Play It Your Way: Gaming’s Top 10 Most Customizable Games
While most gamers find plenty of fun in playing games, some want to go beyond interacting with a world and dive head-first into creation. Customization of levels, characters, items and more can, if available, give creative players hundreds of hours of enjoyment.
Sadly, most games don’t indulge the whims of those who want to customize their experience. There are, however, a few titles that don’t just give players some power to customize, but embrace the concept fully, giving players the power to change almost everything in the game world.
This game became famous for its procedural sandbox world that the player can terraform at will to create everything from simple abodes to massive towers and replicas of real-world locations. But what’s kept the game alive for many players are the mods . A look at the game’s biggest mod forum reveals texture packs, character skins, new monsters, new gameplay modes, new items, new features, and much more. Want to add ? Why not! ? Sure! Want raccoons, ants, and more fish? .
The possibilities really are endless, not just because there are tons of mods available, but also because Minecraft is one of the easiest games to mod. If you’ve never tried modding before, it’s a great place to start.
Minecraft sells for about $30 (19.95 euros) on Windows and Mac. The Xbox 360 edition is just $19.99, but it doesn’t allow mods.
At first glance, Trackmania just looks like another racing game. In truth, it’s far more than that. This unusual yet popular series has carved a consistent niche for itself not through realism, but instead through customization.
The game’s appeal lies in its track editor, which is not only comprehensive, but also lets players break the laws of physics. Why stick to a boring racetrack when you can race off cliff-sides, through cork-screws and across valleys? Once you’d made a track, you can race it alone, or share it online and play with friends.
The latest version of the game, Trackmania Valley, is $19.99 and only available for Windows. Other versions of the game provide different environments to design tracks in.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series has cultivated a reputation for customization because of its level editor, first available in Morrowind. With the latest game in the series, Skyrim, customization has been made even easier with Steam Workshop integration. Now you can add or share mods through a single easy-to-use platform that handles the mod distribution.
The customization available is impressive even if you don’t want to make your own mods. You can improve the graphics with high-res textures and more detailed models, add new player housing, download new quests, and obtain new weapons. Some players have even added new continents.
The PC version of Skyrim can be purchased for $25. Console versions do not allow mods and don’t include the level editor.
The original Starcraft was popular not only because of its eSports scene but also because of its editor. Blizzard wasn’t oblivious to this success, so it added an even more robust editor to Starcraft 2 , giving players not just the ability to create levels but also script entirely new games.
Predictably, this has resulted in an incredible selection of custom content like tower defense games, side-scrolling shooters and miniature RPGs. But such extreme projects are only part of what’s possible. The level editor is equally good for gamers who just want to jump in, make a few custom maps, and generally mess around.
Released in 2002, BioWare’s version of Neverwinter Nights was an attempt to bring old-school D&D story-telling to the PC. Though it shipped with a campaign, the real highlight of the game was its level editor, which allowed for the creation of whole new worlds. This was expanded upon by a series of mods and Neverwinter Nights 2, which slightly tweaked gameplay and improved the graphics.
Even if you don’t want to bother with editing, which can take some time,(the game’s name for a user-created campaign) made by others. There are literally thousands to choose from.
This PlayStation exclusive platformer released with an editor that let players create levels and share them with others. This was, at the game’s 2008 release, a very unique feature, and LittleBigPlanet remains a gem of customization among console games. The sequel, LittleBigPlanet2, added to that reputation with more environments and more customization. The big changes include improvements to enemy character creation and new items.
Halo 3, Halo: Reach, Halo 4
Bungie jumped into the user-created content game with Halo 3’s Forge, a partial level editor that lets players change how existing maps work by adding new structures, changing weapon locations, or changing the game’s rules. This feature has re-appeared in Halo: Reach and Halo 4, with improvements each time. If you’re looking for some couch co-op fun , this is the way to go; just messing around with a friend can be a laugh.
A hidden gem in the real-time strategy genre, Warzone 2100 released to little fanfare in 1999 despite its unusual unit customization feature. Instead of building specifically designed units, players construct their own by combing a chassis, drive system and mounted weapon.
This was not enough to make the game standout in the flood of strategy games that followed Starcraft’s success, but unlike other forgotten games of the era, Warzone 2100 has been given a second lease on life. The developers released the source code of the game in 2004, leaving it wide-open for players to mod and customize however they please. A level editor has since been added, giving players the chance to create new maps.
Warzone 2100 is free and compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
Unreal Tournament 3
Unreal Tournament 3 is now six years old, but it remains one of the best multi-player shooters ever made. This is one of the last great old-school FPS games , and like so many other titles in the genre, UT3 offers plenty of customization through mods.
Almost everything can be changed; levels, weapons, player skins, game rules. You name it, and it can probably be tweaked, and probably has been. There are literally hundreds of maps available, and you might be surprised to learn you can actually play some of them with others, as gamers are still enjoying this classic. Those lacking access to online play can fight bots, and once those provided by the game have been mastered, you can download a mod to make them fight harder.
Unreal Tournament 3 is $14.95 on the PC. Surprisingly, the PlayStation 3 version of the game also has mod support, but the online community for the console version has virtually disappeared.
Eve Online, unlike the other games in this list, doesn’t offer any customization through mods or level editors. Yet players do have the power to customize both their character and their ship in an amazing assortment of ways. You can train skills, add implants, buy new ships, and buy new items for them.
While there are more options than any one player could ever unlock, what really drives the game’s customization is the fact that almost everything is crafted by players. Want to buy a fancy new laser gun for you ship? Then you either have to find a seller, or make it yourself.
This gives serious weight to customization. Configuring your character and your ships takes time and money, but you can also make a lot of in-game currency by crafting items that help other players improve their own characters and ships.
You can play a 14-day trial for Eve Online on a PC or Mac, after which the game is $14.99 per month.
These ten games really stand out as highpoints in customization. They offer players the chance to entirely re-make their own experience and play in an entirely new way. Yet these are obviously not the only games to offer level editors or user-generated content, so let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments below!