Every time a major game launches, there’s a rush to compare performance and specs between PCs and consoles. In the case of Grand Theft Auto V, those comparisons came out solidly in the PC’s favor. While the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game are still gorgeous, the PC version offers higher detail levels, better foliage, and options like 16x anisotropic filtering (the two consoles only use 4x). Modders, however, are rarely satisfied with “best in class,” and a new mod project for GTA V shows just how gorgeous the game can be with a little more work.
The new Toddyhancer mod, by Martin Bergman, is still very much a work-in-progress. Bergman, amusingly, recommends that players “not go crazy,” noting that “Its just Reshade Shaders, ENB series, simple tweaks and some tonemapping with class!”As with all mods, fine-tuning details can take a significant amount of time. The video below illustrates some gorgeous detail levels and stylistic shots, but also may have lighting issues — it’s a bit dark overall. Other screen shots are a bit dark as well, though users have noted that many of them appear to have been taken at night.
Other screenshots of Bergman’s work on Toddymancer as well as other mods are available on his FB page, where he notes that a test will be released when he feels ready, and that the mod likely won’t be compatible with GTA V Online. Rockstar has taken a hard line with modding where online use is concerned, and the company isn’t afraid to drop the hammer. In some cases, users have lost access to all Rockstar games as a result of account suspensions, not just GTA V.
Bergman notes that the mod does come with a performance hit; his Asus ROG G751JY laptop takes a 10 FPS performance hit with it fully enabled. If your system is already stuttering in GTA V, mods like this may not improve your game much, even if you love the visuals.
Modding: The true strength of PC gaming
I’ve been a PC gamer since I was eight years old and text-based adventure games were a hot commodity. When I was a child, I lusted after a Nintendo that my parents refused to buy — in the 1980s, consoles were capable of a fluidity and speed that PC games never matched. Mario running and jumping smoothly on TV might not seem like much, but there were few equivalents on the PC side.
Over the decades, we’ve seen both platforms advanced by leaps and bounds. I still maintain that a keyboard and mouse are superior to any controller in existence, but that’s a peripheral issue rather than a core strength of either platform. Thanks to the magic of USB, you can use game controllers for PC titles if you have a mind to. What sets PC gaming apart isn’t graphics, or keyboards, or even game types — it’s modding.
Some of you will think this mod looks gorgeous, if a bit dark. Others won’t. Either way, it’s mods that give games enormous longevity, sometimes transforming them entirely. Granted, I have a biased opinion, since I was a Diablo II modder way back in the day. But from Wing Commander: Darkest Dawn to any of the dozens of Skyrim mods, to total conversions for Starcraft II, modding tools give players the chance to showcase unique and amazing creations.
Taking it a step further, mods give players the tools to recreate visuals that companies promisebut fail to deliver. They can restore content or repair damaged games. Sometimes, they go on to become commercial products in their own right. We’ll be curious to see how Bergman evolves his own work, but if I had to pick one enduring strength of the PC space, it’d be modding, hands down.