC gaming news stories of the year didn’t come from major developers: they came from smaller teams of independent mod programmers.

Modders create their work for the love of the game. Mods are released for free and available to anyone who owns the original game. They’re a great way to extend the lifetime of your favorite games while enhancing it in countless ways.

Here are our top 5 favorite mods that were released in 2012:

5) Game of Thrones (Crusader Kings II)

Crusader Kings II might be a complicated turn-based strategy game, but that just makes it the perfect opportunity for a Game of Thrones mod. The famously intricate Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin offers the characters and settings for the CKII Game of Thrones mod. From defending Winterfell to focusing all of your resources on a final assault on King’s Landing, the Game of Thrones mod is exactly what you would expect a Song of Ice and Fire video game to look like.

4) Super Skyrim Brothers (Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)

Most of us have fond memories of playing Mario Bros growing up. But you’ve never seen Mario Bros like this before. The Super Skyrim Brothers mod brings the world of Super Mario to life inside Skyrim and the result is delightful craziness. You can run around shooting fireballs at koopas or smashing enemies with a sledgehammer. You can even battle Bowser and save Princess Toadstool. We know there are plenty of good Skyrim mods out there, but this is certainly one of the most interesting mods available today.

3) Multiplayer Mod (Just Cause 2)

If any game deserved a multiplayer mode, it was Just Cause 2. Unfortunately, the developers of the game thought that task was too daunting, which is why a team of independent programmers decided to make the Multiplayer Mod for Just Cause 2. True to its name, the Multiplayer Mod adds multiplayer functionality to Just Cause 2, which means thousands of people can play around the island country of Panau on a single server. The result is pure insanity. Just take a look at this video of a recent test session to get a glimpse of the action:


2) Black Mesa (Source Engine – free standalone mod)

If you have fond memories of Half Life – which was a groundbreaking game at the time of its release – then you need to check out the Black Mesa mod. Black Mesa revisits all of the locations from the original Half Life and brings them to life inside the modern Source Engine. The graphics aren’t up to par with modern games, but they’re much better than the graphics that the original Half Life used in 1997. Players get to experience the entire Half Life story all over again.


1) DayZ (ArmA II)

Few mods have had as big of an impact on the gaming world as DayZ. The incredibly popular ArmA II mod places horribly under-defended survivors in the middle of a zombie wasteland. Players can kill other players or team up with them to rule over a server. It’s the most realistic zombie apocalypse simulation available today. DayZ is such a popular mod that a standalone game will be released at some point in the near future.

If you own any of the games listed above, then the mods are certainly worth checking out. They’re free and fun and provide a totally new gaming experience. What’s not to like? Click on the titles above to find download instructions for each mod.

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