Please review this if the guide works, as all of us players need an easy-to-find guide for newcomers and it will be hidden unless we get good reviews! And yes I am using my map as an example since I have had many players who wanted to play my map but were struggling to learn this whole process. Instead of me trying to teach them each, will make this guide for everyone :)
For community server owners looking to install maps on the servers they currently own and manage, see Whiskey's guide on Steam.
NOTE NON-US PLAYERS: For this guide to work, you need to have a regular USA-style keyboard, or at least one that has the top left ` key to open the in-game console for coded commands. I am not aware if there is any solution around this since you cannot change this keybind, please post in comments if you know any alternate way. This issue only applies for Solo Offline matches to open the console.
HOW TO PLAY A MAP SOLO OFFLINE
(QUICK AND EASY, BUT DOES NOT ALLOW ISMC OR GAMETYPE MODS)
For newcomers, try to just load a custom map before loading ISMC or entire gamemode mods, since this will be the basics you need to handle that. As of writing this guide, there is another guide here that may help if you want to locally play custom gamemodes. The rest of this guide will be focused on maps specifically.
From the main menu ingame, skip down to the section named "Mods" and select it. If you navigate there, the below page will open:
If you are looking for a specific mod, you will have to spell the FULL NAME exactly correct to find it. I recommend just browsing the mod pages (using A and D keys to scroll) For example, if I type "Fact", no results will show, but if I type "Factory", it will find my map.
Do not select any checkbox options. These selections will be unreliable, and may hide your intended map/mod you would like to download. Leave everything checked as is. Select the mod to open it's page, then click "Subscribe." This is the "download" button for a mod.
Upon clicking this, you will see a download progress bar on top of your screen. You can freely navigate menus as this downloads, but be aware that you may not be able to join a community server until that download prompt disappears (can join regular official servers fine while downloading). Download speed from the mod.io site will depend on your internet speed/other people on your network etc.
Once your computer has downloaded the map, you will no longer see the bar at the top. If you aren't sure it's complete, just make sure there is no "Downloading" text box on your screen at the menu, and you are subscribed to the mod. Your subscribed mods will show in this page here under the mods section:
Once downloaded, browse back to the main menu. Select Local Play and choose any gamemode and map. For Local Play, the options are Checkpoint-based. Click Start in the bottom right and start a regular solo match.
Once loaded into the map, look on your keyboard for the `~ key, often left of the numbers row on the keyboard. Hit this key, and the below small command line will pop up on your screen (bottom of image):
In this bar, you need to enter the proper command to navigate to your map level. The command will change based on the name of the level, and the game mode you are trying to open. Before you can issue the command, you will need to find what the map maker's gamemode name is, as the map maker chooses how to name the map's game modes. Usually they follow a general format, but you will need to check their mod page on the mod.io website to see what the name is for EACH gamemode. For Checkpoint Security on Factory, for example, the gamemode (aka Scenario) name is "Scenario_Factory_Checkpoint_Security", which you can find in the commands provided at that linked page. See underlined in yellow for examples of Scenario names (do not copy the quotes, just whats inside them):
Here is the general formula for what you will need to type (delete [brackets] & replace with your mod and gamemodes):
Open [MapName]?Scenario=[Gamemode name here]?Lighting=Day
Here is the above formula applied to Factory for Checkpoint Security, with lighting as Day. Can copy & paste below into command line, or type out the full command:
Make sure this is what is typed on your command line, no spaces or quotes. Enter and the map will now load Checkpoint on your custom map :)
PLAYING ONLINE CUSTOM MAP MATCHES
(SERVER BROWSER NAVIGATION/TIPS AND SEEING MODS ON SERVERS)
If you want to play on community servers, you will have to navigate to "Play" at the main menu, and then click "Community Servers" to the right of "Versus" and "Co-Op."
Once you click, you will see a loading circle and some settings filter options on the far left. Do not touch these buttons, as each click will "reset" your server browser search, which will take 30-60 seconds to load. Once the results load, they will all pop on the screen at once like so:
This may take time, and if you cannot see any servers, there is a bug where you may need to click the top left search bar (do not type, just click). If the "click method" solves it, you will within 10 seconds see the above list show up. If instead you get 0 servers or stuck on a loading circle for longer than 120 seconds, restart the game and try again to properly refresh.
Once the list is populated, you can click the top columns to change how the list is sorted, such as by Map, Server name, Player Count, or Ping (the cell bars icon on the screenshot above). Check your filters on the left-hand column as well to confirm.
Some servers will be locked by a password, others will be open to the public.
If you want to see what maps and/or mods are being used on a server, click on the server in the list to expand it. We can see from the below that this server has these maps (underlined in yellow) and these mods enabled (underlined in green):
Seeing the mods on the server is important because if you don't have the maps downloaded/subscribed already, they will force you to wait at a blackscreen as you download ALL the missing mods/maps before the server lets you in. Luckily, once you download a map, they should be the same version available across all servers and you will not have to download that map again unless it is updated at a later time. If you know certain maps that you would like to always have updated and are typically on most servers (Prison, Toro, ISMC Mod), heavily recommend subscribing to these mods so that you can download these at the main menu while you work on your character/loadout customizations, rather than sit at a blackscreen each time they have an update. Most will not have updates often, as map designers typically try to spread out updates across months rather than weeks.
Note: Some of the green underlined items, known as game mutators, are actually mods from the developers, and are included in the base game and do not require a separate download, such as "Vampirism."
With the selected server expanded, click the server name again to join it. Any downloads will finish at a blackscreen first (may take awhile depending on server), and then the current level being played will load. For servers that run many custom maps, you likely should expect to wait roughly 2-5 minutes per custom map, and some servers may have up to 15-20 maps. Friends should be able to join your game directly from their Steam friends list if there are open slots. Make sure they try and download the maps ahead of the time you want to play if you will be on a server with lots of custom maps. In case a friend has an issue joining your game, make sure to note the IP address of it first so they can Direct Connect via IP in the provided option on the browser screen.
You can favorite a server by hitting the bookmark icon with the server expanded, or to find it again just wait for the full list to populate, and type in the name in the top left corner (see that I searched "'0lympus" to find the results in the above screenshot).
UNSUBSCRIBE FROM MODS
(FREE UP LOTS OF GB OF YOUR PC STORAGE)
To Unsubscribe from a mod, return to the Mods section from the main menu, and click the "Subscribed" tab at the top of the screen to see what you're subscribed to. Click the button to Unsubscribe. However, you may notice that any mod updates will still download for maps you've just Unsubscribed. In order to stop this and make the Unsubscribe work, exit the game and restart it. Note: When you close the game, sometimes it will try and run in the background to finish your most recent download, so you may need to use Task Manager to force quit.
You may notice some older guides on how to remove old mod files. This is no longer an issue as any past versions of mods will be recognized by the game and uninstalled automatically now, even for mods you aren't subscribed to. EXCEPTION: Note that if you downloaded a map from directly joining a server, you will have to go into your mod folder on your computer to manually remove. To locate the mod folder, see the second portion of Hippcelt's guide here on how to locate your mod files and delete them. But don't delete if you'll be back on that server soon! :)