Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spotlight on the best of Civ 4 Mods

A Guide to Civilization 4 Mods

What is a mod?

A mod is a modification of a game. Some mods make subtle changes to the core civilization experience, such that you might not even realize the game has been changed. Others take everything about the game and change it, adding a new tech tree, new units and even new victory conditions.

Civilization has long been known for its robust mod tools and strong, vibrant mod community and there are a lot of great mods out there. This article will show you where to find mods and point you to some of the best.

Where to find mods?

There are many places to find mods but by far the best, with the widest selection is the civfanatics website, where mods have their own large and active forums. Many of the more popular mods even have their own sub-forums, where you can speak directly to the fans responsible for the mod, get help with installation, get strategy tips and even make suggestions. Many mods are in active development and most developers encourage fan feedback. These aren’t professional game designers, they’re fans just like you.

What do I need to play a mod?

Well that depends on the mod. At a minimum you’re going to need a copy of Civilization 4 but many mods also require one or both of the official expansions: Civilization 4: Warlords and Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword. Some mods even go the extra mile of offering multiple versions but generally speaking, if you have the core game and both official expansions, with the latest free patch, you’re ready to download a mod.

How do I install a mod?

Again, this varies from mod to mod, which is why finding a forum where you can talk to folks who already have the mod installed can be very handy. Some mods are executables, where all you need to do is download and double-click. Others require you to extract the files manually. All the mods we’ll be discussing here have help for those new to mods to make installing them easier.

The Best Civilization 4 Mods

Fall from Heaven 2

Easily the class of Civ 4 mods is Fall from Heaven 2. This is a dark fantasy world and completely revamps Civ 4 in every way. This mod comes in two versions, one “vanilla” that requires only Civilization 4 and another that requires Civ 4 and both official expansions.

As you might expect, Fall from Heaven expands even more on the RPG elements in Civ 4, and adds named hero units to the list of units you can build.

A hero is a unit that gains XP much more rapidly than a regular military unit, has unique abilities and can only be built by one civilization. Basically, a hero is a powerful unit with many of the characteristics of a wonder of the world. However, though heroes are powerful they come with an added catch: if a hero dies he is gone for good.

Fall from Heaven has its own subforum here and can be downloaded here.

The Ancient Mediterranean (TAM)

TAM is a mod focused exclusively on the ancient world. Rather than starting in the dawn of time and moving to the year 2020, TAM moves from 5500 BC to 550 AD. If you are a fan of Greek or Roman history, want to see what would happen if YOU were Hannibal during the Punic Wars, this mod is for you.

It features a completely new tech tree, loads of new units and new civilizations. It also uses a smaller map focused on the Mediterranean region. TAM is a mod for history buffs but also provides a lot of unique tactical challenges for the dedicated Civ fan.

TAM has its own subforum here and can be downloaded here.

Fury Road

Fury Road is a post-apocalyptic mod inspired by movies like the Road Warrior and games like Fallout. It starts in 2020, the year a standard Civ game ends, in a world starting over after a devastating nuclear war.

Feeding your citizens is going to be hard work and barbarians (in the form of punks riding motorcycles) are a constant danger. There’s also lots of dangerous mutated animal life, such as giant scorpions to contend with.

Like the other mods we’ve covered, Fury Road has new technologies and units but the gameplay here is much different than what you might be used to in a standard Civ game. Many of the advanced units, such as tanks and helicopters can no longer be built but they can be discovered in the ruins of ancient cities.

You have to discover the right technologies (so you can repair the vehicles) and then extend your culture around a ruined city. Then every few turns, if you’re lucky, a new advanced unit will be repaired. Once recovered, units need to be fueled, leading to the second major gameplay change in Fury Road: the need for fuel tanks to keep your vehicles running.

In short, there’s a lot that’s new to juggle in Fury Road, providing a new challenge for a veteran Civ player looking for something new to tide her over until Civ 5 comes out later this year.

Fury Road has its own subforum here and can be downloaded here.

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