Everything's better with mods. That’s just a fact, and it’s a shame we can’t mod the real word with Iron Man suits, dinosaurs, and grappling hooks in the same way that we can in Grand Theft Auto 5, but that’s just the hand we’ve been dealt, I suppose. While Rockstar has finally brought flying cars and jetpacks to Los Santos with last year’s The Doomsday Heist update, they’re nothing compared to what the GTA community has been up to over the last three years since the game first released on PC.
Some modders have created elaborate new locations and comprehensive gameplay add-ons that could easily be mistaken for an official expansion worthy of the Rockstar heritage. Others let you play as Timon and Pumbaa… so, you know, let’s just say there’s a decent variety out there. The following selection of GTA 5 mods will hopefully offer something for everyone, from the jaw droppingly game-changing to the hilariously frivolous, all of which can be downloaded onto your PC for free right now.
1. Turn Los Santos into a photorealistic gangster’s paradise
You can’t talk about GTA mods without paying respects to all the coders out there tirelessly attempting to make Los Santos look as breathtakingly beautiful as possible. There’s literally hundreds of graphics enhancement mods available for GTA 5, but NaturalVision Remastered, which only came out a few months ago, is the current champion when it comes to raw “phwoar” power.
Offering 4K resolutions and a complete overhaul of Rockstar’s original aesthetic, the mod was designed “to make GTA 5 look visually similar to Southern California in real life.” To be honest, the results look better than real life SoCal ever could. NaturalVision pushes Los Santos out of the realm of uncanny valley and into a level of graphical fidelity that redefines the very definition of what it means to be photorealistic.
2. Become Iron Man
Mod: Iron Man Script 2.0
“I am Iron Man” said Iron Man in Iron Man, and you can say it too if you install this forever popular mod on to your GTA 5 save. True to its word, the mod hooks you up with a fully operational Iron Man suit, complete with boost thrusters, repulsor beams, and that oh so satisfying “eeeeeyooooop” blaster sound that any Marvel fan will be familiar with.
You can even customise it with different versions of the suit, including the beefy Hulkbuster armour that swaps agility for raw strength. Tony Stark would be proud.
3. Bring Game of Thrones to Grand Theft Auto with fire-breathing dragons
Mod: Dragons V
The term “Grand Theft Auto” defines the act of stealing any motorised automobile, but what if you steal a giant, flying, fantasy lizard that can breathe fire out of its mouth instead? Grand Theft Reptile? Grand Theft Drogo? It doesn’t matter, because you’ll be having too much fun flying around Los Santos and terrorising its denizens with your newfound winged wingman to care.
This dragon can shoot fireballs, pick up people and cars, and even call in more of its buddies for a full on dragon invasion. Now someone give us a Daenerys costume to make us feel like a real Khaleesi.
4. Pretend you’re playing Blade Runner in a neon-soaked Los Santos
Mod: Intensity ENB
Blade Runner 2049 has been and gone, and we’re still a ways off from CD Projekt Red’s open world Cyberpunk 2077, but you can at least enjoy Grand Theft Auto 2013 by dressing it up in a neon aesthetic with this visual mod.
Intensity ENB dials up the contrast between colours to 11, lending this ethereal, miasmic quality to Los Santos that’s drenched in atmosphere, especially when it also happens to be drenched in rainfall. The game’s lighting effects have been intensified too, meaning you’ll often feel like you’re in a J.J. Abrams movie just as much as a cyberpunk flick.
5. Create an underwater megalopolis by triggering a tsunami
All the best cities are underwater. Think about it; Atlantis, Rapture, that one from The Phantom Menace… okay, maybe not all the best cities, but a fair few of them at least. So what’s stopping you from seeing whether Los Santos fares any better once submerged beneath ten thousands tonnes of H2O?
Seriously, you can try it now with this mod, which brings in a Tsunami to unleash waves of salty sea water upon the town, where only the highest skyscrapers can be seen above the surface. It’s an in-game natural disaster that has to be seen to be believed.
6. Take realism to a whole new level
Mod: GTA Realism
If you’re someone who likes to obey every traffic light and speed limit sign as you drive across SoCal, this hyper realism mod will be right up your alley. It adds a host of small but clever details to GTA 5 that are designed to make everything feel that little bit more tactile and naturalistic.
Pedestrians drop wallets, weapons have to be physically picked up, there’s bleeding effects when you’re shot, cops act more strategically, you can replaced flat tires with spare ones in the trunk, bullets have projectile drops, and tons more. It turns the Grand Theft Auto experience into a full on crime simulation, and it’s rather brilliant.
7. Turn airplane pilots into psychopathic killers
This mod has rightly had a stigma attached to it since 2015, in which it was discovered that the coding contained dangerous malware hidden within. Since then, though, it’s been cleaned up by some decidedly less malicious modders and is available as a clean, malware free update online.
But what does it do? Well, every airplane pilot in the sky is now out to hunt and crash into you at whatever cost to themselves. Naturally, pandemonium ensues, so make sure your gaming rig is powerful enough to withstand a decent framerate with all those explosions.
8. Become a knock-off Rico Rodriguez with Just Cause 2 gadgets
While GTA has always been great for causing all sorts of mayhem, it never quite comes close to the sort of sandbox madness you can generate in equally outrageous open world series Just Cause.
But thanks to this unofficial crossover, you can now enjoy Rico Rodriguez’s grappling hook, parachute thrusters, and more in GTA 5, using these bespoke Just Cause flavoured mods. It even makes cars explode whenever you jump out of them, which is great for dealing with all those pesky roadblocks.
9. Cross the fence and play GTA from the cops’ perspective
Mod: LSPD First Response
They say the best way to defeat the enemy is to know the enemy, so why not sign up with the Los Santos Police Department and walk a mile in the shoes of a local cop for the day?
There are detailed missions, police-themed weapons and vehicles, and customisation options for you to tuck into to get the full LSPD experience. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up preferring it your previous life of crime?
10. Pay for your crimes the hard way by going to prison
Mod: Prison Mod
Speaking of police, how come you never get to see what happens between the time you’re busted and the moment you walk out of the hospital or police station as a free man? I know Grand Theft Auto has a loose conception of the notion of justice, but surely some judicial system is in place in Los Santos?
This prison mod has the answer, incarcerating you whenever you’re caught by the police, whereby you’re able to walk around the jailhouse, interact with NPCs, and even try to break out. Or, you know, you could just serve your time and try to come out a changed man? Nah, that sounds boring; prison break it is!