PC Gamer

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard may only have launched in late January, but its first and second slices of DLC were made available just weeks later on PlayStation 4 consoles—on January 31 and February 14 respectively. We've had to wait a little longer, but both portions are out now on PC. 

Never one to be scuppered by console-exclusivity, our Tim ventured into Banned Footage Vol. 1 on PS4  Pro (heathen! etc.) earlier this month to see what the fuss was about. He came back fairly impressed if a little underwhelmed—suggesting much of its minigame makeup could perhaps have been packaged alongside the base game. Here's an extract from his thoughts: 

"Overall, there’s enough in Banned Footage Vol. 1 to warrant your interest if you enjoyed Resi 7 and want to spend more time in it’s world. However, it does feel pretty rum that this stuff came out (on PlayStation, at least) a week after the main game released. I’m not one to bang on about cut content, but given that the main game doesn’t have any multiplayer or other modes, these minigames would have been a welcome addition to the package, and arguably shouldn’t require any additional spend. 

"But that’s gaming in 2017 I guess, and given that Resi 7 has supposedly sold substantially less than its predecessor, perhaps you can see why Capcom feels it has to eke whatever extra it can from the project." 

In any event, both Banned Footage volumes are out now on PC. Number one comes with three scenarios—Nightmare, Bedroom, and Ethan Must Die—and costs £7.99/$9.99; while number two includes Daughters, 21, and Jack's 55th Birthday, and will set you back £11.99/$14.99. If you already own the Resi 7 Deluxe Edition or Season Pass then you'll have access to the above at no extra cost. 

Speaking to the DLC, the game's director Koshi Nakanishi says: "Resident Evil 7 features a blend of horror, combat and puzzle-solving, so I wanted to use the DLC to explore each of those concepts separately in depth. As with the main game, the found footage tape idea lets us explore things that didn’t happen all in sequence, but rather to different people at different times. So players can start a DLC tape and not be sure where they even are—and of course, it means the player can die at the end.

"We had more freedom in the DLC to let the team try different things. Each of the experiences lets us explore one concept in depth in a way, so for Nightmare it was pure combat. In Bedroom, I wanted to show Marguerite in detail and give players a chance to finally try the food she got so upset you didn’t eat in the dinner scene. You can literally eat it until it kills you."

Lovely. 

Resident Evil 7's Banned Footage Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 DLC is out now. Our sister site GamesRadar has some tips on how to best tackle the aforementioned Daughters scenario, incase that 'un proves too difficult.

PC Gamer

If you've played or are still playing Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, you've probably found yourself asking questions. What's the deal with this family? How the hell do I kill that thing? Why are there so many series-typical, yet wholly incongruous to the setting, keys and contraptions strewn around this old dilapidated mansion? How far you've played will ultimately determine how many of those you've managed to answer, however I'd guess there's one question still plaguing many of you: who the heck is Aunt Rhody?

I caught up with composer Michael A. Levine to discuss the origins of the sinister-sounding melody that inadvertently became the theme tune for Capcom's latest survival horror stalwart.  

PC Gamer: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was announced at E3 in 2016. When did you first begin working on the 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'?

Michael Levine: I’ve forgotten when they first contacted me, but once we agreed on a direction I did most of the work in Spring of 2016. 

What was Capcom’s initial directions for the song, and did those change as the creative process began?

They liked the work I had done (with Lucas Cantor) on Lorde’s version of Everybody Wants to Rule the World which was featured in both the Hunger Games Catching Fire soundtrack and the Assassin’s Creed Unity trailer. They wanted a similar rethinking of a familiar song, turning it from joyous to menacing. But they didn’t want to use a pop song, so that meant finding a traditional song that would be known in more than just one country. 

I was born in Tokyo and so, almost by accident, knew that the American traditional song Go Tell Aunt Rhody had the same melody as the Japanese 'Musunde Hiraite'. Plus Rhody had the key word "dead" in its lyric. I changed "the old grey goose is dead" to "everybody’s dead" and we were off and running!

Go Tell Aunt Rhody is featured on the trailer and has pretty much become the theme for the whole game. Did you have any idea when you first started working on it, that it was going to be featured this much?

No, but I am delighted Capcom had such confidence in it.

This song has a very interesting history and origin that not many people know about. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

We know the chorus melody was used in a French opera in the mid 18th century, although it probably predates that. It traveled from France to the UK, to the US, and, eventually, to Japan in the 19th century when American schoolteachers were brought to Japan to help establish the public school system. 

Most Japanese people think Musunde Hiraite is Japanese in origin. I added the RE7-specific verse.

I read that the song’s vocalist, Jordan Reyne, is located in the UK and you are located in LA. Where did you all record the song and how did that process work?

We recorded everything but the lead vocal in my studio in LA. Jordan—who is another fabulous New Zealander like Lorde (I have good luck with those kiwis)—recorded in the UK and we communicated via the internet during the session. Our clients also attended via the web. 

This was ok for me—10 am in LA, and Jordan, 6pm in London; but I am impressed by the stamina of our clients at 2am in Tokyo!

What surprised you the most with Go Tell Aunt Rhody after it was all done?

How well it worked with so little traditional musical framework. Our first pass was much more of a straight-ahead song, but the clients kept asking for it to get weirder and darker to the point where it’s almost an art-house sound-design piece. 

Usually, I do something 'out there' and the client has to reel me back in. This was one of the rare cases where they kept saying, "Go even further!" I love to work for people like that!

Is it easier to come into a project that has a huge fan-base, such as Resident Evil, or one that has a clean slate?

I think my relative ignorance was a blessing. Had I truly understood how massive the following of this game was I might have been intimidated.

If there is anything else you would like readers to know about your process creating this song, then please do share.

I am rather fond of puzzles and what I like to call cryptomusic—where there are things embedded that may not be obvious on first listen. I am not saying that is the case in this song.

But I’m also not denying it.

(NB—it seems Redditors were onto this idea of cryptomusic shortly after the first Aunt Rhody trailer was released. This particular thread offers some interesting theories, even if Levine himself remains tight-lipped.)

PC Gamer

The annual DICE Summit is an opportunity for game makers of all stripes to come together to share ideas, talk about new technologies, take part in roundtable discussions—and, for 16 famous developers including Feargus Urquhart, Jeff Kaplan, Randy Pitchford, and Tim Willits, to blow each other to pieces in a one-on-one, winner-take-all Quakeworld tournament. 

The single-elimination FaceIt Quake Tournament at DICE will begin with the following matchups: 

  • Sean Dunn (Sparkypants) vs. Shekhar Dhupelia (Wargaming)
  • Feargus Urquhart (Obsidian Entertainment) vs. Patrick Hudson (Robot Entertainment)
  • Randy Pitchford (Gearbox Software) vs. Leo Olebe (Facebook)
  • Ted Price (Insomniac Games) vs. David Wood (Bandai Namco)
  • Min Kim (Bonfire Studios) vs. Sheloman Byrd (Tencent)
  • Kate Edwards (IGDA) vs. Tim Willits (id Software)
  • Niccolo Maisto (FaceIt) vs. Matt Firor (ZeniMax Online)
  • Jeffrey Kaplan (Blizzard) vs. Steve Ellmore (Disbelief)

It's hard not to see Willits as a sentimental favorite, although I don't imagine he's had much to do with Quake (actually, according to ShackNews, the somewhat newer Quakeworld) in recent years. Kaplan is one of the top guys on the biggest competitive shooter currently on the market, which may serve him well. Obsidian is probably my favorite studio in the mix, but I have a feeling Feargus is going to be one-and-done pretty quick. (I'll be happy to be wrong, though.)

The action is set to begin at 10:50 am PT on February 22 and continue through to February 23, with semi-finals, and then the grand final, set to begin at 3:15 pm PT. Bracket and results are available at dice.faceit.com, and you'll be able to watch the action live on the FaceIt Twitch channel.

PC Gamer

It's the age-old bane of RPGers everywhere: You discover a new piece of armor that's incredibly powerful, perfect for your class—and ugly as sin. It's too good not to wear, but you hesitate anyway because, let's be honest, you look like an absolute clown in that thing. To help alleviate your sartorial shame in the action-RPG Grim Dawn, Crate Entertainment has announced that it will add a new "Service NPC" in the upcoming expansion who will, for a price, make your gear just as pretty as you want it. 

"Using proprietary Illusionist mind-meld technology, any item you discover will automatically have its appearance stored," Crate explained. "In fact, the first time you launch the expansion, every item you have in your inventory and stash will be automatically added to start your collection. That’s a lot of different looks!" 

Illusionists will be available at Devil's Crossing and Fort Ikon in the base game, and in other areas in the expansion, and will not be restricted by level. The usual item level requirements will apply to illusions, however, so first-level characters won't be able to make their gear look like level 75 legendaries. The cost of casting an illusion will scale with your character's level (reverting an item to its original appearance will be free) and transmogrified items can be shared between characters but not traded with other players, although removing the illusion restores their tradeability. And there are some restrictions: items can only be made to look like other equipment of the same class, so you can't make a one-handed sword look like a two-hander, for instance. 

Unfortunately, there's no indication as to when the Illusionist will join the Grim Dawn action, because there's still no word about when the expansion will be out aside from "this year"—hopefully in the first half. The expansion will include a "massive new chapter of Grim Dawn's ongoing tale," plus two new masteries—the Inquisitor was revealed last year, but the second remains a mystery—an increased level cap, and 14 new Constellations.

PC Gamer

Rogue Legacy developer Cellar Door Games has announced its new project, and it is not, as we thought it might be, Rogue Legacy 2. It is instead a team-based, co-op brawler called Full Metal Furies, featuring RPG mechanics, secrets, puzzles, customizable equipment, and a very strong focus on teamwork. 

"In multiplayer, everyone picks one hero and you must work together to save the world. Combine your asymmetrical skills to kick some symmetrical butt," the studio said in the Full Metal Furies (no, not Furries, Furies) announcement. "Succeed together or fail together. Special barriers protect enemies from specific damage, and you must communicate with your team to focus the right targets. These barriers remain even after a player falls, so be prepared to revive your allies." 

Each of the Full Metal Furies brings  unique and complimentary abilities to the battlefield. Triss, the Sentinel, blocks incoming damage and can push back enemies; Meg, the sniper, tracks targets and packs a nasty long-range punch; Erin, the Engineer, is a "mid-range fighter" who can deploy supporting drones; and Alex, the Fighter, is a heavy bruiser who "deals tons of damage" with her hammer. 

There is a story involved, about a war of succession among the god-like Titans that's brought humanity to the brink of extinction, but Cellar Door said players can skip all of that if they just want to get on with the action. It will offer a single-player mode as well as local and online multiplayer )and Crossplay with the Xbox One), and it's not "grindy" but you can grind it if you want to. 

"Like Rogue Legacy, there’s a very high skill ceiling for this game, and the RPG mechanics of the game allow people of varying skill levels beat the game," the studio said. "If you’re really good, you could beat it at level 1 (good luck with that though)." 

Full Metal Furies is expected to be out sometime this year.   

PC Gamer

First teased at E3 last year and then seemingly confirmed a few months later, Bethesda's Todd Howard has again spoken about Fallout 4's in-development virtual reality iteration—suggesting work on the ambitious project is "going great".

In conversation with Glixel, Howard says that while there's a lot of work yet to be done the entire game can be played "from start to finish right now", and that "the whole thing really works in terms of interface and everything." Howard explains that this is mostly down to the Fallout games' use of the Pip-Boy-accessed menu and the typically slower nature of their combat.   

"You look and there it is," says Howard of the wrist-mounted device. "The fact that the gunplay is a bit slower than in a lot of games has certainly helped us but we have V.A.T.S., so you can pause or slow down the world. I assure you, V.A.T.S. in VR is awesome. We love it."

He continues: "We're lucky that the action isn't super twitchy. Given the size of the world and the amount that you're moving in Fallout 4 that part is tricky because you're doing it a lot. Right now we're doing the teleport warp thing and that's fine, but we're experimenting with a few other [techniques]."

Fallout 4 in its virtual reality state sounds exciting, however is without a concrete release date as yet. Many would argue VR is yet to realise its full potential at this stage, but Howard seems confident The Commonwealth is somewhere the technology can thrive. "It's going great," he says. "It's definitely the right game for us to do."

Glixel's interview with Todd Howard can be read in full over here.

PC Gamer

This article was originally published in PC Gamer issue 301. For more quality articles about all things PC gaming, you can subscribe now in the UK and the US.  

More than any other artform, gaming is defined by antagonism. From the earliest arcade machines to the most extravagant FPS, pitching the player against an external threat has been one of the industry’s foundational elements. As gaming evolved beyond the quickfire pleasures of the arcade, so have the opponents the player faces. The barrel-lobbing, space-invading pixels of the ’80s have been replaced by evil fantasy overlords, megalomaniacal dictators and rogue AIs. Many of gaming’s most iconic characters are its villains, from Monkey Island’s ghost pirate LeChuck, to System Shock’s almighty SHODAN.

At their finest, villains can challenge the player not just on a physical level, but on a moral and ethical one, and gaming is uniquely equipped to portray these scheming, deceptive opponents. It can enable them to get inside the protagonist’s head—literally, in some cases—or allow the player to judge their twisted morality for themselves. Soon, gaming may even be able to present us with villains that adapt to the player’s behaviour. 

“Everyone likes villains,” says Tom Jubert, the writer behind Frictional’s Penumbra series, The Swapper, and the Talos Principle. “They’re just more fun... you can have them do some crazy, really far-out stuff. They’re super-interesting because they have to be conflicted, and they have to wind up doing these terrible things for plausible reasons. So everyone likes villains before you even start.”

Villains are particularly enticing because they allow us to explore thoughts and actions which are unacceptable in everyday life, embracing and exploiting power or anarchy without being burdened by feelings of guilt or shame that would normally accompany such behaviour. “Who isn’t a little bit moved by the anarchy of the Joker?” says Jubert. “There’s always something a little bit glamorous, a little bit attractive about their worldview. That’s what makes it really exciting.”

This idea of villains being more fun as characters is particularly relevant to games, where the player often fills the protagonist’s role. Much of Jubert’s work has been on projects where the game is first-person and the main character is mute. “That in itself means that the villain is going to take on a hell of a lot more of the character of the game than the central character is,” he points out.

It’s not surprising that this style of storytelling has produced some of the industry’s most memorable villains. System Shock’s SHODAN, BioShock’s Andrew Ryan, and Portal’s GlaDOS are frequently ranked among gaming’s best villains, and they all star in games where the player character is barely fleshed out at all. Devoid of a compellingly written protagonist, the antagonist must shoulder the burden of making the game spark with character. 

Jubert’s own villains are very much in this vein, although intriguingly, many of them don’t take physical form either. “There’s a weirdly high proportion of my villains who don’t even exist before the game starts,” he laughs. The most well-known of these is Clarence, the antagonist of Penumbra: Black Plague. Clarence emerges as the result of a strange virus that infects the protagonist early in the game. Initially part of the protagonist’s mind, Clarence gradually forms an identity of his own.

Jubert first conceived of Clarence as a computer virus with whom the player would interact in a branching narrative, but the Frictional team were uncertain about developing interactive dialogue, so he came up with something else. “I wanted to do something that took advantage of the few resources that we had. We knew we were never going to have an on-screen character,” he says. “So to put it inside the character’s head was a nice way of how to avoid another radio character going on.”

Good people are capable of terribly evil things.

David Gaider, Dragon Age: Origins

As a character, Clarence bears many similarities to Batman’s Joker. He is by turns comical and sinister, and likes to manipulate the player into dangerous situations and committing morally compromising acts. But what makes Clarence memorable is how he messes with the player’s perspective. Early in the game, Clarence discovers he can alter what the player sees. At first he uses this to play practical jokes on the player, making doors vanish and reappear. But as he grasps the extent of his power, his pranks become far more malicious. “I was really proud of those bits, because they cost nothing to do,” says Jubert. “It’s just teleporting the player around some cheap level design. But the impact combined with the writing can be, I think, quite powerful.” 

This technique is also used by Rocksteady’s Batman games, particularly in the Scarecrow sections of Arkham Asylum, and Batman’s projection of the Joker in Arkham Knight. It’s a simple but effective way of demonstrating the villain’s power over the player, while exploring the relative nature of the player’s perspective, inviting them to question the nature of their identity.

Incarnate

Games excel at portraying these kinds of villains, the post-human puppet-masters who pull the player’s strings. Rarely seen yet ever-present, they manipulate the player remotely, often forcing them to run a deadly maze while they await a fi nal confrontation in some distant ivory tower. Yet while the likes of Clarence and Arkham’s Joker are showstopper characters, always ready with a memorable one-liner or a brilliantly insane plan, they’re diffi cult to empathise with, to relate to on a human level.

The most terrifying villains are not all-powerful AIs or gleeful psychopaths, but people who you can see yourself in if you had just made different choices. These more human villains are considerably rarer in gaming, simply because creating convincing characters in a game world is one of the hardest things a developer can do. 

Nevertheless, there are some superb examples of human villains in gaming, and one of the best is Loghain Mac Tir, the main antagonist of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins. Loghain commands the armies of king Cailan in the fi ght against the Darkspawn, but he abandons Cailan during a climactic early battle. Leaving the king to die, Loghain declares himself regent, seizes power for himself and declares any who might oppose him traitors to the crown.

David Gaider was lead writer on Dragon Age: Origins, and he explains that Loghain formed part of the game’s general shift toward a more morally ambiguous form of RPG. “A lot of Dragon Age was us at BioWare reacting to things we did or didn’t like about Dungeons & Dragons as a game system or a setting, so I’d say the effort to move to something more morally grey was intentional. Good people are capable of terribly evil things, and terrible people are capable of great good.”

The reasons behind Loghain’s betrayal of Cailan are deeply complex, stemming partly from a concern that Cailan plans to abandon queen Anora—Loghain’s daughter—in pursuit of a marriage alliance with another realm, and partly from his view that Cailan’s reliance on bravery and valour over a sound tactical advantage will prove poor weapons against the Darkspawn. Nevertheless, for Gaider, the core motivation behind Loghain’s decisions remained the same. “It was always that Loghain would be someone who perceived himself as the good guy,” he says. “I think those are the villains that intrigue me the most, the ones where you can put yourself in their shoes and imagine you’d make exactly the same decisions even if you opposed them.”

Any trickery would feel like the game was cheating.

This is a concept that’s been explored further in games such as The Walking Dead and The Witcher 3, where the line between good and evil is so blurred that at times it’s difficult to tell them apart. In Dragon Age the water isn’t quite so muddied. Many of Loghain’s actions are undoubtedly evil, but motivating them are visibly human emotions: fear, conviction, and love for his daughter, Anora. Where Dragon Age goes farther than most games is in how it allows the player to make a final judgement on Loghain. 

In a climactic encounter at a gathering known as the Landsmeet, the player can duel with Loghain and, if he is defeated, decide whether to kill him, spare him, or even recruit him into your party (at the cost of another party member, Alistair). “Part of making Loghain’s motives understandable is allowing for the possibility that a player might not hate him, and might picture him as simply misguided. It was intentional, and in many ways I myself viewed him more as a tragic figure,” says Gaider. “It made the decision to kill him more poignant, I think, in that there was also the option for redemption.”

This kind of flexibility in a villain’s character and how the player can respond to it is entirely unique to gaming. It isn’t just the remit of RPGs either, games like The Stanley Parable offer an antagonist whose relationship constantly alters toward you depending on the choices you make. 

That said, nearly all the games mentioned above rely heavily on the ability of the writer to create such memorable villains. Is it possible to construct a villain entirely through a game’s systems? Certainly, developers can create antagonists this way, a practice you can see anywhere from racing games to computerised chess. But a villain is more than a mere opponent. They are singular, with a clear identity and motivation. And they need to be cunning, capable of deceiving and manipulating the player.

Silent villain

One game that demonstrates many of these elements is Alien: Isolation, The Creative Assembly’s stealth horror game in which the player is stalked through Sevastopol station by the Alien. Because it is ultimately an animal, the Xenomorph has no dialogue and therefore no script through which it can be infused with personality. Instead, the Alien’s character is formed systemically, through how it dynamically hunts the player. Far from simple patrol paths, the creature is scripted to be unpredictable yet deliberate, to exhibit all the cunning and moment-to-moment decision-making of an apex predator. 

To achieve this, The Creative Assembly built a unique, multi-layered AI system. “Our basic premise for the AI was ‘not to cheat’,” says Clive Gratton, technical director on Alien: Isolation. “The level is pre-processed to find interesting places for the Alien to search. We then drop it in with a few parameters to say how fast to search, where and what size radius. If the Alien hasn’t spotted the player then it’ll do a leisurely search of a large area.” By comparison, if the Alien has spotted the player running into a room, then it will do a far more thorough search of that particular region. 

Part of this “honest” approach to AI design was to keep the Alien’s presence in the ship consistent with how the player perceives it, and this applies equally to when the Xenomorph is not on screen. “If you can hear the Alien in the vents close to you then there’s more chance that it can hear you and will come down. It is actually traversing through the vent network,” Gratton says. This approach is a fascinating inversion of how villains like Clarence and Loghain are designed, where deceiving the player with narrative tricks is a key part of making them “feel” villainous. Here, any trickery would simply make the player feel like the game was cheating and spoil the immersion.

We wanted the Alien big so that it had presence, and the environment small so that it was claustrophobic.

Clive Gratton, Alien: Isolation

Alongside its artificial intelligence, Isolation’s level design is almost as important in making the Alien’s character convincing. Not only do the environments aid the Xenomorph’s navigation, containing objects that “call out” to the Alien as locations it should search, but the overarching level design had to be extremely precise in size and layout to sustain the threatening atmosphere. 

“We wanted the Alien to be big so that it had presence.” Gratton says. “We wanted the environment small so that it was claustrophobic. This made animation, AI and locomotion difficult at times because the character had to negotiate the world very accurately so that it didn’t bump into doorways and look silly.”

This potential for slapstick and weirdness, a feature that is actively encouraged in open-world games and management sims, is what makes creating a systems-driven villain so difficult. Even for an enemy as fundamentally inhuman as the Xenomorph, creating a convincing effect requires a meticulous design. But Alien: Isolation has shown that it is possible to frame a horror game around a single character, and now other developers are looking to build on its template. Capcom’s Resident Evil 7, for example, has a similar structure to Isolation, but switches out the Xenomorph for a family of virus-infected hillbillies, attaching those deadly hide-and-seek behaviours to human adversaries. 

It’s also no great stretch to imagine Isolation’s design applied to a game like System Shock. Imagine a SHODAN who doesn’t just taunt you over the space station’s intercom, but can lock and open doors, switch off gravity or suck the oxygen out of a room at will, all through systemic decision making rather than scripted narrative. Gaming is becoming increasingly adept at engendering character through systems. This, I believe, is where the next big leap forward in virtual villainy lies.

PC Gamer

With fans expressing disappointment in some aspects of 2015's Fallout 4—we considered it a good game but a bad RPG—it's never a bad time to return to the superior Fallout: New Vegas. And, with nearly 18,000 different mods featuring everything from small tweaks to aesthetic changes, added quests and new characters, and massive overhauls of the game's inner workings, there are lots of ways to enhance and extend your New Vegas experience.

Here's our updated list of the best mods for Fallout: New Vegas. If we've missed one of your favorites (we're sure we have) and you want to let us and other readers know about it (we're sure you do), mention it in the comments!

And, if you're new to using mods with Fallout New Vegas, we'll tell you everything you need to know about how to get these mods, and others, installed and running smoothly.

DUST Survival Simulator

Looking for a far more challenging experience in New Vegas? Dust Survival Simulator presumes that after the war there was also a plague that turned the desert into an even less hospitable place filled with cannibals and and tribal warriors. There are no quests: your only mission is to survive as long as you can. Many aspects of the game have been overhauled, combat is much deadlier, food and water are a priority, and you can forget about hauling an arsenal of weapons and gear with your since carryweight has been severely reduced. Only the toughest will survive.

Blackrow - It's a criminal's life

Don't just dress like a gangster: become one. Visit a new town called Blackrow that's controlled by organized crime. There, you'll meet the man in charge and begin working your way to the top of the mob, first by rubbing out some of the competition, then by ambushing convoys and robbing a few banks, and finally, by taking down another major crime boss. There's a good two or three hours of extra fun to be had with this mod, so grab your Tommy Gun and get blasting.

TitanFallout

Power armor is cool, but the power armor from Titanfall is even cooler. The TitanFallout mod lets you summon a massive Titan from the sky, which will plummet to the ground and begin attacking your enemies. Naturally, you can also climb inside and control it directly. If your Titan is destroyed, you'll be able to begin production on a new one and summon it a half-hour later.

King of the Ring

Role-playing is fine, but how about a little boxing? King of the Ring adds a gym and welcomes you to strap on some gloves and trade punches with a series of opponents. While the modder jokingly claims to have added over a million lines of dialogue and 200+ hours of additional gameplay, it's really just an enjoyable way to punch the crap out of someone and get punched yourself.

Weapons of the New Millenia

This mod delivers a whopping pack of weapons into New Vegas, everything from an AK-47 to a Bushmaster M4A1 to a Colt M1911. It's a compilation of Team Millenia's brilliant modern firearms all in one place, and you can choose how you acquire these weapons—either through the use of cheat cabinets which give you everything for free, or by using leveled lists that will require defeating enemies or purchasing them from vendors.

Traffic

Surely, someone would have gotten a few cars and trucks working in the post-apocalypse, right? While you can't drive these vehicles yourself (at least not yet), installing the Traffic mod means you'll spot a working car every now and then trundling around on the shattered streets of New Vegas. It adds a nice touch of immersion to your travels.

Five Nights at Vault 5

Fallout's Vaults weren't designed just to protect people from atomic bombs, but were also devised to perform cruel and unusual experiments on the inhabitants. This one is no exception. Based on the Five Nights at Freddy's horror game series, Five Nights at Vault 5 drops you into an arena, strips you of your gear, and dispatches robots to hunt you down. You'll have to be stealthy and silent to avoid detection, and periodically the arena will fill with radiation, forcing you to find a console to shut it off. Can you survive for five progressively more challenging nights and win your freedom?

New Vegas Bounties

It's just not a true Western without a little bounty hunting, is it? The Bounties mod combines enjoyable writing with excellent custom voice acting while providing a series of increasingly difficult bounty missions that will have you crisscrossing the map to hunt down various outlaws and scoundrels. When you finish rounding up those varmints, there's even a second installment.

Note: both Bounties mods require this third file to run.

Nevada Skies

For an environment as harsh as the desert, and for a setting as unstable as the post-apocalypse, the weather in New Vegas is surprisingly humdrum. Nevada Skies adds a ton of exciting new weather systems to make every journey an adventure. You'll endure crashing thunderstorms, deadly radiation storms, smothering sandstorms, and hell-on-earth firestorms. It also provides other features like darker nights, new high-def sun and moon textures, and better-looking cloud systems.

A new item in your inventory lets you play with the settings until you create the perfect randomized weather system for your adventures, be it by adding a blood red sky, driving rain, or just an occasional gentle snowfall.

MTUI

Play enough FNV and your mouse's scroll wheel will probably wear out and fall off. The interface was designed for console users sitting far from their screens, so the game's fonts are far too big and the display doesn't make the most of your PC monitor's real estate. MTUI fixes this by fitting much more text on your screen, letting you see more and scroll less.

Realistic Headshots

Shooting people in the head should probably kill them, and getting shot in the head should probably kill you. Realistic Headshots makes that happen, upping the damage to catastrophic levels when you score a direct shot the dome. Don't worry, this won't make the game too easy: your chance of a headshot in VATS is greatly reduced, and some monsters and robots will still be able to shrug off the damage. Besides, your own noggin is now far more vulnerable to incoming lead as well, so wearing a helmet is a major priority.

Project Brazil

This ambitious mod represent years of work by several modders and contributors. The Project Brazil mod takes place in California with a whole new Vault society and a massive, dangerous overworld to explore as you partake in a new main quest and side missions. It's still technically in beta, so there may be bugs here and there, but it's absolutely worth checking out if you want an entirely new Fallout experience.

Populated Casinos

Remember the first time you reached New Vegas? Striding excitedly into a casino, turning in your weapons (except perhaps one), stepping onto the gaming floor, and feasting your eyes on... like, two dead-eyed NPCs standing near some slot machines. One big letdown in FNV was that the casinos felt vacant and dull.

Populated Casinos turns the casinos into a more interesting place to visit. Gaming tables are crowded with gamblers, there are people strolling around and chatting, and there's a bigger staff on hand. Vegas finally has some of the liveliness it was lacking.

Centered 3rd Person Camera

I never really minded the over-the-shoulder camera, but after trying out the Centered Camera mod I definitely won't go back. It makes it much easier to check out your character from the front, take good screenshots of yourself without being slid over to one side of the screen, and best of all, it lets you zoom way, way out for a great look at your surroundings.

Roleplayer's Alternative Start

While every game of FNV is different, starting a new game can feel a bit, well, samey . If you're tired of having to sit on Doc Mitchell's couch and answer the same old questions, or weary of starting your game in Goodsprings, or if you're just sick of being the Courier altogether, the Roleplayer's Alternative Start mod will give you a fresh beginning. You'll begin at a randomized spot on the map with only a few belongings, selected for you based on your answers to a couple quick questions. Get out there and discover yourself.

Improved Companion Sandbox

Sometimes it's the little details that make the biggest differences. The Improved Companion Sandbox isn't for you, specifically, but for your companions. Instead of standing around woodenly while you attend to your business, they'll engage in some business of their own, such as sitting down in nearby chairs, leaning against walls, and performing custom idle animations. They'll chill out, in other words, making them feel more like people and less like mindless follow-bots.

Project Nevada

There are tons of gameplay changes in this massive mod, but you don't have to incorporate them all: Project Nevada is handily split into different sections so you can pick what you like and leave out the rest. The core of the mod focuses on adding FPS elements like bullet time, a grenade hotkey, and variable zooms for scoped weapons. Another portion allows you to surgically upgrade your body with cybernetic implants, boosting your vision, strength, speed, and durability. The third module features tons of rebalancing tweaks to make for more frenetic combat and a more challenging survival experience, and the fourth adds a ton of new weapons and gear, including popular items created by other modders.

NMCS Texture Pack

There's a morbid sort of beauty in a decaying landscape, and the NMCS Texture Pack makes New Vegas even more bleakly attractive. Everything from roads, trees, buildings, vehicles, and other objects have been retextured (sky, water, characters, and weapons are untouched). More detail usually means a performance hit, but there are three different levels of quality to choose from if you have issues running the biggest textures.

Alternative Repairing

Your gun is broken, your knife is dull, and your armor is in tatters. How are you going to fix them? Traditionally, by finding identical versions of the broken items and cannibalizing them (or by paying a vendor to fix them for you). With Alternative Repairing, however, you can break down other existing items into base components, then combine those components into replacement parts for your gear. It's a nice balance of giving you more repair options while requiring some extra effort, and most of all, it makes you feel like a real DIY enthusiast.

Jsawyer Mod

If you find New Vegas a little too easy, this mod by Joshua Sawyer (the actual director of the game) is here to help, and that help is gonna hurt. This massive series of tweaks means you'll gain less experience from combat, you'll level far more slowly, you'll be able to carry less, and you'll be far more vulnerable to damage. Eating, drinking, and resting are now a top priority, and ammo and stimpacks—formerly lighter than air—will now weigh you down. There are dozens of changes for a more challenging experience, making FNV a true struggle for survival, just as it was originally envisioned.

Note: This mod requires every last scrap of official DLC to run. The download is on his page in the "Links" section.

NV Interiors Project

Sure, you'd expect to find a bunch of boarded-up buildings around the wasteland, but seeing as how you're a super-powered explorer with an arsenal of explosives, you'd expect to be able to bust your way inside, too. These two mods, one for Wasteland buildings and one for Urban structures let you inside those formerly impenetrable buildings so you can explore, loot, and maybe even find a few secrets.

Monster Mod

New Vegas has its share of nasty creatures, but after a few romps across the map, you'll probably grow bored of fighting the same monsters over and over. This Monster Mod adds a monstrous number of new beasties: some are tougher variations of existing monsters like dogs, scorpions, and ghouls, but many are entirely new, such as giant two-headed axe-wielding zombie mutants. With over a hundred new monsters included, every trip through the desert will provide you with a fresh and terrible surprise.

Essential Visual Enhancements

There are many ways to deal damage in New Vegas. Bullets, energy blasts, grenades, flamethrowers, missiles and more... so don't you want all those things to be as pretty as possible? The EVE mod gussies up the carnage with new effects and textures covering everything from flames and explosions to bullet impacts and critical energy kills.

Run the Lucky 38

You've cut a swath of death and destruction across the desert during your game. Maybe it's time to slow down and build something instead? This mod lets you Run the Lucky 38 casino, turning it from a ruined husk into the jewel of the Mojave. Hire employees, manage your bankroll, upgrade the amenities, improve the furnishings, all in an effort to attract more gamblers and customers to your growing business.

Immersive Karma

Either you're perfectly happy doing terrible things, or you're in a jam and need to commit a tiny little crime to survive. Either way, you're fully aware that you're doing something bad and you certainly don't need the game's sad little electro-trombone telling you it is soooo disappointed in your behavior. This Immersive Karma mod is a must-have, letting you shut off the bad karma notifications that accompany every minor theft or major murder you commit.

Improved Throwing

One place New Vegas severely falters is with its thrown weapons. First, they're very rare, and second, once thrown, they can't be retrieved. The Improved Throwing mod allows you to craft throwing weapons like spears and knives, convert standard weapons into flung missiles, and most importantly, pick up your stuff after you've chucked it someone. You can even throw random debris as a last resort.

Colored Map and Icons

Let's face it, you're gonna be checking your Pipboy's map a lot, and it's not exactly the loveliest bit of tech, is it? The Colored Map and Icons mod lets you choose your resolution levels, add colors, coordinates, and overlay info, and pick from several icon packs. Just because it's the post-apocalypse doesn't mean you can't have a little eye-candy on your wrist.

For the Enclave

The Enclave are among the worst of Fallout's bad guys, sure, but chances are you've exhibited a little questionable behavior yourself from time to time. Now you can join the Enclave and see what makes them tick. A series of quests will deposit you in the ranks of the Enclave, give you access to their massive underground base, and you'll even be able to enjoy the air support their vertibirds provide. You can read our more extensive write-up here.

Goodsprings Shack

When most of the population of the world has died, surely the one thing that won't be in short supply is real estate. So why is it so hard to find a vacant place to lay your head in New Vegas? This mod adds a small, humble Goodsprings Shack, perfect for when you're just starting out and need a quiet place to safely store your spare junk, get a refreshing drink of water, and catch a few winks without having to rent a room.

Food and Drink Health Bonus Remover

Remember in Die Hard when Bruce Willis got shot in the shoulder, so he ducked around the corner, stopped time, and scarfed down insect meat, coyote steaks, and a handful of apples, which completely healed his wounds? Me neither. This mod means food doesn't heal you, and it also raises the cost of stimpacks and bottled water. You'll die a little easier, but it feels a bit more fair.

Imps Timescale Adjuster

Time flies when you're having fun, but now you can determine just how quickly. The Timescale Adjuster lets you configure the passage of time while in the overworld, spending time indoors, or during combat. If the day-night cycle seems too fast, or not fast enough, just consult your Pipboy and change it to your liking.

Character Overhaul

FNV's character creation system is great provided you want to make an ugly, dull-looking, flat-faced character every time. Character Overhaul completely redesigns the character system with new meshes and textures, giving you loads more options during character creation and making the overall look of characters, NPCs included, much more detailed. Unlike many texture mods, this one comes with little in the way of performance hits.

Best of all, you can make your character truly ugly on purpose now, with craggy skin, horrifying scars, and diseased eyes, or you can just straight-up play as a ghoul.

How to install New Vegas mods

Here are the three most useful tools in getting these and other mods installed properly:

The first is the Nexus Mod Manager, which makes downloading, installing, ordering, activating, and deactivating mods much easier than doing it manually. Nicely, it also works for Skyrim, Oblivion, and Fallout 3. It will also check to see if you've got the most current version of all your activated mods, and let you know if one of them has been updated. Here's a Wiki page explaining how it works. You'll also need an account at nexusmods.com (it's free).

Another important tool is the New Vegas Script Extender. Typically, more complicated mods require this. It's easy to install, and there's a readme contained within the download with full instructions.

Finally, there's the Mod Configuration Menu. This provides a settings menu for certain mods, accessible when you pause the game. Not all mods require this, but it's handy to have to adjust mod setting while in-game.

Finally, before trying to install anything, carefully read the mod description page. It will (usually) tell you how to install it, and (usually) list any other mods or files you'll need to make mods work. Keep in mind, not all mods get along with each other. If you've installed several and you're having issues, try deactivating them and then reactivating them one at a time. It can help you narrow down where the incompatibilities lie.

PC Gamer

Getting Doom to run on devices that were not designed to run Doom is a satisfying pursuit, and YouTuber vexal knows this better than most. Only vexal's Doom experiments – or at least the one where he uses toasters as an input device – are not real. It looks feasible, but sadly, it's not real.

That doesn't take the shine off his latest video, which has a Porsche 911 running Classic Doom. It took me a few watches to be convinced that it is fake, because vexal's droll delivery and the fact that Doom has been known to run on anything from ATM machines to oscilloscopes makes it seem real. But alas, it's not. We'll get there, though. I believe it.

PC Gamer

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment is the latest in an ongoing series of post-launch campaigns for the very beautiful and very fun platformer. Announced last month as part of a (rather confusing) re-structure of how DLC will be doled out for the game, Yacht Club Games has announced that Specter of Torment will release in April – though it'll most likely release first for the Nintendo Switch next month.

The announcement was made on Twitter, where a nice animated .gif also featured. In case you missed the news last month, Yacht Club Games is splitting each of Shovel Knight's campaigns into standalone games, though people who already own the base will continue to get the expansions for free. Other bonuses are afoot as well, including local co-op and a local "battle mode".

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