Cry of Fear
Cry of Fear, the first PC mod on this list, started off as a Half-Life mod back in 2012 of the same name. You could probably consider it to be a classic at this point.
Its eerie and downright creepy Silent Hill-esque horror is hard to forget and the story itself is one that makes you scratch your head. It’s also full of disgustingly designed monsters and enemies that come right out of a nightmare.
With its suspenseful gameplay and its near complete conversion of Half-Life’s engine, its no wonder Cry of Fear managed to became a standalone game. A graphical remaster of the game would be happily welcomed especially since that would make the game’s terrible monsters look even more hideous.
Defense of the Ancients
The wildly popular MOBA Dota 2 traces its origins back to Defense of the Ancients, a community mod that was originally created in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
Back then, the objective in its predecessor was for players to destroy the enemy team’s “Ancient” which explains the mod’s name.
Defense of the Ancients and its clone mods became so popular that a standalone “sequel” was developed into what we now know and love as Dota 2.
This trend continues with Autochess, a popular Dota 2 mod, that was recently developed into its own game under Valve.
Age of Chivalry
Age of Chivalry was a total conversion PC mod of the entirety of Half-Life 2, making the original game near unnoticeable. It essentially turned Half-Life 2 into a crazy medieval multiplayer game.
Released back in 2012, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare can trace much of its similarities and origins to Age of Chivalry. The same developers from the mod worked on this game so its a more or less standalone version.
Chivalry is essentially the lovechild of Team Fortress 2 and For Honor so you get a package deal when playing.
Chivalry 2 was announced back in 2019 so we’ll be seeing more of this series some time soon.
The ancestor to Team Fortress 2 aka Hat Game, Team Fortress was a Quake mod back in the 90s. The mod was known simply as Team Fortress and Team Fortress Classic referred to its remake by Valve.
Bearing many similarities to Team Fortress 2, Valve ended up porting the mod into its own engine as a standalone game. Just like its sequel, Team Fortress has nine classes and different multiplayer game modes.
The popularity of the mod and Team Fortress Classic spawned the beloved and widely played Team Fortress 2 which has significantly more hats than its predecessor.
It took a while between games to release the sequel and we only hope that a Team Fortress 3 will be a possibility in the near future… with even more hats
DayZ, an open world survival multiplayer game set in a zombie infested world, originated as a PC mod for ARMA 2. The mod of the same name was praised for its very realistic and immersive gameplay.
In the mod and its standalone sequel, players have the option to either cooperate or kill each other as they defend against zombies. So, that adds to the variable danger and suspense.
There are plenty of ways to go about surviving in the world and this diversity in gameplay was one of the reasons the mod and the game became so popular.
As you may be able to guess, Garry’s Mod, the sandbox game where you can do literally whatever you want, originated as a PC mod by Garry Newman for Valve’s good old Source Engine which was then eventually released as a standalone.
Garry’s Mod has no set objective and players are allowed to manipulate a number of assets within the Source Engine for whatever they see fit. Because of that, Garry’s Mod is a good foundation to create plenty of other game mods like Trouble in Terrorist Town, Prop Hunt, and Elevator.
Garry’s Mod gives players a level of freedom to develop and design their own game modes, structures, and creations with assets from nearly every available Valve game.
The world is your oyster in this game and the only limitations come from your own mind.
The Stanley Parable
The most meta game you’ll ever play, The Stanley Parable is a comedy masterpiece with so many twists, choices, and endings that it’ll make your head hurt.
Like a few of the other games on this list, this gem started out as a Half-Life 2 mod before it was remade as a standalone game.
As a comedic 4th wall breaking walking simulator, there aren’t many games like The Stanley Parable out there. It’ll entertain you from start to finish so it’s no surprise the mod was released as a standalone game.
It’s one of those games I would recommend to anyone and if you haven’t played it yet, you absolutely should.
PlayerUnknown’s Battle Royale Mods
Winner, winner chicken dinner. PUBG, the wildly popular battle royale game, is based off of a series of mods created by PlayerUnknown. These battle royale mods appeared in games like ARMA 2 and ARMA 3. Eventually, these mods expanded into their own standalone game with Brendan Greene’s, aka PlayerUnknown’s, support.
You could argue that PUBG is the reason the battle royale genre spiked in popularity in the last few years, spawning similar games from other developers.
Either way, the immersion and intensity in gameplay in PUBG is what makes it such a fun game to play especially since you’re pitted against other players in a fight to the death.
PUBG’s season 8 just recently released on PC so a lot more fun will be had in the next few months.
Another survival horror, Killing Floor originally was an Unreal Tournament 2004 total conversion mod of the same name that was later released as a standalone game. Killing Floor is packed with intense gameplay and heart pumping violence to the point that you’re always on edge.
Surviving against hordes of zombies is easier said than done especially when you’re either playing by yourself or out of ammo.
The popularity of the standalone game spawned its sequel, Killing Floor 2, which is just as violent and horrific as its predecessor.
Our final game is another classic. Counter-Strike started out as a Half-Life PC mod before Valve acquired it and its developers. It was later released as a standalone game and that spawned the lovable Counter-Strike series.
Since then, the original Counter-Strike paved the way for multiple sequels, spin-offs, and a Source engine remake.
The Counter-Strike series is one of Valve’s staples and knowing it all began with a mod is very inspiring.