Words: Liam Mackay
We all have, in our heads, the perfect game that will probably never get made. We think of all the things we'd put into it, discuss it with friends, but know it'll never see the light of day. Whether it's a remaster of an obscure game from 15 years ago, or a movie spin-off that licensing laws will never allow, we still dream.
But there are fans out there who make their gaming dreams reality with their endless brilliance. Here's six of the best fan projects currently in development, with a couple you can play already.
Minecraft School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Harry Potter and Minecraft: a Gen Z'ers childhood encapsulated in one mod. Mod team The Floo Network have completed the enormous task of recreating Hogwarts inside Minecraft. A trailer dropped a couple of months ago and rightly received a lot of attention. Seeing their creation complemented by John Williams' classic score, it was impossible to not feel the awe and wonder as when I first saw Hogwarts on screen, almost 20 years ago.
This isn't just a map or an explorable location - it's a full game. Players are given the opportunity to live their childhood (or adulthood, no judgements here) fantasy of attending Hogwarts. Either by yourself or with friends, you can explore the castle, attend classes and go shopping in Diagon Alley. Like any RPG, there are collectibles, secret locations and enemies to battle.
It's currently available to play in an alpha, but The Floo Network is working on releasing the full game soon. While we're all stuck inside for the foreseeable, why not indulge in some nostalgia?
Battle for Middle-earth: Reforged
During the early noughties, when every blockbuster film came with a video game tie-in, The Lord of the Rings released gem after gem. The crown jewel (or arkenstone) was The Battle for Middle-earth franchise: a RTS series in which you controlled the armies and heroes of Middle-earth across the major battles of the Third Age. Defending Helm's Deep from the hordes of Uruk-hai or leading the Rohirrim to Gondor's defence never got old. But unless you own the CD copies from release, you can no longer play any of the BFME games, as official digital versions of them were never released.
This is where BFME: Reforged comes in. A group of fans are remaking the RTS series into one game with the capabilities that modern technology offers. They promise character models 10-times more detailed, 4K resolution, increased FPS and "detailed maps with smoothly billowing trees, grass, flying birds and wandering wild animals."
The game, which will be free, is still under development - but its makers have teased that a beta release will come soon. This almost-lost series deserves all the love, and the team at Reforged are doing exceptional work in bringing The Battle for Middle-earth franchise to a modern audience.
Previous Fallout games have shown us how the nuclear apocalypse affected Washington D.C., Las Vegas and Boston - but we've not seen it on our side of the pond. Fallout: London is a DLC-sized mod for Fallout 4 which takes place in, you guessed it, London. The team are remaking key locations from London in Fallout's unique, post-apocalyptic style. You can fight super mutants in the shadow of a decrepit Big Ben (or, if we must, the Elizabeth Tower) and snack on some irradiated Bovril.
Much of British culture has been given the Fallout treatment. There are several major and minor factions to choose from, such as the Gentry, Royalists, and the Hooligans. You may hate travelling around modern-day London, but all those train tickets may come in handy. A slice of British culture that hits a bit too close to home is that instead of bottle caps, post-nuclear London uses travel cards as currency.
While the game is still in early stages of development, if you fancy seeing how London can always get worse, check out Fallout: London's website here.
Before gaming disputes were settled by a 1v1 on Rust, the kids of the late '90s took to another game: GoldenEye 007. Another film tie-in, 1997's GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64 led the way for first-person shooters in the console market. The campaign and the multiplayer modes were both exceptional for their time, and it's often regarded as one of the best games of all time. It's no surprise: it feels like everyone either had this game, or had a friend that did.
GoldenEye's multiplayer was split-screen only, but some realised the game's potential for online multiplayer. In 2005, modders began developing GoldenEye: Source. A total conversion mod using Valve's Source engine, modders recreated the classic GoldenEye multiplayer experience, only online. The game looks crisper and plays better while maintaining what made GoldenEye special in the first place.
The game has been available to play for a few years now, and has won several awards.
It still retains a dedicated playerbase, showing how quality stands the test of time. While the last major update was a couple of years ago, GoldenEye: Source is still in development. You can play the game for free (on PC) here.
Witcher: Total War
From the sacking of Cintra at the beginning of Netflix's The Witcher to the decimated landscape of Velen in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, war shapes The Continent. While we all love the adventures of the monster hunter Geralt of Rivia, war hangs like a cloud over the story. Nilfgaard invades the Northern Kingdoms and the Scoia'tael wage guerilla warfare against humans.
The war-ravaged Continent is the perfect setting for a Total War game, and fans are working towards making that a reality. The mod will include 29 playable factions, each with their own personalities and alliances. Witcher: Total War aims to release multiple campaigns individually, the first being the Velen/Novigrad campaign where players can take control of Redania, Nilfgaard and Novigrad. Total War has had many successful conversions in the past, such as The Elder Scrolls: Total War, from which Witcher: Total War draws inspiration.
And yes, Witchers can be recruited to your faction, potentially to assassinate some kings...
I don't think anyone out there can deny that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's graphics have dated. Just take a look at those horrifying, potato-like faces for evidence. The graphical improvements shown off in 2011's Skyrim were massive in comparison to its 2006 predecessor. Fans will never come to a definitive opinion of which game was better, so Skyblivion brings the best of both games.
Skyblivion will port and rebuild Oblivion's Cyrodil inside Skyrim, "along with all of its quests, locations and characters". Development began on the project in 2012, but it wasn't until 2014 that interest began to grow. Then, in 2016, a trailer was released, which is currently sitting on over 1.2 million views. Another trailer followed in 2019, and it looks beautiful. The bright fantasy palette of Oblivion combined with the graphical capabilities of Skyrim is a match made in Sovngarde.
While Skyblivion itself is free, you must own both Oblivion and Skyrim along with their DLCs to play. The team, officially called The Elder Scrolls Renewal Project, is also working on Skywind - a remake of 2002'sThe Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for modern audiences.